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Thursday, May 29, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #68

"Illusion!"
October 1988

In a Nutshell
Chasing Spyder, Gosamyr sows discord amongst the New Mutants. 

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

Plot
In Limbo, Illyana tries to repair her broken scrying glass in order to locate Lila and Spyder. She manages to locate Spyder's ship for a moment, but then an image of her Darkchild persona appears in the glass and she loses concentration. The New Mutants decide to have her teleport them aboard the stolen space ship to Spyder's last known position; even though he's likely gone from that spot now, they can track him via the ship from there. With the ship tracking Spyder, Gosamyr uses a machine to recreate Sam's uniform, as well as new clothes for herself, Dani and Rahne. As Spyder watches this, he explains to a captive Lila that it is in the nature of Gosamyr's species to destroy by intensifying the passions of those around her. Back aboard the ship, Sam finds himself drawn to Gosamyr, much to Rahne's dismay, even while Gosamyr eventually kisses Roberto.


Later, Gosamyr ensnares Dani and forces her to manifest Rahne's greatest desire, a gallant Sam who is deeply in love with her. Just then, their ship catches up to Spyder's ship, in orbit around a planet. The New Mutants are contacted by a local official, and when Dani uses her power to give him the authorization papers he demands, Rahne realizes the Sam wooing her is an illusion. Enraged, she attacks Dani, who turns on Gosamyr. As they fight, the local official is approached by an admiral, and it turns out the papers Dani manifested were actually a bribe. Declaring that the punishment for bribery is execution, the admiral orders that the New Mutants' ship be immediately blown away. 

Firsts and Other Notables
I don't like Gosamyr, but I do like "characters as chess pieces" covers.

A Work in Progress
We are once again reminded that Sunspot is strong but not invulnerable.


Remembering Destiny's prophecy, Illyana wonders if she should go after Lila alone, though of course the New Mutants refuse this option. 


Spyder reveals that the females of Gosamyr's race naturally and unintentionally inflame the passions of those around them.


Young Love
After pulling her out of harm's way in Limbo, Rahne calls Sam her knight in shining armor.


When Gosamyr realizes that Sam is in a relationship with Lila, Roberto, oozing desperation so much it's laughable, points out that he's not spoken for, nudge nudge, wink wink.


Later, he decides the best way to woo Gosamyr is to unload his entire "woe is me" schtick on her.


Which apparently works, since Gosamyr then plants one on him.


Sam, almost as infatuated by Gosamyr as Roberto, refuses to acknowledge Rahne's crush on him, pointing out her feelings for Doug and strict upbringing, as well as the fact that he considers her a little sister. 


When Gosamyr forces Dani to create Rahne's deepest desire, she manifests a caped Sam who goes about wooing Rahne. 


They're Students, Not Superheroes
The New Mutants at least discuss whether or not they should go home and tell Magneto what they're up, to ultimately deciding that since he wouldn't let them help the X-Men in Dallas, he wouldn't let them rescue Lila, so they'll just go after her on their own. And while it's hard to argue with their logic given the way Simonson has been writing Magneto, I'd like to think Claremont's Magneto would help them in their task.


Teebore's Take
So after defiantly agreeing to rescue both Lila Cheney and Gosamyr's parents at the end of last issue, this issue finds the New Mutants...participating in a fashion show. Followed by Gosamyr trying to piss off as many of the people who have pledged to help her rescue her family as possible. Yeesh. And while Spyder establishes that it is in Gosamyr's nature to make people fight over her, what he says suggests some kind of uncontrollable effect, whereas what we see is a clearly conniving Gosamyr actively sowing discord. It's less "Gosamyr is a victim of her own biology" and more "she's a scheming tart".

Meanwhile, though Simonson is perfectly capable of writing decent soap opera (which is what most of X-Factor's teen issues were), one has to wonder if the second part of a four part story is the best time for a Beach Blanket Bingo detour. In terms of the plot, this issue ends exactly where the previous one did, with the New Mutants in pursuit of Spyder, geographically closer but no closer plot-wise. Which is not the best place for the second part of any story to end, let alone this one.  

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Beast busts loose in X-Factor #33. Next week, the X-Men find Genosha green but less than pleasant in Uncanny X-Men #236, followed by the first issue of Excalibur

17 comments:

  1. "though Simonson is perfectly capable of writing decent soap opera (which is what most of X-Factor's teen issues were), "

    Once again you suggest Simonson's X-Factor teens are better than her New Mutants teens.

    And once again I must object, even though you have read all the relevant comics and I have not.

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  2. "I don't like Gosamyr, but I do like "characters as chess pieces" covers."

    Also, in the "We Are Now in Jason's Nostalgia Wheelhouse Department" ...

    This comic, along with almost every other (non-Direct Market) Marvel Comic with the same cover date, was part of a Gift Package of comics that you could get from ... I don't know, Sears, I guess? My mom ordered it for me and I got it as a Christmas present at the end of 1988.

