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Thursday, July 3, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #70

"Self-Fulfilling Prophesy"
December 1988

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants escape Spyder but at the cost of Lila. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Terry Shoemaker
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Spyder's lair, the captured New Mutants attempt to escape their cage, but are unable to do so, and Illyana is reluctant to teleport to Limbo due to the state of things there. As Spyder gloats, he restrains Gosamyr, then leaves to witness the unveiling of her family. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Magneto arrives in Manhattan for a meeting of the Hellfire Club and is attacked by a possessed fire escape. Back on Spyder's planet, Gosamyr enters a metamorphic state called the minor death to escape her bonds and become invisible. Attacking Spyder's guards, she knocks one into the New Mutants' cage, its body draining enough energy from the cage that the New Mutants are able to escape. They race after Spyder and Lila, intending to rescue Lila and save Gosamyr's family. Just then, a group of massive cocoons begin to open, and monstrous beings, Gosamyr's family, emerge.


Spyder, only interested in the cocoons themselves, orders his guards to kill the creatures, but the guards, distracted by the New Mutants, are too late, as the creatures quickly grow too powerful. In the ensuing chaos, the New Mutants are able to free Lila. Gosamyr explains that under normal circumstances, her species gestates in their cocoons for millennia and emerge calm and peaceful, but Spyder forced her family to emerge early, and now they mean to destroy the entire planet. As the creatures come after the New Mutants, Lila says goodbye to Sam then teleports herself and the aliens into the nearby sun, destroying them and herself. As Spyder sends his forces after the New Mutants, left with no other choice now that Lila is gone, Illyana teleports everyone, including Gosamyr, to Limbo, where a waiting S'ym welcomes them to his realm.  

Firsts and Other Notables
Lila Cheney seemingly sacrifices herself to save the New Mutants by teleporting Gosamyr's transformed family members into a nearby star (the limitations of her power forcing her to go along with whomever she's teleporting); she will next turn-up, alive and well and largely without explanation, in Uncanny X-Men #269, but this is her last appearance in New Mutants.


Though left alive following his defeat, this is thankfully the last we'll see of Spyder.

Gosamyr, however, remains with the team, and will do so throughout "Inferno" before leaving for good shortly thereafter. 

Forced to enter Limbo in order to get home, the New Mutants are greeted by S'ym, who has taken full control of the realm in Illyana's absence, leading directly into New Mutants' portion of "Inferno".


We finally see Gosamyr's much-discussed family, as they are goaded into emerging from cocoons by Spyder and, as a result, are monstrous creatures capable of destroying planets.

Bret Blevins takes the issue off, and as irritating as it can be to have a fill-in artist on the final issue of a storyline, even more annoying is that the fill-in team is comprised of Terry Shoemaker (who filled in on some early X-Factor issues and seems to become Louise Simonson's go-to fill-in artist around this time, much to my continued disappointment) and Al Milgrom, who previously wedged tiny, cramped figures into panels in Secret Wars II and Kitty Pryde & Wolverine.

A Work in Progress
Gosamyr reveals that she's able to enter a transitional state by dying a "minor death".


Magneto arrives in New York and finds the early sparks of "Inferno" in motion (ie he's attacked by a fire escape).


At a meeting of the Inner Circle, Selene notes a potential White/Black split amongst the group.


Illyana notes that her Darkchylde form gives her super-strength, something that's never really been mentioned before.

Gosamyr notes that even the Brood fear her species for their destructive potential.


Young Love
Rahne freaks out when Sam in injured trying to escape.


Later, as Lila prepares to sacrifice herself, she tells Rahne to take care of Sam, though it's unclear how Lila is aware of Rahne's feelings for him.


It's in the Mail
The letters page is all the way back on Bird-Brain and the beginning of "Fall of the Mutants"; the Simonson/Blevins creative team receives mixed reviews (to Simonson and/or Harras' credit, letters both pro and con are printed). 

Teebore's Take
Oy, thanks goodness that storyline is over. It's already been well-established that this story as a whole is entirely too long (thanks in large part to the nothing-happens issue #68), but at this point, even Simonson (or her editor) seems to be growing tired: Spyder at one point delivers expository dialogue about three different characters in a row, and all three chunks of dialogue are structured exactly the same: "Ah, [character name][description of powers]". Later, Magneto uses the word "gall" twice within a span of as many word balloons, while Lila is suddenly aware of Rahne's crush on Sam despite never being in a position in this story to become privy to that information.

