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Thursday, November 15, 2012

X-amining New Mutants #11

"Magma"
January 1984

In a Nutshell
Magma helps the New Mutants defeat Selene. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Finisher: Tom Mandrake
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Amara attacks Selene, who defends herself by animating the rock within the cavern. That use of power leaves Selene old and frail, but she sacrifices her followers to rejuvenate herself. Turning to Dani, she entrances her, declaring her intent to use her and the other New Mutants to conquer the world. Dani fights her influence, just as Amara escapes from the rock and attacks Selene again, blasting her with lava. Dani vows to help Amara, just as Selene suddenly drains Amara's lifeforce. Meanwhile, Senator Gallio triumphantly leads Senator Aquilla away in chains, much to the consternation of Sam, Roberto and Rahne. Spying a red-haired woman amongst Aquilla's captured slaves, Roberto steals a guard's armor and follows her. Inside a dungeon, he discovers his captured mother being taunted by Castro. Roberto knocks out Castro, then frees his mother.


She explains that she was rescued from the river by a group of Amazons comprised of young women from Nova Roma sent into the jungle to escape Selene. Back at Gallio's palace, Gallio plots to dispose of Sam and Rahne now that he's captured Aquilla, when Amara suddenly bursts through the floor, looking for her father. Just then, Roberto and his mother arrive, leading a group of Aquilla's Legionnaires and Amazons. The New Mutants join the fray and help defeat Gallio's men, while the freed Aquilla kills Gallio in a swordfight. Amara explains how touching the earth restored her life force, and leads the New Mutants into the caverns where Selene is still holding Dani. The New Mutants attack her, with Sam blasting a hole in the cavern to allow in sunlight, recharging Roberto, who tosses Selene into a deep fissure created by Amara. Filling the fissure with rock, Sunspot is admonished for trying to kill Selene, though Roberto fears there's no way to truly destroy her. With Selene defeated for now, Amara worries whether her power will make her a hero like the New Mutants, or a monster like Selene.  

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue was released as part of Assistant Editors' Month, though aside from the blurb on the cover and the extra head in the cover box, everything is business as usual. 

Roberto's mother turns up alive and well, and, after overhearing Castro taunting her, Roberto finally learns about his father's dark ambitions, something that will define their relationship from this point forward. 


A Work in Progress
In addition to her psychic powers and ability to drain life forces to sustain her youth, it's revealed that Selene can also control inanimate objects. She is also described as a "psychic vampire" for the first time.


Dani mentions that Amara is the right age for her mutant power to manifest, again affirming the connection between the manifestation of mutant powers and puberty.
 
Judo is apparently the preferred martial art of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. 


Sam learns that his protective field while blasting extends to protect him from anything he picks up.  


Roberto actively tries to kill Selene, and is called on it by Sam, but Roberto waves it off, saying she likely survived.


I Love the 80s
Dani once again spends most of the issue in the skimpiest outfit possible.


Selene refers to Dani's companions as the New Mutants; I'm not entirely sure she should be familiar with that term, unless she read it in Dani's mind off-panel. 

It takes Dani far too long to come to the conclusion that the young woman covered in lava could be a mutant. 


ClaremontismsSam is once again described as "nigh irresistable" while blasting, and we're reminded again that Roberto is not invulnerable.


Teebore's Take
The best thing you can say about this issue is that it finally brings the Nova Roma story to a close (though it'll still be a couple issues before we're back at the mansion, as we deal with the fallout of this story). As such, the vast majority of pages are handed over to action, pushing aside the character bits that helped elevate last issue. Claremont introduces an interesting idea in the fact that Roberto goes out of his way to try and kill Selene, though the moral question is quickly tossed aside in the next panel when it's suggested she probably didn't die anyway. And considering the whole thing was brought up three panels from the end of the issue, any serious discussion would have to be held for the next issue anyway. In any event, at five issues (plus next issue's quasi-epilogue) this story is officially at least an issue-and-a-half too long, so it's good to see the title finally moving past it. 

