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Thursday, November 22, 2012

X-amining New Mutants #12

"Sunstroke"
February 1984

In a Nutshell
Amara loses control in Rio De Janeiro, convincing her she needs to join the New Mutants. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Finisher: Tom Mandrake
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Louise Jones
Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In Rio De Janiero, Emmanuel DaCosta arrives to his office to find Roberto waiting for him. Roberto tells his father to forget about the Maderia, that Nova Roma is off limits, or else he and the other New Mutants will do everything in their power to stop him. His father tells him that if he leaves, it will be as though he has no son, to which Roberto replies that he's now half an orphan. Enraged, Emmanuel calls Sebastian Shaw and tells him he accepts his invitation to join the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. Meanwhile, Dani and Amara are enjoying the beach at Ipanema, with Amara reflecting on her father's decision to send her to Xavier's school to gain control of her power, when the girls are accosted by a group of men. When one of them kisses Amara, she triggers a volcano on the beach.


Nearby, Rahne enters a church to pray when Sam rushes in, telling her they need her help tracking down Amara, who's gone missing. Elsewhere, Amara is wandering the streets, suffering from heat stroke. When a police officer tries to take her to his station, she breaks free, triggering more volcanoes. The New Mutants follow her path of destruction as Amara hallucinates, eventually collapsing and being found by a group of children. They take her to their home in a shanty town. The New Mutants arrive, Rahne having tracked her scent, and Dani sends Sam and Roberto to find some ice to cool down Amara. They find an ice truck, and on their way back realize that Amara is creating a large volcano in Rio harbor. Fortunately, the ice is enough to break Amara's heat stroke, leaving the volcano in the harbor as a new island. Realizing her father was right, Amara resolves to join her new friends at Xavier's school. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Amara joins the team as of this issue, agreeing to go to America to learn how to better control her power.

In the wake of his confrontation with Roberto, Emmanuel Da Costa joins the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club in this issue as well. 


A Work in Progress
Roberto confronts his father over the fact that he was willing to kill Roberto and his mother in order to access the resources of Nova Roma and the Maderia, leading to a rift between the two that will never quite heal. 


The denomination of Rahne's Christianity is established as being Scots Presbyterian, specifically not Catholic, as has been mistakenly reported on occasion.


Amara mentions that Selene killed her mother; I can't remember if that was revealed previously, but it becomes a significant element of Amara's hatred towards Selene when the two meet again.

Dani notes that when she created the image of a snowfall to cool down Rahne in issue #8, the illusion was entirely in Rahne's head, and that she didn't create actual snow.


I Love the 80s
Dani is once again wearing the skimpiest bathing suit.


Apparently you could just kiss whomever you wanted on the beaches of Rio in the 80s.


A disoriented Amara is helped by a cop, until she speaks English. At which point the cop decides she must be a foreigner, and thus on drugs. 

Don't make him use his truncheon...

Sam and Roberto combine their powers to get an ice truck to Amara, via, as pictured/described, some dubious physics.


Young Love
Rahne admits (to herself) to being in love with Sam. 


Teebore's Take
Though ostensibly the last chapter of the "Nova Roma" story, this issue benefit greatly from the New Mutants having finally been removed from the titular city. The end result shares the series' general blandness in both art and story, but succeeds once again on the strength of characterization. It also serves as a nice vehicle for integrating Amara onto the team, making it clear why she needs to study at Xavier's school, both to gain control of her power and to familiarize herself with the modern world. In that sense, this issue is as much about looking forward as it is serving as an epilogue, which is a good thing: moving past "Nova Roma" is exactly what this book needs. 

Next Issue
The X-Men's battle with the Brotherhood heats up in Uncanny X-Men #178, followed by the New Mutants (finally) returning to the mansion in New Mutants #13. 

7 comments:

  1. So the character whose power is to control MOLTEN ROCK succumbs to heat stroke? Shenanigans most foul.

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  2. This issue is the third piece in the "stupidity of Magma as a character" trifecta. First, there's the wildly offensive "white people with makeup and mud look like like brown people" schtick. Then, of course, the "lost Roman city in South America" crap. Now, this issue basically makes Magma a god, and no one needs to quite recognize that.

    Yes, all the New Mutants (and the X-Men) have incredible powers -- and, yes, they have all caused extraordinary damage in their time. But even the most powerful of them have their limitations. For Phoenix, it was her sanity. For Storm, it's her need to control herself, lest her powers run wild. For Cannonball, its his inability to steer and his sudden vulnerability should he stop moving. But Magma has the ability to level a city in her sleep. Her mutant powers were born days (maybe weeks) ago at this point, and she is already more powerful than almost any other mutant we've encountered.

    What's more, this is never really dealt with in-universe. Kitty's fight with the demon had issue after issue of post-fight clean up. The mansion's destruction had the team relocate temporarily, and we saw the place being rebuilt on-panel. Even the New Mutants' Sentinel fight at the mall is recognized in a couple issues as having caused huge damage. But, starting with this issue, Magma causes mass amounts of destruction every time she uses her powers (the volcano in the harbor, the volcano in the living room, burning holes through the ground and through buildings willy-nilly) and these instances are never mentioned again.

    I know it's comic, but come on. Are there no limits or repercussions to Magma's abilities? It's been all of one issue since Gyrich, Cooper and the "mutant threat" were introduced over in Uncanny -- and I'm already sympathizing with them.

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  3. This is a fun little issue. I like when the New Mutants find themselves struggling to get out of a jam of their own making. Plus I like when they wind up in Rio, which happens a few times over Claremont's tenure, as I recall.

