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Thursday, March 7, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #23

"Shadowman"
January 1985

In a Nutshell
Dani and Sam investigate Rahne and Roberto's strange behavior. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Seinkiewicz
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
At the Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw introduces the newest members of the Inner Circle, Emmanuel Da Costa and Selene. In Salem Center, at a local tavern, Colossus finishes a game a chess with the owner when a waitress asks for his help in escorting a sullen Roberto out of the bar. When Colossus confronts him, Roberto lashes out and attacks. Mentally alerted by Colossus, Professor X sends Sam and Dani to assist. At the bar, Roberto is knocked out by Colossus, but Colossus mysteriously falls unconscious in the process. Meanwhile, in the Bermuda Triangle, Lee Forrester returns an injured Magneto to his island home, and though he rebuffs her assistance, stays to help him. At Xavier's mansion, as Xavier and Moira examine Roberto and Colossus, Dani receives a phone call from Rahne. Dani and Sam fly to a ritzy Manhattan hotel, where they find a confused Rahne, clutching a necklace, with no memory of how she got to the hotel.


Taking her back to the mansion, Dani tells Sam that she dreamt of the hotel the night before, which meant she must have been experiencing Rahne's activities through their psi-link. When Sam sees an article in the morning paper about two teenagers who were attacked by a wolf the previous night and they recognize the teenagers as Cloak and Dagger, the pair realize that Rahne must have attacked them in her wolf form, taking Dagger's necklace in the process. Visiting them in the hospital, they discover that Cloak and Dagger have lost their powers, their abilities seemingly transferred to Rahne and Roberto as a result of their encounter the previous summer. Sam asks for their help in reversing the process, but they refuses, saying they're happier without their powers. Back at the school, Roberto awakens, transformed into a monstrous shadow creature. He consumes Colossus, then attacks Xavier, reflecting back Xavier's psi blast, intent on consuming first Xavier and then Moira. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Emmanuel Da Costa and Selene officially join the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club as of this issue, with Selene mentioned as being a possible candidate for the title of Black Queen (the position previously filled by Jean Grey); it's unclear at this time which title Emmanuel has received, but we'll eventually learn he is the White Rook.


A depowered Cloak and Dagger appear in this issue, having lost their powers to Roberto and Rahne, an unintended side effect of using their powers to purge Rahne and Roberto of the drug with which the New Mutants were injected, with the intent to recreate Cloak and Dagger, in Marvel Team-Up Annual #6. Neither is terribly eager to help the New Mutants and reclaim their power.


Harry's Hideaway, the restaurant/bar in Salem Center which will eventually become a frequent hangout place for Xavier's students, appears for the first time (as does its owner, Harry), though it goes unnamed in this story and later stories will suggest that the X-Men have been going to it for years. In this issue, it is overtly said to be a saloon, unable to serve minors, but I believe later stories will show it to be more accessible to underage patrons. 


Picking up where Uncanny X-Men #188 left off, Lee Forester takes Magneto, after a brief stint in a hospital, back to his island base in the Bermuda triangle. She tells Magneto that the X-Men have abandoned it in favor of returning to the school, a move Magneto believes is foolish (though he already knew this - he was at the school with the X-Men in "God Loves, Man Kills"). Lee also reveals she's been researching the beings who originally built the island city. 


As with the previous two issues, this one concludes with an excerpt from Xavier's files, this time on Warlock, which notes that the New Mutants have taken to calling him "Locke" (a nickname which, as I mentioned in the annual, I don't believe sticks).

The Chronology Corner
On sale the same time as this issue, the New Mutants (including Professor X) guest star in Rom Annual #3, in a story that has more to do with Rom's ongoing story than the New Mutants' (which is one of the reasons I'm not covering it). The events of that issue are considered to occur after New Mutants #25, when this story concludes. You can read more about it here

A Work in Progress
Immediately following her induction into the club, Sebastian Shaw realizes Selene is already angling to usurp his position.


Sam accidentally walks in on Dani while she's changing, prompting Dani to tell him he's cute when he blushes.


Dani is still recovering from her Demon Bear-inflicted injuries.


She also unveils a new use of her power, taught to her by Xavier, in which she generates an image based on a specific thought of a subject, rather than the subject's fear.


It's revealed that Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander have been convalescing on Muir Island following their encounter with the Demon Bear, but Moira believes it's time for them to come up and try to resume their lives.


I Love the 80s
Inspector Clouseau pops up at the hotel during Sam and Dani's investigation.


Sam refers to Dani as "chief" in this issue, though it's unclear if that's a reference to her heritage or just her position as the ostensible leader of the team.


Dani describes her dream as being "a real yummy", another slang term I'm uncertain whether it's a Claremont thing or an 80s thing.


"Professor Xavier is a NOT Jerk!"
Xavier notes he's paying Harry for the damages Roberto caused to his bar. 

Young Love
Sam believes Roberto may have a thing for Molly, the waitress at Harry's.

