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Thursday, November 13, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #79

"Asgard"
September 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants reunite with their Dwarf friends. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Bret Blevins
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Now in Asgard, Rahne transforms into a wolf, hoping to telepathically establish communication with Dani, but the evil entity in control of Dani's body attacks her. Watching from Hel, Hela is angry to see Dani in Asgard, as she was supposed to deliver the souls of Earth's greatest heroes to her, but she consoles herself with the knowledge that at least she can still acquire the souls of the New Mutants. As Dani flies off, the New Mutants discover that Rahne is still alive, which she believes is an indication that Dani still has some control over her actions. As the New Mutants debate their next move, they discover an army of dwarfs marching on the nearby castle. The dwarfs attack the New Mutants, but once Sam hears they're led by his old friend Eitri, he orders them to stand down and allows themselves to be taken prisoner.


Meanwhile, Hela observes the dwarf advance, and orders the transformed Valkyrie to defend their castle from the dwarfs and New Mutants. Beneath the castle, the New Mutants bristle at being imprisoned, and Sam worries that he made the right call trusting Eitri. But Eitri eventually opens the cell door, embracing his old friend and welcoming the New Mutants into the dwarf army. Over dinner, Eitri tells them of how the Valkyrie have changed, and now raid the living, including a number of the dwarfs' best weapon smiths. Having complained to Odin but received no response, they've taken it upon themselves to attack the Valkyrie and win back their forgers. Just then, three of the demonic Valkyrie suddenly appear, declaring that both the dwarfs and the New Mutants will soon join them in Hel.

Firsts and Other Notables
Brett Blevins is back on pencils, having been away for the last four issues. This will be Blevins' last New Mutants story, as, after one more fill-in in the middle of the story, he'll eventually give way to new regular artist Rob Liefeld (leaving the last two issues of this story to fill-in pencillers).

With Blevins return, so to does his default depiction of angst: a character looking to the sky while holding their hands, fingers clenched, in front of their face.


A Work in Progress
On Asgard, Dani's physical form has transformed to reflect the demon possessing her. We also learn that Hela intended for Dani to remain on Earth, in order to kill people there, including superheroes, to swell her army of the dead.


Sam spends this issue grappling with being solely responsible for the New Mutants now, with his co-leader thoroughly compromised.


Boom-Boom takes an immediate dislike to Asgard, while Roberto is happy to be back in the land where he's stronger than ever and heroes are, by his measure, treated properly.


For a change, we're reminded that Rahne is strong but not invulnerable in her wolf form.


Rictor mentions having been in jail with his father when he was younger.


He then references X-Factor #22, in which Boom-Boom saved him from the Right and prevented him from killing himself, saying it was a turning point in his life and that he wants to help Boom-Boom in a similar manner.


It's revealed that the corrupted Valkyrie, working for Hela, are attacking the living, not just claiming the dead, something the Dwarfs tried to tell Odin, but he's apparently too busy since Asgard came to the Negative Zone to do anything about it.  


It's in the Mail
Letters react to issue #75, with at least one letter pointing out all the things wrong with Magneto's "I was evil all along!" explanations (ie he reluctantly held back while the X-Men fought the Marauders, he was resistant to the idea of an alliance with the Hellfire Club, etc.). 

Teebore's Take
The New Mutants are in Asgard! While this story is rightly criticized for dragging on way too long by the end, it's not entirely without its charms, chief among them that it's clearly designed to be a direct sequel to the New Mutants' first Asgardian adventure from Special Edition #1 & X-Men Annual #9, which is certainly a story worth a return visit, featuring many of the characters introduced there and referencing the relationships established in that story. Thanks to the relatively new presence of Boom-Boom and Rictor on the team, Simonson is able to re-introduce some of those elements in a  less exposition-y manner, with Sam telling them about his friendship with Eitri or Bobby showing off his increased Asgardian strength.

Simonson also does an effective job of getting inside each of the characters' heads as the story begins, making clear the stakes for each of them, further illustrating their characterization in the process. Rahne is, of course, mostly worried about Dani, but also curious about her Wolf Prince from the last time she was in Asgard, Sam is angsting over whether he's making the right decisions his first time out as solo leader of the team, Warlock is worried about losing or saying goodbye to yet another friend, Boom-Boom, the character most "of her time", finds the whole fantasy setting gross and unsettling, while Rictor is dedicated to easing her transition into this new world. And Bobby, being Bobby, is, for the moment, just happy to be back in the land of increased strength and traditional heroic values. In the end, this story may ultimately become a chore to get through, but the beginning is enjoyable enough.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor is scattered on an alien world in X-Factor #44. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #249 and Excalibur #12. 

