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Thursday, February 6, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #56

"Scavenger Hunt!"
October 1987

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants compete with the Hellions for Bird-Boy. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: June Brigman
Inker: Terry Austin 
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
At breakfast, the New Mutants discuss Lila's party from the night before, and Dani teasingly manifests an image of a guy Amara thinks is cute, which turns out to be the Hellion Empath. Running to her room, Amara reads a letter from her father, urging her to come home. She is reluctant to do so, though muses that she felt more at home at the aristocratic Massachusetts Academy than Xavier's school. At the Hellfire Club, the Hellions are watching the news, and see footage of Cannonball accidentally breaking the bird boy free the previous night. Suspecting the New Mutants have some interest in the creature, the Hellions vow to get to him first. As they leave, the White Queen pulls Empath aside, telling him it's time to spring her trap. At Xavier's School, the New Mutants see the same footage and decide to save Bird Boy. They teleport into the city and spot Bird Boy over the river. Attempting to communicate with the creature, they are interrupted by the Hellions, who scare him off.


The New Mutants and Hellions chase Bird Boy through the city as Illyana, Doug and Rahne gather a load of fish to use as a lure. As the Hellions and New Mutants come to blows, Empath, remembering the White Queen's orders, uses his power to turn the fight to the New Mutants favor, leading Amara to think she may have misjudged him. Thunderbird believes the match to be a draw, as Bird Boy has disappeared, but just then Illyana and the rest of the New Mutants arrive with the fish, followed shortly thereafter by Sam, racing after Bird Boy. Sam tackles the creature and they land on the fish, at which point Illyana teleports everyone away, claiming victory. Back at the mansion, the New Mutants set the Danger Room to a desert island environment, which seems to calm Bird Boy, just as Amara announces she's going to transfer to the Massachusetts Academy.

Firsts and Other Notables
Bird-Brain (here just Bird Boy; he'll get the nickname/codename next issue) makes his first full appearance, after his brief cameo last issue. It remains unclear what exactly he is, though Dani notes he's at least part animal, as she can sense him psychically.


The Hellions return, in a reprise of their "duel" with the New Mutants in issue #54, as both teams compete to be the first to take in Bird-Boy. Unfortunately, this is the last time the Hellions appear as a rival to the New Mutants - they'll pop up again for an Amara-centric fill-in story, then once more in New Warriors before being mostly (and unceremoniously) killed off in Uncanny X-Men #281.

Amara's departure from the series begins with this issue (she formally leaves next issue). It's revealed that she's received a letter from her father urging her to come home and settle down, and while she finds herself lonely at Xavier's School, she doesn't want to return home either, and instead decides to transfer to the Massachusetts Academy. I've never read anything suggesting why Simonson decided to write her out of the book, but I assume it's either of a desire to de-power the team somewhat or simply a lack of interest in that particular character.

Amara also expresses an attraction to Empath, marking the beginning of a small storyarc in which the pair become romantically linked and Simonson attempts to somewhat redeem Empath (or at least give him some added dimension), a somewhat dubious endeavor given his past actions.


It's established that Empath can sense others emotions in people as well as make them feel whatever he wants, and that the White Queen, during the New Mutants' time at the Massachusetts Academy (circa issue #40) and the recent party at the Hellfire Club, as been subtly manipulating Amara into joining her school. This will eventually tie in with a subplot Simonson develops involving the Hellfire Club having mysterious interests in Nova Roma, but it ultimately goes nowhere and gets lost in the shuffle when Simonson leaves the book.


June Brigman, who worked with Louise Simonson on Power Pack, pencils this issue.

A Work in Progress
It's revealed that Sam accidentally freed Bird-Boy last issues, smashing into the building in which he was being held while trying to escape the aliens who drugged him.


The New Mutants once more don their graduation costumes, the last time, I believe, they do so before making new individualized costumes later in Simonson's run.

Rahne's dialogue throughout this issue is strange - not bad, just generic, absent her usual "Scottish-isms" and rhythm. 

I Love the 80s
The New Mutants use the World Trade Center as a vantage point to search for Bird-Boy.

I don't think that's exclusively a baseball saying...


Young Love
Once again, Dani and Illyana are boy crazy, with Illyana bemoaning the lack of boys currently at the school. Again, this isn't entirely out-of-character for teenage girls, it just seems more out of place compared to how Claremont previously wrote these two characters especially.


Teebore's Take
This is a marked improvement over Simonson's first issue. Dani and Illyana are still a bit too boy crazy, but the characterization in general is much more in line with what Claremont was doing prior to his departure. Bird Boy makes a larger appearance, but essentially functions as a living MacGuffin and does little more than fly around, making his presence tolerable. Most effective of all is the return of the Hellions, reprising the New Mutants/Hellions "duel" from issue #54, giving the New Mutants established antagonists to play off of instead of generic, drug-peddling aliens.

