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Jan 28

New Mutants #15 annotations

Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #15
“The Kids Ain’t Alright”
by Vita Ayala & Rod Reis

COVER / PAGE 1. The New Mutants are pursued by… well, Cosmar from the look of it. Nothing like this happens in the issue. Interesting that Scout is shown alongside the team, though.

PAGES 2-3. Magik asks about the destruction of the Fort.

The Akademos Habitat is the area where the younger mutants are meant to live; this is the first time we’ve heard about the Fort, which has evidently been set on fire by other teenage mutants. This is the kind of vandalism that the New Mutants were referring in their memo to Professor X in the previous issue, the one that landed them with their mentor role.

Fauna is a minor background mutant who’s cropped up in various issues in the Krakoan era. He’s the one with green skin and hair. It’s the first time we’ve actually seen him in New Mutants, though in issue #1 he was credited with producing the Krakoan coffee bean. Seems random, but there you are.

Curse is the kid with red skin and spikes, another recurring background character from the Krakoan era who hasn’t previously appeared in New Mutants.

The other four are unnamed, but they’re the followers of Exodus who we saw listening to his tale about Magneto in X-Men #11. The one who looks a bit like Kid Omega is presumably an imitator.

The laws of Krakoa. The laws of Krakoa include protecting the land and treating it as sacred; Magik treats that as extending to anything that destroys emanations of Krakoa. She seems to agree that, but for that technicality, wrecking other people’s homes (whether or not viewed as private property) would not be against any Krakoan law in and of itself, though she does insist that it would be morally unacceptable conduct.

PAGE 4. Recap and credits. The title is a play on “The Kids Are Alright” by the Who.

PAGE 5-7. Anole, Cosmar, Rain Boy and No-Girl train under the Shadow King.

We saw these four as a group last issue, already under the influence of the Shadow King. Even though Farouk was hiding out in a cave last issue, he seems to be openly on the island, given the way he behaves in later scenes – he can be seen in the Lagoon for Cypher’s wedding reception. That would seem remarkably tolerant even by Krakoan standards, though. Or is he concealing himself?

The Crucible. As seen in various issues of other titles, this is meant to be a ritual in which depowered mutants get themselves killed in ceremonial combat, so that they can then be resurrected with their powers intact. It’s meant to deter the depowered mutants from committing suicide en masse in order to get their powers back. Cosmar is not a depowered mutant, but – as we see later on – she wants to get resurrected so that she can restore her normal appearance. According to Cosmar, her appearance is not part of her mutation, but something her mutation did to her because she couldn’t control it.

It’s not immediately clear why the Shadow King is encouraging this, but presumably he’s hoping to manipulate the fight once it gets going. Being “ready” for the Crucible presumably just means being able to put up a respectable fight, because the aim of the exercise is not to win.

PAGE 8. Scout visits the Boneyard.

This is the headquarters of X-Factor Investigations. The romantic tension between Aurora and Daken is an X-Factor subplot, as is Prodigy’s body farm.

Scout presumably wants to hang out with Daken because he’s family. Her elder sister Laura – strictly, her clonal mother – is missing because she’s tied up in the Children of the Vault storyline over in X-Men. Wolverine is presumably too busy. Daken is… related to her, at least. In line with his depiction in X-Factor, Daken is perfectly civil towards her, and seems to acknowledge some familial duty to make time for her, but he wants to get on with speaking to Aurora.

PAGES 9-12. Training time in the Wild Hunt.

From left to right in the top panel on page 9 (some of them are only identifiable by comparing with later stories):

  • Scout
  • Shark Girl
  • Four new characters – the white one is named later as Cam. Scout recognises them because they were among the background inmates in Age of X-Man: Prisoner X, but they claim here to be mutants from Genosha, in which case the ones in Prisoner X must have been copies used to fill out X-Man’s pocket universe. Even if they were the same people, Sprite would still be overfamiliar with them, given how little interaction she had with them in the earlier series.
  • Warpath
  • Rain Boy
  • Armor
  • Sprite
  • A dark-skinned woman who’s identified later as Tempest. This seems to be intended as Angel Salvadore, who was Tempest in the depowered-mutants version of the New Warriors; she’s wearing the heat / cold gauntlets she had in that series. Except Angel has got her powers back since then (as seen in previous issues) and the powers she uses here are artificial. It’s a bit odd.
  • Anole.
  • Cosmar
  • A shadow figure.
  • Dust.
  • Another shadow figure.