The art is equally tired and lethargic. Blevins can certainly be forgiven needing a break, especially on the brink of "Inferno" (which will include a double-sized issue), but I've never been a fan of Terry Shoemaker's ho-hum work, and bringing in Al "Secret Wars II" Milgrom to ink it makes Blevins usual enjoyable-but-problematic stuff look like Jack freakin' Kirby by comparison. All told, it's a pleasure to finally move past this story, and that it eventually ends is the best thing about it. The glory days of this title may be past us, but now, so too is its worst storyline.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Cyclops searches for his son in X-Factor #35. Next week, the X-Factor kids get their own limited series with X-Terminators #1-4, followed by the return of the Marauders in Uncanny X-Men #240.

8 comments:

  1. Wow this art was bad, it was the first NM issue I ever picked up, a local antique store had a bunch of NM and Avengers West Coast for $1 and I bought a bunch of them when first getting into comics, I was not impressed with this and I stayed away from the book until Rob got on it.

    The art on this book is something you would expect at DC at the time and the reason why I always felt DC books were so bland in the 80's/90's, they never had the artists Marvel did. Just look at that Magneto picture, it's terrible, it's something you would see in an early Vertigo book that wasn't named Sandman.

    Also, Blevins to me was too kid'ish, it's like looking at Wolverine and the X-Men now, I can't stand that book because it looks like it is drawn for kids and not for the adults that are actually buying and reading it (or in my case, stopped buying it because of the art).

    There is a reason that Rob took over this book, the stories/art/energy of the book were terrible, no excitement. Basically New Mutants has a last hurrah in Inferno and dies until 87 comes along.

    The same happens with X-Factor. Simonson put both these books on long story arcs that really had no energy or excitement and the art was all over the place. Even X-Men in the early/mid 260's really didn't feel like the X-Men. It's like Claremont and Simonson both were rudderless for around six months and then bam, change happened to the whole X-Line and gave it a booster shot of awesome.

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  2. This story is an unremarkable ball of suck, no question. However I have to point out that Simonson DOES give herself an "out" for Lila's survival (several, in fact). Rahne comes up with a bunch of explanations in New Mutants #74. It's possible that Weezie was planning to bring Lila back herself at some point.

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  3. Outside of the Inferno-related stuff, the only intriguing bit in this is: how that "la petite mort" bit played out in the French translation?

    Claremont-kind of subtle it ain't... and he once had an apeman shoot full load at Illyana's face from the ol' pleasure gun.

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  4. I must be one of the few people who doesn't mind Terry Shoemaker as an artist. I enjoyed his work on the Legion titles, and yeah he's not the most exciting or dynamic artist, but I always found him to do good solid work. To each their own, I guess.

    As for the story...the awfulness that is Gosamyr will still be around for a while, but then gone for good, thank God. Inferno is pretty much the last decent/good story we'll get from this title. Yes, that even includes when Liefeld comes on aboard. At least that stuff is so bad it's deliciously fun to laugh at and make fun of, whereas much of Simonson's other NM work is so bad...it's bad.

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  5. @Teemu : Is it written in French in thr comics ? If so, I guess they dealt with it the same way as with Gambit's speech : by ignoring it.

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  6. @Scott: There is a reason that Rob took over this book, the stories/art/energy of the book were terrible, no excitement.

    Yeah, I mean, Liefeld is a terrible artist, but there's no denying he brought much needed energy to the series when he came aboard, and as technically bad as his art is, I'd still rather re-read his issues than something like this.

    Even X-Men in the early/mid 260's really didn't feel like the X-Men.

    To be fair, that was Claremont's intent: the 260s were the zenith of his whole "no team" approach to the book. But the whole idea was let down by some really lackluster art as the series transitioned from Silvestri to Lee. #262-267 is probably my least-favorite stretch of Claremont issues, just on the poor art alone.

    @Jonathan: However I have to point out that Simonson DOES give herself an "out" for Lila's survival (several, in fact). Rahne comes up with a bunch of explanations in New Mutants #74.