It's in the Mail
Another two page letter column, including a letter asking about Karma, one expressing dislike for Sienkiewicz's art, and several that seem very concerned that Dani was going to be killed off in the wake of her encounter with the Demon Bear in issue #18, suggesting there were still plenty of readers who believed any character could die.

Teebore's Take
With this issue Claremont deepens the mystery surrounding Rahne and Roberto's recent behavior/transformations, and at times it almost reads like a hardboiled mystery story, with Dani in the role of the beleaguered private investigator and Sam her Gal Friday (in fact, this whole issue is a nice showcase for Dani and Sam, the oldest New Mutants and leaders of the team; other than the Rahne and Roberto, none of the other New Mutants appear in the issue at all). The reveal that Rahne was responsible for attacking Dagger, yet possesses no memory of it, is another particularly noir-ish twist, and of course, Sienkiewicz's art perfectly fits that tone.

I seem to recall that this story, like the Nova Roma story, goes on a bit too long, and it definitely feels like last issue and this one could have been condensed into one. However, the added pages do make more room for Sienkiewicz, and he continues to not disappoint, turning in some fantastically moody and creative pages throughout. Claremont is definitely writing to the strengths of his new collaborator at this point, not just in terms of content (as with the "Demon Bear Saga") but in terms of stretching out the plot to make room for the art. 

Next Issue
First, there's Marvel Team-Up #150 next Wednesday and then, because I have the power to do so (and am apparently a masochist), I'm revising the schedule to include the Iceman limited series on Thursday.  

4 comments:

  1. I think I mentioned before the the New Mutants Classic trades do not contain the Marvel Team-Up annual that this issue follows up on. Claremont makes things easy enough to follow here, but that missing issue seems odd to me. After all, the series is called New Mutants Classic, not New Mutants Visionaries: Chris Claremont. If it was the latter, then the exclusion would be perfectly acceptable.

    "Emmanuel Da Costa and Selene officially join the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club as of this issue..."

    I don't think Bill S. got the memo about proper Hellfire Club attire. Emmanuel is wearing appropriate 19th century clothes, but Selene and the others just appear to be in random fetish gear.

    "Harry's Hideaway, the restaurant/bar in Salem Center which will eventually become a frequent hangout place for Xavier's students, appears for the first time (as does its owner, Harry), though it goes unnamed in this story and later stories will suggest that the X-Men have been going to it for years."

    My first exposure to Harry's Hideaway was the scene where Caliban trashes it during "X-Cutioner's Song" and then when Beast and Archangel repair it soon after. For whatever reason, that particular issue of Uncanny is a favorite from around the time I started reading regularly. I can still see the image of Beast, wearing goggles and firing up his blowtorch, in my mind's eye as if the issue was right in front of me.

    Also, it kind of miffs me that Claremont turned Harry's into the longtime hangout of all the X-Men. Didn't the original class already have a hangout? I don't understand what's gained by shoehorning this place into their history. Why not just say that the new X-Men discovered Harry's and made it their hangout in Salem Center?

    "She tells Magneto that the X-Men have abandoned it in favor of returning to the school, a move Magneto believes is foolish (though he already knew this - he was at the school with the X-Men in 'God Loves, Man Kills')."

    Although... I'm not sure the graphic novel was considered to be in-continuity yet when this story came out, right? I don't think it was officially acknowledged until Stryker came back in X-Treme X-Men. We may have already discussed this in your God Loves, Man Kills comments; I don't recall.

    "...notes that the New Mutants have taken to calling him "Locke" (a nickname which, as I mentioned in the annual, I don't believe sticks)."

    You may be surprised, then. Though I think it's alternately used with and without the "E" on the end.

    "Dani describes her dream as being "a real yummy", another slang term I'm uncertain whether it's a Claremont thing or an 80s thing."

    Considering that he's continued to use "yummy" and "yum" well into the 21st century, I'm leaning toward it being a Claremontism.

    "Xavier notes he's paying Harry for the damages Roberto caused to his bar."

    Which is of course code for "Angel is paying." Or maybe "Lilandra's robots are repairing the place."

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  2. @Matt: If it was the latter, then the exclusion would be perfectly acceptable.

    That is odd. Between this story and all the build-up to it/references to the MTU annual, it seems like a pretty necessary component.

    I don't think Bill S. got the memo about proper Hellfire Club attire.

    It seems weird that he'd draw Emmanuel correctly but not Selene. Maybe he thought that was Emmanuel's normal look (though he also drew Shaw correctly)?

    For whatever reason, that particular issue of Uncanny is a favorite from around the time I started reading regularly.

    Mine too. "X-Cutioner's Song" was my fist exposure to Harry's as well.

    Also, it kind of miffs me that Claremont turned Harry's into the longtime hangout of all the X-Men. Didn't the original class already have a hangout?

    They did (the Coffee-a-Go-Go). And while you could certainly argue it's not the worse thing in the world to update the original X-Men's hangout from a beatnik coffee shop, especially in light of Marvel's sliding timeline, I'm not certain Claremont was responsible for that.