“An important aspect of being a mutant is that, as a people, we are more than the sum of the individuals that make up the group.” More Krakoan identity-building.

“You were indoctrinated by humans to serve their purpose. You need to learn to think beyond what they allowed you too know about yourself.” This is a bit unfair on Laura and her sisters, who escaped their creators at a fairly early stage. James is being rather condescending to Laura about a character development arc that she’s already gone through.

“Carcharodon cyclone.” A carcharadon is a great white shark.

PAGE 13. Data page. It’s an email from Elixir of the Five to Wolfsbane, telling her that Tier isn’t even in the queue for resurrection.

Tier is Wolfsbane’s son by the wolf-prince Hrimhari. He debuted in X-Factor #224, and died in X-Factor #256 while fighting Mephisto and a corrupted Strong Guy. Elixir assumes that Tier’s death simply hasn’t been verified – he did die in magical combat, after all. The next scene seems to confirm that that’s the official reason.

But Tier was only half mutant; his father was from Asgard. It’s entirely possible that he doesn’t qualify as a mutant anyway. If so, Rahne is being strung along.

PAGES 14-17. Wolfsbane talks with Mirage.

“I’m tired of pretending I’m okay with it.” “Nobody has mentioned this storyline since 2013.”

The images around Rahne all come from Tier’s back story. Hrimhari traded his life to Hela to save the unborn child Tier, hence her appearance.

“Of the people in this house, yes, absolutely.” Karma had a long-running storyline looking for her younger siblings in the late 1980s.

PAGE 18. Data page about the diaries of Amahl Farouk. This follows up on the flashback in the previous story, confirming that Amahl himself was a decent enough person who became possessed by the transdimensional evil entity.

PAGES 19-21. Cypher and Bei’s reception in the Green Lagoon.

The recognisable characters in page 19 panel 1:

  • Anole and the Blob are behind the bar, with Daken ordering a drink..
  • On the left hand side, watching the show, are Magneto and Professor X, with an indistinct third figure next to them – from page 21 panel 5, it’s probably the Beast.
  • On the stage are Lila Cheney and Dazzler.
  • Most of the other people gathered around the stage are indistinct, but Nature Girl is recognisable by her antlers, and one of them looks to be Storm.
  • Warlock and Broo are talking in the background.
  • Bei is holding Cypher in her arms; around them are Sunspot, Cannonball, Magik and Glob Herman.
  • Peeper from S.W.O.R.D. is sitting at the bar.
  • Havok, Cyclops and (presumably) Cable are gathered together.
  • On the right, Amahl Farouk is ambling through the bar – either nobody can see him or his presence is accepted.

Also identifiable later in the party are Nightcrawler, Kid Omega, one of the Stepford Cuckoo, Wolverine, No-Girl, Cosmar, Rain Girl, Mondo, Chamber, Pixie, Jean Grey, Mister Sinister and Colossus.

Magik and Doug’s conversation expecting him to die in “X of Swords” took place in issue #13. Despite what she claims, she absolutely wasn’t speaking metaphorically.

PAGES 22-25. Cosmar asks Dani to kill her.

Cosmar gets turned down point blank, with Dani giving what seems to be a well-practised speech about rejecting human expectations and embracing your appearance as a mutant. Whether the logic of this holds up is debatable. After all, if Cosmar’s powers were inevitably going to distort her body, then Dani could simply explain to her that resurrection wouldn’t help anyway.

Cosmar seems to believe that she warped her body through lack of control over her powers – from her perspective, she’s more akin to a mutant who had the power to start fires and wound up suffering horrific burns. If that’s correct, then Dani’s mutant pride argument is deeply misplaced. Besides, as Cosmar implies, this is easy for Dani to say when she looks completely normal.

