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Thursday, May 15, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #67

"Promise"
September 1988

In a Nutshell
Lila Cheney is kidnapped by Spyder. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bret Blevins
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In order to go into the city to attend his girlfriend Lila Cheney's concert, Sam promises Magneto he won't use his powers while at the concert. However, the alien Spyder has arrived in Earth orbit, and he dispatches his accountants to retrieve Lila, whom he believes to be his property. At the concert, Lila is happy Sam made it, while at the mansion, the rest of the New Mutants listen to the show on the radio. Aboard Spyder's ship, Gosamyr manages to sneak aboard the craft heading after Lila, hoping that if she saves Lila, Lila will help her in turn. She's spotted by Spyder, however, but, intoxicated, he decides to let her go and see how her adventure plays out. The aliens crash Lila's concert and a fight breaks out, with Sam doing the best he can to help without using his powers and breaking his promise.


Hearing the commotion on the radio, the New Mutants rush to tell Magneto, but overhear him discussing power neutralizers with the White Queen. Believing he intends to use them on the New Mutants, they decide to rescue Sam themselves, and Illyana teleports them to the concert by way of Limbo. They arrive just as one of the aliens manages to put a power dampening helmet on Lila. She is carried off as the New Mutants battle the rest of the aliens, and in the aftermath, Gosamyr emerges. She tells the New Mutants of how her family has been enslaved by Spyder, and that if they'll help free her family, she'll help them rescue Lila. Though Dani and Illyana are suspicious, Roberto is immediately smitten and promises to help. Meanwhile, Spyder watches this from his ship, pleased he let Gosamyr go to Earth, as now she's unwittingly bringing him the New Mutants. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Lila Cheney returns this issue, and this story arc represents her last significant presence in the series. 

This issue reveals more about Spyder, an intergalactic slaver/loan shark who operates a network known as "the Webb", with an annoying verbal tic of referring to all beings as "it" rather than "he/she" (also, despite the name, he only has six appendages). We also learn that he inhales emotional "essences" which cause him to feel certain things for a limited period of time. We also see his ship for the first time.


Similarly,we learn more about Gosamyr and how she came to be in Spyder's possession.


Brett Blevins inks himself this issue, which he will do for most of this story arc. 

A Work in Progress
It's revealed that Spyder financed the beings who originally bought Lila as a slave (referenced in her first appearance), then bankrupted that group so he could acquire Lila for himself.

Dani is seen practicing her new power, of which Magneto is still unaware.


Deciding to tell Magneto about the trouble at Lila's concert, the New Mutants instead overhear him discussing power neutralizers with the White Queen. I honestly can't remember if this goes anywhere specific (over than contributing generally to the growing rift between the students and their teacher), but I don't think it does. 


Limbo is still kind of a mess, even though Illyana hoped that sparing Forge and her actions in Uncanny X-Men #231 would have caused it to calm down a bit.


Using classic teenager logic, Roberto tells Sam that with Lila captured and her concert over, he wouldn't technically be breaking his promise to Magneto to not use his powers at the concert or in front of people.


Roberto cites Destiny's prophecy about Illyana as justification for going into space after Lila. 

I Love the 80s
Roberto, staying classy, insists that women should be rescued by men, because they're the weaker sex. And no one, including his female team leader, calls him on his BS.


The aliens attacking Lila are, of course, attributed to Star Wars by the audience.

The New Mutants change into their costumes in Limbo, and in an odd change, this time, Illyana is the only one we don't see stripped down to her underwear.


Spyder's goons are called accountants (a specific English term) and are able to communicate easily with the New Mutants, for no good reason other than plot expediency.

Claremontisms
Sam's dialogue seems particularly phoneticall-Southern this issue. 


Young Love
Because Simonson seems incapable of writing Rahne not mooning after a classmate, this issue finds her trying to style her hair like Lila's, which marks the beginning of her short-lived infatuation with Sam, despite having only a few issues earlier affirmed a sibling bond with him.


Roberto, meanwhile, is immediately smitten by Gosamyr.

They're Students, Not Superheroes
The Magneto/New Mutants relationship is more well-handled in this issue. Magneto's reasons for not wanting Sam to use his power at Lila's concert is well-reasoned and perfectly understandable...


...while later, the New Mutants' indignation that Sam wasn't given a "self-defense clause" in his agreement with Magneto is perfectly valid.

