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Nov 7

New Mutants #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are for the digital edition.

THE NEW MUTANTS: This is, technically, the fourth volume of New Mutants. The first is the original series which ran from 1983 to 1991 and featured the X-Men’s junior team. The second ran from 2003-4 and featured one of the trainee classes from the Morrison-era school – it’s the one that introduced characters like Elixir and Hellion. Volume 3, a reunion of the original team, ran for 50 issues between 2009 and 2012 (very few of which, to be honest, have stuck in the mind).

There’s also a few minis, all of which also feature versions of the original line-up. The launch of New Mutants in 1983 was effectively the point where the X-Men became a franchise. It’s interesting that this is the X-book that gets its opening arc co-written by Jonathan Hickman, along with regular writer Ed Brisson – though it’s this week’s X-Force that gets the deluxe edition treatment and seems to have the more important plot points. Hickman previously wrote both Cannonball and Sunspot in his Avengers run which, to be honest, I still haven’t read. Hickman’s idiosyncratic style of emphasis is quite noticeable in this issue’s dialogue.

COVER / PAGE 1: The cast for this series, mostly comprising classic New Mutants characters from the original line-up. That’s Mirage and Cypher at the top, Karma, Chamber and Wolfsbane on the next tier down, and Mondo, Magik and Sunspot at the bottom. Chamber and Mondo both come from Generation X, a later trainee book. They’re a slightly odd inclusion here, because the New Mutants long since outgrew their original role as the junior team, and what holds them together these days is basically a sense of family from that period of their lives; Chamber and Mondo don’t form part of that family.

While Karma, Mirage and Wolfsbane are wearing versions of the classic black and yellow X-Men uniform, they’ve dropped the X-Men logo itself. Magik, always a slightly more tentative team player, sticks with her Chris Bachalo costume.

PAGES 2-4: Wolfsbane recalls being reborn into the Krakoan utopia.

Wolfsbane. Wolfsbane was one of the many characters killed during Matthew Rosenberg’s run, immediately prior to House of X – specifically, see Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #17. Naturally, she’s been brought straight back. For what it’s worth, the flashback we see here doesn’t seem to match the way the process was shown in House of X #5 – in that issue, the cloned X-Men emerge from their pods, and then Xavier downloads their minds back into them. Wolfsbane seems to emerge already formed. Chances are it’s just an error, or maybe Xavier has just continued to refine the process since HoX #5.

Krakoa. Once again, everything is for the best in this best of all possible islands. Since everyone seems to find the place wonderfully utopian, presumably this takes place before X-Force #1.

Karma. Xi’an Coy Manh was also last seen in the Rosenberg run, also as a member of the makeshift X-Men team. She quit in Uncanny X-Men #18 to spend more time with her family. Her prosthetic leg is from injuries suffered in battle in New Mutants vol 3 #12 (part of the Second Coming crossover), but it does make her an unusual example of a character on Krakoa who is carting significant amounts of technology around.

PAGES 5-7: The recap page and the credits, all as normal. The small print reads “Let’s go to space, good times in space.” The title is “The Sextant”, which is explained later in the issue. A sextant is a sixth of a circle, or a measuring device of that size.

PAGES 8-10: Cypher experiments with getting Mondo to commune directly with Krakoa, with mixed results.

Cypher. He’s been very prominent in the Hickman run so far, as the one character who can speak directly with Krakoa thanks to his language powers. Telepathy works on Krakoa up to a point, and Cypher has apparently built some interfaces for others, but clearly he’s hoping for a better solution.

Mondo. Mondo is an odd character with the power to absorb matter into his body and take on some of its properties until eventually he consumes it. He comes from the 90s series Generation X. However, the “Mondo” who appeared as a member of that team was eventually exposed in Generation X #60 as a duplicate created by Black Tom Cassidy; the real Mondo appeared prominently in that storyline, but it’s pretty much his only significant appearance aside from a few later cameos. He’s really being written here in line with the personality his impostor showed in earlier issues of Generation X. He has no previous history with the New Mutants, though you can see why Cypher might hope his powers would be useful.

