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Nov 27

New Mutants #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As we get further into the series, chances are these posts can start to get shorter. But meantime… as always, page numbers are from the digital edition, and this post contains spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1: The New Mutants get caught by Gladiator.

PAGES 2-3. Sunspot recaps the plot, and explains that the New Mutants are in Shi’ar jail, and his lawyer has arranged an early hearing.

“I had to lay it on pretty thick to convince my friends to leave paradise…” Not what we saw in issue #1. In fairness, that issue cut directly from Sunspot suggesting it to the team already being in space. So it could have happened the way Sunspot claims. But given the tone of all this, it’s more likely he’s talking himself up. Hickman’s Sunspot – and note Hickman is credited as sole writer on this issue – is much more of a comedy figure than we’ve seen in recent years in books like USAvengers. Then again, this is also more of a comedy book.

“It’s a Niemeyer.” Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), the influential Brazilian architect.

“I’ve learned this lesson the hard way – uh, twice”. In terms of having to sort out his legal affairs during absences, Sunspot is probably thinking of his recent death during War of the Realms, and the extended period in X-Force when he was possessed by Reignfire.

X-Corp. Presumably still short for the X-Corporation, the non-profit mutant rights organisation that was set up by Professor X during the Grant Morrison run. Sunspot was involved in X-Corp, as established in X-Treme X-Men #35, but I’m not sure why he would be the one signing the papers – unless he was put in charge of it after being revived on Krakoa? Obviously, the fact that Sunspot has “signed whatever they put in front of me” seems like a recipe for disaster in the future.

“My Earth lawyers know some pretty decent space lawyers.” Do they? Who’s he using?

Magik. It’s made clear here that the New Mutants are ultimately playing along waiting for their day in court, and there’s nothing the Shi’ar could actually do to stop Magik teleporting them away.

PAGE 5. The credits. Title: “Space Jail.” (Where they actually only spend page 2, but never mind!)

PAGE 6-12. The New Mutants are summarily convicted and handed over to the authorities – in the form of Cannonball and Smasher, who they were looking for all along anyway.

The Shi’ar court system. Drawn as a fairly normal courtroom. That thing that looks like the jury box can’t be, though, since this isn’t a trial by jury – instead the judge apparently works from written statements and decides the case himself. (In fact, he seems to eat the statements, though how that would help him decide whether he believed them…) The team seem to have been expecting to get off, but it’s not obvious why, since they were pretty clearly guilty.

Murd Blurdock, Sunspot’s lawyer, gets remarkably little to do here, considering that he’s been brought back from Rocket. This issue doesn’t do anything with the joke that was set up in his previous appearance (he’s a Daredevil analogue), and you wonder why they bothered, really.

Cannonball is the other founding member of the New Mutants, who left to live in the Shi’ar Empire during Hickman’s Avengers run when he met up with Smasher. Note that Chamber and Mondo, the two outsiders to the original cast, look rather annoyed during the reunion. They’re getting rather less out of this whole affair than the rest of the cast. Less conspicuously, Sunspot doesn’t join the group hug either – he’s out of the panel entirely. Clearly, none of this is playing out as Sunspot had imagined; Cannonball is doing just fine without him, and his own interventions have achieved pretty much zero.

Smasher. This is Izzy Kane from Iowa, another character introduced in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run. She became the latest Smasher after finding the equipment of a previous version who had crashed onto her farm. Sam and Izzy have an infant son, Josiah, who seems to have similar powers to Sam. Like her predecessors, Smasher is a member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, the empire’s in-house superheroes. The Imperial Guard were originally a riff on DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes, though they’ve developed in their own direction since then. The original Smasher was the Ultra Boy analogue.

Reasonably enough, Smasher is deeply unimpressed at being dragged away from fighting the Skrulls alongside her teammates in order to sort out her husband’s incompetent schoolmates.

