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Thursday, April 3, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #62

"To Build A Fire"
April 1988

In a Nutshell
Magma and Empath journey to Nova Roma. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Jon J. Muth 
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At the X-Mansion, the New Mutants gather to read a letter from Amara, hoping it will help take their mind off Doug's recent death. The letter reveals that Amara has returned to Nova Roma with Empath, and explains how she got there. Following a training session amongst the Hellions, in which Empath seems to express genuine feelings for Amara, she receives a letter from her father, ordering her back to Nova Roma to be married. Though Amara is reluctant to go, the White Queen insists, and pulls Empath aside, telling him she knows how he's been subtly influencing Amara. She tells him to accompany her to Nova Roma and ensure that her father becomes predisposed to supporting the Hellfire Club's interests there. En route to Nova Roma from Rio, the private jet carrying the two mutants crashes into the jungle during a storm, and they are the only survivors. Amara's previous time spent living amongst the natives helps keep them alive, but she refuses to use her powers to create a signal, for fear of burning down the forest, much to Empath's consternation. Over the course of several days, the two grow closer, before they're found by a Nova Roman search party led by Amara's father.  
 
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue catches readers up with Amara after her departure for the Massachusetts Academy in issue #57. In the course of the story, Amara, joined by Empath, end up crashing in the Amazon, and they are eventually found by her father, to be taken to Nova Roma, which is where we'll next see them. As a result, this is the final series appearance of all the Hellions except for Empath (who we'll see again in Nova Roma with Amara) and Thunderbird, who will briefly join the New Mutants towards the end of the series just before they become X-Force. 

This issue is said to take place a day before Doug's funeral.


The art comes from Jon J. Muth, a painter and children's book illustrator who will also contribute to the Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown limited series. 

The Statement of Ownership appearing in this issue lists the average number of copies per issue sold during the preceding twelve months as 368,964, with the single issue nearest to filing date selling 351,573.

A Work in Progress
Empath is unwilling to use the full extent of his power to humiliate Amara.


The Hellfire Club's interests in Nova Roma are again referenced, with the idea of sending Amara back there apparently playing into those interests, though we never learn much more about them.


It's established that in addition to making other people feel emotions, Empath can feel the emotions of people around him, like a more rape-y Counselor Troi.


He later ties to pin his evil behavior on getting scared by all the emotions he senses around him, so he uses his dickishness as a way to block out all those other emotions.


Young Love
After yelling at each other and slapping one another around, Amara and Empath kiss. As you do, apparently. 


Human/Mutant Relations
The Hellions mockingly refer to Amara as "Mutie" or "New Mutie", which seems odd considering several of them are mutants themselves.

It's in the Mail
The letters page in this issue is running letters regarding issue #46, two full crossovers ago. 

Teebore's Take
Though it falls immediately after "Fall of the Mutants" and uses the same "story told in flashback via someone reading a letter" device, this issue is at least a little more essential than X-Men #228 (even if it isn't all that much more exciting), reading more like a regular issue with a guest artist than a true fill-in, checking in as it does with Magma at the Massachusetts Academy and setting about the dubious (and largely unsuccessful, but yay for effort) task of somewhat redeeming Empath (who, let's not forget, once tried to make two people sex each other to death, mainly for shits and giggles).

The art here is also nice, akin to the pre-Blevins work of Jackson Guice & Kyle Baker on the title - at the very least, it's good to see the main characters in the opening pages look like normal people again, however briefly. Unfortunately, an appearance in the upcoming annual and a later inventory story fill-in aside, this is the last we'll see of Amara in this title, her story, the story of the Hellfire Club's interest in Nova Roma and her relationship with Empath going mostly unresolved, which, in hindsight, makes this issue feel more inconsequential. But for now, it's just about the right time and place in the narrative to check in on her, and for the most part, it does that well enough.   

Next Issue
Tomorrow, it'll be snowing in Minnesota so why not celebrate Christmas in X-Factor #27? Next week, the X-Men throw another shrimp on the barbie in Uncanny X-Men #229, and we get another fill-in with New Mutants #63.