Krakoa. Krakoa can manifest through Mondo’s body, though he “doesn’t like it very much” and considers it “a bad thing”. Since he still speaks his own language, and Mondo’s mind is locked out while Krakoa is control, this doesn’t achieve what Cypher was hoping for. But remember that in Powers of X we saw an older Krakoa occupying Cypher’s body, which seems similar to what’s going on here.

PAGES 10-14. Mirage, Sunspot, Magik, Wolfsbane, Chamber, Cypher and Mondo have coffee and decide to go into space to get Cannonball back.

The Akademos Habitat. We’ve seen this name before, and it seems to be simply a residential area of Krakoa. The identical houses are presumably grown from the pods we’ve seen mentioned before. This neighbourhood seems to be grouped into six parts, which might explain why it’s called the sextant. There’s some sort of public building in the middle, which might be important in the future. The New Mutants seem to be sharing a home together.

The sixth generation of homo superior. Mirage seems to mean this very figuratively (and really more closely linked to the narrative than to anything within the Marvel Universe). Her six generations of mutant society are (1) ancient mutants like Apocalypse; (2) the modern elders, like Professor X and Magneto; (3) the era of the Silver Age X-Men; (4) the era of widespread mutant numbers; (5) the first mutant communities, i.e. the X-Men’s school turning into a real large-scale boarding school in Grant Morrison’s run; and (6) Krakoa. Sunspot puts the New Mutants at stage 5, though surely they’re really stage 4.

Mirage’s claim here – in line with good Krakoan patriotism – is that the preceding incarnation failed because they were trying to build mutant communities using human institutions; mutants can only make real progress by building their own culture. It’s a mutant version of Audre Lorde’s “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” argument.

Cameos. We see a number of mutants in passing as Sunspot and Mirage walk through the Sextant. The clearly recognisable ones:

  • Glob Herman, talking to some guy with a blue head and a stick.
  • Monet St Croix, who we saw in House of X, along with two small child versions of Penance. These are presumably Monet’s younger sisters Claudette St Croix and Nicole St Croix, who have gained the power to turn into Penance at will in the same way that Monet showed in House of X.
  • The blonde guy wearing a Hellions uniform and talking to a group of other characters is Bevatron. He’s about as obscure as X-Men villains get – he’s a late-period member of the original Hellions who debuted in New Warriors vol 1 #9 (1991), just in time for the entire team to be killed off in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #281 (er… 1991). Evidently he’s been restored from back up.
  • The woman in the niqab is Dust, who’s been shown on Krakoa before.
  • The big rock guy is, of course, Rockslide.

Fauna. Credited here with making the coffee beans, Fauna is the green kid who was seen travelling to Krakoa in House of X #1. Quite why a character called Fauna has got flora-based abilities is less than clear, although maybe that’s what Mondo is hinting at in suggesting that there’s something dodgy about this stuff. It seems to taste good, though.

Chamber. Chamber was another casualty of the Rosenberg bloodbath, dying in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #18. Evidently he’s been restored from back up, but it seems that this body, just like the previous one, couldn’t handle the amount of power it was trying to contain, and has blown a big hole in his front, covered up here by bandages. He still enjoys the smell of coffee.

Magik was in the X-Men at the end of the Rosenberg run, and there’s not much to say about her. That’s her magic sword stuck in a tree trunk.

Cannonball. The founding New Mutants were Mirage (as Psyche), Sunspot, Karma, Wolfsbane and Cannonball. Cannonball isn’t here because he married Smasher and settled down in the Shi’ar Empire during Hickman’s Avengers run. (By the way, the other characters who joined the New Mutants during their classic run – before they merged with the X-Factor trainees – were Cypher, Warlock, Magik and Magma. Cypher and Magik are here, Warlock is represented as a part of Cypher, but Magma is conspicuously absent. She was in the Age of X-Man crossover, so there’s no obvious reason for her to be missing.)

PAGES 15-18. The New Mutants hitch a lift to the Shi’ar Empire with the Starjammers. The Starjammers’ Krakoan gate is already causing trouble.

The Starjammers. We saw them visit the X-Men, and get their Krakoan gate, in X-Men #1. As previously mentioned, they’re interstellar pirates.