It's in the Mail
The letter column in this issue covers issues #54-55 and annual #3, and apologizes for its infrequency.

Teebore's Take
This issue kicks off the title's last story arc before "Inferno" comes along and shakes things up, giving us a more detailed introduction to Spyder and Gosamyr. It will all go off the rails shortly, but this isn't a terrible start to the story. Following up on Lila's mysterious past as a slave is a decent starting point (that the character gets mostly forgotten after this arc isn't the arc's fault), and while Spyder's "it" dialogue schtick is already wearing a bit thin, Gosamyr is little more than a cipher at this point.

Plus, after several issues of the New Mutants railing against Magneto for his perfectly reasonable edicts as their teacher, for the first time they actually have a valid point: while allowing Sam to go to Lila's concert with the promise of not using his powers is perfectly reasonable, the New Mutants are right that Magneto should have allowed for a "self defense" clause, especially in light of Doug's death (Roberto remains a petulant and sexist whiner throughout the issue, but he's at least right about that). This arc will eventually grind on interminably, and neither Spyder nor Gosamyr will prove lasting characters, but for now, there's nothing abjectly wrong with its starting point.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor battles the Avengers in X-Factor #32. Next week, "Earthfall" concludes in Uncanny X-Men #234, followed by a return to "The Evolutionary War" in X-Men Annual #12.

6 comments:

  1. Roberto, meanwhile, is immediately smitten by Gosamyr.

    I was never a huge fan of Blevin's art, but his Gosamyr drawings always...intrigued me.

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  2. I'm sure you get similar sentiments as we get further into this story, but let me be the first to say, "yuck!"

    And while I didn't realize it at the time (because I didn't read any non-Marvel comics back then), Gosamyr is such a BLATANTLY ersatz Starfire that you half expect her to rub up against Red Arrow in a string bikini. I could kick my former self for not realizing something so obvious. I mean compare the alien princess heritage, the big teased up hair, the "sold-into-slavery" background, and the (alleged) "desirability" they're suppose to inspire in the male cast. Of course like all knock-offs it misses what made the original work, keeping all the resemblances superficial.

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  3. "Gosamyr is such a BLATANTLY ersatz Starfire"

    If only. If we're talking about the 80s Wolfman/Perez Starfire, then definitely not. That Starfire was never the wimpy seductress Gossamyr was. That Starfire, despite the cheesecake element, was a strong confidant character who didn't need anyone to save her ass, she did most of the ass-kciking herself, and didn't play the field at all.

    Gossamyr and Spyder are, if anything, sings of this titles slow decent from readable mediocrity to full sucking.

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  4. I doubt it was deliberate on Simonson's part, but Magneto comes off at the start of this issue to me as the once and future villain simply masquerading as Xavier-sympathetic headmaster at the school.

    Blevins, who's known for his so-called "good girl" art, sure pours the full Dave Stevens into Gosamyr — who doesn't remind me of contemporary Starfire in the least, to be honest.

    Pg. 6: Baldo Smudge, a name seen on a taxi placard, is the focal character of a story in the 1964 first issue of Creepy. He was a would-be cartoonist who actually farmed out scripts, pencils, and inks to others, each link in the chain unknown to the rest. Al Williamson drew the story, written by Archie Goodwin, and based Smudge's likeness on himself. It's possible that Williamson assisted Blevins with the art here due to deadline crunch, since this is the first issue I recall seeing Blevins inking his own pencils and Williamson comes aboard a few issues from now, but that's entirely speculation on my part; just as likely, if not more so, is that Blevins threw the name in as a simple homage.

    There's nothing quite like painfully expository dialogue amongst characters who already know everything they're telling each other.

    Gosamyr's explanation of Spyder's operation is laughably purple given that she's fainting. If Simonson could be credited with Claremontisms, "really it's a tangle of deceit... with Spyder gloating at its center... spinning the lies that are the warp and woof of his business practice" would definitely qualify.

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  5. From Blam: "I doubt it was deliberate on Simonson's part, but Magneto comes off at the start of this issue to me as the once and future villain simply masquerading as Xavier-sympathetic headmaster at the school."

    Actually I think it WAS deliberate. A few issues later, Simonson will have Magneto saying as much.

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  6. Now I know why all the "Y" tiles are missing from my Scrabble letter bag.

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