PAGE 13. Data page with the court’s order. Let’s be charitable and assume that the actual sentence was made in a separate order. This one remands the team to Smasher’s custody for the duration of the sentence (“according to a prearranged agreement”, so clearly Murd wasn’t all that surprised to lose).

For some reason the order also sanctions Murd for incompetence, though aside from failing to manage the New Mutants’ expectations, it’s not really clear what he’s done wrong. It’s not like they had a defence.

PAGES 14-15. Since Smasher happens to be in the right area now, Gladiator sends her on an urgent mission.

Gladiator. Originally the Superboy analogue in the Imperial Guard, and he still has the power set – though with the wrinkle that his power levels fluctuate according to his confidence. Fortunately, confidence is not normally a problem for Gladiator. Usually a loyal if somewhat nationalistic soldier for the Shi’ar Empire, Gladiator took control of the empire after Emperor Vulcan vanished in War of Kings. Of course, Vulcan is back now on Krakoa, but we don’t know if Gladiator is aware of that (though as we’ll see, he does seem to have become quite keen to hurry the other heir to the throne into place).

PAGE 16. Data page, which really just reminds us that long-established Imperial Guardsmen Oracle and Mentor are Gladiator’s lieutenants. They’re the analogues to Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 respectively. As usual, the Krakoan symbols are just the initials (G, M and O).

PAGES 17-21. The New Mutants play an unintelligible version of poker, while Cannonball and Sunspot catch up. The New Mutants are pardoned, but they’re also conscripted for a special mission…

The card game. They’re trying to play Texas Hold’em without understanding the cards or the coins. Or maybe Dani understands them, if you think she’s telling the truth about having played this game before. She might be. But I like the scene better if everyone’s just playing along with the joke.

“I fight bears”. Dani’s early storylines focussed around a demon bear, which the New Mutants eventually defeated in New Mutants #19-20.

Lila Cheney. Sam and Bobby are watching a Lila Cheney concert on – I don’t know, it’s probably called space TV. Lila was an intergalactic rock star who was Cannonball’s girlfriend for much of the original New Mutants run.

PAGES 22-24. Gladiator tells Xandra that she needs to be ready for the throne – so they’re bringing in Deathbird to teach her. The New Mutants’ mission is to bring Deathbird back.

Xandra was introduced in the first arc of Mr & Mrs X not so very long before the relaunch – and might now have to be added to the list of set-up work being done during that period. As established in that story, Xandra is the genetically engineered child of Professor X and Lilandra, and thus the technical heir to the throne.

“Titans are assembling for war.” According to Gladiator and Oracle, the urgency to get Xandra up and running as empress is to do with “Titans” who have already conquered the “nearest galactic cluster” and who are believed to be setting their sights on the Shi’ar. We heard about Titans in Powers of X #5, where it referred to one of the large collective-mind societies into which humanity – and everything else – would eventually be subsumed. So the Titans appearing on the scene in the present day is quite a big deal, despite its offhand treatment here. Each of these things ought to have ten million minds.

Quite why Gladiator believes that this calls for a Neramani on the throne is unclear, but he may simply believe that he needs to be free of his head-of-state responsibilities in order to focus on leading the Imperial Guard. Maybe Xandra’s significance to him is simply that she’s an acceptable monarch.

Deathbird. Deathbird – or Cal’syee, if you prefer – is Lilandra’s sister and thus Xandra’s aunt. She’s a mutant throwback who has wings and can fly (the Shi’ar are supposed to be evolved from birds, though they look mostly like humans with feathers instead of hair). She first appeared in Ms Marvel #9 (1977), and her writer Chris Claremont soon imported her into the X-Men mythos. She was last seen in Mr & Mrs X #3-5 (2018), where she was running a rebellion and trying to get her hands on Xandra in the belief that if she had Lilandra’s progeny by her, she would be accepted as empress. That didn’t work out so well for her, but Gladiator would have to be desperate to let Deathbird anywhere near Xandra, given how keen he was to stop it in that story.