The Shi’ar Empire. Mentioned repeatedly in Hickman’s run to date, and evidently going to be important somewhere along the line – so this story may not be quite the side jaunt that it first appears.

Krakoa. More warning signs that all is not as it seems with Krakoa. Mondo finds it “itchy” to absorb bits of Krakoa and actively wants rid of it. Cypher has brought a gateway flower with him – presumably so that they can get back again, since the Starjammers are only taking them some of the way – and it seems to be magnetically drawn to the existing gateway. (Even allowing for this, it’s surprising that someone as important to the whole Krakoan project as Cypher was allowed to go into space – his absence, and the other X-Men’s inability to communicate with Krakoa Prime, might matter.) More worrying yet, the Krakoan gateway wants to terraform the garden around it, and it’s killing the Starjammers’ other plants. Not sinister at all! Mondo absorbs the return flower in order to keep it safe, in the broadest possible sense of “safe”.

PAGES 19-21. Everyone watches Magik sparring with Raza, and she cuts off his robot arm.

They’re pirates, this is the kind of thing they do. Although as we’ll see at the end of the issue, the New Mutants are starting to seriously annoy the Starjammers by this point.

PAGE 22. The Starjammers arrive at the Benevolence space station.

We find out more about Benevolence in a couple of pages time. It seems to be new. EDIT: As pointed out in the comments, Benevolence was mentioned in Powers of X #1 as the place where around 8,000 mutants were living in the “Year 100” timeline. It was described in that issue as “a converted transit station located on the fringe of Shi’ar space where it has long served as a buffer between the Empire and the wild space spawning grounds of Brood breeding territory.”

“A very reputable space lawyer.” More of this guy at the end of the issue.

PAGE 23. Data page in the form of the Starjammers’ wanted poster. The members are listed bottom left – Cr’reee, the one with the tiny price on his head, is Ch’od’s pet. The comedy list of crimes is self-explanatory.

“Assault (Phermonal)” presumably has something to do with Hepzibah, whose people communicate by smell. The name Hepzibah was supposedly given to her by Corsair, because he couldn’t pronounce her real name (see: communicate by smell). It’s a reference to the character of the same name from the Pogo comic strip, the idea being that they’re both skunk women.

PAGE 24. Data page about Benevolence. Contrary to what the Starjammers are telling the New Mutants, it’s a repository for material too dangerous to be allowed anywhere near the Shi’ar Empire proper.

The King Egg. A ludicrously over the top piece of foreshadowing (which is the joke, of course). In particular, the King Egg should apparently be kept clear of alien biomes (like the Starjammers have) and “interstellar pheromone production” (which is presumably what Hepzibah does, I guess). “Superguardian protocols” means calling out the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, which is where Cannonball might come into all this.

PAGES 25-35. The New Mutants ignore the Starjammers’ instruction to stay behind, go exploring, and realise the Starjammers were lying to them. The Starjammers have completely lost patience with these clowns, so they take the King Egg and dump the New Mutants with the Shi’ar authorities.

Largely self-explanatory, this. Part of Corsair’s miscalculation is that in trying to trick the New Mutants into staying on the ship, he tells a tale so awful that the New Mutants, as good little heroes, feel obliged to try and help. The Starjammers, meanwhile, are actually acting like the pirates that they’re always claimed to be, even though in practice they’re usually closer to swashbuckling heroes. They also seem to be in something of a rush to meet their employer, which is another reason why they leave the New Mutants to it. Their destination, Pshor Prime, is new.

“Judgy fundamentalists.” Corsair seems to make up this nonsense on the fly, after asking the New Mutants what the worst thing they can imagine is, and getting this answer from Wolfsbane. It’s a reference to her extremely religious upbringing in the Western Isles, which was played on extensively in the original New Mutants series. (Corsair also throws in the “four arms” answer given by Chamber, and the New Mutants still fall for it.) Corsair is probably plucking the names Nuwabi’ka and Kaliwaki out of the air.

Sharra & K’ythri are the well-established gods of the Shi’ar Empire. They actually showed up in Thor a little while back.