The return of the Hellions is also used to setup the departure of Magma. While suggesting she has feelings for Empath is a pretty outrageous development (he did try to make two of the school's faculty members sex each other to death), Magma, at least at this point, is understandably upset about feeling attracted to Empath, and is more curious than anything. It reads more like a teenager'ss confused feelings than the awkward development it really is. The idea of Magma feeling more at home at the more aristocratic Massachusetts Academy is certainly consistent with her character, while the reveal that White Queen has been subtly manipulating Magma to this end is, gratefully, more a clever use of the book's history than a clunky retcon.

That her departure (and the idea of certain New Mutants and Hellions transferring schools, a logical progression of their relationship) ultimately goes nowhere in the course of the series is a problem for the future; in terms of this issue, it's handled well enough, and it's nice to see that Weezie, when not hammering away at obvious PSAs, is capable of telling an entertaining story with these characters.

Next Issue
Oh, how the mutants will be known by their deeds tomorrow in X-Factor #20 tomorrow. Next week, the X-Men/Marauders rematch continues in Uncanny X-Men #222, followed by more Bird-Boy antics in New Mutants #57.

31 comments:

  1. "Simonson attempts to somewhat redeem Empath (or at least give him some added dimension), a somewhat dubious endeavor given his past actions."

    You are being admirably polite. And I'm leaving this plot point at that, since I don't think I can do the same.

    I wish Simonson actually had done more with the students transferring schools, actually. Her best work on New Mutants was with the X-Terminator kids she brought in later, so I'm curious what she could have done if she had decided to add a few ex-Hellions and have more than just Amara transfer out in their place. It would also make any future meetings (if they would have happened) much more interesting. But given her Silver Age-y sensibilities, I don't know if she would've done it with the subtlety the idea would need. Still, for the sake of discussion, if they had done team swaps, who do you think would've transferred to Xavier's and who would've left for MA?

    I never got why Amara in particular was needed to help the Hellfire Club get into Nova Roma. Selene already had a connection, and she was in their roster, so having Amara felt like it'd be redundant. Still, removing her from the team never felt like a big deal to me, since I always thought she was kind of bland (neat powers aside).

    Finally, man, I love that June Brigman art. It's so clean & classic.

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  2. I wouldn't consider Dani and Illyana's attraction to the opposite sex OOC.
    -UXM Annual 7 had Illyana go gaga over Impossible Man's Tom Selleck impression.
    -NM#13 Dani wished she was Roberto's target to charm.
    -NM Annual 2 Illyana referred to Sunspot's Spiral transformation as yummy.
    -NM Annual 3 had the two girls cheering at the body-builders (before they learned they were Warlock and Impossible Man).

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  3. Another thing about the "boy crazy" thing is that it actually is building toward a comedic payoff. Does it happen at the end of this issue or the next? Whenever Bird-Brain "officially" joins the team, someone points out to Illyana and Dani, "You got your wish -- the new team-member is a boy!"

    I actually thought that was a rather cute punchline, one of Simonson's most successful.

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  4. I imported this conversation from last week's thread, just because I was enjoying it and wanted to keep it going. :)

    "I'd say they're boring, more than anything, and for me, that's a greater sin"

    Wait a minute. Are you saying brilliant supervillain creation TOWER was boring???!?

    :)

    No, that is an excellent point. Layton's issues are awfully boring.

    "I came into the X-Men at the height of the Jim Lee era, and for me, at that time, that was the height of artistic perfection. I judged everything based on how close to Lee's work it was (I know, I know)."

    I think virtually every male X-fan born between 1977 and 1982 felt the same way back then. I always liked G. Kendall's line spoken on behalf of all of us of that generation: "Jim Lee was a Frankenstein of the best artists in mainstream comics and we were powerless before him."

    Regarding Blevins vs. Simonson, I know at this point neither of us is trying to convince the other, but I do find it interesting to talk about. Here's an aspect that I wouldn't mind hearing people talk about -- storytelling. Simonson and Blevins both are hugely stylized in terms of the individual images themselves ... but how do people rate them in terms of panel to panel flow?

    For me, and again I'm talking about X-Factor specifically, I think Simonson falls short on this level. Since we've been talking about the Image guys, it's obviously worth noting that Walt beats those guys at storytelling all out. (Lee's images are cool, but his panel to panel flow is virtually non-existent.)

    But I think Blevins truly excels at the storytelling. He's great at guiding the eye across the page, using the panel layout to narrate. He's also really good at expressive facial expressions and body language, which also fall under that "storytelling" umbrella as well.

