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Nov 24

Uncanny X-Men #14

Posted on Sunday, November 24, 2013 by Paul in x-axis

A single issue story nestling between longer arcs, in which Brian Bendis turns his attention back to one of the rogue team’s students, Benjamin Deeds.  He’s the one who, thus far, has merely demonstrated the ability to change shape to look like whoever’s standing right next to him.  This is obviously not very useful.

The main thrust of this issue is to establish that what we’ve seen from him thus far is just the most visible aspect of a rather more useful power that he simply hasn’t got under control yet.  Basically, Benjamin’s power is to make whoever he’s talking to feel good about themselves and want to help him.  He shouldn’t be turning completely into a copy of them, so much as somebody they’ll vaguely recognise and feel positive towards.  This is at least a useful power.

But it’s also singularly unhelpful in combat, and it’s only really useful if you’re prepared to be manipulative, which is something Benjamin doesn’t feel that sure about either.  Naturally, Emma Frost has no such inhibitions and is delighted to take him under her wing as a protege who can learn not just from her experience, but from her questionable ethical standards.  There’s some suggestion that this is all part of Emma building her own power base within the rebel group.

The idea is sound, and I think this is also one of the first issues where the difference between the two schools really comes across as something more fundamental than the level of comfort in their dormitories.  For all that Scott calls his operation a school, it’s not; he thinks he’s recruiting soldiers, and dammit, he’s going to shoehorn all of the mutants he recruits into that mould, regardless of whether their powers and personalities are remotely suited to it.  His world view has no place for non-combatants; you can quit if you must, but if you stay you’re going to be turned into a fighter.  He’s not a headmaster, he’s a drill sergeant, and this team is fundamentally a bit dodgy.  Benjamin would very obviously be better off with the regular X-Men, but has no way of getting there.

Chris Bachalo’s art here is patchy.  He’s excellent when it comes to the character moments, and he really sells the idea of Benjamin becoming similar to the people he meets.  Since the centrepiece of this issue is an explanation of a rather complicated power, it was vital to get the visual right, and Bachalo does just that.  But there are some highly dubious design choices.  Emma is wearing wildly out of character clothes (since when is she Avril Lavigne?), and the interior of Scott’s school (which is meant to look like a hastily converted military prison, and needs to have a contrast with the main school for thematic reasons) looks like a four star hotel.

A good issue on the whole – it’s nice that the various students aren’t being allowed to simply fade into the background.

Bring on the comments

  1. Niall says:

    Given that Bendis has Magick conjure up magic costumes for the silver age team, it would be weird if the team lived in a dungeon.

  2. ZZZ says:

    This issue worked fine from a “top down” view of Benjamin’s powers (i.e., this is how his powers were always meant to work, and what we saw before was just how they gradually emerged) but I’m bothered by the “bottom up” approach Emma was using (i.e., what he’s been doing is useless, so he MUST be able to do more).

    Emma seemed to be operating from the position that it’s impossible for someone to have useless – or even suboptimal – powers, ergo his shapeshifting must come with pheromones. But unless she subscribes to some kind of “intelligent design” theory of mutant powers, I don’t see why you couldn’t end up with, say, people who can control fire who aren’t fireproof, people whose muscles are strong enough to punch through a metal wall but whose bones will break if they try, and, yes, people who can shapeshift, but not in a particularly useful way.

    And even if she’s operating under the premise that his powers have a “point” to them and therefore must include all the bells and whistles necessary to achieve that point, it’s awfully lucky that she guessed the point (“make people like you”) on the first try. Just going by her personal experience, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to expect him to be an infiltrator who just needs to learn to hold his shape once he’s out of the vicinity of the person he’s turned into in order to impersonate anyone he can get near, or just a Mystique-level copycat who’ll be able to turn into anyone he’s ever been around at will once he gets the hang of his powers?

  3. Niall says:

    I get this kind of thing mixed up every now and then, but has it not been established that intelligent design via the celestials is fact in the Marvel Universe?

  4. ChrisKafka says:

    Sort of, but they don’t control every birth and death, like an omnipotent god. They’re more like the clock-winders, who started everything on its path. Evolution still exists. Hence, Apocalypse, and the Celestial eventual return to judge their creations based on how well they’ve done to achieve latent potential.

