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Thursday, November 29, 2012

X-amining New Mutants #13

"School Daysze"
March 1984

In a Nutshell
Magma settles in at Xavier's school as Doug Ramsey makes his first appearance. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Finisher: Tom Mandrake
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Principal: Jim Shooter
Presentor: Stan Lee

Plot
The New Mutants introduce Amara to Professor X, who welcomes her to the school and shows her to her room, which has been designed to resemble her room back in Nova Roma. That evening, the New Mutants hold a welcome barbeque for Amara, but when Sam, trying to show off, accidentally spills soda on Amara's dress she runs off, triggering an earthquake as she goes. Roberto prevents a fire from breaking out and Rahne and Dani follow Amara into the woods, but decide to respect her privacy. Meanwhile, at Project: Wideawake headquarters, Sebastian Shaw and Henry Gyrich are showing Val Cooper a Sentinel test when the machine goes wild, a victim of someone taking control of the computer system, forcing Gyrich to destroy the Sentinel. Back in New York, Kitty and her friend Doug Ramsey realize their connection to the government system they hacked has been severed, but Doug doesn't think they'll be discovered.


They're discussing Shaw's odd connection to the government when Kitty is called back to the mansion by Professor X. Cutting through the woods, she encounters Amara, who rebuffs her help, and the rest of the New Mutants, who are cold to Kitty due to her open disdain for being part of their team. Meeting with Xavier, he tells her she needs to settle her feud with the New Mutants and stop neglecting her own training. The next day, when Rahne is admonished for using her power during dance class, Kitty takes her side, saying she once did the same thing. Later, Amara has her first session in the Danger Room. But when she learns Xavier will be monitoring her telepathically, she runs out, upset that he would come into her mind. That night, a distraught Amara wanders the halls of the school, contemplating returning home. She inadvertently overhears a conversation between Professor X and Lilandra, and when Professor X tells Amara about how he and Lilandra are separated due to their commitment to their respective duties, she realizes she has a duty to learn to control her powers, and decides to stay at the school. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Doug Ramsey, who eventually join the New Mutants as Cypher, appears for the first time, after being mentioned in previous issues of X-Men. For now, he is simply a normal friend of Kitty's from dance class who shares her interests in computers (he knows software and programming languages, she does hardware). It's specifically noted that he doesn't know anything about the X-Men or the New Mutants at this point, and isn't even aware that Kitty and her classmates are mutants. 


Amara receives her Magma codename from Professor X in this issue.

Though on sale the same month as Uncanny X-Men #178, the events of this issue occur chronologically after X-Men #179. 

Amara's head has been added to the corner box. 

The cover of this issue is drawn by future New Mutants penciller Brett Blevins.

A Work in Progress
Kitty appears on the cover wearing what appears to be a blue version of her Ariel costume, though she does not appear in costume in the issue itself.

No mention is made of either Karma's absence or the search for her, aborted or otherwise, suggesting the trip to Nova Roma has made everyone forget about her. 

Stevie Hunter introduces herself to Amara as someone who teaches dance and helps Xaviers with the kids, which, while technically true, is bit more than her original edict of "gym teacher".


Both Val Cooper, making her second appearance following X-Men #176, and Sebastian Shaw are seen alongside Henry Peter Gyrich at the Project: Wideawake headquarters.

Kitty, having received Doug's help to hack into Shaw Industries, begins to suspect Shaw's involvement with the government after their hack leads them from Shaw Industries to the Hellfire Club to a government system (Project: Wideawake, though that's unknown to them). 

In the course of her conversation with Doug, Kitty brings up her parents' divorce.

Professor X reminds Kitty that for all her talk of the New Mutants being "X-Babies", two of them are older than her (Dani and Sam).

Professor Xavier mentions the events of Marvel Team-Up Annual #6; this is arguably the first time since that issue was published that a natural reference point could be worked into the story.


Professor X is once more hit by the psionic scanning wave he first encountered in Uncanny X-Men #178.


Frustrated in computer class, Rahne thinks that she's as stupid as she is ugly, a sentiment Xavier overhears and dislikes.