    I really noticed this in the sequence you're looking at now, the Bird-Brain stuff. Reading the original "Fall of the Mutants" TPB I found the Blevins/Simonson contrast quite striking. Even though I didn't care at all about that Dr. Moreau riff with the crazy dude and his animal people, I thought those pages were so beautiful to look at. (And thanks for bringing up Terry Austin, because I'm sure his contribution was part why I like it so much.)

    Meanwhile the X-Factor issues, I actually found it frustrating to follow the action. There was a lot of BIG-ness to the images, particularly in Simonson's working to convey the size of Apocalypse's Ship, and of course, continuity-wise, the X-Factor issues were more "important" than the New Mutants was because of Warren's new status quo. And yet ... and yet ... it just seemed big and loud and difficult to look at.

    Obviously this is just my impressions. But I felt the same way comparing the two artists' work in "Inferno." (Where Simonson is somewhat hampered by his inker ... the dreaded ... AL MILGROM.) I don't know. I feel self-conscious as I type these responses, knowing that with Simonson I am basically trashing one of the acknowledged all time masters, and in praising Blevins I'm going to bat for a guy that fandom seems nigh-unanimous in dismissing. It makes me feel estranged from comics fandom. :)

    How do other people feel about the storytelling of these two guys?

    "Don't forget the horribleness of Gosamyr!"

    I guess this is where I have to admit the other thing that might be skewing my take: I've not read ALL of Simonson's X-Factor/New Mutants. As such, I had little exposure to Gosamyr.

    Therefore, I choose to believe that once again fandom at large has gotten it wrong, and Gossamyr is super super-awesome. :)

    "so the X-Terminators in New Mutants are really just Boom-Boom and Rictor."

    That might be enough. Those two sucked. (I feel more in line with fandom at large with that opinion.)

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  5. P.S. "It ain't over till it's over" ... I'm pretty sure that's one of Yogi Berra's malapropisms, yes? As such, calling it a "baseball saying" seems like fair play. :)

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  6. Maybe it's topsy-turvy week, but I liked this more than X-Men #221.

    // June Brigman, who worked with Louise Simonson on Power Pack, pencils this issue. //

    And turns in a really nice job, inked by Terry Austin. She'd have been a much better choice than Blevins — not only on her own merits but perhaps in minimizing Austin's cartoonier tendencies (on display in his own full art). I associate Blevins mostly with darker work on Batman, whereas the little I've seen of his New Mutants so far is much different; Blevins trying to age down the kids and Austin inking/finishing his pencils might've resulted in a perfect storm of unfortunate

    Yogi Berra coined "It ain't over 'til it's over," as Jason notes. I think Dani knowing that is more suspect than empirically naming it as a baseball saying.

    Fun touch: Brigman has the falling Catseye exaggeratedly landing on her feet when Roulette's power steers them to a storefront awning.

    Odd touch: Simonson has the television state "And now the news from Spider-Ham...", which feels not only random but narratively weird given that the broadcast is an integral part of the story.

    When are we covering X-Factor #20 again? 8^)

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  7. "Lee's images are cool, but his panel to panel flow is virtually non-existent"

    Really? I always thought that was one his stronger point. He could certainly tell a story better than most of the other image artists for sure, and his fight scenes tended to flow together rather well. # 277 is a really good example of that.

    In hindsight, I think June Brigman would have been a better match for this title than Blevins, and I say this as a Blevins fan. Or even cover artist Nowlan. Though Blevins does do a great job during the inferno issues. He could have inked over or finished Brigman's art for that...

    The Magma departure frustrates me. Mainly because it goes nowhere, but also because I feel like it comes up out of nowhere. Did CC really explore how lonely she was and how out of place she felt? I think it could have worked had Simonson developed it for a bit longer, instead of having her decide to leave during the 2nd issue in her run. It might have made more sense maybe if she had done it post FOTM.

    Who from the Hellions could have joined New Mutants? Roulette, possibly.

    This is a good fun issue, the Brigman art helping it out quite a bit. Though another encounter with the Hellions so so after their last one does feel a bit redundant, no?

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  8. @Jason: "I came into the X-Men at the height of the Jim Lee era, and for me, at that time, that was the height of artistic perfection. I judged everything based on how close to Lee's work it was (I know, I know)."

    I think virtually every male X-fan born between 1977 and 1982 felt the same way back then.


    Oh, no. I fall right between those years and I didn't. Though reason for that may be that I found X-Men when I was seven and at that time in my locality they were a year or so behind the American publications and still doing the JR jr era. Which means that the 80s for me went on a couple of years still in the 90s, which was nice.

    Anyways, there was some good years for me to get myself accustomed to the "Marvel house style" of the eighties from which pop sexy Silvestri, Lee and others were a clear deviation. Though thinking it over, I guess all this just makes your actual point stronger.