14 comments:

  1. So do the Hellions turn up anywhere between now and their untimely demises, or is this pretty much it for them?

    "The Hellions mockingly refer to Amara as "Mutie" or "New Mutie", which seems odd considering several of them are mutants themselves."

    Don't the New Mutants sometimes refer to themselves as "the Muties" too, or am I misremembering?

    "Tomorrow, it'll be snowing in Minnesota..."

    It will be raining in California, but we're supposed to get into the sunny 70s this weekend and the 80s by middle of next week! :-)

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  2. "So do the Hellions turn up anywhere between now and their untimely demises, or is this pretty much it for them?"

    They show up in The New Warriors.

    "This issue catches readers up with Amara after her departure for the Massachusetts Academy in issue #57."

    Unless Simonson was setting up a storyline for CC's return that never happened, it really seems like Simonson had no interest in Amara.

    "The Statement of Ownership appearing in this issue lists the average number of copies per issue sold during the preceding twelve months as 368,964, with the single issue nearest to filing date selling 351,573."

    Something not even today's blockbuster crossovers can match.

    "Empath is unwilling to use the full extent of his power to humiliate Amara."

    Awww, he must really wuv here!

    "The Hellfire Club's interests in Nova Roma are again referenced...though we never learn much more about them."

    Well, the HC are evil mutants, but they are also evil capitalist mutants. Emma and Sebastian must hear 'Cha ching!!!" whenever they think of Nova Roma.

    "which seems odd considering several of [The Hellions]] are mutants themselves."

    Even odder is that all The Hellions are mutants themselves...

    "Empath (who, let's not forget, once tried to make two people sex each other to death, mainly for shits and giggles"

    Well, at least they would have come to a satisfying end, no?

    "The art here is also nice"

    Yes it is.

    Adios, Amara! You may not have been someone who received much attention in this title, but you were always a welcome addition. At least you avoided being in the Gossamyr, Spyder, and Asgard storylines...

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  3. ""which seems odd considering several of [The Hellions]] are mutants themselves." / "Even odder is that all The Hellions are mutants themselves..."

    Another strange thing -- and I'm surprised no one's mentioned this yet -- is that the Hellions are mutants themselves.

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  4. "Adios, Amara! You may not have been someone who received much attention in this title, but you were always a welcome addition."

    I respectfully disagree ... :)

    I forgot, I actually HAVE read this issue. In fact, I own a copy. I remember little about it ... I think I was just curious about the Empath/Amara stuff. (Though I don't know why, since I have very little affection for either character.)

    Anyway, as people have already pointed out ... Nice art.

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  5. @Matt: Don't the New Mutants sometimes refer to themselves as "the Muties" too, or am I misremembering?

    Occasionally, yeah. I don't think Simonson recalls exactly how offensive a term Claremont intended for "mutie" to be.

    @wwk5d:Unless Simonson was setting up a storyline for CC's return that never happened, it really seems like Simonson had no interest in Amara.

    I think we're past the point now where Simonson knew Claremont wasn't coming back, though she certainly didn't seem to care for Amara. I'm guessing that maybe the whole "Hellfire Club's interests" subplot was something she was setting up (via Amara, here)/interested in, since it gets referenced again later even without Amara, and she just never got around to doing much with it before Liefeld took over and pushed her out.

    Something not even today's blockbuster crossovers can match.

    Indeed. I'm not sure yet if this series would have been considered on the decline, sales-wise, but I have no doubt that even at its lowest point, it would have outsold anything from today.

    Well, the HC are evil mutants, but they are also evil capitalist mutants. Emma and Sebastian must hear 'Cha ching!!!" whenever they think of Nova Roma.

    True, though there's definitely an air of there being more to their interest than just "pillage it for wealth/natural resources". It ends up getting tied in with their whole "control Selene" subplot that gets lost in all the Upstarts business.

    @Jason: Another strange thing -- and I'm surprised no one's mentioned this yet -- is that the Hellions are mutants themselves.