PAGES 25-26. The trailer reads NEXT: HAVE YOU HEARD THE GOOD NEWS.

Bring on the comments

  1. Dazzler says:

    Update: My LCS still has enormous piles of New Mutants #1 and X-Men #2 that absolutely won’t sell. They seem to have over-ordered the whole line, and (kind of understandably) the Hickman books in particular. I’ll be curious how their orders around the 5-7 issue mark compare to before the launch

  2. Adrian Brown says:

    Great art. The only quibble I have is the rather generic depiction of Chandilar but then the Shiar are pretty generic themselves.

    The writing is quite bad. Hickman should know by now that comedy is not his forte. The entire issue is littered with generic, juvenile and cringe worthy attempts at comedy. Most of it carping on about Roberto’s narcissism. We get it already. Hickman at least tried to do some character work with the card game but it fell flat for me. I think another problem (aside from characterization not being Hickman’s strength) is that the cast may be too large. With the exception of Roberto, all the other New Mutants sound the same. I expect this to be more of a comedic version of Hickman’s Avengers space arc. That too had a cast of hundreds.

    The plot is still mostly setup but it looks like another retread of Shiar war in space. For some bizarre reason, Deathbird is being dragged out yet again. To raise Lilandra’s daughter??!! The reason given seems ridiculous. Isn’t the current environent politically charged? Is there no one with political acumen that can teach Xandra? How is Gladiator functioning without someone like that since he admits he lacks that trait?
    Writers are happy to bring out new X-Men on their runs, but when it comes to the Shiar, Deathbird and Gladiator seem to be the only ones that exist. Along with some version of Lilandra. And then the same Shiar war plot is done again. Very odd.

  3. YLu says:

    “(In fact, he seems to eat the statements, though how that would help him decide whether he believed them…)”

    I took that line to be figurative, but now I’m picturing it as literal and I kind of love the idea.

  4. Ben says:

    Really loved the art. It’s great when characters are drawn like actual people instead of the same generic model with different color hair.

    The writing? Ehhhhhhh. Is this supposed to be a comedy book? It’s definitely light hearted, but funny?

  5. brokepope says:

    The writing on this book sucks.
    What’s odd is that, while it was rarely laugh out loud funny, the majority of Hickman’s Avengers actually delt quite deft, if surface level, character work. Significantly less stilted than New Mutants and X-Men.

  6. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    1) Weirdly, my main problem at the moment is that basically nobody besides Hickman ever wrote Sam and Izzie. And due to his stellar character work, they have zero chemistry. I have no idea why they’re a couple. And they basically have no history together. Sure, they were on the Avengers together, but their whole relationship basically happened off-screen, mostly during time-skips.

    So that’s fun.

    2) Regarding this issue – the art’s great. Though I’m kind of sad that we’re back to basic Cannonball – I loved Burnett’s take on him in the previous X-Force run (though ‘run’ is a big word for ten issues).

    3) Murd being a lousy lawyer might be because he’s only a brilliant lawyer among his people (which was part of the joke in ‘Rocket’) and when he doesn’t have the sight advantage, he can’t keep up. I mean, that could be a joke. It’s not in this book, but it could have been.

    4) I hope that in the future Sunspot will be less prominent – I loved Ewing’s take on him, so this buffoon is painful to read by comparison and I could do with less of him. And the rest of the cast needs more space for themselves.

    5) X-Corp. There was talk in one of the Dawn of X interviews, I believe, about there being a book about X-Corp coming in the second wave.

    No, wait, I have it wrong, I just checked. In the letters page of Captain Marvel #11 there was this about the artist on that issue:

    ‘Don’t let Carmen out of your sights! Follow her into the pages of X-Corp, the latest in the wave of genre-redefining X-Men books! Issue #1 is on sale February 2’.

