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Thursday, March 21, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #24

"The Hollow Heart"
February 1985

In a Nutshell
Professor X attempts to cure Roberto and Rahne. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterers: Orzechowski and Buhalis
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
The horribly transformed Roberto begs Moira MacTaggert to run before he consumes her, but Moira refuses to abandon the unconscious Xavier. Just then, Rahne enters the room and transforms into a beautiful woman, who is able to generate a light that sates Roberto's hunger and returns him to normal. But when Sam and Dani burst into the room, Roberto panics and teleports away with Rahne. Sam and Dani tell the awakened Xavier about their discovery of Cloak and Dagger's involvement in Rahne and Roberto's condition. They worry that their friends can't be cured, but Xavier says their first concern is finding them. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Cloak and Dagger leave the hospital, worried the New Mutants will return and force them to take back their powers. In the Bermuda Triangle, Magneto apologizes to Lee for his ingratitude. Back in Manhattan, Roberto and Rahne arrive at St. Anne's, the church of Father Bowen. Roberto begs him for help, then collapses, unconscious. 


At the Port Authority bus terminal, Cloak worries that he and Dagger won't stay friends now that they're no longer connected by their powers, then gets angry when he's unable to stop a drug dealer from targeting nearby kids. Back at St. Anne's, Rahne uses her power to go inside Roberto's shadow mass and retrieve Colossus. When she returns to the real world she finds her teammates waiting for her, Xavier having located them using Cerebro. Back at the Port Authority, Cloak and Dagger leave the bus station, arguing about whether or not they have a responsibility to help Rahne and Roberto. Back at the church, Xavier and Dani combine their powers in an attempt to learn more about Rahne and Roberto's condition. Illyana begins to suspect the problem is demonic in nature, and teleports them to Limbo in an effort to use magic to help them. She's unable to do so, in part because Rahne resists the dark magic. Illyana returns them to the church, and is admonished by Xavier for her rash action. Just then Cloak and Dagger arrive, willing at last to help.

Firsts and Other Notables
Cloak and Dagger's guest appearance from last issue continues, and Rogue makes an appearance as well.

It's revealed that Karma's younger siblings, twins Leong and Nga, have been in the care of Father Michael Bowen, a priest who, in one of those Claremontian coincidences, also happens to be Dagger's uncle.


The Chronology Corner
Rogue appears in this issue and the next between Marvel Team-Up #150 and Uncanny X-Men #189.

New Mutants Annual #1, the events of which are considered to occur prior to issue #22, was on sale at the same time as this issue.

A Work in Progress
Magneto apologies to Lee, and Lee wonders if its the first time he's ever apologized to a human.


Professor X admonishes Sam for wearing a tattered Lila Cheney tank top, telling him he expects his students to dress more respectably in public. Rogue, however, is a fan, of both the clothes and Lila's music.


The demon part of Illyana is uncomfortable inside the church.


The darkness emanating from Roberto is compared to the Shadowbeings from Uncanny X-Men #188.

Illyana's armor continues to grow, much to her continued bewilderment.


Claremontisms
In the opening narration, Roberto is described as having "strength that belies his build".

Illyana uses her Soulsword in this issue, though Claremont thankfully changes up his description of it.

Young Love
While trapped in Roberto's shadow form, Colossus hallucinates the evolution of his love life, as he passes up Kitty for Zsaji only to have Zsaji die, making him wonder if he's destined to be alone.


Rogue describes Lila as "Sam's lady" (the term itself is also something of a Claremontism).

They're Students, Not Superheroes
Though involved in the efforts to help Rahne and Roberto, the present New Mutants very much work under the guidance of Professor X, with Dani allowed to use her power only with Xavier monitoring her, and Illyana admonished for rashly taking Roberto and Rahne to Limbo despite her good intentions.

It's in the Mail
The response to a letter in this issue reveals that the being who turned Dani's parents into the Demon Bear is the same being as appeared in Uncanny X-Men #188 and stole Naze's form, which later stories will reveal to be the Adversary. 


Teebore's Take
Last issue, I mentioned that this story was starting to feel stretched out and padded. This issue officially puts it over that edge. Maybe I'm just not a big enough Cloak and Dagger fan, but I could have done without all the scenes (roughly a third of the issue) featuring them angsting over whether or not to help the New Mutants, before ultimately deciding, to the shock of no one, that yeah, they guess they will. And where the padding last issue at least provided Sienkiewicz a chance to have some fun artistically, there's not a whole lot he can do to make a de-powered Cloak and Dagger wandering the streets of New York terribly exciting or innovative. Even the scenes clearly designed to take advantage of Sienkiewicz's skills, Rahne's rescue of Colossus and Illyana's rash attempt to cure her teammates in Limbo, are relatively tame by the artist's standards, suggesting even he may be growing bored with the story.

Next Issue
Kulan Gath remakes the world in his image in Uncanny X-Men #190, and then we finally wrap up this Cloak and Dagger story in New Mutants #25. 

7 comments:

  1. I really don't think this story needed to be three issues long. Based solely on your synopsis (even though I read it about a year ago I really don't remember it well), this chapter seems like a lot of treading water.

    "Magneto apologies to Lee, and Lee wonders if its the first time he's ever apologized to a human."