    Which goes for to explain my seemingly heretical opinion that Al Milgrom in Kitty Pryde and Wolverine isn't terrible at all but actually works really well in that book.

    @Teebore: Unfortunately, this is the last time the Hellions appear as a rival to the New Mutants -clip- before being mostly (and unceremoniously) killed off in Uncanny X-Men #281.

    There just wasn't room for such silly 80's creations like Hellions or the Reavers in the MU anymore when you had cool-awesome new villains coming like Trevor Fitzroy, Siena Blaze, the Acolutes, Gamesmaster... *sob* *sob*

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  9. "I guess this is where I have to admit the other thing that might be skewing my take: I've not read ALL of Simonson's X-Factor/New Mutants. As such, I had little exposure to Gosamyr."

    Interesting that you say that, since she appears in a storyline that appears between FOTM and Inferno...and she is even hanging out with the team during Inferno.

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  10. ---I think virtually every male X-fan born between 1977 and 1982 felt the same way back then.---
    "Oh, no. I fall right between those years and I didn't."

    Yes, well, that is why I said "virtually every" instead of just "every."

    ---As such, I had little exposure to Gosamyr.---
    "Interesting that you say that, since she appears in a storyline that appears between FOTM and Inferno...and she is even hanging out with the team during Inferno."

    Yes, well, that is why I said "little exposure" instead of "no exposure."

    Obviously I read the Inferno issues, but I can't imagine how anyone could have a strong opinion of the character if that was their only exposure to her. I actually have read the conclusion to her arc in New Mutants 74 as well, but she didn't really bother me there. [shrug] I guess when Teebore gets to the issues where she first appears (67 or so?), I'll get to see what has made her such a hated memory from the series.

    (I think I may have once owned New Mutants 67, oddly enough, but it remained unread and unopened for years until I finally sold off most of my collection ...)

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  11. Wow, this is the last major Hellions appearance? I assumed they would've stuck around longer, but I've read barely any New Mutants past "Fall of the Mutants" as that's where my various collected editions stop.

    Disappointed Simonson wrote Magma out. She was one of the more visually dynamic New Mutants, and I bet Bret Blevins could've had a lot of fun with her.

    I must be the only one unimpressed by June Brigman here. I don't think it's bad, but it just seems so plain and undynamic. Give me Rick Leonardi on fill-ins any day! Or Sal Buscema, though I suspect some people would say the same thing about him that I said about Brigman.

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  12. I don't think Teebore can do justice to the horribleness that is Gossamyr. Or Spyder. Some horribleness you just have to read the original source to see just how horrible it is.

    And then there is the never-ending Asgard story...

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  13. Sorry! My comment went to the wrong post.

    @wwk5d: // Or even cover artist Nowlan. //

    Nowlan's cover is typically great, of course, as was his work on #51. So I'd have been all over that — but it seems much more realistic to wonder if Brigman had been on the book instead of Blevins, as Nowlan hasn't done an extended interior run on anything besides Dalgoda and Jack B. Quick shorts in Tomorrow Stories in 30+ years. Hell, Nowlan on New Mutants and Mazzucchelli on X-Factor beyond that one issue he did would make for a lovely alternate universe of comics publishing.

    @Matt: // Give me Rick Leonardi on fill-ins any day! //

    Fine by me.

    @Matt: // Or Sal Buscema, though I suspect some people would say the same thing about him that I said about Brigman. //

    Yeah. 8^)

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  14. "Some horribleness you just have to read the original source to see just how horrible it is. "

    Perhaps one day. I do like that cover where she first appears. (I'm a sucker for the "team members as chess pieces" motif.)

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  15. @Mela: You are being admirably polite.

    I am. Partially because, as problematic as the storyline is, it never really becomes a big deal in the book and mostly disappears, and partially because I don't think Simonson ever realized just how much of a nasty villain Empath was under Claremont.

    Still, for the sake of discussion, if they had done team swaps, who do you think would've transferred to Xavier's and who would've left for MA?

    Thunderbird and Catseye seem like the obvious ones, and probably Tarot as well.

    Going the other way, I could see Illyana working as a Hellion (it would play up the "struggles against dark side" angst) and maybe even Roberto, just to watch him balance his aristocratic tendencies with his desire to not become like his father.

    I never got why Amara in particular was needed to help the Hellfire Club get into Nova Roma

    It might have been because of her father's connections (since Selene's position of power in the city was gone), but it's never really made clear since that storyline gets lost int he shuffle.

    @angmc43: I wouldn't consider Dani and Illyana's attraction to the opposite sex OOC.

    You make a fair point, though while she's certainly been shown to be attracted to the opposite sex, I think the case for Dani being a giggly girl about boys isn't as strong.