Next Issue
Uncanny X-Men #177 features the return of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, while New Mutants #12 finds the kids chilling in Rio. 

12 comments:

  1. I have literally nothing to say about this issue other than, "Finally!"

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  2. Can some please explain why Dani is always colored PINK?

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  3. @Matt: I have literally nothing to say about this issue other than, "Finally!"

    Tell me about it. At least you didn't have to stretch "finally" out into a paragraph long "Teebore's Take". :)

    @Michael: Can some please explain why Dani is always colored PINK?

    Sadly, the answer has to be because she's Native American, right?

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  4. It's weird to me that the coloring techniques of the "less enlightened" 30's and 40's continued through the 80's and even into the 90's. Native Americans were depicted as pink/red skinned, Asians were yellow-skinned, and Middle Easterners were gray-skinned for far longer than common sense -- not to mention political correctness -- should've allowed.

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  5. @Matt: It's weird to me that the coloring techniques of the "less enlightened" 30's and 40's continued through the 80's and even into the 90's

    It is weird. They got a little less obvious. I mean, at least Dani isn't DEEP RED like the Cleveland Indians mascot (and don't even get me started on the casual racism built into a lot of sports mascots), but it's still an outdated practice that took a surprisingly long time to get completely phased out.

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  6. Lord I forgot how bland these first issues of New Mutants were.

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  7. @David: Lord I forgot how bland these first issues of New Mutants were.

    Indeed. The first half dozen weren't too bad - nothing terribly exciting, but some fun character work that showed the potential of the team.

    But man, once they arrive in Brazil, it just becomes ridiculously bland and generic. I remembered these issues being a slog the first time through, and that certainly hasn't changed during this re-read.

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  8. This issue was released as part of Assistant Editors' Month, though aside from the blurb on the cover and the extra head in the cover box, everything is business as usual. 

    Elliot Brown (and Rick Parker) did turn in a strip on the not-a-letters-page page.

    The cover is signed "Simonson/Mandrake". I assume it's Walt Simonson, even though it doesn't look particularly like his work and he may not have signed his name himself — it's just written; no dinosaur. He might well have just done the layout.

    That's about all I have to add. Other than the fact that thanks to a cousin's delight with Austin Powers, a little voice in my head keeps going "Mmmaggmmma"...

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  9. @Blam: Elliot Brown (and Rick Parker) did turn in a strip on the not-a-letters-page page.

    Yeah. I totally forgot about that.

    I assume it's Walt Simonson, even though it doesn't look particularly like his work and he may not have signed his name himself — it's just written; no dinosaur.

    I too was puzzled by the Simonson signature for the reasons you mention, though I probably should have mentioned that as well.

    Other than the fact that thanks to a cousin's delight with Austin Powers, a little voice in my head keeps going "Mmmaggmmma"...

    Similarly, I have a hard time reading the word "laser" in any context without imagining air quotes around the word.

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  10. It's interesting that Selene demonstrates she doesn't need to sacrifice young girls in order to gain power, nor does she need to throw them into the volcano. The question then becomes why she's gone to all this effort to set up the Cult of Fire when she could just suck the life-force of anyone she meets in a dark alley.

    Personally, I figure she just likes the drama of it all - living forever presumably makes one strive for new and interesting ways of murderousness.

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  11. @SpaceSquid: The question then becomes why she's gone to all this effort to set up the Cult of Fire when she could just suck the life-force of anyone she meets in a dark alley.

    Good point. I'd never really considered that. Maybe it has something to do with her role in Nova Roman society? Playing to their superstitions, wanting to sow fear amongst them to maintain her position of power as a Senator's wife?

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  12. That's a good idea, actually. We see here that Gallio's soldiers know about the Black Priestess, which certainly suggests they're trading on Selene's scary rep.

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