  5. joseph says:

    I enjoyed this issue as a character piece. But forget Morph, his power seems to function on narcissism. I have a bit of a problem with the idea that people are only comfortable with versions of themselves or people who look like them.

  6. Nemo says:

    I was also astonished by how completely unaccurate Emma’s clothes were. What the heck was that? She would NEVER wear that!

  7. Odessasteps says:

    As ive said before, dubious costume choices and two main characters who look too similar (emma and illyana) and non-tradtional art = a confusing read

  8. Paul says:

    @Niall: Bendis was making a point of the base looking like a military prison in the most recent ALL-NEW X-MEN – which explicitly takes place after this story.

  9. moose n squirrel says:

    Is it really the case that Scott’s team is that much more “dodgy” than Logan’s? Yes, Scott is much more open about the fact that he’s training soldiers. But what is Logan’s school doing? Training kids to be “X-men” – which means, in practical terms, training them to use their powers, and to fight and to defend themselves in combat.

    I’ve always found the notion that teams like Scott’s – or like Cable’s 90s-era X-Force, for that matter, which I think Scott’s team most closely resembles – represented some dramatic break from the traditional Xavier model to be wildly disingenuous at best. “Training” at Xavier’s almost always meant, in practice, training for combat – there’s a reason why every scene of students at the school that anyone can remember (which isn’t a Claremont-era baseball-game-with-powers) is a bunch of kid mutants fighting in the Danger Room: the point of Xavier’s school, and Logan’s school after it, is to train “X-Men”… which is to say, future mutant fighters. There’s nothing dodgy about that – learning how to fight, particularly in a world in which heavily-armed racists are regularly threatening to kill you, isn’t controversial so much as it seems common sense. It’s not the case that one of these teams is advocating for armed resistance while the other is advocating pacifism; both teams are packing heat and using it on a regular basis.

    The question still remains, then: aside from style and rhetoric, what’s the actual difference between Cyclops’s team and Wolverine’s? Like Cable’s X-Force, most of what’s supposed to shock us about Scott’s team seems largely superficial – they use military-style lingo! they wear excitingly gritty uniforms! they keep saying they’re going to be “proactive” and “hit the enemy first” but really they react to the baddies as much as the other teams do! – and like the X-Men’s weird 90s-era tiff with Cable (anyone remember when Professor X had X-Force locked up in his basement for being too EXTREME?), the “schism” itself seems to boil down more to silly postures and hurt feelings than to anything substantial.

  10. joseph says:

    At least Ilyana has bangs…

  11. Cory says:

    From what I gathered, Wolverine’s school was meant primarily to educate and train teenagers to become fighters eventually as adults if they so choose (think Grant Morrison’s New X-Men). General Education wasn’t really Xavier’s school’s strong suit until Grant Morrison came along but even that didn’t last for long.

    Cyclops’s view is more train and fight the battles in the here and now. This is why Wolverine tends to get so involved and fight his students’ battles for them whenever possible whereas Cyclops is pushing for them to get out there and do it themselves, but ends up having to do all of the heavy lifting with his core team because his students aren’t as capable (yet?).

    It would seem that Cyclops’s view really isn’t very inconsistent with Xavier’s at all, especially since the educational aspect of Xavier’s first several “classes” (1960s X-Men to 2000’s X-Men) was sort of always neither here nor there.

  12. Master Mahan says:

    Emma’s assumption that all mutants get useful powers is an odd one, I agree. Sure, it’s reasonable for the reader to assume that a writer would create a character with some use, but not so much for someone who doesn’t know they’re a fictional creation. And did she never meet Beak?

  13. ZZZ says:

    I think the problem in differentiating between the two schools is more down to execution than core concept. Scott’s teaching his kids to be a strike force, actively going out and looking for trouble in the here and now, whereas, I think, Wolverine’s kids aren’t supposed to be fighting at all under any circumstances … but since that would make for boring comics, they keep getting in situations where they fell they have to go against Professor Logan’s excplicit orders and fight.

    That’s why we’ve seen umpteen iterations of the “Get the kids to the safe room” “But we can help!” “I SAID GET TO THE SAFE ROOM!!” exchange. That’s why we always see the kids sitting behind desks and going on weird field trips and talking about telepathy class but I’m pretty sure if you actually went through WatXM issue-by-issue, you’d find they don’t really show them having combat training. It just feels like we see it, because we’re constantly being told that the whole building is a Danger Room and the kids are always chasing Bamfs around and it’s hard to divorce the idea of an X-Men school from the mental image of the team doing combat drills.