    I had forgotten about that. I'm not surprised: Weezie was usually pretty good about not killing off a character without having some way to bring him or her back, even if doing so wasn't in her immediate plans. That was true of Doug as well as Magik.

    I'm more bothered that when Lila does come back, it's without explanation (though I suppose we can just assume one of Rahne's suggestions turns out to be true), but that's not Weezie's fault since she didn't write it.

    @Teemu: Outside of the Inferno-related stuff, the only intriguing bit in this is: how that "la petite mort" bit played out in the French translation?

    I thought about going into that in the post, but wasn't sure if Simonson deserved the credit for it. I'm glad you brought it up so we can discuss it here. :)

    I must be one of the few people who doesn't mind Terry Shoemaker as an artist. I enjoyed his work on the Legion titles, and yeah he's not the most exciting or dynamic artist, but I always found him to do good solid work.

    Oh, I can't be at all objective when it comes to Terry Shoemaker's art. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but as a kid, I HATED fill-in art, just on the principal of it. It didn't matter who, I just didn't like a story getting interrupted by a different artist, and the only place I've ever seen Shoemaker's art is as a fill-in (this is also why I've long been disdainful of Leonardi's art, and am only now really gaining a better appreciation for it).

    Couple that with the fact that Shoemaker was filling in at a time when most of the book's had otherwise-dynamic or at least energetic artists on them, and his stuff just seemed dull by comparison.

    So while there's certainly an element of his stuff that's just not to my taste (his faces all seem extra long and horse-like, for whatever reason), objectively, his work is fine; it's not like it's hard to follow or lacking in basic anatomy or anything. It's just kinda dull to me, because I've only ever seen it in direct contrast to Simonson, Blevins, the Image guys, and I haven't gotten over my grudge against it always popping up as a fill-in.

    @Frenchie: Is it written in French in thr comics ?

    In the issue itself, Gosamyr calls what she does a "minor death". I immediately started thinking:

    "le petit mort" is a French euphemism for orgasm -> "le petit mort" loosely translated means "the little death" -> "the little death" is not unlike a "minor death", therefore, Gosamyr gives herself an orgasm in order to save the New Mutants.

    Given the icky coquettish sexpot vibe behind Gosamyr's character, it's possible that's what Simonson was going for, but at the same time, it could just be a coincidence and we/I are/am over-thinking it.

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  7. Frenchie, Teebore there just wrote open what I was insinuating.

    I'm not actually a fan for such under-the-radar ha-ha adult innuendos, because for a kid reader it's a bit mean moment when he only much later can find out Captain America and Iron Man so are a couple.

    So, a possible view-of-character eternally-skewed-for-you bit coming on about Kitty Pryde and big fans of her are advised to THINK NOW should they continue reading at all: there's the well-known Whedon-written bit where Kitty involuntarily phases through the floor after Rasputin the Russian love-machine gets it on with her. Now, with that image fresh in your mind, I invite you to remember the very first scene where we meet Kitty, a Deerfield teen girl, going into bed with a headache and next finding herself on the floor below, with Emma Frost of all people soon there commenting on her being "in that age" in way that always was kind of awkward to me if tried to read in straight sense. Please remember brainy active reader kid like Kitty is bound to know that an orgasm releases stuff, enzymes or something, in the body that are natural headache medicin. Someone is being naughty to us. Whedon later on, or Chris "apeman's pleasure gun" Claremont already originally?

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  8. // Meanwhile, back on Earth, Magneto arrives in Manhattan for a meeting of the Hellfire Club and is attacked by a possessed fire escape. //

    First: Awesome sentence.

    Second: I think all told we've seen less of Magneto since he became the New Mutants' headmaster than we did when he was the X-Men's archenemy.

    // Gosamyr enters a metamorphic state called the minor death to escape her bonds and become invisible. //

    What a ridiculously huge infodump. And I'm still not entirely sure what it is, let alone why she waited 'til now to do it, especially since for something called "the minor death" it hardly seems to have the kind of repercussions that render it a last resort.

    // "Ah, [character name] [description of powers]". //

    That bugged me. Proofreading one's work for blatant repetition should not be too much to ask, beyond which, if one is too close to it to see such a thing — and it's bound to happen from time to time — y'know, that's what editors are for.

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