    Like I said, I don't think it bothers me that they like boys, just the way it's presented relative to their previous depictions (though as you point out, I am perhaps being unfair when it comes to Illyana).

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  16. @Jason: Does it happen at the end of this issue or the next?

    The next one. I'm...not as big a fan of the gag a you. Really, I don't have a strong opinion on it either way.

    I always liked G. Kendall's line spoken on behalf of all of us of that generation: "Jim Lee was a Frankenstein of the best artists in mainstream comics and we were powerless before him."

    I love that line too. I need to remember it.

    Simonson and Blevins both are hugely stylized in terms of the individual images themselves ... but how do people rate them in terms of panel to panel flow?

    This is something I'm actually watching for as I re-read these issues. I never paid much attention to it as a kid (I was too focused on the individual images, probably because I was reading the Image guys' stuff) and really only learned to appreciate it as I got older. I don't remember being particularly impressed by Blevins' panel flow, but I also haven't re-read that stuff since I gained a better eye for it.

    There was a lot of BIG-ness to the images, particularly in Simonson's working to convey the size of Apocalypse's Ship

    That's another thing I picked up from the Image Guys - my first comics were filled with all these BIG images, BIG characters in BIG panels on the page, and if you were going to have multiple characters in a panel, then that panel was half the page or more, because these are BIG characters (of course, I failed to realize/notice that most of the time, the figures were so big so the artist didn't have to draw backgrounds...).

    As a result, that skewed my appreciation of comic art for years, such that I had a really hard time enjoying older comics (even some Kirby stuff, who was pretty BIG himself) because all the figures seemed so tiny and cramped compared to the contemporary Image style art.

    So I liked Simonson's X-Factor more than Blevins' New Mutants *because* the former was bigger while Blevins seemed more restrained and cramped. I was completely oblivious at the time to how well either was telling the story.

    Seriously, 90s art really messed me up. Took me years to come to appreciate even the basics of good comic book art.

    Where Simonson is somewhat hampered by his inker ... the dreaded ... AL MILGROM.

    Oh, yeah, Simonson's "Inferno" work is a huge drop in quality for me. I can barely stand it, and I blame it all on Al Milgrom.

    Those two sucked. (I feel more in line with fandom at large with that opinion.)

    I liked them both later in the X-Force run (I was a big Boom-Boom/Cannonball shipper back in the day), and Rictor even later in X-Factor, but yeah, in New Mutants, they're the worst. I always felt like Rusty and Skids got a raw deal, getting shuffled off to languish in obscurity as part of the MLF.

    I'm pretty sure that's one of Yogi Berra's malapropisms, yes? As such, calling it a "baseball saying" seems like fair play.

    Agreed. I did not know that was a Berra-ism.

    Obviously I read the Inferno issues, but I can't imagine how anyone could have a strong opinion of the character if that was their only exposure to her.

    Yeah, Gosamyr does absolutely nothing in "Inferno" other than fall through stepping discs with the rest of the team, so I can see why you'd no strong opinion on the character. Her crimes come earlier, in her debut story. :)

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  17. @Blam: Maybe it's topsy-turvy week, but I liked this more than X-Men #221.

    Cats and dogs, living together! Mass hysteria! :)

    I think Dani knowing that is more suspect than empirically naming it as a baseball saying.

    Good point.

    Fun touch: Brigman has the falling Catseye exaggeratedly landing on her feet when Roulette's power steers them to a storefront awning.

    Ha! I missed that. Fun touch indeed.

    @wwk5d: In hindsight, I think June Brigman would have been a better match for this title than Blevins, and I say this as a Blevins fan. Or even cover artist Nowlan.

    Nowlan would have been fantastic on this book. But I wouldn't have minded Brigman either, especially inked like here by Austin.

    Though Blevins does do a great job during the inferno issues.

    I remember specifically not liking his "Inferno" issues relative to other ones, but as I've said, it's been awhile since I've read them. Maybe I'll like them more this time around.

    The Magma departure frustrates me. Mainly because it goes nowhere, but also because I feel like it comes up out of nowhere.

    I would really like to know the motivation behind it. Did she just not like the character? Had no ideas for her? Wanted to depower the team?

    As for Claremont setting up Amara's loneliness, he really hadn't, but mainly just because he really didn't do much of anything with the character once he brought her to the school. So maybe she was lonely because she never got any good storylines. :)

    And then there is the never-ending Asgard story...

    You know, I actually kind of like that story, at least at first. And then it indeed...never...ends. Which is a shame.

    @Teemu: There just wasn't room for such silly 80's creations like Hellions or the Reavers in the MU anymore when you had cool-awesome new villains coming like Trevor Fitzroy, Siena Blaze, the Acolutes, Gamesmaster... *sob* *sob*

    Yeah...that the Hellions are cut down by Trevor Fitzroy, of all characters, especially rankles.