    But it all gets muddled up in execution: Wolverine takes the kids to the Savage Land and they end up fighting robots from the future and intellectually we know that wasn’t what was supposed to happen but there’s always a part of your mind thinking “well what did he EXPECT to happen?” Kids get put in situations where not fighting isn’t an option so often that it becomes impossible for it to keep feeling like a last resort. The same characters appear in so many books that they inevitably end up being written by someone who isn’t entirely clear on the WatXM game plan.

    The tl;dr version: If mutant powers were cars, Cyclops’s kids would be doing on-the-job training as ambulance drivers, while Wolverine’s would be learning to never ever exceed the speed limit … and then having to race a pregnant woman going into labor to the hospital while hoping that if they get pulled over the officer lets them off the hook because it’s an emergency at least once a month.

  14. Shawn says:

    ZZZ, on the topic of Emma’s “intelligent design” approach to viewing mutant powers… to be fair, she has very good empirical evidence that that must be the case, in that we have yet to encounter a mutant in Marvel whose mutation did not have at least some minimal utility (or if we have, I don’t recall seeing them).

    It makes perfect intellectual sense for there to be “useless mutants,” but we haven’t seen any of them – nor, in all likelihood, has Emma. so it’s really not that big a stretch, I think, for her to say mutant powers must have a “point,” so to speak – because every other mutant’s powers certainly seem to.

    Save, perhaps, Goldballs.

  15. Conceptually, I understand the distinction between the schools. Wolverine trains kids to be prepared and gives a well-rounded (if supremely odd) education including things like history, physics and art appreciation, while Scott and Emma actively deploy them on the battlefield. But there are four serious problems with this.

    Most importantly, Bendis can’t write an action scene, especially one with lots of varied powers. If the whole New Xavier School is geared toward getting them in the fight, we need to see them in the fight A LOT. Bendis doesn’t do that. In fight scenes with lots of people, Bendis has only two modes: people standing across from each other while posturing and bickering (see: Battle of the Atom), and double-page spreads where a huge mass of interchangeable costumes punch or shoot energy blasts at each other (see: the climaxes of his event books). I love Bendis, really, but why they keep putting him on team books is beyond me.

    Anyway, Bendis being who he is, military tactics and dangerous gambits are simply not going to be the major component of the book that the premise requires, so the difference between the schools remains largely (if you’ll pardon the pun) academic.

    Secondly, within a short period of time we’ve got not two, but four different schools in X-Men comics. In addition to Jean Grey and New Xavier, we also just saw the Hellfire Academy for supervillians in Wolverine and the X-Men, and the Red Skull’s school for racist humans in Uncanny Avengers. That is a lot of variations on a theme, and Uncanny X-Men’s take doesn’t stand out among them, so it winds up just looking redundant. When a competing school’s teacher literally snacks on his students’ souls, it’s that much harder to stand out as an example of poor education.

    Thirdly, the whole school concept doesn’t fit at all with the stories that set it up, written by Kieron Gillen in Uncanny X-Men v2 and AvX Consequences, and by Jason Aaron in Schism.

    Gillen set Cyclops up as someone who respects Wolverine’s school, would let him do his thing, but saw that mutants needed someone to do the “dirty work”, and he would do that. We’ve seen none of that, and tying him to kids only seems to soften him and weaken his “resistance”, which wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t keep harping on the idea that he’s -in the wake of the Gillen stories- some kind of revolutionary.

    Meanwhile, if Wolverine is so morally outraged by the idea of child killers as he seemed in Schism, and if he’s so sure that his school is better, then why the heck would he ALLOW mutant kids to be kept at Scott’s school without bring offered an alternative? What, just because Scott reached them first and “called dibs”, Logan turns a blind eye? The Jean Grey School should be regularly checking in on Scott’s students, and offering them an “out” if they want it. The two schools don’t work in the same universe.

    And finally, the defection of Kitty Pryde and the All-New team muddies the waters further. Clearly it was an entirely arbitrary plot development, but they justified it as anger over Wolverine’s school not letting the kids chose their own destiny. If we’re treating New Xavier as the place that people who want choices go, it completely flips and undermines the already flimsy distinction between the schools! The whole problem with Cyclops’ side is supposed to be that they’re following orders into battle. If there isn’t even that, then what on Earth is the point of the second school?

