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New Mutants #76 (1989, June)

May 2, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list is up. But now, by Simonson, Rich Buckler, Palmer, Oliver and Rosen, “Splash!”

Splash!

None of the Mutants have appropriate swimwear.

The Mutants are trying to figure out what they should do now that their school’s been blown up. (Dani’s riding Brightwind, and she expresses relief that he wasn’t hurt in the explosion. Subtle.) Rahne suggests they call their parents and head home, and Sam spots a mall and a payphone and figures there’s no harm landing in public. I can’t argue with him. Why not? Letting people see a bunch of mutants acting normal is a good way to alleviate their fears. A woman thinks they’re demons and demands they have over Illyana, so ‘Berto turns to Sunspot and yells at the woman. He, uh, he’s not good at alleviating fears. The Mutants argue over who calls first – none of them actually want to call home – and then leave when cops show up. Warlock suggests they go visit Ship and get some rest.

We cut to Ship, and the X-Terminators, who are going for a swim. Unlike the cover, they actually are wearing swimsuits. With the big bubble helmets, rather than the smaller masks that real divers wear, but hey, it’s a comic. The kids think it’s fun, and boast about tricking Ship into letting them do it by claiming it would be educational. I’ll be honest, I’d much rather read about the ocean in a book. I don’t like swimming. Anyway, they get attacked by sharks which is unlikely, but again, comics. Rictor scares them off with some vibrations. They also find a strange shell. Rictor actually has a pretty good guess about it.

New Mutants #76

Maybe you could ask the Atlanteans.

Atlantis isn’t really lost at this point. In fact, Atlantis had petitioned for membership in the UN. Plus, you know, occasional invasion attempts. So, yeah, at this point, calling Atlantis a “lost civilization” is weird. Even more hilarious, Boom-Boom doubts Atlantis’ existence. She really doesn’t watch the news, does she?

New Mutants #76

Namor, King of Atlantis, had served on the Avengers not long ago.

Anyway, they figure out it’s a horn, and try blowing into it. Boom-Boom’s the one who gets it to work.

New Mutants #76

Queen of Slapstick.

Great gag there. You’d almost think she did that intentionally. The horn summons a giant octopus that grabs Ship. The X-Terminators rush out to help, wearing their regular costumes, which I still think is impractical for fighting in water. The Mutants show up to help, too. Rusty is pretty blase about Dani having a flying horse, but given he lives in a spaceship, I suppose that’s reasonable. Boom-Boom is about to try blowing the horn again, figuring another blast might make it leave, but she’s stopped by Namor. Who thinks they stole the horn. Sam yells at Namor for leaving the Horn laying around in the first place, Rusty admits they should have done more research before blowing it, and Namor is impressed and agrees to help. Dani whips up some underwater suits for everyone, though it still looks like they’re just wearing their regular costumes, which are still impractical for underwater fighting.

Boom-Boom whips up a big time bomb while the others keep the monster distracted. Meanwhile, Illyana’s still asleep. A plan is developed: They’re going to blow up the octopus’ brain with TNT. Good plan. Wait, how are they going to light the TNT’s fuse underwater? Well, whatever, the octopus grabs Warlock (who’s taken a submarine form), and Namor is terrible at comforting children.

New Mutants #76

Does . . . Does Namor think they can all breathe water?

Sam, Rusty and Skids go into the octopus’ mouth to plant the TNT, and Rusty lights the fuse, and how the hell is it burning underwater? I just . . . how? Whatever, the plan works, Ship’s free, just in time for X-Factor’s return. Bobby expresses some confusion at seeing a flying horse. Come on, Bobby, don’t even act like you haven’t seen way weirder. I guess it would be kinda weird to get home and see a flying horse. Things are explained, Namor says he’s learned to take better care of ancient artifacts (how is that a lesson that someone needs to learn?), and X-Factor agrees to let the New Mutants stay on Ship.

This is kind of a fun issue. Just a big fight against a monster, with a cameo from Namor, who’s always fun. There’s not much in the way of plot or character development. It feels like a bit of a breather issue. With a giant octopus. And that’s appreciated. The book’s had a lot of heavy drama lately, so having an issue relatively free of drama, one that’s just about a bunch of kids fighting a big monster, is a nice change of pace to let readers catch their breath. The issue also formally introduces the X-Terminator kids into the cast of New Mutants. They’d met and interacted during Inferno, and teamed up a bit in the immediate aftermath, but now, the teams have fully merged, and they’ll stay together for the rest of the run, and into X-Force. (Though, of course, there will be more line-up changes. Some characters will leave before New Mutants ends, and a couple new people will join when it becomes X-Force.)

The art’s good. Buckler was always a solid artist. His most notable work was in the ’70s, where he did push the envelope a little, by the standards of the time. By 1989, he was no longer innovative, but he still did good work. He was reliable. And it was good art. Very house-style stuff, very much a classic comics style, but done well. And there was still Oliver’s colours making it look even better.

This isn’t one of the great issues of New Mutants, but it’s a good one.

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