PAGE 26. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: ANOTHER WORLD.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul: Cosmar gets turned down point blank, with Dani giving what seems to be a well-practised speech about rejecting human expectations and embracing your appearance as a mutant. Whether the logic of this holds up is debatable. After all, if Cosmar’s powers were inevitably going to distort her body, then Dani could simply explain to her that resurrection wouldn’t help anyway.

    Moreover, there’s a running trend of The Five *NOT* fixing stuff that should be eminently fixable when resurrecting people. Chamber’s still missing his jaw (despite having it fixed twice before, by Weapon X and Clan Akkaba), Nanny’s still egg-shaped (despite that being something done to her), Guido’s still warped out of all proportion (despite, amongst other things, that giving him heart trouble).

  2. Chris V says:

    I don’t know about Cosmar saying that “Dani looks normal” is a good argument anymore.
    It worked well when the contention was the Morlocks confronting the X-Men.
    On Krakoa, the standards of beauty should be completely different. No one will judge her based on her appearance.
    It depends very heavily on if her mutant powers would inevitably change her body.

    The other arguments are appropriate though.

    I wasn’t as impressed by this issue as the last. It seems like the plot has moved in to more typical Krakoan-era storytelling. Last issue seemed to moving the book in a direction to better examine some of the glaring questions left about life on Krakoa, and what happens to characters who aren’t known names.
    Do they have any purpose on the island?
    This issue seemed to return to focusing on the core cast and a character introduced in an earlier story-arc.

  3. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    1. “Sprite would still be overfamiliar with them” – that should read ‘Scout’

    2. I took the fire/ice girl to be Idie Okonkwo, though to be fair I forgot what her codename was…
    On the other hand, Vita Ayala seems too well-versed in background mutant trivia to make such a mistake with Angel.

    3. We’ve seen Scout spending time with Daken before, in X-Force and/or Wolverine, though in both instances it was the two of them together with Logan. Still, a connection has been established. And Daken was mostly (always?) on good terms with Laura, so it’s not a stretch that he’s amiable towards Gabby.

    That aside – I’m liking this new direction for the book, even though the plot so far consists of ‘personal stuff + something something Shadow King’.
    I wonder if this might be building towards a reveal that the man we see is just Farouk without the Shadow King influence, with the creepy demonic grin being a misdirection. That would explain why he’s being tolerated on Krakoa (though, you know, no such explanation was needed for Selene, Apocalypse and others).

  4. Chris V says:

    Apocalypse, Selene, etc. are mutants.
    Farouk is a mutant, but the Shadow King was an inhuman entity. The Shadow King is not a mutant, and I doubt Krakoa would vouch for a being of pure hatred living on the island.

  5. Allan M says:

    The Shadow King is known to be a transdimensional entity that exists beyond Farouk, seeing as he’s been a threat in the years since Farouk’s death, so there’s no reason they should not resurrect Farouk. He was a host, not the parasite. We don’t know anything much about Farouk himself. He is clearly not in hiding since we saw him in Empyre: X-Men alongside the other telepaths. If the X-Men are avoiding resurrecting people who have been mind controlled, then Polaris and Rachel are screwed. They must be under the impression that Farouk is alive but no longer under the influence of the Shadow King.

    There’s a timeline issue here – Farouk died when Storm was still a child. Cerebro shouldn’t exist at that stage, and the upgrade that had it collecting mutant minds took place in the Bronze Age at the earliest, so how do they have Farouk’s mind (much less DNA) at all?

  6. SanityOrMadness says:

    Allan M: There’s a timeline issue here – Farouk died when Storm was still a child. Cerebro shouldn’t exist at that stage, and the upgrade that had it collecting mutant minds took place in the Bronze Age at the earliest, so how do they have Farouk’s mind (much less DNA) at all?

    I believe the standing explanation is “Cerebro was still running during stuff like Chaos War (where the afterlife was destroyed and a bunch of dead people temporarily reappeared on Earth) and Necrosha”.