  16. The original Matt says:

    @shawn… If you want to see redundant mutations, check out the first arc of the whedon run when they mob crash the party looking for a cure. Or the crowd scenes at the Morrison school. Or, as mentioned above, Beak.

  17. Suzene says:

    Following up on Mordechi’s observations about the supposed JGS freedom of choice vs NXS militarism, I’m reminded that, despite Wolverine going on about how the kids should be able to choose whether or not to fight as opposed to being drafted as soldiers just for being born mutants, he’s fine with running roughshod over their choices as well. While Cyke may be telling his kids they have to be soldiers, Wolverine is telling his that they’re not allowed to fight, no matter their wishes or previous combat experience. This includes the kids who explicitly chose to remain field-ready X-Men on Utopia. I don’t think either side really comes out looking good on that point.

  18. Taibak says:

    Did Emma know about Ugly John?

  19. Shawn says:

    @original Matt: Sure, Beak… except Beak could fly.

    (not well, I grant you, but he could)

    Even the ugly, hideous, deformed mutants – the ones whose mutation is highly cosmetic – tend to have some kind of power. Eye-Boy can see magic (and, presumably, lots of other stuff); Glob Herman is flammable and also presumably pretty damage-resistant; hell, the Blob was probably the first ‘look, mutants can be ugly’ mutant, and he got the ‘nope, can’t move me’ power.

    Just because someone’s mutation makes them look like a freak, that doesn’t mean they don’t have powers – and it’s POWERS Emma is concerning herself with. In Marvel, *every mutant seems to have ’em,* even if sometimes they come with a side order of hideous visual monstrosity.

    (if you’re familiar with the Wild Cards series of novels – themselves very comic book-y – Jokers can have powers too, even if most of the X-folks seem to have drawn the Ace)

  20. kingderella says:

    I’m amused that Bendis seems to think that the person everybody’s most comfortable with is themselves. I think it really sais more about the author than about how people in general work.

    Emma’s “Punk” get-up is indeed surpremely out of character. And since I remember Ilyana wearing something similar during Well’s run on New Mutants, I was really confused there for a second.

  21. Paul says:

    I think there’s a Defenders storyline back in the 70s that established that there are some mutants out there with mutations that either absolutely useless or downright disadvantageous, such as the ability to project small spots of coloured light onto a wall. As I recall, this involved a pro-mutant campaign group called MONSTER – Mutants Only Need Support, Tenderness & Equal Rights – who somebody really ought to dig up again.

  22. wwk5d says:

    Let us not forget the awesomeness that was the power of Tar Baby.

  23. Niall says:

    The thing is that if mutant evolution functioned like real evolution, most mutants would die when their powers activated. That doesn’t happen.

    There is a reason no human has evolved flight, super-strength or invisibility in real life. Evolution just doesn’t work that way. It’s about small incremental changes over generations.

    Most evolutionary theorists in the MU would support intelligent design. In that context, Emma’s assumption that it is likely that Benj’s mutation would have a function, isn’t entirely unreasonable.

    Regarding Wolverine and his desire to keep the kids safe – how about not letting the public know where it is and how about not locating it on one of the sites most frequently attacked by anti-mutant bigots?

    It would be nice if Kitty started taking issue with the lack of non-combat training at Cyclops school. It would also be interesting to see Emma’s position on the issue.

  24. moose n squirrel says:

    As far as combat training at Logan’s school goes – I know I’ve seen it. At the very least, Rachel’s “stand there and withstand my psychic attack” training is a form of combat training, even if it’s training in telepathic combat. So why is Wolverine having Rachel train the kids to defend themselves against psychic attacks if his position is that kids will never, ever, under any circumstances go into battle?

    In any case, the distinction between the two schools remains largely superficial at this point. Once again, I think Cyclops’s team most closely resembles the original X-Force – who made a lot of noise about taking a radically different approach, but more or less did the same old stuff with more guns and pouches than before.

  25. moose n squirrel says:

    As far as mutant evolution/useless mutants go:

    – Yes, if mutation in the Marvel universe worked like it did in the real world, we wouldn’t have any X-Men. And Peter Parker and Bruce Banner and the Fantastic Four would’ve all just died of cancer. And a lot of fun that would be, you killjoys.

