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Thursday, September 18, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #76

"Splash!"
June 1989

In a Nutshell
The combined New Mutants & X-Terminators battle a sea monster. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Rich Buckler
Finisher: Tom Palmer
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Leaving the wreckage of the mansion, the New Mutants ponder their next move. Deciding all that's left is to pack it in and return home, they stop at a mall to use a payphone to call their families. However, the crowd thinks they're demons who have kidnapped Illyana, and they quickly realize they don't want to return to their old lives. When the cops show up, they flee, and Warlock decides to take everyone back to X-Factor's ship for the time being. Meanwhile, the X-Terminators, having been instructed by Ship while X-Factor is away to do something educational, are exploring the ocean beneath Ship. They discover a large and unique-looking shell on the ocean floor, and bring it back inside.


Cleaning it up, they realize it's actually a horn, and when Boom-Boom blows it, a large tentacled sea monster appears and attacks Ship. The X-Terminators get out just as Ship is dragged underwater and the New Mutants arrive, followed shortly thereafter by Namor, who admonishes them for blowing on the horn and summoning the creature. Owning up to their mistake, the combined X-Terminators and New Mutants work together with Namor to injure the creature enough so that it releases Ship and swims away. In the aftermath, Namor leaves with the horn. X-Factor then offers the New Mutants a permanent place on Ship with them, though Rahne wonders what's to become of Illyana.

Firsts and Other Notables
The X-Terminators are considered to have formally joined the New Mutants as of this issue, though technically, it's really more like the New Mutants are joining them, as this is the issue in which X-Factor takes in the New Mutants. Still, the New Mutants are the one with their own series, so their name sticks around (somewhat humorously, the cover of this issue is the only one of the series on which Skids appears - thanks to UncannyXMen.net for pointing that out).


X-Factor says that, once the craziness of "Inferno" had died down, they intended to seek out the New Mutants and bring them under their care, and yes, things have been crazy for them lately. But given that X-Factor believed the New Mutants were being held under the sway of a villainous Magneto, you'd think they might have made the effort even before the Inferno craziness exploded.

Namor the Sub Mariner guest stars in this issue, teaming up with the New Mutants to battle the sea monster accidentally summoned by the X-Terminators.


The horn the X-Terminators discover is the same one used by Namor in Fantastic Four #4 (his first modern appearance), and will reappear during the "Atlantis Attacks" storyline in this year's annuals.

Anybody worried about Brightwind, Dani's winged horse, in the wake of the mansion explosion? Anyone remember that Brightwind even existed? Well, you'll be pleased to know he survived the explosion and is a-ok. Obviously, this is a lot of hand-waving just to keep Brightwind around, but I can't really complain. If he showed up without explanation or never again, I'd call shenanigans, so I appreciate the effort to devote a panel establishing he survived the explosion, even if it's the most offhanded and transparent of explanations. 


Rich Buckler fills in on pencils, Buckler, something of a journeyman artist who had a two year run on Fantastic Four in the 70s, created Deathlok and drew the acclaimed "Death of Jean DeWolff" storyline in Spectacular Spider-Man, will stick around for next issue, and later fill-in on an issue of X-Factor. His work is definitely old-school, but I like it, particularly as inked here by Tom Palmer (but then, I'm a sucker for anything inked by Tom Palmer).

A Work in Progress
The idea that the general populace is starting to think that the events of Inferno were all a hoax is suggested.


Dani uses her power to manifest a quarter so Sam can try to call his parents. The idea that Dani can create money has been established before (the bribe she created for the alien official during the Gosamyr story), but this was the first time it really hit me that she could do some pretty shifty things with it, like buy stuff with money that will eventually disappear once she calls forth something else. I mean, it's just a quarter, but she's essentially stealing from the phone company by creating it for Sam.

I Love the 80s
The payphone Sam uses costs a quarter. Also, payphones are a thing that people need readily.