    @Matt: Wow, this is the last major Hellions appearance? I assumed they would've stuck around longer

    Yup. The should have stuck around longer - and I think Simonson has even said she was going to use them again, but then Rob Liefeld and the 90s got in the way - but this is pretty much it for major New Mutants/Hellions interactions, which is a shame (I might cover that New Warriors story in some fashion, just because it eventually ties in X-Force slightly. We'll see).

    She was one of the more visually dynamic New Mutants, and I bet Bret Blevins could've had a lot of fun with her.

    Yeah, as much as Claremont may have largely ignored her, it always helped having her around for the fight scenes.

    I must be the only one unimpressed by June Brigman here. I don't think it's bad, but it just seems so plain and undynamic. Give me Rick Leonardi on fill-ins any day! Or Sal Buscema, though I suspect some people would say the same thing about him that I said about Brigman.

    I definitely agree that it's undynamic. Yay to Leonardi, Nay to Buscema. :)

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  18. Simonson having Amara fall in love with Empath made me sick considering that Empath was basically a rapist- how else would you describe what he did to Sharon and Tom?

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  19. @Teebore: Yeah...that the Hellions are cut down by Trevor Fitzroy, of all characters, especially rankles.

    Of course it had to be Fitzroy. Don't you feel there is something terribly meta in how new cool kids out of nowhere suddenly appear to kill established characters for pesky points?

    No doubt it was Jim Lee who got to sport the leadership ring, considering the scalp he managed to take...

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  20. Technically, I think it's Portacio at this point "wearing the ring", since in his stories we lost Sebatian Shaw, most of the Reavers, and most of the Hellions. Magneto gets killed off by both Lee and CC, and then once CC is gone, Cortez is retconned into being an Upstart.

    If we're going by the meta theory...who did Selene and Gamemaster represent?

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  21. There's no such direct parallers for all the characters, but as far as the Selene's intended "prize" goes none of the contestants were working at Marvel soon afterwards and the whole thing generally ended up a big mess just like the comic plot.

    And Jim Lee won hands down because the scalp I was specially thinking belonged to a guy called Chris...

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  22. Blaming Jim Lee for CC's departure is a bit unfair. By all accounts, there was no real enmity between them, and it was more due to friction between CC and Bob Harras. Lee and CC even worked together a few years later for a multi-issue story on WildCATS, which suggests there were no bitter feelings between them.

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  23. wwk5d, I wasn't really going for blaming him but in the end I feel that it was what Lee brought to the title what got CC off in the end; namely that Harras felt that there is someone else than CC who can and should carry the title and Lee wanting to go visit all the old places, like Savage Land, Shi'ar Imperial Guard, etc. where CC I believe rather would not have gone.

    I don't think that any of the other future Image Exodee caused such a massively-felt creator ramifications in any other title, and as CC goes he had for years been on the title with Exodee Silvestri with no problems whatsoever. I'm not saying nor do I feel that anyone did anything intentionally but it was enough that Lee and specifically Lee was there.

    To continue with bad analogies, even if Siena Blaze doesn't mean it, if the risk really comes to reality and her power usage cause the ecosystem to rupture, she'll no doubt get points for any big honchos who inadvertly gets taken down in the process.

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  24. @Anonymous: Simonson having Amara fall in love with Empath made me sick considering that Empath was basically a rapist- how else would you describe what he did to Sharon and Tom?

    Yeah, "rape" is pretty much the closest term to what he did to them, and I don't deny her attempts to pair him with Amara are pretty despicable. Maybe I'm giving her too much the benefit of the doubt, but I honestly don't think she realized the full extent of what he did when she set this up - I think she just saw him as a villain, and not a rapist per se.

    And it helps that their relationship never really goes anywhere, getting brought up in one future fill-in issue and then largely disappearing (and we'll continue the discussion of how wrong-headed their relationship is when that issue comes around).

    @Teemu: Don't you feel there is something terribly meta in how new cool kids out of nowhere suddenly appear to kill established characters for pesky points?

    Oh, definitely. It's clearly a class of elevating the hot new characters by having them take out the crusty old characters. But as others have said, I tend to not fault Lee as much for it - he genuinely seemed enamored of those older concepts the Upstarts were, in part, obliterating. Like you said, he wanted to do all those old stories - the Savage Land, the Sentinels, etc. - not blow them up, whereas some of the other guys (especially Liefeld) were more dismissive of the older concepts.

    I also have a hard time blaming Lee for Claremont's departure - it's hard to blame him for taking advantage of the free reign he was given by Harras, even if it eventually led to Claremont leaving.