    That package was my first exposure to tons of Marvel titles --- literally just the titles, because in some cases I didn't actually crack open the comics, but just looked at the cover.

    This was the case for New Mutants. I found this cover very striking, and I knew that it must tie in to X-Men somehow, since it had "mutants" in the name ... but I still wasn't interested in reading about them.

    Perhaps my attempts at gushing about Blevins' New Mutants now are overcompensating for shunning them back in the day.

    (Meanwhile I resent X-Factor because they were a Direct Market only title and thus not included in my Gift Pack.)





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  3. @Jason: Once again you suggest Simonson's X-Factor teens are better than her New Mutants teens.

    Hmm, I realize now what I wrote was a highly ambiguous sentence. I actually didn't mean to say that the teen characters of X-Factor were better written than the teen characters of New Mutants (although, now that you mention it, I probably would argue that; neither is great, but at least the X-Factor kids don't have to be compared to Claremont's New Mutants the way Simonson's New Mutants do).

    What I was trying to say is that for pretty much all the teen issues of X-Factor (ie issues #12-19) Simonson was just writing a big soap opera amongst the characters with occasional bouts of superhuman action, even moreso than your usual mutant/superhero comic (most of which usually contain some elements of soap operas).

    So, in other words, X-Factor issues #12-19 or thereabouts showed that Simonson is capable of writing at least decent soap opera, while this issue is not decent soap opera.

    My mom ordered it for me and I got it as a Christmas present at the end of 1988.

    I've heard a lot of people say packs like that were their entry into a lot of comics, but I somehow managed to completely miss them. Maybe because my mom didn't do much catalog shopping, and that seems to be the place where they were found?

    I do recall the 3-5 issue packs in hard plastic that Toys R Us sold once upon a time (my local store actually had an entire aisle of things during the height of the 90s comic boom); I assembled pretty much all of "Knightfall" via those packs, as well as some other stuff.

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  4. I had to make my own Pack but I of course was helplessly into the stuff already at that point. I ordered, with parent's consent naturally, twenty or so random issues of interesting-to-me Marvel comic titles from a US comic book importer's catalog. By coincidence Acts of Vengeance was well represented with the few FF and Avengers issues, but mostly they were the forgettable middle bits of unimportant story arcs. It was a nice glimpse though to what Marvel was generally doing at the time, unedited by my local publisher who because of financial reasons had to try pick up only the gems for their smaller audience, and not necessarily the current stuff.

    The Avengers Mandarin really left something to be hoped for when compared to Jim Lee Mandarin.

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  5. "although, now that you mention it, I probably would argue that; neither is great, but at least the X-Factor kids don't have to be compared to Claremont's New Mutants the way Simonson's New Mutants do ... "

    Well, don't forget the second part of what I said, which shows that I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. :)

    I do think there is that tension, though, of what to think of Simonson's New Mutants when you compare it to Claremont's. I feel like the overwhelming majority is with you, that it suffers in comparison. Whereas my experience, at least with the issues immediately following Claremont's departure, the series and the characters had a lot of good will built up, so that I was willing to forgive the slight devolution in maturity. (Well, "slight" at first. It did seem to get worse as it went on.)

    Boom Boom and Rictor never had any good will built up for me the way Dani and Sam did, so maybe that's why I could never get behind those X-terminator tykes.

    That said, I don't think I even follow my own logic entirely, because theoretically characters like Scott and Jean should also have some good will built up, yet I can't stand them in Simonson's X-Factor. So gah, who knows. It's complicated, our relationships with these x-folk.

    "I've heard a lot of people say packs like that were their entry into a lot of comics, but I somehow managed to completely miss them."

    Really? Meanwhile, I have never heard anyone else talk about the big gift pack, and have been searching high and low for others of my ilk. I thought I was alone in this world, but if you say there are others ... ?

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  6. At least half of the panels you posted have no background. Is the whole comic like that?

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  7. Also, to add to the sealed pack conversation, I could never get into them. I just didn't like paying for extra comics I wasn't sure I'd want. But I guess I can see how it would be fun to get a "sampler platter." Also, I had well-stocked comics shops nearby my whole childhood, which made getting back issues pretty easy.

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  8. "Meanwhile I resent X-Factor because they were a Direct Market only title and thus not included in my Gift Pack.)"
    Really? I remember buying X-Factor on the newsstand from '87- '89. And from what I've seen, X-Factor was selling well from '87-'89. I don't think it was a direct market book. Are you sure there wasn't some other reason X-Factor wasn't included?

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  9. Regarding those packed comics, those proved to be my entry into wider comics titles as well, though mine was earlier, containing X-Men #210 as my first exposure to them. Until that point, my comic book reading consisted only of a few DC issues with Superman, Batman, and Shazam, and then into some consistent Transformers and GI Joe runs--helped by the 3-packs of 2nd printings sold in K-Mart.