    I'm fairly certain he never actually uses Harry's in X-Men, just New Mutants. Maybe there's a casual reference in an upcoming issue to the original X-Men going there, but I'm pretty sure that's an invention of Lobdell from those very same "X-Cutioner's Song" issues that stuck.

    We may have already discussed this in your God Loves, Man Kills comments

    I think we did (there or somewhere else) and yeah, from Claremont's perspective, at this time, I don't think "God Loves, Man Kills" was considered in-continuity. But it is now, so I noted it as such in terms of the overall X-Men narrative (that's actually why I mentioned it in "Firsts and Other Notables" (aside from it the stuff with Magneto and Lee being genuinely notable), because in that section I'm comfortable referencing future stories, as opposed to "A Work in Progress", where I try to keep track of things as they unfold, as though we were reading these issues as they were published, with no knowledge of the future).

    Though I think it's alternately used with and without the "E" on the end.

    That might be what's throwing me. I certainly remember seeing "'Lock" thrown around a lot, just not "Locke" specifically (why add the "e" on the end? That's just stupid...).

    Which is of course code for "Angel is paying." Or maybe "Lilandra's robots are repairing the place."

    Ha! I would love to see in the background of a panel in a future issue a bunch of little robots working on Harry's.

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  3. The cover is kind-of a misfire for me.

    [Dani] also unveils a new use of her power, taught to her by Xavier, in which she generates an image based on a specific thought of a subject, rather than the subject's fear.

    And she can manifest an image from someone's memory as well, as she does right after this to show herself and Sam what/who the clerk checked into the penthouse suite.

    Dani's powers have clearly expanded wildly under Professor X's tutelage, while Sam is stuck barely maneuvering and plowing into the ground on a regular basis. No wonder he feels like a chump all of the time. You can't help but wish that his ego was (nigh-)invulnerable while blasting.

    It's revealed that Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander have been convalescing on Muir Island following their encounter with the Demon Bear

    "They were transformed into Indians by the Demon Bear in NM #20" has to be one of the most ridiculous things ever written, even for a comic-book footnote.

    Sam refers to Dani as "chief" in this issue, though it's unclear if that's a reference to her heritage or just her position as the ostensible leader of the team.

    He does it more than once in the issue, and I really took it to be merely a reference to her leadership — albeit a one-deaf one (on the part of Claremont, at least; we don't see Dani call Sam on it).

    Dani describes her dream as being "a real yummy", another slang term I'm uncertain whether it's a Claremont thing or an 80s thing.

    You forgot "British" as an option, but I'll go with "a Claremont thing".

    Now that you've spelled "Sienkiewicz" right in the body of the post, more than once, would you mind changing it in the credits, since the errant "Seinkiewicz" there seems to get carried over from week to week? 8^)

    Iceman? Yeesh... While I applaud the completism, and in fact am sort-of curious as to what happens beyond #1 (for some reason lodged in my brain pretty well all these years, perhaps as a constant reference point for utter mediocrity), I can't help but think that you'd do better to, say, cover Wolverine's appearance in Alpha Flight #17, which as I mentioned in a comment recently on an earlier post came out "this month" and incorporates the events of Weapon Alpha / Vindicator / Gladiator / James MacDonald Hudson's introduction in X-Men #109.

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  4. @Blam: The cover is kind-of a misfire for me.

    It's definitely pretty blah.

    You can't help but wish that his ego was (nigh-)invulnerable while blasting.

    Ha!

    "They were transformed into Indians by the Demon Bear in NM #20" has to be one of the most ridiculous things ever written, even for a comic-book footnote.

    Double ha! Funny cuz it's true.

    albeit a [t]one-deaf one (on the part of Claremont, at least; we don't see Dani call Sam on it).

    Yeah, I definitely think Claremont simply isn't recognizing the implications of using that particular synonym for "leader" in regards to Dani.

    would you mind changing it in the credits, since the errant "Seinkiewicz" there seems to get carried over from week to week?

    D'oh!

    I thought I'd corrected it in my template that I copy over into a blank post week to week, but apparently not. Consider it fixed.

    I can't help but think that you'd do better to, say, cover Wolverine's appearance in Alpha Flight #17

    I may yet cover that issue. Chronologically, it falls into a gap after issue #192 (technically, between pages of that issue) along with a bunch of other ancillary stuff (an annual, the X-Men/Alpha Flight limited series), and since it's not one of the two main titles, I'm comfortable looking at it in its chronological place rather than when it was on sale.

    I have to double check my list, but I think I may have a slot to fill, and if so, I'll probably fill it with Alpha Flight #17 (instead of, you know, just taking a post off).

    As for Iceman, the more I thought about it, the more the reasons I came up with for skipping it (I haven't read it, I'd heard it's terrible, it wasn't handled by the X-office) gradually turned into reasons to cover it, so I figured what the heck. I'm sure I'll probably regret that decision...

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