    Claremont more or less left because he refused to be demoted to scripter on the book - I don't think he had anything against Lee per se: being forced to script while the artist, any artist, handled the plots was enough to make him leave. It's not entirely Lee's fault that he was granted that power (aside from being popular enough with fans to warrant being given that power, but again, Lee has no control over that).

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  25. I can still hate Harras for giving the plotting rights to Lee, right? I've read the defenses that he was the editor at the time when McFarlane's Adjectiveless Spider-Man sold records but surely it should have been clear to anyone that Uncanny X-Men was a completely different beast. Some sweet karma there that his time at the helm came to be written in the Chapter 11 in the historics of Marvel Comics...

    I actually kind of instinctively blamed Lee for the longest time for the transforming of my beautiful Bets... I mean, the purplehaired British chick whatshername, cough, to an Asian ninja just so that he would have a longlegged Oriental chick to draw. I was in an awkward silence for a while upon learning that is was a deliberate move by Claremont a part of character arch that had already been in the works the longest time. It wasn't supposed to be permanent though, but then he quit suddenly.

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  26. @Teemu: I can still hate Harras for giving the plotting rights to Lee, right?

    You can, but don't let Matt hear you. :)

    Harras is a tough case for me - on the hand, I'm more willing to blame him for chasing Claremont out by giving so much control to Lee. And there's definitely a case to be made that Harras handled the transition poorly - more or less ignoring Claremont when he complained about getting pages from Lee too late to make any corrections instead of just toughening up and being straight with Claremont.

    Yet at the same time, there's no denying that Harras, as the editor of one of Marvel's most sucessful titles, had a responsibility to keep the sales up, and it's not his fault Jim Lee=sales. And if giving Lee plotting control keeps him around at the expense of Claremont, well, Lee is putting eyes on the page (and money in Marvel's coffers).

    That said, I can't deny feeling a little schadenfreude over the fact that only months after essentially handing the keys to the kingdom over to the Image guys, they jumped ship to start Image.

    The push and pull between art and commerce is a struggle as old as the medium itself. Some of Claremont's plans for the title, had he stayed, sound fascinating, and I'm bummed we never got to see them come to fruition (especially drawn by Lee). At the same time, I can't deny that some of those ideas (like killing Wolverine and turning him into a bad guy for an extended period of time) just weren't commercially viable.

    I'm a Claremont partisan, and a writer-first kind of guy, so my inclination is to blame Lee and Harras for chasing Claremont off the book. At the same time, I can't fault Lee for wanting (and taking) control, and I can't blame Harras for backing his cash cow, even if he could have handled the transition better.

    It's just a messy situation entirely, with plenty of blame to go around even while it's easy to understand why things shook out the way they did.

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  27. PART ONE IN A 2-PART POST

    Did someone say my name?

    I hold no one's tastes against them, because there are plenty of people who have every right to hold my tastes against me! There is a school of thought, however, in which I include myself, that believes Claremont was getting worn out by the end of his run on X-Men. He probably knew what he was doing and where he was going, but if you read the book from roughly issue 250 up through his departure, it seems kind of rambling and aimless. Certainly editorial interference was part of this, but I don't think that accounts for all of it. He just needed a break. The circumstances of his departure are unfortunate, however.

    As for Bob Harras, I will always support his desire to return the X-Men to something more commercially viable than what Claremont was giving us at the time. And the real truth of the matter is that if he hadn't done it, then someone else would have. Marvel owns the characters and it is their choice, rightly or wrongly, to see those characters used as they wish. It's not really a secret that Marvel's marketing department was calling the shots at that point. I'm certain they would've installed someone else to "fix" the X-Men if Harras hadn't done it.

    My only issues, Teemu and Teebore, with your statements regarding Harras in this instance are:

    1. It may have been karmic retribution that Marvel filed for bankruptcy while Harras was editor-in-chief, but the bankruptcy itself was certainly not his fault. I would go so far as to say that he helped keep the company alive and out of bankruptcy for a little longer than it might have lasted otherwise, by keeping the X-Men as the industry's number one seller for a few years after the bubble burst on the industry.

    Which leads me to:

    2. Your feelings of schadenfreude may be justified, Teebore, but I would give Harras some credit for somehow keeping the X-books as the industry's biggest titles for years after losing the industry's biggest writer followed by the industry's biggest artists. Say what you will about his inerpersonal skills and management ability, but Harras seemed to know exactly what would sell back then, and he gave it to the fans.