    "Amara mentions that Selene killed her mother..."

    In New Mutants Forever, Claremont establishes that Selene is Magma's paternal grandmother. It's not canon, but just the same -- apparently she was a pretty awful mother-in-law.

    "Dani is once again wearing the skimpiest bathing suit."

    I note though that it's just her. At least it's not all of the females in the cast (and to be fair, I believe Roberto usually goes swimming in Speedos). Maybe she just likes dressing that way.

    "Don't make him use his truncheon..."

    The word "truncheon" always makes me think of Moon Knight, who used one as his signature weapon. In one of the original Moench issues, he even chastizes a criminal who mistakenly refers to it as a billy club.

    Michael -- Good points about Magma's wanton property desctruction. I never really considered that. It's very Silver Age-y. I still think that in New Mutants, Claremont is doing some kind of intentional Silver Age homage. Not sure why, though. But it just doesn't fit with the contemporaneous Uncanny issues.

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  4. I actually thought that it was her mutant power overwhelming her and making her burn up, not heat stroke, regardless of what Dani said.

    ...the girls are accosted by a group of men. When one of them kisses Amara, she triggers a volcano on the beach.

    Which is perhaps the single most thinly-veiled equation of the onset of mutant abilities in adolescence with, y'know, everything else about adolescence that I can think of.

    Dani notes that when she created the image of a snowfall to cool down Rahne in issue #8, the illusion was entirely in Rahne's head, and that she didn't create actual snow.

    Was that ever in doubt?

    The splash-page credit strip has been bugging me for a few issues now. I don't so much mind "Stan Lee Presents" being turned into a credit box for Stan Lee as "presentor" alongside the writer, penciler, et al. in the credits, unnecessarily tortuous though it may be, but a matching box for the New Mutants as "stars" is a too-silly, faux-important substitute for "[title] starring The New Mutants" or "The New Mutants (starring) in... [title]".

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  5. @Anonymous: So the character whose power is to control MOLTEN ROCK succumbs to heat stroke?

    Yeah, I probably should have called that out. Seems like a plot device Claremont didn't fully think through.

    @Michael: Magma causes mass amounts of destruction every time she uses her powers (the volcano in the harbor, the volcano in the living room, burning holes through the ground and through buildings willy-nilly) and these instances are never mentioned again.

    In all my rush to comment (repeatedly) on how boring and repetitive the whole "Nova Roma" story is, I completely failed to devote a "Teebore's Take" to why the character has never really clicked for me. One of the problems is her power, for all the reasons you mention.

    It'd be one thing if she could just turn into her magma form, Human Torch-like, and shoot fireballs or something. Maybe even have a connection to the earth or something (like Storm's connection to nature). But her ability to create volcanoes is both insanely powerful and not terribly useful at the same time. Sure, manifesting a volcano beneath a villain is a good offensive tactic, but it could be overkill in some cases, and now you've got a new volcano on hand.

    It just seems like a power with ramifications that were never entirely thought out and never get addressed, which is odd for Claremont, since he's usually pretty clever about these things. As a result, Magma always seems slightly out of place for me.

    I like when the New Mutants find themselves struggling to get out of a jam of their own making.

    Ditto. It's one of the ways Claremont manages to come up with an excuse for action sequences without putting the kids out there in tons of super-villain fights while reinforcing the notion that they're kids still maturing into their powers.

    In New Mutants Forever, Claremont establishes that Selene is Magma's paternal grandmother.

    I'm pretty sure he hints at that towards the end of his run, so non canon it may be, it at least came from somewhere.

    Maybe she just likes dressing that way.

    That'd probably be the rationale. Still kinda skeevy that Claremont decided to give a teenage girl that particular trait, assuming it was a conscious decision (and frankly, her wearing a two piece on a beach in Rio isn't that troubling; it's the fact that it's just the latest in a long string of occasions where she ends up in skimpy attire, many of which didn't have as obvious a justification as "on a sunny beach").

    In one of the original Moench issues, he even chastizes a criminal who mistakenly refers to it as a billy club.

    Bart: Wow! Can I see your club?
    Lou: It's called a baton, son.
    Bart: Oh. What's it for?
    Lou: We club people with it.

    @Blam: I actually thought that it was her mutant power overwhelming her and making her burn up, not heat stroke, regardless of what Dani said.

    That makes much more sense.

    Which is perhaps the single most thinly-veiled equation of the onset of mutant abilities in adolescence with, y'know, everything else about adolescence that I can think of.

    Apparently that beach bum got her all hot and bothered!

    ...

    I'm terribly sorry for that pun.

    Was that ever in doubt?

    I seem to recall some discussion about the matter on that post, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I figured it was worth pointing considering how her power eventually will change in that regard.


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  6. @Teebore: I'm terribly sorry for that pun.

    No problem... I considered various uses of "eruption" myself before decided that it was overkill.

    @Teebore: I seem to recall some discussion about the matter on that post, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I figured it was worth pointing considering how her power eventually will change in that regard.

    You mean Dani can later draw stuff out of folks' heads and actually make it physically manifest? Holy cannoli!

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  7. @Blam: You mean Dani can later draw stuff out of folks' heads and actually make it physically manifest? Holy cannoli!

    You got it in one. She gets her power tweaked by the High Evolutionary in the annual that ties into "The Evolutionary War", and as a result, get create physical manifestations of peoples desires and fears (including her own), but only one at a time.

    It's a pretty ridiculous upgrade that never gets explored properly and creates all kinds of problems, but there it is.

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