    So this mention by Roberto might be considered to be a set-up for something that’s on the way.

    6) Sam and Izzie’s kid’s powers – does he take after Canonnball? The only time I recall his powers mentioned was back in Hickman’s Avengers, with a panel of Roberto commenting on the kid crawling on the ceiling.

  7. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I also wanted to mention that the next Shi’ar war for the throne could be another X-Men schism, since Xandra (house Xavier) has a rival in a so far unnamed, I believe, child of Deathbird and Vulcan (house Summers).

    (Okay, so I just checked and technically the child was not only unnamed but also still unborn in their one appearance, but still – that’s one Chekhov’s foetus.)

    You could also have Kubark (Kid Gladiator) claiming his rights to the throne (he was a little shit but some X-Men trainees might throw in with him, stupider thing have happened in x-books) and you get a galactic civil war with three mutant factions.

    Wait, how could I forget Adam X the X-Treme? I have no idea who would willingly follow this radical dude, but there’s definitely room for him in X-Men Schism II: Things Get Medieval as the leader of a fourth mutant faction fighting for the throne.

    I’ll stop before this turns into a full-fledged fanfic. Though one does have to wonder, are there any heirs to the Shi’ar throne that aren’t aligned with or at least connected to the X-Men?

  8. YLu says:

    @Krzysiek Ceran

    IIRC, Ewing established that the baby had a super-forcefield that would put his dad’s to shame. He had Sam going into combat carrying the baby because he couldn’t actually get hurt.

  9. wwk5d says:

    Does one LCS represent the entire industry?

  10. YLu says:

    It’s no more necessarily representative than a single store’s sales, but these books are doing gangbusters on Comixology for whatever reason. Last week, Excalibur #2 and Marauders #2 were the two best-selling books on the site. The latest Batman came in third.

  11. CJ says:

    Did Izzy Kane get her Smasher equipment from the Smasher that crashed on Earth in New X-Men?

    I really loved. The scene of the Gen Xers standing apart while everyone else hugged Sam was awesome.

    Not sure if I thought this was funny, but I was interested and the art really sells it. Maybe next issue will be a step-up back on Earth.

  12. ASV says:

    a fourth mutant faction fighting for the throne

    I seem to recall that Matt Fraction’s Inhumans was going to be a Marvel U. take on Game of Thrones before it was scrapped. Now that the Inhumans are back in storage and the X-Men are OK to use again, maybe the plan is to revitalize that idea?

  13. Evilgus says:

    I enjoyed the light hearted tone of this. I’m not a big New Mutants person, but I still like the chemistry (the panel with Mondo and Chamber standing apart was gold, as was Sunspot and Cannonball’s jealousy at Cypher’s prominence in Krakoa over themselves…).

    Art is great. Everyone looks suitably individual and different!

    But I get that as a fan, the characters seem regressed versions of themselves (tremulous Rahne, arrogant Sunspot, etc). And outside of Sam and Roberto, the others aren’t getting much limelight yet. But at least everyone gets a line or two and interesting on-panel depiction. I’ll stick with this one.

  14. Col_Fury says:

    I loved this issue. The comedy works for me, the character interactions are hitting all of my buttons and it’s just a blast seeing these characters together. I’m really digging this one. 🙂

  15. Dazzler says:

    Friendo, I said flat out I’m curious what you guys are seeing in your local shops, because I can’t see them all. Only a few people have shared their observations, but I’m still curious.

  16. Joseph S. says:


    I didn’t read Sam’s comments as an expression of envy, more as a declaration of fact and even somewhat proud of him, though I do think Roberto’s downplaying of Doug’s role (“he’s just a translator…”) as a kind of insecurity on his part.

  17. Keith says:

    I’m gonna guess (because I am one of them), the Comixology sales are drive by long-time X-fans who had lost interest in comics generally, heard about the relaunch and want to keep up, but who aren’t exactly about to go back to physical stores regularly.

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