    A. Nicely done.
    B. *Are* all the Hellions mutants? I'm pretty sure Jetstream is just a cyborg (his jets being mechanical but part of his body), and isn't Catseye some kind of weird alien, as opposed to a mutant cat version of Woflsbane?

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  6. "*Are* all the Hellions mutants? I'm pretty sure Jetstream is just a cyborg (his jets being mechanical but part of his body), and isn't Catseye some kind of weird alien, as opposed to a mutant cat version of Woflsbane?"

    Yes, no, and no.

    Jetstream is a "cyborg" because his body couldn't handle the pressures of his flight based powers. The Hellfire Club basically provided the upgrades to his body, so that he could now channel the energy his flight based powers produce via his cybernetic enhancements, in return for his services to them, what his being a po boy from Morocco whose parents couldn't afford to pay for the medical bills themselves. I hope that makes sense.

    Catseye is a mutant too. In her case, she was born in her cat form, though, was abandoned by her parents, and grew up raised by stray cats. Which is why she tends to think of herself as a cat that turns into a human. I hope that makes sense.

    But yeah, they're both mutants.

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  7. Jon J Muth drew an issue of New Mutants. That's mind-blowing. I really like his art on Moonshadow, Sandman 74, Lucifer, and other random comics. Putting him on New Mutants seems like an odd decision. Imagine if they let another surrealist/ painter got ahold of the New Mutants!

    - Mike Loughlin

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  8. You know the anger people felt on Monday night over HIMYM being such a narrative betrayal? That's how I feel about this issue. You do not take the character who is maybe a half-inch at most away from being a serial rapist & give him a "love brings redemption" storyline. Claremont went out of his way to point out that Empath was the only Hellion beyond any hope of redemption, to the point where even pre-reform Emma thought he was an evil bastard; deciding he's the one to pair up with one of the heroines for some reason (I suspect because he was the whitest of the Hellion boys) is beyond stupid & insulting to the audience. It's one of the major reasons I hate Simonson's run, even if it was just a one & done. It never should have been done at all.

    "After yelling at each other and slapping one another around, Amara and Empath kiss. As you do, apparently."

    So many movies, TV shows, & comics use this trope, and it baffles me. If you're fighting that much, it's because you reeeeally love each other - it's because you really don't get along. It's so bizarre & unhealthy (just like this issue), and it keeps turning up. I will never understand it.

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  9. Even worse, Amara seems to be forgiving Empath for what he did to Sharon and Tom. Note to Amara- you don't have that right, you're not the one that was raped.

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  10. "The Hellions mockingly refer to Amara as "Mutie" or "New Mutie", which seems odd considering several of them are mutants themselves."

    I believe a mutant can call another mutant "Mutie" but a non-mutant can't call a mutant "Mutie." It's their word.

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  11. About the mutie name-calling...In an episode of ST. ELSEWHERE, Howie Mandel's Dr. Fiscus makes an anti-semetic joke in front of his friends. When one of those friends (David Morse's Dr. Morrison) mentions that, Fiscus counters with "I'm Jewish, I'm allowed."

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  12. Wow. I did not know that Jon J Muth had drawn an issue of New Mutants. Lovely.

    // This issue is said to take place a day before Doug's funeral. //

    Just the opening with the New Mutants, I would think.

    Splash page: "Catspaw will begin this lesson posing on a wooden block for no apparent reason. Go!"

    Amara tears her uniform around the midriff to bandage her leg after a jaguar scratch, instead of ripping off, say, a sleeve. Of course I realize that is a distant, distant, distant, distant, distant, distant, distant, distant, distant second to the story's most problematic foray into sexual politics, but still.

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  13. Amara is a member of a very high (Nova) Roman family and has on record been quite open to the idea of there being servant slaves wearing rags (UXM 189). If Spartacus: Blood & Sand is anything to go by with, she may have surprisingly little scruples with how you treat people under your control and Empath conveniently can have lots of people under his control.

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  14. Except that she wanted revenge on him on issue 43- she didn't argue "Empath did nothing wrong by Nova Roman standards." And now, she's like, "OK, he raped two of my friends but he's hot."

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