    – Yes, mutants are technically the result of cosmic tampering by the Celestials – or at least, they are now, now that Jack Kirby’s Eternals, a series that was never intended to take place in the Marvel universe, has been wholly integrated into it. But really, does anyone actually think the X-Men mythos is any richer or more interesting for having the Celestials in it now? This compulsive need to tie every loose strand of continuity together just turns everything into Earth X. And no one wants that.

    – There have been useless mutants in the Marvel Universe in the past – there was that mutant kid who got killed by a racist mob outside of Xavier’s school back in the Lobdell era. He didn’t have any powers; he basically just looked funny. And I’m pretty sure there were plenty of residents of Mutant Town whose powers were somewhere between negligible and nonexistent. Post-Decimation, you really don’t get stuff like this anymore – there are so few mutants that the introduction of any new mutant has to be a plot point, so every new mutant must necessarily have a power, be aligned with some team, etc.

  26. Daibhid C says:

    I don’t see that training the kids in defence, in case they should find themselves in a situation where they need it, necessarily indicates that there’s no difference between the schools.

    I don’t approve of child soldiers, but I’m quite happy for my nephew to take taikwondo classes.

  27. Adam Halls says:

    District X was probably your best book for useless mutation powers. Blue Skin, grow roots if you sit down, uncontrollable rage (without any strength or powers) that book was filled with non-super powered mutants.

  28. ChrisKafka says:

    X-Men: Legacy recently had a story where Red Skull really points out how ludicrous most Marvel mutations are from an evolutionary stand-point. The majority of Marvel’s mutants have powers that no human would ever naturally evolve,.

    As far as mutants with lacking powers, wasn’t that the point of most of the Morlocks? I know there was a statement in Claremont’s run about the Morlocks being deformed by their powers, but I thought a majority of them had useless powers too.

  29. Mark says:

    when is emma Avril Lavigne?
    when Avril Lavigne gets 2 years older than grant’s emma

    Avril Lavigne is 29 and emma was meant to be 27 (I know right)

  30. D. says:

    (I can’t believe I’m defending the internal logic of a comic book trope, but here goes…)

    “why is Wolverine having Rachel train the kids to defend themselves against psychic attacks if his position is that kids will never, ever, under any circumstances go into battle?”

    First, that’s not Wolverine’s position. His position is that he won’t intentionally send the kids into battle. But battle might come to them so they should be prepared.

    Second, they won’t be kids forever. Just because he won’t send kids into battle, doesn’t mean he won’t send them into battle when they’re adults. Best to start preparing now.

    Finally, this has been a tension in the mutant-school plot since at least 1983. The resolution has always been “we’re teaching them self defense, not training them to be a strike force.” It worked well in NMU v.1 for nearly 100 issues. The kids were never sent into battle by Xavier/Magneto; they just found themselves in situations where they needed to rely on their powers to get out of trouble a lot.

  31. Niall says:

    Moose – I rather liked Earth X! Great to see May Parker of Earth X turning up in current storylines!

  32. Niall says:

    Also, did Scott ever use the kids as a strike team in Utopia? Wasn’t it all defensive?

    The Schism storyline had Idie in a dangerous situation by chance and Scott told her to do whatever she felt she needed to do. No?

    And even now, most of Scott’s new team aren’t really kids. They’re old enough to join most armies.

  33. joseph says:

    Everything Moose said. Yes.

    I’m going to go reread New Mutants and District X now

  34. “Yes, if mutation in the Marvel universe worked like it did in the real world, we wouldn’t have any X-Men. And Peter Parker and Bruce Banner and the Fantastic Four would’ve all just died of cancer. And a lot of fun that would be, you killjoys.”
    Warren Ellis did a two-parter special with that premise–“Ruins,” as a parody of Busiek’s “Marvels.” If you wanted to see all the Marvel heroes die horrible deaths for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, then, well, Marvel’s got you covered.

  35. D. says:

    “If you wanted to see all the Marvel heroes die horrible deaths for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, then, well, Marvel’s got you covered.”

    Wasn’t that the premise of What If…?!, v.1 ? If so-and-so had been just five minutes late… then everyone would die! Over, and over, and over again.

  36. Well, in this case, it’s basically what if everyone’s origin stories killed them?

  37. The original Matt says:

    I always thought What If was a bit squandered. I didn’t read much of it, but I liked it when they did completely off the wall takes on characters.