    Ugh, that hair! No one to my knowledge had ever drawn Magneto with with such exaggerated Quicksilver/Wolverine/Beast hair before. I think Brent Anderson gave it some subtle points in "God Loves, Man Kills", and Neal Adams may even have done the same when he first removed the helmet, but nothing like this.

    My preferred "unmasked" Magneto vacillates between the immaculately coiffed Cockrum version, and the stringy-haired Jim Lee version. This look is a distant last place.

    "The response to a letter in this issue reveals that the being who turned Dani's parents into the Demon Bear is the same being as appeared in Uncanny X-Men #188 and stole Naze's form..."

    Interesting to me that the letter writer felt this was a "loose end". I guess Claremont didn't quite yet have his reputation for extremely long-term storylines. As I think about it, it really begins to manifest after "Mutant Massacre".

    Also, why even answer this question here? Why not simply tell the reader to hang tight and all will be revealed? It almost seems like Claremont either admitting he should've explained the Demon Bear at the time, or just assuming he will never get around to tying it in with the Adversary. Either way, as I've said before, it comes across as both sloppy and lazy.

    Also, about a year ago (in the final post before his blog went defunct), Jim Shooter did a post where he spoke briefly about that New Mutants poster. The pertinent paragraph is pretty funny, though not quite as glowing as Claremont's reply to that letter makes it seem:

    "Bill Sienkiewicz. I love Bill. Great guy. Brilliant, amazing, world-class artist. One time, back in my Marvel days, we needed a New Mutants poster. Bill was the obvious choice. We described to him what we wanted, a classic group shot, the definitive, iconic image of the New Mutants. Man, we could just picture the poster image we’d all agreed upon painted by the amazing Bill. When he brought the finished painting in, however, it was nothing like what we had proposed and he had agreed to execute. Completely different. Brilliantly painted, yes. Actually, it was a collage. It had some radio parts glued onto it. Not what we had intended.

    Publisher Mike Hobson’s reaction was "I’d love to have this hanging in my office, but it isn’t what we commissioned."

    Still a pretty good poster, though. We went with it. Sigh.

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  2. Of all Bill Sienkiewicz's New Mutants work, the Cloak & Dagger/ Sunspot & Wolfsbane arc is the least-inspired. His art gets noticably better (and crazier) during the Legion story.

    @Matt

    Well, *I* like the hair! I agree, though, that Jim Lee's version is excellent. I love the poster, too, even if it's not... conventional, let's say.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  3. @Matt: Based solely on your synopsis ... this chapter seems like a lot of treading water.

    It is. This definitely could have been a three issue story, with the first structured like #22 (mainly subplot/character development, some setup for the story).

    My preferred "unmasked" Magneto vacillates between the immaculately coiffed Cockrum version, and the stringy-haired Jim Lee version.

    I've always liked the Jim Lee version (though I don't hate the pointy hair here); it looks like I imagine hair that spent most of its life inside a metal helmet would look.

    As I think about it, it really begins to manifest after "Mutant Massacre".

    Yeah, I don't think it really became a "thing" that people would start to associate with him until around then.

    ...or just assuming he will never get around to tying it in with the Adversary.

    It does make it seem like whatever his plans for the Adversary at the time were (and I imagine they were a lot different than what actually saw print, just based on how much he had to alter as a result of the aborted Jim Jaspers story), he already knew that tying him into the Demon Bear explicitly wasn't part of them.

    The pertinent paragraph is pretty funny, though not quite as glowing as Claremont's reply to that letter makes it seem

    Ha! That's pretty funny. Though I don't think I've ever seen that poster.

    @Mike: Of all Bill Sienkiewicz's New Mutants work, the Cloak & Dagger/ Sunspot & Wolfsbane arc is the least-inspired.

    Definitely. I don't want to project my own feelings about the story onto Sienkiewicz, but I have to wonder if he wasn't as bored by the material as I am.

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  4. Does anyone think that the Native American bodies Sharon Friedlander and Tom Corsi were transferred into younger versions of Danielle Moonstar's parents and would play an integral part in the defeat of the Adversary had Claremont managed to still have control of the New Mutants title?

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  5. @Nathan: Does anyone think that the Native American bodies Sharon Friedlander and Tom Corsi were transferred into younger versions of Danielle Moonstar's parents and would play an integral part in the defeat of the Adversary had Claremont managed to still have control of the New Mutants title?

    Well, I certainly like the idea simply based on the fact that it's better than what Claremont ended up doing with them (nothing), but I've never really considered how New Mutants might have played into Claremont's Adversary story had he remained on the book. I've always thought of it in terms of how he re-modified his planned James Jaspers story.

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  6. I was curious reading if we'd actually found out previously that Xian's brother and sister were at St. Anne's as wards of Father Bowen. You make it clear that this was the "revelation". It's not as if they're major characters, but their fates after Karma went missing is a major question to address, so it's rather odd for Claremont to pull one of those "We haven't said it before but here's something that's been happening and we're telling you like you should be used to it" deals.

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  7. @Blam: I was curious reading if we'd actually found out previously that Xian's brother and sister were at St. Anne's as wards of Father Bowen.

    I don't think we did. I want to say that maybe we knew they were staying with a priest while Karma and the New Mutants were away on the mission that ultimately led to Karma's disappearance, but I can't recall for sure. I also haven't read Marvel Team-Up #100, so maybe there was something in there about them staying with Father Bowen at some point, to at least make the connection here less random?

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