Rahne mentions that Moira is her godmother; I believe this is the first time that relationship is revealed (in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, Moira merely rescues Rahne from a mob and sends her to Xavier).

I Love the 80s
It's not entirely outdated yet, but even on a cover from 1983, the presence of a speech balloon is starting to feel quaint. 

Kitty and Dough hack into Project: Wideawake and inadvertently take control of a Sentinel.


"Professor Xavier is NOT a Jerk!"
Professor X assures Amara he would never use his power to pry into her mind, and only maintains a constant rapport with her throughout the issue to help her control her power and ensure she doesn't, you know, accidentally volcano New York to death. 


Young Love
Dani wishes Roberto would turn some of his charm towards her. 


Kitty worries about how her friendship with Doug might affect her relationship with Colossus, and whether she'll ever find herself in love with Doug.
 
En route to Shi'ar space, Lilandra has one final conversation with Xavier before going out of range. 


The Awesome and Terrible Power of CyclopsMagma
Like Cyclops before her, Magma is so overcome with angst over her power she must drape herself across a rock.


Human/Mutant Relations
Amara asked whether being a mutant is something to be ashamed of, which Rahne sadly says is true.


We learn each of the Sentinels Shaw Industries is creating for the government costs $5 million.

Teebore's Take
Like last issue, this is another character-focused issue, though it gains a lot from finally getting the New Mutants back in New York and interacting with the book's supporting cast (and Kitty). It also has a lot in common with the "quiet" issues Claremont did with Paul Smith, in which the issue is entirely devoted to moments of characterization and development of subplots. Even the relatively-minor Magma rampage and ice truck retrieval action scenes of last issue are gone (the closest we get is Roberto tossing a burning tree and the rampage of a hacked Sentinel). Instead, Claremont focuses on Magma's discomfort with her new home, the relationship between the New Mutants and Kitty (thus addressing another leftover "From the Ashes" bit - Kitty's vocal disdain of the New Mutants from X-Men #168), and the introduction of Kitty's "normal" friend, Doug Ramsey. In that regard, this issue is the first one of the series in a long time that reads similarly to what Claremont has been doing in the main title. 

Next Issue
We find out what happened to Kitty in Uncanny X-Men #179, and explore Illyana's time in Limbo in the Magik limited series. 

7 comments:

Matt said...

So we're entering the second year of this series, and the New Mutants spent about half that time on an adventure in South America. That seems odd for a "classroom" series, but what do I know?

I'm glad Claremont finally addressed Kitty's open disdain for tne New Mutants. She really laid it on heavy against them several months ago, and it seems reasonable that they would resent her for that.

"The cover of this issue is drawn by future New Mutants penciller Brett Blevins."

I've gathered that Blevins is sort of a polarizing artist on this title. Having read some of his issues recently for the first time, I really like him and I think he's a much better fit on the series than Bill Sienkiewicz. But we're living in a post-Bruce Timm world these days (or to use an analogy more appropriate to comics and the X-Men, a post-Joe Mad world), where that cartoony style is more acceptable on an otherwise serious book. I think Blevins was just a little bit ahead of his time. I'm sure I'll have more to say about him when his run begins.

"Kitty appears on the cover wearing what appears to be a blue version of her Ariel costume..."

This is a really good look for her. I wish we had seen more of it. I think I even like it better than the Shadowcat costume.

"We learn each of the Sentinels Shaw Industries is creating for the government costs $5 million"

Which, according to the first inflation calculator I could find, would be $11,131,713 in 2012 dollars. That still seems a little cheap to me. But then I guess maybe robotics cost less in the Marvel Universe thanks to pioneers like Reed Richards and Tony Stark.

David Brewer said...

This is easily one of my favorite early New Mutants covers. I liked Brett's run later in the series as well but I agree he really splits the fans on this series.

You do have to feel for poor Karma. It's almost like she never existed. Some friends they were. HAHA

Teebore said...

@Matt: That seems odd for a "classroom" series, but what do I know?

It's not just you. A "field trip", such as it were, is a fine idea. It didn't need to last six issues though.