    My favourite involved Spider-Man, but instead of being a superhero, he turned into a crazy recluse scientist trying to cure his spider-problem, which was more like a werewolf than anything else.

  38. Trent says:

    Emma has a lot of experience with young mutants coming in to their powers. I simply read her exchange with Benjamin as that of an experienced teacher having picked up on the potential for an expanded power set, after spending some time with him. I read her thoughts on useful/expanded powers being specific to Benjamin, rather than a general commentary on all mutants.

  39. RichardLindsay says:

    Every now and then I try to re-connect with the X-Men as these were the characters that got me into American comics (I’m British) back in the 80s. Sometimes it sticks for a bit (Morrison, though it was hardly his best work, Whedon, a bit of Gillen). Mostly it doesn’t. This time I don’t think it will.

    The problem, and I think the comments here illustrate this, is that there’s simply no coherent thematic base for the books.

    Cyclops is gearing up for war with the humans but the biggest problems faced by mutants are other mutants. They haven’t had a convincing human threat since Styker and Trask as far as I’m aware.

    It was a mutant that destroyed Genosha. A mutant that magically the re-wrote the genome (or something) etc etc.

    So Cyke’s whole position makes no sense (and maybe that’s the point but if so they’re taking a long time getting to it).

    Wolverine wants to raise a generation that can make Xavier’s dream a reality but neither he nor his staff can actually talk to other mutants without going off on one – mutants who have known and loved each other since childhood can’t have a conversation without punching one another and destroying vast amounts of stuff for no reason.

    Over in the other X book I bought this week (W&The X-Men), Maria Hill articulates the problem but not one of Wolverine’s people acknowledge it as valid or worthy of comment(and even here SHIELD is being infiltrated by Mystique…a mutant).

    The end result is that pretty much all the mutants (except the kids) end up looking either psychotic or very, very stupid.The former might make for an interesting story but “X-Men: Dumb and Dumber” certainly doesn’t.

    I get that this is a transitional period and I do think that Bendis and Aaron understand there’s a problem but until they find a context that allows the characters to act in ways that are at least comprehensible as anything other than idiotic (they don’t have to be sympathetic), I think I’ll pass.

  40. Si says:

    I’d like a What If where Wolverine was raised by the Parkers (somehow). He’d be this bombastic silver-age superhero with no violent streak (beside punching a lot of muggers and octogenarians dressed as birds, they don’t count). His claws would be strictly for wall-crawling. It’d be hilarious.

  41. Si says:

    “But Ben, what am I supposed to do with these bone claws?”
    “With great marrow comes great responsibility, son”.

  42. moose n squirrel says:

    “Ruins” was surprisingly anticlimactic. I read it when it first came out, back when Ellis was a still-rising not-quite-name at Marvel, and I think it was the very first thing of his I’d read where he was clearly phoning it in. It’s essentially a collection of grim yet kind of snotty one-liners – the Hulk? Yeah, he just exploded full of tumors. Peter Parker? Spider-cancer. Galactus and the Silver Surfer? Floating dead in space.

    All along, the POV character – the reporter from “Marvels” – keeps talking about trying to find “the one thing that went wrong,” as though he were in a What If?, and he’s trying to figure out what the premise of the What If? was. And at the end, he realizes, shit, it’s just “what if everything was really shitty and dumb?”

    Some of it got recycled for, essentially, throwaway gags in “Planetary,” where they worked much better. The whole book is essentially throwaway gags.

  43. ZZZ says:

    @Trent Emma has a lot of experience training mutants, but that includes ones like Beak and Squid Boy whose powers really were pretty low level and almost useless (and let’s not forget that beaing able to look exactly like anyone around you is actually pretty impressive compared to having no powers whatsoever) but given that she’s somewhat pragmatic, you could charitably say that when she says “you must be able to do more” what she means is “you’re no use to us if you can’t do more, so I’m going to just assume you can, and if you crash and burn, so be it.”

    Buy why does she assume his power is to make people like him? She’s seen plenty of metamorphs who didn’t have that power, and she’s seen people whose power WAS to make people like them (Empath, Wallflower) and none of them had shapechanging powers. To use an old cliche, Emma heard hoofbeats from Ben’s room, and assumed he had the power to turn into a zebra before considering he might have the power to turn into a horse.

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