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  28. PART TWO IN A 2-PART POST

    Which in turn leads me to:

    I do not claim to believe Bob Harras is a saint. I've seen him referred to, by industry pros, as "spineless" and as a liar. But on the other hand there are guys who like him. I recall years ago, on an old AOL board, Tom Brevoort stuck up for him, stating that he was constantly fighting against Marketing to keep their stupid ideas out of the books. Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee both obviously seem pretty loyal to the guy. Even Chris Claremont has returned to work for him twice -- first in the late nineties at Marvel and then a few years later on a Gen 13 relaunch while he was the editor of Wildstorm.

    More importantly, though, I'll toss out the line I've used umpteen times when talking about him, which is really the highest praise I can pay him: He was Marvel's editor-in-chief the last time I universally enjoyed their entire line. Avengers by Busiek & Perez, Thunderbolts by Busiek, Nicieza, & Bagley, Iron Man by Busiek & Chen, Captain America by Waid, Jurgens, & Kubert, X-Men "plotted" by Alan Davis, Spider-Man by DeFalco, DeMatteis, DeZago, & Mackie, and more were all roughly around the same time and were all books I looked forward to every single month. I can't think of a single time since 1999 or so when I eagerly awaited every issue of all those series.

    That said, Harras also had some big misfires near the end of his tenure. Claremont's awful return to the X-books with the "Revolution" event coupled with Warren Ellis's even awfuler "Counter-X" event in the ancillary X-books, and the Byrne/Mackie Spider-Man relaunch, were huge mistakes. Even so, I maintain that almost anything Marvel was putting out, even at the end of his tenure, is far better than just about all of their output under Quesada/Jemas/Buckley/Alonso.

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  29. Oh Matt. I feel your words and in my heart I know that's close enough the truth.

    I have first-handed seen older-times comic book fans over the internet telling how they bailed out of the Uncanny somewhere before #200 because they felt Claremont was just rewarming his old tropes at that point. Unconceivable to me of course who just got on at that point and had his young mind blown, but there we are.

    I just can't stomach the inherent unfairness of it because without Claremont they at Marvel probably wouldn't have had a top selling franchise in the first place. Impossible to know but I really wonder would some other writer if starting at #94 have sinked the franchise for good in two years or gone along with the Shooter-mandate of "this is a school, these are the students" instead of giving Wolverine ten demerits as a nasty meta-message and having gone all Dark Phoenix.

    Though I know there are those who see CC being sidelined as a delayed karmic response on how Byrne back in the day had to leave the book.

    Still, sales as the performance meter in the start of the nineties... it maybe hindsight talking but it was the alt gimmicks and speculating boom that sold the books rather than the objective quality of them. We are not exactly pissing on ourselves over the awesomeness of the X-Men post-CC era here. Of course, that is not what drives a publicly traded company. It's just sad when it's about selling product rather than making a work of art.

    Of course, I'm being unfair. It's mostly because I associate Claremont leaving/Harras dictating with the explosion of the crossover driven mentality, which for me as a non-American fan meant that my local monthly 52(-68) paged X-Men book was driven against the wall, editorially, and finally cancelled in 1996 along Legion Quest and the world going crystal because coherently juggling between X-titles really wasn't doable anymore and enough of the fans left. Fairly, I think it was mainly the momentum that was holding me on the book at that point.

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  30. Teemu -- "I have first-handed seen older-times comic book fans over the internet telling how they bailed out of the Uncanny somewhere before #200 because they felt Claremont was just rewarming his old tropes at that point."

    The funny thing is, I have little interest in Claremont's UXM post-200 because he wasn't rewarming the old tropes! He's said that his main differences later on with Lee and Harras is that he didn't want to revisit all the stuff he'd already done multiple times. But even earlier, somewhere around the 180s or maybe the 190s, as has been covered here, he started to become more experimental with the series. That has never sat well with me. I'm perfectly happy to see the X-Men fight Magneto, Sentinels, and Juggernaut, and visit the Savage Land, every couple years. Inject some new villains and new ideas into the mix by all means, but those are the "greatest hits" and should be revisited regularly, in my opinion.

    (And Claremont did revisit them in some capacities, but with the exception of subsequent Juggernaut appearances, I've never felt that his latter-day stories involving those old villains and locations have the same magic as his originals. Honestly, sometimes I think I'm more a fan of Byrne, Cockrum, and Smith than of Claremont.)

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  31. @Matt: Your feelings of schadenfreude may be justified, Teebore, but I would give Harras some credit for somehow keeping the X-books as the industry's biggest titles for years after losing the industry's biggest writer followed by the industry's biggest artists.

    Definitely (and I almost said as much in my initial comment). As much as I feel schadenfreude for Marvel in the wake of the Image exodus, I also feel the same thing back to the Image guys when, after their departure, Marvel just went along, business as usual, and at least with the X-books, sales continued to climb, suggesting at least in part that their was more to the appeal then just the artists, despite what they may have believed.

    Schadenfreude for all!

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