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New Mutants #78 (1989, August)

July 8, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). So, my first few days of training are done. But today, by Simonson, Leonardi, Williamson, Oliver, and Rosen, “Let’s Make A Deal!”

Let's Make A Deal!

This is a pretty cool cover.

Dani’s encased in ice, via a machine she created with her power. When Rahne shifts to wolf form to test their rapport, though, she learns that the machine can’t last, and in the meantime, the flames are consuming Dani’s soul. Rusty takes a moment to feel sorry for himself, for burning that woman’s face and then running away and now facing charges for deserting the Navy. Awkward timing for it, but it’s just to give readers a reminder of his status quo. Anyway, they need to get Dani back to Ship, so Warlock turns into a forklift. Then he turns into a rocket to help Sam fly it.

In Hel, Hela grudgingly admits that Dani’s brave and resourceful, and then notes all the Asgardian Valkyries have submitted to her magic. She plans on using them in a plot to have vengeance on Thor. And she makes her next move. Which brings us to Earth, and a helicopter, flown by Freedom Force. They’re on their way to arrest Rusty. Again. He’s suspected of causing the fires in Manhattan. Skids tries explaining the situation, but predictably, Freedom Force doesn’t care. Crimson Commando even shoots Rictor in the head. A glancing blow, meant to stun, not kill. But still. Harsh. Rusty retaliates with flames. Against Pyro. Yep, Rusty’s an idiot.

Both teams land on Liberty Island, and the Mutants try again to convince Freedom Force about the danger Dani’s in. Destiny says that if Rusty reaches Ship, things will go poorly for mutants. Which is interesting. Makes me wonder what he would’ve done. I guess he probably would’ve screwed up in Asgard, the Mutants would’ve been killed, and then they wouldn’t have been able to do stuff to help other mutants. Would be my guess. It never does get followed up on. So either it would have been a wrong place-wrong time thing if he’d gone with the Mutants, or else Weezie had an idea she ever got a chance to use. Either way, fight time! Blob suggests Rusty go with Freedom Force while the Mutants go on with Dani, but Boom-Boom’s not behind that idea.

New Mutants #78

Aw, Boom-Boom. She cares.

I do like that moment. It’s a nice little insight into Boom-Boom. For all that she acts like she doesn’t care, she really does, and she feels it when something happens to her friends. She cares about people, and she hates losing anyone. Then Cyclops shows up to tell Rusty to surrender, and promises to go with him. Obviously, it’s Mystique, with Rahne pointing that out. Rusty considers going with them, and Blob says he should, and there won’t even be a real trial anyway.

New Mutants #78

Ooh, he was doing so well, until he mentioned the babies.

It would take nearly 20 years for this plot point with the babies to be picked up again, in the last volume of New Mutants. Oh, I should probably note that that’s Dr. Strange, who’s been following the Mutants in his astral form for this entire issue. Not doing anything to help, just watching. Skids tells the Mutants to grab Dani and get back to X-Factor to let them know what’s going on. Unfortunately, they don’t make it in time, and Dani breaks free of the ice.

New Mutants #78

And she’s pretty badass and dramatic.


Luckily, they’re already right under Ship. Unfortunately:

New Mutants #78

Ship’s taking a big ol’ nope on all this.

Strange finally actually does something, by teleporting the team to Asgard.

A pretty decent issue. Some bits feel like they could’ve been tightened up a bit, though that may just be modern sensibilities speaking. Comics had a few more pages back then, which meant a little more room to breathe. These days, it’s more important that every panel contribute in some way, which is often going to mean cutting out a little more excess. So, for example, rather than spending 8 panels (across 2 pages) getting to the point where Sam and Warlock are carrying the ice machine, a modern comic would probably do it in 4 panels. So it feels hard for me not to see the 8 panels as a bi wasteful, but by the standards of the time, it was pretty typical. There were a couple moments like that.

The stuff with Rusty and Freedom Force does feel like it detracts from the main plot. It feels kinda small-stakes. The fact that Rusty’s never had much personality, or much of a purpose beyond “wanted by the government,” really doesn’t help. Dani is a character we know and love. We want to see what’s going to happen with her. We want to see how worried her friends are, how far they’ll go to help her, all that stuff. And then we get a bunch of time spent on Rusty still being wanted by the government. There’s also the implication that Hela arranged for Freedom Force to pursue Rusty (and the Mutants), which is odd. I guess she wanted to slow them down long enough for Dani to break free of the ice? It still feels weirdly beneath her to get a mortal government involved in her plan.

The art isn’t up to Leonardi’s normal standards. Sub-standard Leonardi is still pretty damn good, of course, but it’s still a bit of a let-down. I don’t know if maybe it was a little rushed. And it wasn’t just Leonardi. In general, the art comes across as a bit rushed, not up to anyone’s normal levels. It’s not that it looks bad. It’s just not as good as I would expect of this art team. But obviously, Leonardi, Williamson and Oliver are all top-notch talents.

So, yeah, this is a bit of an odd issue.

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