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Thursday, July 23, 2015

X-amining New Mutants #93

"Madripoor"
September 1990

In a Nutshell
Cable and the New Mutants encounter Wolverine in Madripoor. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Inker: Hilary Barta
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Madripoor, the New Mutants are ambushed by a group of masked troops, leading Cable to realize they've been set up. Just as he wonders where the agent dispatched by the Japanese government is, Sunfire appears, and helps the New Mutants defeat the troops. Meanwhile, General Coy contacts Stryfe, angry that his men were wasted battling the New Mutants. Stryfe reminds him he was paid more than they were worth to have the New Mutants tested, and that next they'll face his men, as he's sending three members of the MLF to Madripoor. Meanwhile, Sunfire tells the New Mutants of the drug called Sleet, which causes murderous rages in its users. Sunfire has traced the drug to Madripoor, just as the New Mutants traced the MLF to the city. Using a portable Cerebro device, the New Mutants and Sunfire split up to track the mutants it identifies.


The aerial team of Cannoball, Boom-Boom, Warlock and Sunfire encounter MLF members Kamikaze, Sumo and Dragoness, but are defeated by a paralysis beam fired by Stryfe, who confirms he has Sleet, and plans to release it into the water supply of numerous major cities, leading humanity to fear and serve mutants. Meanwhile, Cable, Rictor, Wolfsbane and Sunspot follow Cerebro to a nearby warehouse, where they spot a figure moving through the shadows. Hoping to take him out quickly and quietly, Cable attacks, only to discover the shadowy figure is Wolverine. Sunspot tries to stop them, but when Wolverine and Cable recognize each other, they attack.  

Firsts and Other Notables
Wolverine guest stars in this issue, popping up in the last pages to briefly battle Cable (they will have a larger fight next issue), representing the first encounter between the two characters, publication-wise, which, at the time, was a BIG DEAL. They, of course, both know one another already and have a shared, mysterious past together.


In addition to Wolverine, this issue also guest stars Sunfire, whom we last saw in Uncanny X-Men #181.


The setting of this story is Madripoor, the most common setting for much of Wolverine's solo series, and Wolverine recurring character General Coy, former New Mutants Karma's criminal uncle, pops up in this issue, having allied with Stryfe.

This issue represents the New Mutants' first encounter with Stryfe and agents of the Mutant Liberation Front.


Other than Stryfe and Zero, however, no other existing members of the MLF appear in this issue; instead, we're introduced to three new Asian-themed members of the group: Kamikaze (blows stuff up), Sumo (Asian Blob), and Dragoness (energy blasts and flight via dragon-like wings). Of the three, Dragoness will make the most lasting impact on the series, though even then just barely.


Cable is shown to be familiar with Sunfire's diplomat father, another in the category of vague hints about Cable's past meant to make him mysterious. More significantly, Sunfire mentions Cable's son, to the shock of Cannonball. It will eventually be confirmed that Cable does indeed have a son, Tyler, but while his fate (as far as Cable is concerned at this point in time) isn't exactly great, it doesn't quite fit the ominous comment Sunfire makes here, and it makes very little sense that Sunfire would know anything about Cable's family. So even though this is technically the first mention of Tyler/Genesis, it's really just more of the "throw out vague mysteries and see what sticks" approach to Cable.


A Work in Progress
Rictor's look has changed between issues: his mohawk has filled in, and now he sports a mullet. He's also wearing a green and white unitard in lieu of his "I'm not wearing a uniform!" leather-vest-over -his-bare-chest apparel.


His also references his recent increase in power, which came about during his confrontation with Sabretooth in issue #91.

Cable, meanwhile, is once again sporting an approximation of his introductory costume, while Boom-Boom is wearing a more functional pantsuit uniform rather than the minidress one she sported in issues #90-91.


Roberto asks Rictor if his beef with Cable is going to be a problem, keeping the Rictor/Cable conflict in readers' minds.


Sam's leadership skills are shown to be improving.


501 Genes
I honestly have no idea what's happening in this panel, or what Rictor and Sunfire's relationship in space to each other is supposed to be.


It's not clear where Stryfe is supposed to be standing in this panel; he's either in some kind of pocket dimension in which everything is white and formless, or Liefeld got tired of drawing rubble and gave up halfway through the panel.


Young Love
Roberto questions Rahne about her feeling for Rictor, and Rahne says she could never have romantic feelings for Roberto or Sam, since they're like brothers to her, even though her crush on Sam was a significant element of Gosamyr's introductory story.


Teebore's Take
At the time of publication and throughout the speculator boom of the early 90s, this issue was notable and highly sought after for depicting the first on-panel encounter between Cable and Wolverine, the character whose popularity, in part, inspired the creation of Cable. Wolverine guest appearances at the time were already big sellers; pair him with one of the hottest new characters drawn by one of the most popular new artists, and you've got a perfect storm of early 90s success.

In hindsight, now that a lot of the buzz and speculator fervor has died down, this issue and the two-part story it kicks off is notable for another reason: it's essentially the only story of the Cable-led, Liefeld-drawn New Mutants that is about nothing more than showing the new team in action, facing off against the newly created villains devised to be their new regular antagonists. All the issues prior to this (excluding #92's fill-in) were about introducing Cable, getting him to meet up with the New Mutants, and establishing their new status quo. The issues following this story are part of the larger "X-Tinction Agenda" crossover, and after that, it's all about wrapping up the series and setting up X-Force.