9 comments:

  1. This is the issue where I pretty much stopped reading the series altogether-- I've probably only read one or two issues after this one.

    But! I really love this cover. I still think Blevins, and even this set of characters -- Boom Boom, at least -- could have been fun with a different writer.

    Which reminds me, only semi-relatedly: I remember thinking the various FOREVER series seemed like so much fun, but they kinda ended up sucking, both because Claremont was already well past his prime and because he tossed the conceit out the window pretty much immediately.

    I actually would have loved to read an X-Men or New Mutants Forever that was handled by a younger writer with an affection and respect for the material and a strong take on how to execute it in the spirit intended, rather than watching Claremont flail in his dotage and ignore the concept entirely. (I didn't read Simonson's X-Factor Forever since I was never much of an X-Factor/Simonson fan to start with.)

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  2. I actually would have loved to read an X-Men or New Mutants Forever that was handled by a younger writer with an affection and respect for the material and a strong take on how to execute it in the spirit intended, rather than watching Claremont flail in his dotage and ignore the concept entirely.

    Likewise. I read it, and it's basically everything people complain about when they talk about modern-day Claremont (it's kind of dull, there's too much mind control stuff, etc.). Yet there were enough glimmers of promising ideas that it kind of depressed me it wasn't better. Seeing someone else do the same thing - and maybe combine the New Mutants & X-Factor kids sooner - would've been much more interesting. But as it stands, it's the stuff of fanwork*.



    *Disclaimer: I'm not disparaging fanworks, since they usually come from a place of love.

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  3. Unfortunately I think that even if someone else had written X-MEN FOREVER using Claremont's various ideas, it still would've been pretty bad due to editorial interference. Despite the book's supposed premise, I believe editorial meddled with it quite a bit. Plus there's the fact that series was created specifically for Claremont, so the possibility of another writer on it would go against its very concept. But it's still fun to speculate!

    By the way, for those who don't get over there regularly, Not Blog X is currently in the process of reviewing X-MEN FOREVER issue by issue.

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  4. The problem with X-Men Forever was Claremont's plots, not editorial interference. The whole "Mutants don't live past 55" made no sense, since even by the end of Claremont's first run, we'd seen several mutants older than that.

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  5. The splash-page title was some Orz-level work from Rosen.
    ... Annnnnnnd that's pretty much all I have to say about the issue.

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  7. @Ben: I still think Blevins, and even this set of characters -- Boom Boom, at least -- could have been fun with a different writer.

    Definitely. Blevins art is not without its charms.

    both because Claremont was already well past his prime and because he tossed the conceit out the window pretty much immediately.

    The latter half of that always bugged me much more than the former.

    (I've not read New Mutants Forever, mostly because for whatever dumb reason Marvel Unlimited has all issues of the series available EXCEPT #1, but I gather it's not much different than X-Men Forever in any ways that count).

    @Matt: By the way, for those who don't get over there regularly, Not Blog X is currently in the process of reviewing X-MEN FOREVER issue by issue.

    I believe I knew that, but nonetheless, thanks for the reminder that it's been far too long since I checked out Not Blog X (or your blog, for that matter).

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  8. @Anonymoous: The whole "Mutants don't live past 55" made no sense, since even by the end of Claremont's first run, we'd seen several mutants older than that.

    Yeah, plus I have issues with any plot device that hinges on the specific ages of characters in ongoing shared universe fiction. Like, I appreciate that the characters get older over time but still don't age in real time, but I don't really like anything that points out just how wonky the passage of time is in superhero comics.

    That is, to say that Magneto and Professor X are older than the X-Men, who are older than the New Mutants, who are older than the Generation Xers, who are older than the New X-Men, etc., fine. Start tossing in specific ages, and it becomes problematic.

    ... Annnnnnnd that's pretty much all I have to say about the issue.

    Given the ire this storyline sometimes draws, I think Weezie and company will take that as a compliment. :)

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  9. I can't believe I'm saying this, but......I can't wait for Liefeld.

    I was never too into the NM as much as X-Men or X-Factor, and Bret Blevins' art never really appealed to me. But I've found the introduction of Cable, controversial as it may be, added new excitement to the team. And say what you will about X-Force, but it was a fun book in the brainless action movie sense. It also appealed to me much more than the light, fluffy fare of the Gosamyr saga or this Asgard saga, or.....Shudder.....Bird-Brain.

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