    As we go through these, it's funny how Fall of the Mutants really managed to suck me into the X-related titles despite having no real narrative through-line, as I was reading X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants all by this point. I'm not sure how much I even liked the latter two, and I would drop them off sometime after Inferno.

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  10. "Really? I remember buying X-Factor on the newsstand from '87- '89. And from what I've seen, X-Factor was selling well from '87-'89. I don't think it was a direct market book. Are you sure there wasn't some other reason X-Factor wasn't included?"

    Anonymous, I absolutely 100% defer to you on that. I just assumed it was DM because it wasn't in my pack. But probably they just ran out of X-Factor when they were assembling my particular packet. That could be why I got like four issues of ALF to compensate.

    Here is the October 1988 Marvel comics. The seeds of my collection are in this collage of covers ....

    http://www.dcindexes.com/features/timemachine.php?site=marvel&type=cover&month=10&year=1988&sort=alpha

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  11. Still loving Bret Blevins. I really like Gosamyr's visual design, if nothing else about her.

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  12. Jason: Here is the October 1988 Marvel comics. The seeds of my collection are in this collage of covers ....

    http://www.dcindexes.com/features/timemachine.php?site=marvel&type=cover&month=10&year=1988&sort=alpha


    Aaand that's exactly the sort of cover site I have been wanting to find. Thank you!

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  13. "he explains to a captive Lila that it is in the nature of Gosamyr's species to destroy by intensifying the passions of those around her"

    She's like Maddie Pryor, post S'ym dream infection. Triangles, catfights, and dogfights, oh my!

    "I don't like Gosamyr, but I do like "characters as chess pieces" covers."

    I wish I could agree with you, but not even that cover can compensate for the sheet awfulness that is Gosamyr.

    And why chess? Who is she playing against, thematically? If anything, this cover should be her as a puppet master, manipulating little puppet versions of the NM.

    "Spyder reveals that the females of Gosamyr's race naturally and unintentionally inflame the passions of those around them."

    So her being a skank isn't her fault.

    "nudge nudge, wink wink."

    Well, you know Weezie, sometimes her writing is about as subtle a as a shovel to the face.

    "Sam, almost as infatuated by Gosamyr as Roberto, refuses to acknowledge Rahne's crush on him, pointing out her feelings for Doug"

    Rahne, Doug's been dead for what, a month in Marvel? Try to pretend you're still mourning him, just a wee bit sad that he's dead, and keep your hormones in check, you highland harridan hussy.

    "And while it's hard to argue with their logic given the way Simonson has been writing Magneto"

    Well, a new character has been hanging around the mansion, mentally manipulating Mageneto and the students into being idiots, you just can't see her. Her name is Contrivance Queen.

    "I really like Gosamyr's visual design"

    Yeah, though even by 80s standards, that is some big hair.

    And the awfulness continues...

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  14. Spyder reveals that the females of Gosamyr's race naturally and unintentionally inflame the passions of those around them.

    Someone should introduce her to Starfox...

    It was a nice glimpse though to what Marvel was generally doing at the time, unedited by my local publisher who because of financial reasons had to try pick up only the gems for their smaller audience, and not necessarily the current stuff.

    Teemu, this post and some of your previous ones remind me of the pain of reading Marvel translations in the 80s. The French publisher was notorious for skipping or combining some issues (sometimes complete runs !) and cutting violent bits. To this day, I remember reading the death of Elektra issue and wondering in utter disbelief how could someone bleed so much and die just by having a card thrown at her face.

    The whole "empaled by her own sai" had been removed from the comic.

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  15. Frenchie: The French publisher was notorious for skipping or combining some issues (sometimes complete runs !) and cutting violent bits. To this day, I remember reading the death of Elektra issue and wondering in utter disbelief how could someone bleed so much and die just by having a card thrown at her face.

    I have to stop complaining. They may have censored Lenin's head from Colossus' overalls in the cover and lost insinuations of Proteus' conception in translation, but they never tried pull anything like that on us. Well expect the first issue after the skip from Byrne era straight to JRjr era for publicational cooperation reasons, that was a bit of a mash-up, but it still started with the "Professor Xavier is a jerk!" splash page so it was done in good taste.

    Movies, then again... our TV cut of Robocop had Eric Forman's dad shoot Murphy once in stomach who then in the next frames was laying on the ground as bloody pulp. You fellow 80's kids may remember how the original scene went.

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  16. wwk5d -- "Yeah, though even by 80s standards, that is some big hair."

    I have a thing -- not a fetish thing, but I mean purely from an aesthetic standpoint -- for comic book women with big, exaggerated hair. Byrne's She-Hulk, Red Sonja, etc. The hair adds the extra dimension of expressiveness to the characters' body language.

    Can't stand big eighties hair on women in real life, though.

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  17. How in f--- is that poofy pink dress of Rahne's anything like what Lila wears?

    I got my fair share of 3-packs — usually DCs with the Whitman seal on them — in the late '70s and early '80s. You could sometimes fool with the plastic bag enough to get an idea of what the middle comic was.

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