In a Nutshell
Illyana and the New Mutants battle S'ym.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Finisher: Tom Mandrake
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Boss: Jim Shooter
Presentor: Stan Lee
Illyana watches as the New Mutants are released from class early to play in the snow. The group sees Professor X watching morosely from the window, and Amara tells them he's sad about Lilandra's departure. They decide to throw him a surprise party to cheer him up, and ask Illyana to help. They leave for dance class, not knowing they're being watched by a shadowy figure. After class, Stevie takes the New Mutants and Illyana to the mall to get party supplies. Meanwhile, at the mansion, Belasco's servant S'ym attacks Professor X. When the New Mutants arrive back at the mansion, it appears surprisingly quiet from outside. Because Professor X can't read Illyana's mind, they send her inside to see if the coast is clear before setting up the party. When she enters, S'ym appears, saying he's come to return her to Belasco. Illyana manages to teleport the New Mutants inside the school just as he knocks her out.
They attack S'ym and, working together, they're able to distract him long enough for Stevie to get Illyana clear. But S'ym breaks off from the New Mutants, following Stevie into the transit tunnel beneath the mansion. Illyana regains consciousness just as S'ym reaches them, and she overpowers him using her Soul Sword. Begging for mercy, S'ym agrees to renounce Belasco and serve Illyana. She sends him back to Limbo, then casts a spell to erase Stevie's memory of her sorceress abilities, wanting to keep them a secret for the time being. Later, the X-Men return home to discover the damage caused by S'ym's attack and the New Mutants' party in progress. Professor X tells Illyana he's proud of her for standing up to S'ym, and they share a dance together, revealing that Xavier has regained the ability to walk. As everyone celebrates, Doug Ramsey arrives and tells Kitty he'd like her to come along on his final interview to a private school, because he trusts her judgement and it's a school she attended once: the Massachusetts Academy.
Firsts and Other Notables
Though no official proclamation to the effect is made, Illyana is considered to have joined the New Mutants and adopt the codename Magik as of this issue. The New Mutants also learn about her mutant ability to teleport, though her sorceress abilities remain a secret.
Professor X regains the ability to walk in this issue.
Doug Ramsey receives an invitation to attend the Massachusetts Academy; this plot thread will continue in X-Men #180.
The X-Men are said to be away on a mission during this issue, and we see them presumably returning from it at the end, yet it's never made clear which mission it is. It can't be a reference to the events of X-Men and the Micronauts, as Rogue returns with the team in this issue, and the New Mutants were directly involved in those events, and the official index doesn't list the X-Men appearing anywhere else between that series and this issue.
A Work in Progress
The beginning of this issue matches up with the end of the Magik limited series, featuring Illyana watching as the New Mutants are released early from class, and even features some of the same lines.
When Amara tells the New Mutants Professor X is sad about Lilandra's departure, Roberto acts surprised that Xavier had a girlfriend. Except Lilandra was hanging around the mansion interacting with the New Mutants in earlier issues, and Professor X and Lilandra certainly weren't against any public displays of affection.
The mall is still being repaired from the Sentinel attack in issue #2.
The New Mutants run into the local kids from that issue as well, and introduce them to Amara, kicking off a running gag about all the local kids think she's from Rome, New York.
Professor X has references to Belasco being a 13th Century demonologist; I'm unsure if this fits with his established origin, or if Claremont is making stuff up on the fly.
We're clearly meant to be reading S'ym's dialogue with an Australian accent (for whatever reason), as he's now tossing out "G'Days".
Illyana teleports the New Mutants (and Stevie, and her car) from outside the mansion to the inside in order to help her fight S'ym. In order to do so, she has to teleport them through Limbo, creating the scene from Magik #3 in which a younger Illyana encountered the New Mutants in Limbo. This is also the first hint at the fact that Illyana's teleportation ability only works via Limbo (that is, you have to go through Limbo to get wherever/whenever you're going), something that wasn't made clear in Magik.
During the attack on S'ym, Dani takes charge, forcing an element of teamwork into the battle.
As a further example of just how overkill/hard to believably depict Magma's power is, there's now apparently a volcano in the X-Men's living room. Needless to say, it never gets referenced again.
Illyana describes her Soul Sword as being the "ultimate expression" of her sorceress abilities; get used to that description; it ain't going anywhere anytime soon.
After helping her defeat S'ym, Illyana uses a spell to wipe knowledge of her sorcery abilities from Stevie's mind.
Apparently Amara and Roberto made out under a palm tree at some point, much to Dani's consternation.
Rahne gets mad when Sam accidentally bumps into her while showing off carrying packages.
Though she's been hanging around in the background of the series since its inception, interacting with the book's main characters occasionally, Illyana's always felt more like an X-Men supporting character than a member of this title's own supporting cast. This issue, then, essentially serves as Illyana's introduction to the New Mutants. It lays out her back story for any readers who may have missed the Magik limited series (making it read a bit repetitive for those of us reading both stories in rapid succession), establishes her motivation and conflicts moving forward, and uses the attack by S'ym to set him up as Illyana's sometime ally/sometime foe, a position he'll hold for the duration of Ilyana's time in the book.
This issue also makes it clear that Claremont will be moving characters and plotlines fluidly between his two X-books moving forward. This issue's cliffhanger, involving Kitty's friend Doug being recruited by the White Queen's Massachusetts Academy, will be continued in Uncanny X-Men #180, before coming back into New Mutants as the dominate plotline for issues #15-17. Similarly, Professor X finally regains the ability to walk in this issue. In subsequent issues of X-Men, he'll simply be walking around; anyone that didn't read New Mutants #14 will have missed the specific moment in which he began walking again. For whatever reason, Claremont kept New Mutants mostly isolated from X-Men for the first year of its existence. But that time has passed, and from this point forward Claremont won't be shy about using the two books in tandem to tell his stories, further contributing to the sense of both books simply being a chronicle of these characters' every day lives.
The X-Men get ready for a secret war in Uncanny X-Men #180, while the New Mutants take a trip to Massachusetts in New Mutants #15.