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Thursday, May 9, 2013

X-amining New Mutants #29

"Meanwhile, Back at the Mansion..."
July 1985

In a Nutshell
Roberto and Amara are kidnapped by the Gladiators. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterers: Orzechowski & Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Sam and Illyana race through the Westchester County airport after a kidnapped Roberto and Amara. They catch up to the van containing their friends on the tarmac, only to realize they've been placed on a departing plane. Sam attempts to catch up to the plane, but is unsuccessful. Illyana teleports Sam to Limbo, where they interrogate the driver of the van. They learn that their friends have been captured by a group known as the Gladiators, operating out of Los Angeles. Illyana teleports them to LA, but also accidentally shifts them in time, leading them to arrive a week after they left. They head for Lila Cheney's house, where Sam explains the situation and they learn that one of Lila's recently-hired sessions singers is Dazzler, who has a past history with the Gladiators. Elsewhere, a captive Roberto is taken before Alexander Flynn, the apparent leader of the Gladiators. He and Amara are told they will fight to the death for sport in the arena, or else a group of runaway children the Gladiators have captured will be killed.


They agree they must do what they can to protect the children. In the Bermuda Triangle, Lee and Magneto are discussing their relationship when an astral projection of Professor X interrupts them, warning Magneto of the arrival of the Beyonder and, in light of Xavier's weakened condition, asks Magneto to lead the X-Men in his place. In LA, Sam, Illyana, Lila and Dazzler attend the Gladiators latest show, much to the delight of the Gladiators' actual master. When one of Dazzler's friends from her time with the Gladiators is threatened in the arena, she intervenes, triggering a melee between the Gladiators and the New Mutants. The fight is interrupted by the arrival of Magneto, who declares he has been sent by Xavier to summon the New Mutants to the defense of their world. Roberto and Amara refuse to leave the Gladiators, but Sam, despite his better judgement, believes Magneto, and he and Illyana join him.    

Firsts and Other Notables
Guido Carosella makes his first appearance in this issue Here, he is Lila's bodyguard (a position he'll maintain throughout Claremont's tenure), but he'll join X-Factor as Strong Guy during Peter David's run on that title, and remains a mainstay to this day.


Professor X telepathically contacts Magneto, asking him to lead the X-Men in his place against the Beyonder, a setup for Secret Wars II #1 (which we'll look at next week), as well as the first overt occasion that Magneto has been asked to help the X-Men.


Later in the issue, Magneto debuts his new "M" costume.


Presumably as part of Marvel's late-inning push for the character, Dazzler guests star in this issue. Since Dazzler #38, she has surreptitiously joined Lila's band as a backup singer.


Mr. T stand-in Axe, last seen in issue #7, pops up as a member of the Gladiators.


Alexander Flynn, the alleged son of Dr. Doom who started the Gladiators in the Beauty and the Beast limited series appears as a hologram, presumably having resumed his previous position, though there are hints of someone else running the show, whose identity will remain a running mystery until this story ends.

A Work in Progress
Illyana spends roughly the first half of this issue in a bikini.

In chasing after the plane containing Bobby and Amara, Sam notes he's flying higher and faster than he ever has before.

Illyana says she's been practicing her teleporting ability, though she still lands her and Sam a week into the future when she attempts to send them to LA.


Despite vowing to run the Gladiators themselves, in a non-lethal way, at the end of Beauty and the Beast, the combatants are back to killing one another for sport, even going so far as to kidnap runaway kids.

Bobby and Amara both received the same drug that was given to Dazzler, to make their powers unstable.


I Love the 80s
Lila references the band Nazgul (the name of which is a Lord of the Rings reference) and it's lead singer, both of whom are a reference to a George R. R. Martin novel, The Armageddon Rag. Nazgul was also mentioned in Uncanny X-Men #194 as the band Rogue was listening to on the radio in the shower.


Sam declares he's making up a plan as he goes along, like Indiana Jones.


Young Love
Lila has no compunction against displaying her affection for Sam in front of others.


Lee and Magneto reconcile, and admit that they've become more than friends.


My Hero, Thomas Magnum
Amara asks Bobby what Magnum would do in their situation.


Human/Mutant Relations
Dazzler speaks to the difficulties of being a publicly-known mutant.


Teebore's Take
This issue is the first part in a three part story that marks Bill Sienkiewicz's final story on the title. It features Dazzler and the Gladiators from the wretched Beauty and the Beast miniseries, and ends with the return of an old friend, but beyond that, much like the previous Cloak and Dagger story, I don't remember too much about it. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised by how briskly paced this issue was. The story opens in media res, with Magma and Sunspot captured offscreen (following the setup to that in New Mutants #28), and where I would have expected the ultimate reunion between them and their teammates to not occur until at least the second part of the story, this issue ends with this contingent of New Mutants reunited, with Magma and Sunspot declining the opportunity to escape their captors because of the kidnapped children.

Granted, much of this brevity comes about because Claremont is forced to setup a tie-in with the forthcoming Secret Wars II, but perhaps that editorially-mandated crossover is a blessing in disguise. The concept of the Gladiators is pretty thin (and, as this issue points out, we've seen the New Mutants in a gladiatorial arena once already), and though Sienkiewicz can certainly draw the hell out of a fight scene, there's only so much that can be done in that regard before it becomes repetitive. Having to setup the tie-in material forces Claremont to keep the main narrative moving, and in this particular case, that's definitely to the story's benefit. 

Next Issue
On Wednesday, we look at Nightcrawler's limited series, followed on Thursday by a pair of issues, Power Pack #12 and Secret Wars II #1.

