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New Mutants #81 (1989, November)

November 13, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I’m also on Mastodon, the Nazi-free alternative to Twitter (@XMenXPert, again). Today, by Claremont, Shoemaker, Louis Williams, Rubinstein, Wright, and Orzechowski, “Faith.”

Faith

Do you think Herc’s a George Michael fan?

This is pretty clearly a filler issue. Possible an inventory issue, it doesn’t say if it is. Regardless, they did run up against the deadline, so this fill-in was done. Terry Shoemaker did the first three pages, and the final page, as a framing sequence, with Louis Williams doing the rest of the story. Anyway! Amara’s not too impressed with the Catholic Church, and its forced conversion of the people of South America. And its insistence that it’s the only faith that’s correct. Manuel comes up to meet her, and they talk about faith. He rejects her beliefs, and you know what? Not cool, guy. Don’t be a dick. She asks him to prove his god’s real, and he turns it around and challenges her to prove hers are real. She says she’s met hers. Which leads into the story.

New Mutants #81

With a fantastic Shoemaker splash.

It’s a movie, and the New Mutants are watching it, and giving it the MST3K treatment.

New Mutants #81

Talking during a movie? Who’s the real Jerkules, guys?

Side note: I like Illyana resenting the whole thing. You’d expect her to be talking about how sexy Hercules is, but nope, she’s clearly miserable at having to watch such a hyper-masculine film. Also, aw, Illyana, now I’m sad again. After the movie, they continue making jokes, and OH MY GOD WARLOCK IS A TIE!

New Mutants #81

Tielock!

Amara feels bad for laughing, and thinks about how Hercules is revered as a god in her home of Nova Roma. At home, she prays for forgiveness and guidance. And she gets a visit from Hercules.

New Mutants #81

Guy knows how to make an entrance.

Once she turns on a light and recognizes him from the movie, she doesn’t believe he’s really Hercules, and thinks the others are pranking her. He tries to prove it with feats of strength, which the Mutants keep matching, which is hilarious. He lifts a car, but so does Bobby. He hurls his mace at a boulder, but Sam smashes it first. He leaps, but Warlock’s already up there as a helicopter. Amara then uses magma to make a statue of Hercules, as she knows him, and holy crap, she can do that? That’s impressive. It’s a really good statue, and she just whipped it up in a matter of seconds. Hercules tries to prove it by calling his dad to take him and Amara to Olympus, but nope, Papa Zeus is a dick.

New Mutants #81

Olympus, more like Trollympus, am I right?

Zeus wants to teach Hercules a lesson for doing that terrible movie, and for making Amara question her faith in the Olympians. Hercules vows to find some way of making her believe him, and she decides to go along to keep him out of trouble. He asks if she doubts Thor, but she says she’s been to Asgard. Once they get to Manhattan – and struggle to find a cab – they hear gunshots.

New Mutants #81

Not the best reaction.

Amara and Hercules stop the robbers, and then go to a bar, where Hercules celebrates with beer and ladies. Amara heads off, and a building explodes, because Marvel New York. Their buildings just randomly explode. Amara turns into living flame so she can run into the already-burning building, which is maaaaaaybe not the best idea ever? But it seems to work well enough, and she’s able to create a rock sphere to get some people out, with Hercules catching it. Then the floor drops out from beneath her and another pair of survivors. Amara’s knocked out, so Hercules rushes in to save them all. Then he uses a water tank on top of the building to extinguish the flames. Unfortunately, one of the survivors breathed in some flame, and is going to die. His family’s on vacation, so Herc and Amara stay with him.

New Mutants #81

OK, this made me tear up a bit.

New Mutants #81

Philosophical Hercules is Best Hercules.

Amara reminds Hercules he did save the life of her and a baby, and to take comfort in that.

New Mutants #81

He really is a great guy.

This is enough for Amara to believe he is the real Hercules. He tells her that she’s much nobler than he is, because as an immortal, it’s that much easier for him to be brave and heroic, while mortals take big risks despite having so little time. He tells her not to worship him as a god, she asks if they can be friends, and he says that means more than worship ever could. Awwww. Now I want Amara and Hercules to serve on a team together. Being friends. That’d be sweet.

Anyway, that’s the end of Amara’s story she was telling Manuel. And he’s still a dick.

New Mutants #81

“I don’t have proof, so my religion MUST be better.”

Amara doesn’t respond, but she does think about how she received an answer when she needed one, and she has her faith.

It’s a good issue, honestly. I like it. Hercules is a lot of fun, and when the story calls for it, really dramatic. It’s something he’s always been good at. Even more than Thor, Hercules was great at ruminating on what the passage of time means to an immortal. The fact that he does enjoy life so much makes it more impactful when he gets serious. It also gives Amara a good arc over the course of the issue, going from resenting him for pretending to be Hercules, to kinda liking him for having some emotional vulnerability, to being awed when she comes to believe him. She’s handled well here. I like her struggle with her faith, and to maintain her faith in a modern world that mocks it so openly. It’s good stuff.

The art is good. I’m not familiar with Louis Williams, and I can’t say he blew me away. He’s a competent artist, he does an adequate job telling the story. The comedic beats are nailed perfectly. The dramatic beats are conveyed well. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the art. It’s just not particularly noteworthy.

Regardless, despite being a fill-in issue done solely to beat the deadline arising from Marvel double-shipping everything, it’s a fun little issue. I do enjoy it. And, as I said, I’d love to see Amara and Hercules meet up again, with something indicating they’ve maintained their friendship all these years. Maybe they’re pen-pals. Or they follow each other on social media. Something.

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