PAGE 36. Data page on Sunspot’s “really good space lawyer”, in the form of an advert. The art is taken from Rocket #2 (2017), and this is Rocket’s lawyer from that issue, Murd Blurdock. At least, he would have been Rocket’s lawyer, if only he hadn’t had to run off and fight ninjas instead.

Murd is an Echomelian – a race of blind reptiles who make brilliant trial lawyers because their echo-senses let them read everyone’s heartbeat. Now, those things on his face might look to you like eyes. But according to his partner Froggy Nelson, they are in fact “scars” from when he was “struck by radioactive originium as a child and lost his echo-senses – forever!” Despite this, Murd is “still a great lawyer – supernaturally good! Almost as if he can tell the expressions on a jury’s faces through some unknown ‘visual sense’… But that’s crazy talk! The only Echomelian with that ability is the violent vigilante known as Seeing Being – the Sentient Without Self-Preservation!”

Oh yes… the place names in the bottom right.

  • Chandilar is the Shi’ar Empire’s capital world.
  • The Aerie was the Shi’ar’s original homeworld.
  • The Maul is a ring of inhabited asteroids, previously seen in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #277.
  • Timor is Ch’od’s homeworld.
  • M’Kraan is presumably the location of the cosmically-powerful M’Kraan Crystal.
  • Chr’yllalisa is the homeworld of the Starjammers’ medic, Sikorsky.

PAGES 37-38: The trailers. The Krakoan reads: NEXT: LAWLESSNESS AND DISORDER.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    The problem with a book like Uncanny X-Men or X-Men is that the majority of the stories have been so sub-par, average, or downright bad that one of Morrison’s worst works could end up standing out as one of the most interesting periods in the book’s history.

    Outside of Chris Claremont, there isn’t much to recommend from the history of Uncanny X-Men or X-Men. Luckily, Claremont stayed on the book so long.
    The only other run I could find a lot of positives to describe would be the Mike Carey run.

  2. Arrowhead says:

    I think Cullen Bunn’s Magneto, Remender’s Uncanny X-Force and Spurrier’s Legacy up there.

    But yeah – taken in the context of the entire medium, and not just one franchise by one publisher, most X-Books are pretty dire. New X-Men is a great X-Book but it wouldn’t make my top 20 Morrison books, or anywhere near my 100 comics

    Big 2 in-continuity superhero comics have a lot of storytelling & readability problems that, as a fan, you sort of learn to ignore: jarring fill-in art, editorial mandates, dropped subplots, unexplained references to other titles and unsatisfying endings.

    The only X-Book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to non-superhero “graphic novel” readers is X-Statix, which arguably doesn’t count.

  3. Chris V says:

    Arrowhead, you are correct.
    I was solely referring to Uncanny X-Men and X-Men when I made that comment.
    There are many spin-off X-books which I did enjoy.
    I loved all four that you mention.

    It has been those sporadic spin-off books since Claremont left Uncanny X-Men which have mostly kept my interest in the Marvel mutants franchise.
    Otherwise, I probably would have stopped reading the X-titles for good after Claremont left.

  4. Jason says:

    D: “There’s a lot of aggression being thrown ol’ Dazzler’s way about something I read over 20 years ago.”

    D: “I don’t want to come off like too much of a snob, but you really should know that.”

    D: “I’m sorry but your answers are so bad.”

    Why all this aggression towards me, when I am always so polite and kind, painstakingly apologizing before my insults, and prefacing my condescension with assurances that I am not a snob?

    I DON’T UNDERSTAND

  5. Moo says:

    @Jason

    Glad I’m not the only one seeing it. Also, after Col_Fury, YLu, and Paul all chimed in to support the “ruby quartz blocks his beams” explanation, Dazzler still couldn’t bring herself to concede the point…

    D: “It’s possible I was wrong, and it’s possible the official explanation changed, as often happens.”

    Meanwhile, she was waiting around for someone else to concede a point to her…

    D: “I’m mostly waiting to see if Chris V is at least willing to admit that Morrison wrote the X-Men like incompetent fools throughout.”

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