Human/Mutant Relations
Sunspot goes off on the crowd accusing the New Mutants of being kid-stealing demons, calling them bigots. 


It's in the Mail
The letters page runs a pair of not-so-complimentary letters this issue, though at least one praises Simonson and hopes she'll turn the ship around, so to speak.

Teebore's Take
Not a whole lot to this one, the kind of Bronze Age done-in-one plot with connective tissue to the issues around it which you just don't see much of these days. It's ostensibly intended to formally integrate the X-Terminators with the New Mutants. The first half of the issue is functionally an introduction to the former as their own entity, for anyone who missed their limited series or doesn't read X-Factor, and in fact, for parts of this issue, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were reading another kids-centric issue of that series. The second half then brings in the New Mutants, and shows the two teams working together towards a common goal, and ends with the New Mutants being taken in by X-Factor. Granted, a lot of this introduction/integration stuff was done in "Inferno", but those pieces were always subtext to the main events of that story, whereas this story exists entirely in service to unifying the two teams. To that end, it's successful, and enjoyable in an old school kind of way, even if it's not terribly exciting or memorable otherwise.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor meets the winner of the Mutant Registration contest in X-Factor #41. Next week, Atlantis attacks in X-Men Annual #13, followed by Excalibur #9.

8 comments:

  1. Does Cyclops acknowledge that he has in fact met the New Mutants before and even fought beside them on a couple of occasions. Heck, they even attended his wedding to "Maddie, who was a jerk, Scott, a jerk! (TM Jean Grey)". I mean, beyond the fact that all the X-teams are an extended "children of Xavier" type of thing. Lack of panel space, I suppose.

    One thing that I did like that seemed to disappear from this title was the relationship between the members of X-factor and the X-terminators. They had a nice surrogate older/younger sibling relationship which gets lost from the early 90s onwards.

    "somewhat humorously, the cover of this issue is the only one of the series on which Skids appears - thanks to UncannyXMen.net for pointing that out"

    Given how short her tenure on the team is, at least she made it onto a cover once. And I think Rusty only beats her by 1 or 2 cover appearances as it is, no?

    Having the New Mutants living with X-factor does have some potential, but sadly, it never really has time to go anywhere.

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  2. @wwk5d: Does Cyclops acknowledge that he has in fact met the New Mutants before and even fought beside them on a couple of occasions.

    Not really. As you say, there's not much space for it, but he never really acknowledges as much in X-Factor either. Of course, he never says anything that contradicts the fact that he knows most of them either, so that's something.

    They had a nice surrogate older/younger sibling relationship which gets lost from the early 90s onwards.

    Yeah, I feel like even post-X-Force, the relationships between the scattered New Mutants gets referenced (ie when Wolfsbane confronts them as part of X-Factor during "X-Cutioners Song"), but the relationships between the X-Men who were X-Factor and the X-Forcers who were once their wards never really gets brought up. It's like once the X-Terminators joined the New Mutants, the New Mutants part dominated their history moving forward.

    And I think Rusty only beats her by 1 or 2 cover appearances as it is, no?

    Two, I think, in addition to this one. But he does get the big homage to ASM #2 Liefeld cover for issue #86.

    Having the New Mutants living with X-factor does have some potential, but sadly, it never really has time to go anywhere.

    Indeed. I'll talk about that a bit in tomorrow's X-Factor post.

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  3. "The horn the X-Terminators discover is the same one used by Namor in Fantastic Four #4 (his first modern appearance), and will reappear during the "Atlantis Attacks" storyline in this year's annuals."

    Because of that connection, this issue is collected in the ATLANTIS ATTACKS OMNIBUS that Marvel released a few years ago. Though for some reason it's placed somewhere in the middle of the saga, I believe, rather than before the storyline starts.

    (For those who care, I took the hit of picking that book up when it was discounted to a very low price. Aside from some nice work by John Byrne and Walt Simonson, "Atlantis Attacks" is a pretty terrible crossover. Especially compared with the previous year's "Evolutionary War", which I liked quite a bit as a kid, and which I find still holds up fairly well.)