  7. CitizenBane says:

    There’s a moment in the Whedon run, I believe, where an X-gene cure attracts a lot of desperate attention from mutants whose powers lead to them having freakish deformities, losing their physical form, and other such things – and most of them aren’t compensated by having great powers, they’re just ugly now, so they want to go back to the way things were before their mutation manifested. I think that’s certainly more nuanced than mutant leaders declaring that All Mutants Are Beautiful Just The Way They Are, since a lot of mutants are in Cosmar’s boat and don’t have the good fortune to be supermodel-pretty like Dani or Illyana, or have non-obvious mutations like telepathy and magnetism.

  8. Si says:

    I can’t imagine what it would do to your head to have been killed by Xavier 25ish years ago, experience being a zombie for a short while, then suddenly wake up alive in the modern day in a country ruled by … Xavier.

    By the way, if anyone wants their screwed-up faces or bodies fixed, why consider being killed when Masque is one gateway away? If Masque is being obstreperous, there’s a good half dozen other mutants who can twist reality or cells or whatever. I mean, it’s ridiculous having to be killed to get your powers back when so many other ex-mutants got theirs back through other means, including in at least one example, just really wanting them. But this is even more petty.

  9. Chris V says:

    CitizenBane-Aren’t we back in the realm of the Twilight Zone “Eye of the Beholder” episode?
    If you grow up in a society where a certain ideal
    is considered the model for beauty, then one will judge themselves based on society’s aesthetics.
    It makes sense if everywhere you go, you are going to be judged by your appearance.
    If a society bases beauty on other ideals, then there’s no reason for these individuals to still feel they are ugly.

  10. Thom H. says:

    But don’t those ideals take time to develop? If someone’s young, then they might have decades to figure out that their self-image isn’t/shouldn’t be all about their weird mutant looks. But most likely it will be the next generation of mutants who decide that they’re okay just the way they are.

    To expect someone to go from “gross outcast” to “model of self-acceptance” in the span of months(?) is a bit much. Also, I can imagine a point on the mutant manifesto that states “we can change our bodies however and whenever we want by whatever means we have at our disposal.” That’s perfectly in line with what we’ve seen of characters like Archangel or Marrow or Cloud (remember Cloud?). Physical malleability seems like another way to distance yourself from antiquated human norms.

  11. Chris V says:

    Cloud was a pretty neat character.
    Cloud wasn’t a mutant though, but a living nebula. I think.

    I see your point about it taking time for those changes to be accepted.

  12. Si says:

    One thing, it always seems to be the mutants that fall in love with the androids, bird aliens, and monsters. If we accept that mutants are born with super powers, can we accept that they’re also born with modified concepts of identity? By necessity a species in which every individual can look wildly different to any other would have to have hardwired ideals of identity very different to ours, or there would never be a second generation. So maybe that’s why Nightcrawler is fine with looking like a monster but Ben Grimm still feels bad about it. Maybe mutants are hardwired to be more accepting of the Other than humans.

  13. CitizenBane says:

    The sum extent of the Shi’ar’s avian ancestry appears to be that they have that weird triangular hair. Otherwise Lilandra and Deathbird are visually indistinguishable from conventionally attractive human women.

    Nightcrawler has a shocking appearance, but he’s still capable of having normal intimate relations with a woman. Ben Grimm isn’t, which is where a lot of his self-pity comes from, as he can’t imagine why any woman would want to put up with that.

  14. Luis Dantas says:

    We could have a whole series spotlighting the social and political impact of Krakoa’s society (and probably should have had such a series). There are just too many necessary questions being glossed over or ignored entirely.

    That said, it seems clear to me that, even allowing for how liberally distanced from real world biology Marvel “mutants” are, they are not generally speaking all that apart from human sensibilities. Establishing a separate mutant country would help in changing that, but hardly as quickly and as completely as this era seems to imply. Marvel mutants are not apart from human society in the way that Eternals, Deviants or Inhumans are.

    Sure, there will be some improvement in accepting diversity of appearance and behavior (an element brought to fore during Grant Morrison’s run), but many of these characters have all too human preferences and biases. Not everyone is like Beak and Angel Salvadore. Some are obviously proud of how perfectly they meet or exceed human expectations of appearance and behavior, as perhaps best shown by Emma Frost and Daken. The day may come when mutants have a cultural profile of their own, but so far that did not happen to any great degree. Realistically, it should take at least a few decades of Marvel Time. Most of those people had whole lives out there before coming to Krakoa, including their formative years and the time period when they attempted to build curriculums, careers, personal properties and goods. They can’t be expected to just discard all of that without any significant degree of accommodation and hesitation.