I've gathered that Blevins is sort of a polarizing artist on this title.

He is, though frankly, I've encountered very few on the "pro-Blevins" side.

As with most of these polarizing issues (see also: Morrison's run) I'm of two minds.

On the one hand, I don't mind Blevins' art in and of itself. It's certainly cartoony and stylistic, but that isn't automatically a bad thing.

On the other hand, Blevins' run coincides with an attempt on Weezie's part, partially based on editorial mandate, to "de-age" the characters, to make them appear more traditionally teenaged (which certainly fits Blevins' style). Weezie herself has admitted she took things too far, and the characters started acting more like kids than teenagers (and acting more or less out of character), and, thanks to Blevins, looking that way too, especially when compared to the more adult (in a non-porn way) work of Seinkiewicz and the more realistic work of Guice.

So I think Blevins gets a lot of heat for what is essentially a case of bad timing, his work being such a jarring transition from the previous look of the book as well as contributing to a direction that many fans didn't like and which the writer herself admits wasn't executed properly. Neither of which, of course, are Blevins' fault.

This is a really good look for her. I wish we had seen more of it

Agreed on both counts.

@David: You do have to feel for poor Karma. It's almost like she never existed. Some friends they were

Indeed. I can understand Claremont not wanting to draw attention to her absence, especially since he had plans to bring her back, but you kinda feel like some sort of memorial service, or at least an acknowledgement on the part of the New Mutants that they believe their former teammate to be dead, would have been appropriate.

Blam said...


I love the Bret Blevins cover, Dani's pose especially.

Amara's from a Roman city in the South America. Is her last name, Aquilla, pronounced phonetically (as if Latin) or "ah-kee-ah" (as if Spanish or Portuguese)?

Never mind it freaking her out that Professor X took the image from her memories; I'm sure that an exact reproduction of her room back home is totally what Amara needs to adjust to her new situation.

(I get the feeling that either I'm in a mood or this is one of those issues that's going to make the sarcasm flow.)

Having Sam fly the soda in is a spectacular idea.

Even if "School Daysze" weren't such an unfortunately weird title — ""School Daze"? Even School Days / School Daze"? Fine. "School Daysze"? Crap or get off the pot! — I'd love to have seen the story called "All My Fault" instead. Where's your brain, Claremont?!?

I wonder if Judge Richard Petrie is any connection to Rob & Laura Petrie's son, Rich, from The Dick Van Dyke show.

Do we ever get an explanation as to why Shaw isn't nervous about maintaining his secret mutantude in a Sentinel factory, when Sentinels are (somehow) programmed to detect mutants?

I call frumious bandersnatch on that Sentinel blowing up via self-destruct without harming anybody in the room.

There's an arc to this issue thanks to the rapprochement between Amara and Xavier at the end, but I was surprised that neither of the main conflicts (Kitty vs. the New Mutants; Amara vs. her new situation) were physical ones and that other than Amara freaking out the only action was a quickly halted berserk Sentinel.

Doug (to Kitty): "I can't believe the improvements you've made to my hardware."

Me: "Yeah she did."

Blam said...


Rahne and Dani follow Amara into the woods, but decide to respect her privacy

By not telling her they're watching quietly nearby while she cries!

No mention is made of either Karma's absence or the search for her, aborted or otherwise, suggesting the trip to Nova Roma has made everyone forget about her.

Most notably, for our purposes, Claremont and Weezie...

Frustrated in computer class, Rahne thinks that she's as stupid as she is ugly, a sentiment Xavier overhears and dislikes.

I love that saying, like, "That's not true, Rahne," doesn't help any. "You are not as stupid as you are ugly" — See? There's no good way into that. It's like the old "Have you stopped beating your wife?" line.

Kitty and Dough [sic (he didn't look that babyfaced)] hack into Project: Wideawake and inadvertently take control of a Sentinel.

"Shall we play a game?"
"Let's play Global Thermonuclear War."

Like Cyclops before her, Magma is so overcome with angst over her power she must drape herself across a rock.

Ha! You know, I'm kind-of surprised in retrospect that it wasn't an ancient, demon-producing cairn.