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  5. ".. somewhat humorously, the cover of this issue is the only one of the series on which Skids appears."

    A shame, in my mind. I always had a soft spot for Skids - mainly cause she's a babe in new wave fashions. Even when they shuffle her off, her story remains interesting before being dropped completely - but more on that later...

    I like this change in status quo for the New Mutants (and the X-Terminators make for some welcome additions to the cast), even if it's just setup for the bigger shift ahead. Just a pity the stories weren't better... Asgard here we come.

    Matt, I know you have a soft spot for X-Factor, as do I, but I don't know how you like all 13 parts of the Evolutionary War!

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  6. // The horn the X-Terminators discover is the same one used by Namor in Fantastic Four #4 //

    I love that callback, just as a fan of history/continuity. And I'm not sure I knew that the horn was a lynchpin of Atlantis Attacks, having never read those annuals, but it's a neat idea. However, I can't accept that Namor, defender of the ocean and of the creatures who populate it, especially the mysterious, nearly extinct ones, would prefer to blow up the "monster" by shoving dynamite down its craw rather than lug it out to the deep sea.

    // I appreciate the effort to devote a panel establishing [Brightwind] survived the explosion, even if it's the most offhanded and transparent of explanations. //

    You would expect Valkyrie steeds to be hardy.

    // Rich Buckler fills in on pencils //

    Buckler had a reputation for swiping to the extent that another pro, in a quote that's always stuck with me, averred that he would spend more time looking up reference to put together a panel that it would've taken to draft the panel from scratch. And it's not as if he possessed no innate drawing or design ability at all, because he knew what kind of reference he wanted. Whether it was insecurity or habit or compulsion, that was just his thing.

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  7. @Matt: Though for some reason it's placed somewhere in the middle of the saga, I believe, rather than before the storyline starts.

    I believe that, for whatever reason, Namor's appearance in this issue is considered to occur chronologically after the start of "Atlantis Attacks", which is probably why they place the issue in the omnibus where they do.

    @James: A shame, in my mind. I always had a soft spot for Skids

    Me too - her and Rusty. They're certainly not the only ones, but for me, they're the poster children for the characters who get lost in the '91 linewide reshuffling. Thankfully, their story gets some closure eventually, but it's a shame they ultimately just kind of fizzle out of the narrative.

    @Blam: I love that callback, just as a fan of history/continuity.

    Ditto.

    However, I can't accept that Namor, defender of the ocean and of the creatures who populate it, especially the mysterious, nearly extinct ones, would prefer to blow up the "monster" by shoving dynamite down its craw rather than lug it out to the deep sea.

    The art seemed unclear as to whether they blew up the monster or just triggered a large enough explosion to convince it to leave Ship alone and run off, so I chose (as in my plot summary) to assume the latter, mainly because that makes more sense for Namor than the former.

    Whether it was insecurity or habit or compulsion, that was just his thing.

    Huh. I did not know that about him.

    Then again, I'm *terrible* when it comes to swiping. I mean, sure, if I'm really familiar with the source material, then its obvious. But I know there's some people who can look at a panel and say "that's swiped" even if they don't know the art that was swiped, and that I have a hard time with.

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  8. @Teebore: // I'm *terrible* when it comes to swiping. //

    First, I don't think Buckler necessarily or only swiped very recognizable stuff. Second, then, I suppose it's less realizing where a certain pose came from and more a matter of noticing that compositions look out of place or styles are fluctuating from cartoony or minimalist to photorealistic and back, what-have-you, at least if the artist doing the swiping isn't good at smoothing things out or simply using the reference as a guide rather than lightboxing down to the last detail. Last, apart from Buckler, I feel pretty sure that there are artists out there whose penchant for swiping you'd only learn about if you heard about if from people in a position to know, versus artists who might fall more into that category of not hiding it very well.

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