5 comments:

  1. The fact that I read this little over a year ago and have barely any recollection of the story pretty much says it all, as far as I'm concerned. This storyline was (literally) forgettable. Other than the long-awaited return of Axe, of course.

    "Guido Carosella makes his first appearance in this issue..."

    I've always found it odd that Peter David did away with Guido's Brooklyn-style accent in X-Factor. Not that the character had had a tone of appearances before then, but whenever he did pop up, he had the accent. I'm not complaining, mind you -- the Guido I first read was David's version -- but it seemed an unusual choice.

    And if I recall correctly, when Claremont used Guido in an X-Treme X-Men storyline, in typical modern-day Claremont fashion, he totally ignored everything that had been done with the character since he had last written him, and even reverted him to this accent.

    "Later in the issue, Magneto debuts his new 'M' costume."

    Oh, I forgot last week that the other reason I feel Sienkiewicz must have designed the "Giant M" costume is that it first appeared in an issue he illustrated.

    Anyway, what's up with Professor X going straight to Magneto and offering him leadership of the X-Men? Okay, Nightcrawler's not cutting it, and yes, the X-Men worked alongside Magneto during the Secret Wars, but... wouldn't you expect him to go to Cyclops first? Or maybe ask Beast or Angel if they could take a leave of absence from the Defenders? The jump straight to Magneto, not just as a team member, but as the team leader, seems like a stretch to me.

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  2. @Matt: And if I recall correctly, when Claremont used Guido in an X-Treme X-Men storyline

    Speaking of forgettable, I'd completely forgotten Claremont used Strong Guy in X-Treme X-Men at one point.

    Oh, I forgot last week that the other reason I feel Sienkiewicz must have designed the "Giant M" costume is that it first appeared in an issue he illustrated.

    Yeah, I had completely forgotten the costume showed up before #200, so I was surprised to see it here. I even thought, "well, that explains why Matt thought Sienkiewicz designed it" when I saw it.

    Anyway, what's up with Professor X going straight to Magneto and offering him leadership of the X-Men?

    Well, he mentions in his "chat" with Magneto that he basically telepathically blasted everyone, but the only people who responded were Magneto and Captain America (presumably because of his weakened condition, somehow). That's not the most concrete of explanations, but I've never taken his charge here to mean "welp, you're in charge of the X-Men now", but rather, "I'm dealing with some stuff and there's this big threat that can't wait, so go gather up my mutant militia in my stead and fight the good fight until I can join you".

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  3. @Matt
    I've always found it odd that Peter David did away with Guido's Brooklyn-style accent in X-Factor. Not that the character had had a tone of appearances before then, but whenever he did pop up, he had the accent. I'm not complaining, mind you -- the Guido I first read was David's version -- but it seemed an unusual choice.

    And if I recall correctly, when Claremont used Guido in an X-Treme X-Men storyline, in typical modern-day Claremont fashion, he totally ignored everything that had been done with the character since he had last written him, and even reverted him to this accent.


    I didn't mind the eventual softening, if not outright removal, of Guido's accent. He'll always speak that way in my head, but reading it is another thing. It was probably a good move; Gambit went from random French dropping to dialogue you could barely read. Rogue went from saying "Ah" to even more dialogue you could barely read. So it's probably for the best, at least in terms of my sanity.

    And yes, Claremont's X-Treme Guido was full on Brooklyn. I remember how jarring that was. Hell, it was jarring to see Guido in a book PERIOD around that time. Still a couple of years before the X-Factor revival, if I'm not mistaken.

    This makes me think, it's a good thing Nightcrawler was spared the phonetic regional dialect thing and was made into a random German phrase spouter. That would have been awful.

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  4. I liked the motif on last issue's splash page, but it works even better here with the snow.

    Y'know, I'm beginning to think that Sam just likes being undressed — also, that he's pretty dim for always forgetting that he's undressed.

    Guido Carosella makes his first appearance in this issue

    I had absolutely no memory of this. The first time I'd ever seen him, or so I thought, was when I picked up Peter David's first issue of X-Factor during a brief trial return to the X-line in 1991.

    Later in the issue, Magneto debuts his new "M" costume.

    For some reason, even though I've never been able to scrub the costume from my mind, it's only now making me think of the "No... But my girlfriend goes to Wesleyan" joke (or "Wisconsin" as seems to be predominant on the Interwebs, but since I think I first heard it at Oberlin that probably explains the "Wesleyan").

    Since Dazzler #38, she has surreptitiously joined Lila's band as a backup singer.

    Even though she had no idea that Lila was a mutant. It's not Magneto-landing-on-Lee's-boat convenient, especially given how mutants were proliferating in the Marvel U at the time and that Dazzler gives a decent rationale for joining Lila's band, but it's a bit of an eye-roll for me that she pops in just as Sam is talking to Lila about the Gladiators.

    Lee and Magneto reconcile, and admit that they've become more than friends.

    I don't mean to sound old-fashioned, but I would think that having sex (on a floating bed or otherwise) was a tacit admission that they'd already become more than friends.

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  5. @Blam: The first time I'd ever seen him, or so I thought, was when I picked up Peter David's first issue of X-Factor during a brief trial return to the X-line in 1991.

    Yeah, Claremont uses him a few times between this issue and his starring turn in David's X-Factor, but it's pretty much all at a point after you'd left the books.

    I would think that having sex (on a floating bed or otherwise) was a tacit admission that they'd already become more than friends.

    Yeah, you'd think so maybe. Maybe they just felt they needed "the talk" to make it official. :)

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