Amara asked whether being a mutant is something to be ashamed of, which Rahne sadly says is true.

I've always had a soft spot for Rahne, honestly, but I hadn't remembered the whole "Och! It does na' matter! We're goin' t' hell fuir havin' powers an' also fuir wearin' leotards!" schtick leading to actual weeping for this long.

Blam said...


@Matt: I've gathered that Blevins is sort of a polarizing artist on this title.

Wow. I didn't even know that he'd had a run on New Mutants. Mostly I know him as a pretty respected artist's artist who flitted around doing various comics (mostly Batman stuff) and animation projects. I kind-of look forward to seeing his run.

Clearly when I broke up with the X-Men stuff I broke up with it hard. I have a blind spot where much of the '90s Marvel stuff is concerned, due to really not liking it, but I stayed reasonably up with most of what was going on just due to working in a comics shop and writing about the industry pretty seriously — although once I left the shop it was much harder to just pick up some issues as needed to read.

Also, though, I appreciate your comment about how styles changed with the advent of Joe Madureira. I was definitely aware of his stuff and sometimes even paged through things for his art even though I don't remember either him coming aboard a title that I was already reading for the work itself (as opposed to boning up on it for research) or me actually buying anything because of him. There was definitely a door that he opened for more cartoony styles being considered kewl. Ed McGuiness becoming a fan favorite surprised the heck out of me. I don't recall how much if at all J. Scott Campbell preceded Madureira, but his lighter take on the Jim Lee style likely contributed to that wave as well. Chris Bachalo probably did too, and I think his work did get me to pick up Generation X as opposed to just reading it in the store.

@Matt: This is a really good look for [Kitty]

I agree. So is the green version, which in fact contrasts better with the rest of the X-Men (especially when Cyclops is around), but I think Ido prefer the blue. While I like the Shadowcat costume in terms of being dark and stealthy, for her pre-ninja-training period there's something in the fairy or butterfly wings suggested by her mask / face paint and the generally gossamer look to the costume's accents that suggest her power and go with the diaphanous name Ariel. (Yeah, "diaphanous". I went there.)

@Matt: I guess maybe robotics cost less in the Marvel Universe thanks to pioneers like Reed Richards and Tony Stark.

Give this man a No-Prize!

Teebore said...

@Blam: Is her last name, Aquilla, pronounced phonetically (as if Latin) or "ah-kee-ah" (as if Spanish or Portuguese)?

I have no idea, but I've always wondered the same thing. I guess in my head I've always read it as "a-quill-a", but I have no idea if that's correct.

I'd love to have seen the story called "All My Fault" instead. Where's your brain, Claremont?!?

Ha! Yeah, the whole "daysze" thing stuck out as unnecessarily odd to me as well.

I wonder if Judge Richard Petrie is any connection to Rob & Laura Petrie's son, Rich

As far as I'm concerned, from now on, he is Richie.

Do we ever get an explanation as to why Shaw isn't nervous about maintaining his secret mutantude in a Sentinel factory, when Sentinels are (somehow) programmed to detect mutants?

Not to my knowledge, but a little voice in the back of my head is saying "he designed them to not detect him", so maybe that gets revealed at some point and I just can't consciously remember when/where. Or I'm just making it up.

Most notably, for our purposes, Claremont and Weezie...

Ha. Too true...

"Shall we play a game?"
"Let's play Global Thermonuclear War."


If I remember correctly, I *think* War Games came out early enough before this issue for it to inspire Claremont. I'd be surprised if it didn't.

You know, I'm kind-of surprised in retrospect that it wasn't an ancient, demon-producing cairn.

Or the secret entrance to the Super Adaptoid's resting place.

I hadn't remembered the whole "Och! It does na' matter! We're goin' t' hell fuir havin' powers an' also fuir wearin' leotards!" schtick leading to actual weeping for this long.

Yeah. I too have a soft spot for Rahne, but she's pretty angsty in these early issues. If memory serves, I think it gets better at least by the time the New Mutants come back from Asgard, but possibly even before then, not that her personal brand of Puritanism ever entirely goes away.