  15. Orogogus says:

    Krzysiek Ceran: We’ve seen Scout spending time with Daken before, in X-Force and/or Wolverine, though in both instances it was the two of them together with Logan. Still, a connection has been established. And Daken was mostly (always?) on good terms with Laura, so it’s not a stretch that he’s amiable towards Gabby.

    Didn’t Daken give her the Honey Badger codename, in a Laura/Gabby/Daken issue of X-23?

  16. Joseph S. says:

    I don’t see why being half mutant should prevent Tier from being resurrected. He has an x-gene or he doesn’t. Adam X is only half human, I’m sure there are other. I recall Tier and Hrimhari appeared in that 3 issue War of Realms/ X-Men series not too long ago, where Subspot was killed off for no reason. Rahne had already been killed in UXM but loosing Tier and Hrimhari again in that series provided at least some cover for her acting out of character on Rosenberg’s infamous trans panic issue.

  17. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Rosenberg also brought up the killing of Tier in his New Mutants: Dead Souls, which put Rahne and Strong Guy on the same team for the first time since X-Factor.

    Orogogus: Yes, of course he did! I knew I was forgetting something.

    Regarding Cosmar – I didn’t really like Christos Gage’s run of X-Men Legacy but he had Chamber conducting self-acceptance classes with students with physical mutations. I don’t think it was more than a page or two in the whole run but the idea was sound – and certainly better than ‘you are perfect’ platitudes.

  18. Thom H. says:

    I totally forgot that they gave Cloud that last-minute, convoluted origin. I liked her better when she was just a girl who could turn into a cloud or a guy. Ah, New Defenders…good times.

  19. ASV says:

    So these kids are now being mentored, but is anyone actually raising them? I get that Krakoan society is just a nonstop lol whatever party, but are we to understand that mutants are pro-Lord of the Flies?

  20. Chris V says:

    Yes, that’s what I am thinking too.
    I’m guessing someone said, “Professor Xavier, you used to be a school teacher. I thought you would care more about raising the children of Krakoa.”

    “Sorry. The only thing I know is to dress up children in identical costumes and send them on life or death missions on my behalf. My knowledge of raising children is limited. I guess I did a good enough job in my parenting skills with David.”

    I thought after last issue this was going to be addressed. Instead, we get a few pages of lectures about not destroying parts of Krakoa because it is sacred.
    Then, everyone decided to focus on Cosmar because she already had a story-arc to introduce her.
    The cast of this book are much more comfortable arguing about issues of accepting your mutant power than they are worrying about the running of a functioning sovereign society.
    So, let’s just spend time on that rather than fleshing out Krakoan society.

  21. David says:

    Krzysiek- Idie’s codename is Oya. Tempest was Angel’s codename when she was a New Warrior, and she had powers that looked just like this (including the gauntlets).

    I take it to be a continuity error. It is odd- the Angel and Beak story that established Angel having her powers back was earlier in this very series, so it seems like it’d be hard to miss.

    Also, with Tier, maybe he’s not in the resurrection queue because he’s the beast who brings about the apocalypse. It’s a pretty bad thing to be!

  22. Jon L says:

    I’m wondering if some of the reason to avoid Tier is because he’s half Asgardian and presumably in Hel.
    What if they ressurect him, but later find his real soul is still in Hel? They would have to confront that the Five are just running a clone farm without any real souls involved.

  23. neutrino says:

    And if his soul does come back from Hel, that might cause a conflict with Hela, especially after the mutants’ resurrection process contributed to the Death of Death in the Jane Foster book.

    Is it reasonable to ask if Melody Guthrie’s sleeplessness and the children’s depression mentioned in New Mutants is due in part to their constantly being drained to fuel Krakoa?

  24. CitizenBane says:

    “Is it reasonable to ask if Melody Guthrie’s sleeplessness and the children’s depression mentioned in New Mutants is due in part to their constantly being drained to fuel Krakoa?”