As a result, this story stands as really the only example of what a straightforward New Mutants story involving Cable and drawn by Liefeld, one not concerned with any business other than telling an entertaining story would look like. Putting aside any questions of how well it succeeds in that goal, looking back now, that alone makes this story far more noteworthy than the Wolverine guest appearance which caused all the buzz back in the day.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor battles the Ravens in X-Factor #58. Next week, Alpha Flight #87-90.

Collected Editions

9 comments:

  1. Note that in previous issues, the MLF was building a nuclear bomb. Here, they're using a chemical weapon.

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  2. Hate to admit it, but that's actually one of the cooler looking covers Liefeld has done

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  3. > Wolverine guest stars in this issue, popping up in the last pages to briefly battle Cable (they will have a larger fight next issue), representing the first encounter between the two characters, publication-wise, which, at the time, was a BIG DEAL. They, of course, both know one another already and have a shared, mysterious past together.

    And this was a plot left hanging for, pretty much, the rest of the decade. The characters' shared history was, finally, explored in the GUTS AND GLORY one-shot published in 1999. As I recall, that book was neither a particularly good nor satisfying payoff to the story teased here.

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  4. Cable and the New Mutants tracked the Mutant Liberation Front to Madripoor, while Sunfire was sent there at the behest of the Japanese government to trace distribution of this new drug, yet Cable says the Japanese government dispatched a contact (Sunfire, it turns out) to meet his team in Madripoor because…?

    // It will eventually be confirmed that Cable does indeed have a son, Tyler. //

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha!!! Tyler?!? You can’t be a codenamed, mysterious cybernetic machine-man of mystery with a son named Tyler.

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  5. @Cerebro: Is that also the one-shot that explains how Cable knows Moira Mactaggert?

    This story is "ok" It does have some dynanism, but there were quite a few things that annoyed me:

    1) The Wolverine fight is BEYOND gratuitous, as we'll find out next issue (and the SECOND time in as many months to boot!) Even if we disregard that revelation, it's silly that Wolverine would let (allegedly) blind rage blind ask the obvious question of why the New Mutants are with this guy. You'd think that might clue Wolverine in that something is up. And to add a sub-question, where are Psylocke and Jubilee, who have been with Wolverine up until this point?

    2) This is a story that takes place in ersatz Thail...I mean Madripoor, so of course it features a Japanese nationalist hero and three Japanese-themed supervillains. It's as if the writers and editors just figured "Aw it's 'Oriental' enough. Same difference, right?" (Also wouldn't a better use of time to give the remaining MLF something resembling a personality? We just got introduced to a bunch of new villains not to long ago! We don't need MORE derivative henchmen added to the mix!)

    3) Mark Gruewald fans have probably noted that this is eerily similar to a Captain America plot that was run in the previous year of that book (both enemies have similarly hazy motives for thier actions, although only one of those stories has that making some kind of sense.)

    There ARE some good points to this storyline. As noted before, it's nice to see Sam being acknowledged as a good field leader and tactician, something that will prepare him for his role in X-Force. And oddly enough the "Rahne" subplot is handled rather subtly, as we see her becoming more assertive (even aggressive) with each issue (and something that is commented on here.) But it's still happening gradually which gives off the appearance of natural progression. (Of course this will eventually become UNsubtle as Wolfsbane is eventually reduced to just another "Savage Chick with Claws" for much of the 90s.)

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  6. Jonathan, if you're thinking of the "Crossbones kidnaps Diamondback and takes her to Madripoor" story, I don't see the similarities, other than they both take place in Madripoor. The Crossbones story is a typical "villain kidnaps hero's girlfriend and tries to use her to lure him into a trap" story.

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  7. One of the first Sunfire panels in this issue a swipe of a John Byrne Human Torch.

    Do people not care anymore about Liefeld swiping? It seems like it's still hip to talk about his other many many negative qualities: the poor anatomy, lack of feet, terrible storytelling, inconsistent designs from panel to panel, lack of backgrounds, and gritted teeth ... (to name but a fraction) ... but no one seems to talk about the swipes these days. Why is that?

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  8. @Jason: You're talking about the panel with Sunrise as sticking out at the audience, right. Classic John Byrne motif if I ever saw one! :-)

    @Anonymous: Close but not quite. The storyline I was talking about is a few issues before that. It DID involve Diamondback though, as well as her Serpent Society buddies.

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  9. @Anonymous: Note that in previous issues, the MLF was building a nuclear bomb. Here, they're using a chemical weapon.

    They're a diverse terrorist organization. :)

    @Cerebro: As I recall, that book was neither a particularly good nor satisfying payoff to the story teased here.

    Indeed. I've read it, but I don't specifically remember it paying off anything this story teased, other than generically being set in the past and involving both characters.

    @Blam: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha!!! Tyler?!? You can’t be a codenamed, mysterious cybernetic machine-man of mystery with a son named Tyler.

    If it makes you feel better, he'll use the aliases of Mr. Tolliver and Genesis at various times. :)

    @Jonathan: Is that also the one-shot that explains how Cable knows Moira Mactaggert?

    That comes in the Cable flashback #-1 issue.

    And to add a sub-question, where are Psylocke and Jubilee, who have been with Wolverine up until this point?

    I've always wondered that as well. Hanging out at the Princess Bar, I suppose?

    We don't need MORE derivative henchmen added to the mix!

    But Rob Liefeld always needs more new characters with the potential to hit it big and bring in those fat royalty checks!

    @Jason: Do people not care anymore about Liefeld swiping?

    As I've stated elsewhere, I only don't bring it up as often as some of the other Liefeld-isms because I suck at recognizing it. So certainly call it out when you can!

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