    Possible, though with the Shadow King wandering around them it might just be Farouk’s doing.

  25. Chris V says:

    How many mutants would it take to feed Krakoa?
    You have to estimate that it’s not a lot. Krakoa was surviving by feeding on a small handful of mutants in Giant Size X-Men #1, and now has a small amount to feed on with millions of mutants living on the island. It doesn’t seem like Krakoa needs that much energy taken from mutants in order to survive.
    I don’t think Krakoa is absorbing enough energy where it would be noticeable on an individual basis.

    The kids are depressed because their lives have no meaning.
    The adults have been ignoring them and leaving them to raise themselves.
    When they are adults, most of them are going to be stuck as nameless, faceless cogs in Krakoan society. The majority of Krakoans serve no purpose to the functioning of the society.

    The treatment of the children on Krakoa is almost a meta-commentary on the new direction.
    Mutants are a means to an end in the scheme of Moira’s grand plan. Individual mutants have no true meaning, only the greater good of Krakoa matters, and Krakoa only matters in order to serve the nebulous end-point of immortality for mutants.

  26. neutrino says:

    Ignored by the adults shouldn’t have affected Melody Guthrie. She was focused on regaining her powers, and only reported sleeplessness on Krakoa.

    In Giant Size X-Men #1, it was trying to capture them and take all of their energy. That was in it’s low growth version. As X-Men #3 says,
    “As most know, Krakoa “feeds” on the psychic energy of mutants. When the island is at maximum growth [not the protracted, pre-nation state, “winter” version], Krakoa needs to consume two mutants a year to maintain a stable environment. However, the current population of Krakoa means that only a minimal amount of psychic energy is needed from each citizen to maintain the health of the island — something each mutant is happy to give.”

    It’s estimated there are 200,000 mutants on Krakoa. It gets energy from them, but also has to provide food and shelter for all of them, plus a network of gates spanning interplanetary, intergalactic, and even interdimensional distances. All that has to cost energy. It might not take enough from an individual to make him or her collapse, but what’s the cumulative effect of a constant drain, especially on children?

    There’s also childbirth. Make More Mutants is their law, but the first one reported was for Stinger and Omerta, who live off the island. AFAIK, no births on Krakoa have been reported.

  27. Chris V says:

    I don’t remember enough about the Melody situation. Is she still suffering from that condition?
    I read it that she was feeling sleepless due to anxiety over the impending fight to the death with Apocalypse.

    Sleeplessness can be a symptom of depression, but she never reported any other related symptoms of depression.
    If your energy was being constantly drained, you probably wouldn’t solely be suffering from sleeplessness, but from constant fatigue.
    It would probably manifest as trouble waking up, oversleeping but still feeling exhausted.

  28. Chris V says:

    They are going to need to find an in-story reason for why more mutants aren’t reproducing though.
    Unless Marvel is committed to erasing this continuity at the end, it would cause a lot of problems for future X-Men stories.
    “Jean and Scott had four children during the Krakoa era. Why is this never acknowledged in stories anymore?”

    The effects of Krakoa feeding on embryos may not have been considered.
    Another explanation could be something to do with the resurrection process.

    Somehow, I just don’t think that Hickman put as much thought in to the minutiae of this direction as you are.

    Krakoans being unable to reproduce could lead to life ten replaying parts of life nine.
    In life nine, mutants weren’t reproducing quickly enough, so Sinister offered to start cloning certain mutants to use as a warrior caste.
    We might see something similar happen on Krakoa. The mutants inability to reproduce leads to Sinister offering to help, probably leading to the creation of Chimeras.

  29. neutrino says:

    On page 2, she seems to have trouble waking up, and on page 3 she says “I don’t know what the problem is, but I just *cannot* get a good night’s rest here.” This was before her siblings told her that Crucible had been approved. She hasn’t been heard from since, so it isn’t known if the condition persists. It does sound like energy loss causing fatigue, esp. if it increases while they’re asleep and their resistance is lowered.

  30. Emmanuel says:

    Is this the first appearance of Doop in the new status quo (they appear just before Cosmar asks Dani) ? I don’t think Doop is a mutant, but I might be wrong.

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