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Apr 28

New Mutants #17 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #17
“Follow the White Rabbit”
by Vita Ayala & Rod Reis

COVER / PAGE 1: Well, that’s Dani walking a mystical path before a surrealist backdrop, I guess. Doesn’t really have much to do with the issue beyond the general weirdness of Otherworld.

By the way, issue #16 came out in the last week of February. So if it feels like some momentum has been lost in this story… well, that’s a big part of it.

PAGES 2-3. Amahl Farouk enlists the help of Wolfsbane.

Wolfsbane. In the previous issue, Wolfsbane learned that her son Tier was still alive (at least according to Cerebro). She was very upset about that, because she figured that if he was fine, he would have been in touch. The issue ended with her returning home to find nobody there to support her (since Dani and Xi’an had unexpectedly gone off on a mission to Otherworld).

Amahl Farouk. This scene seems to confirm that Farouk is indeed living openly on Krakoa. However, he seems to be speaking here not as the Shadow King but as the original Amahl Farouk. Wolfsbane also seems to accept this, since it’s inconceivable that she would believe the Shadow King itself had any sort of benign agenda. Or maybe she’s just vulnerable to psychic manipulation right now. Even allowing for the general Krakoan amnesty, we really could do with an explanation as to how this guy was allowed onto Krakoa bearing in mind that he’s traditionally the host of a massively dangerous (and non-mutant) psychic demon. Did he get his original personality back on resurrection or something?

Farouk’s dialogue on page 2 recaps his origin flashback from issue #14. Obviously, he’s playing up the angle of the abandoned child to play on Wolfsbane’s angst from the previous issue and trying to suggest to Wolfsbane that becoming involved with his proteges is a way of purging her guilt. Clearly he’s willing to tell Rahne – someone in semi-official authority – about his involvement with these kids, but equally clearly he’s trying to pick her off while she’s vulnerable.

PAGE 4. Recap and credits.

PAGE 5. Data page. A contract between Merlyn, Dani and Karma, signed with their fingerprints in blood, in which they agree to go and retrieve something from Roma. This picks up on where we left them in the previous issue, when they had gone to Otherworld in pursuit of a mutant teenager called Josh.

PAGES 6-9. Dani and Xi’an sneak into Roma’s kingdom.

The kingdom apparently takes the form of inverted floating islands, which I don’t think has been clearly shown before, but does explain why it’s been shown upside down in some previous stories. The giant spider is apparently an illusion provided to them by Merlyn, to use as a distraction.

The white rabbit first appeared in the last issue, when he did indeed lead Dani and Xi’an straight to Merlyn – not what they were looking for. Xi’an suggested last issue that he might be one of Dani’s projections, which Dani denied. This time Dani is less sure, replying “Maybe” and saying that he feels “like someone desperate to be heard”. Roma confirms later on that he is one of Dani’s manifestations, and represents “the truth of another being who is caged”. They’ll work out later who they think it might be. At any rate, he doesn’t seem to be any more useful this time round that he was in the previous issue.

“Môt, hai, ba, vô!” Vietnamese for “one, two, three, drink”. Apparently they say this a lot.

The thing that the soldier finds in the courtyard in the final panel is apparently the bag of mystical goodies that Jamie gave to Xi’an and Dani in the previous issue. Since he calls it “witchbreed magics”, presumably he recognises it as Jamie’s work somehow, or at least as coming from the mutant-dominated kingdom of Avalon. This isn’t very easy to follow, to be honest. Presumably Roma gives them the bag back, since they use the candle in the epilogue (and Jamie only gave them one in the previous issue).

PAGES 10-11. Farouk’s proteges experiment with swapping minds into flowers.

This seems like an incredibly bad idea. At any rate, it turns out that when your mind is inside a flower, you can’t actually do anything, because it’s a flower. So Anole gets the interesting idea to try it with corpses…

PAGES 12-15. Dani and Xi’an reach Roma.

Xi’an seems to get quite bedazzled by Roma, for some reason. The image that Dani conjures up in her show of force is the original New Mutants line-up, in a very Sienkiewicz rendering.

“We mutants just risked everything to save all of you.” In “X of Swords”, though how much of a threat Arakko/Amenth posed to the rest of the Otherworld kingdoms, or whether they were just passing through on their way to Earth, was never very clear.

“You’ve had a centuries-old spat with your dad.” This is a retcon, since they worked together perfectly happily in Captain Britain. I suppose you could argue their relationship was on and off. Roma never used to refer to mutants as witchbreed, either.

PAGES 16-17. Anole visits Scout.

Scout is alone right now because Laura is off in the Vault storyline in X-Men. (In publication terms, that storyline has already ended, but this issue has clearly slipped.) It’s not clear whether Scout knows that Laura is stuck in a time warp and has likely experienced centuries subjectively, but at any rate, she seems a bit depressed about being separated from Laura. She still has Jonathan, her pet wolverine.

The body farm is from X-Factor. It’s a garden of corpses outside the headquarters of X-Factor, created so that Prodigy can study mutant decomposition.

“You saw what happened with Cosmar at the party.” Anole is referring to a scene where Cosmar asked Dani to kill her in Crucible, so that she could be resurrected with (she hoped) her original appearance restored. According to Cosmar, her bizarre appearance is not an innate feature of her mutant power, but simply the result of irreparable damage that she inflicted on herself due to a lack of power control. Dani said no and gave her a mutant pride speech, which completely missed the point of Cosmar’s claim and went down exceedingly badly. Anole seems to be saying here that he too wants to be able to move to a more normal, and more attractive body. This seems a bit out of nowhere for a well-established character, to be honest.

Scout’s response is somewhat similar to Dani’s, though at least Anole is indeed complaining about an innate feature of his powers. Still, her claim is that mutants came to Krakoa so that they wouldn’t have to worry about being judged; it doesn’t entirely address Anole’s complaint that his mutation renders him unattractive. The question of whether there’s a social status issue on Krakoa based on how conventionally attractive you are – or indeed how obviously visible a mutant you are – remains somewhat unclear.

PAGES 18-21. Dani and Xi’an catch up with Josh in Sevalith.

This is the vampire city which Josh was approaching in the previous issue. And he seems absolutely fine. He has no desire whatsoever to go home. Jamie was telling the truth last issue when he said he gave Josh a gift and sent him on his way, and Dani and Xi’an have been wasting their time. Given his slightly demonic appearance, he apparently feels more at home in Otherworld anyway, where he actually blends in. (There’s an obvious parallel here with Anole’s rant.)

Interestingly, Josh becomes one of the few characters to push back hard against the entire agenda of Krakoa – something we’re starting to see increasingly in this phase, particularly in Way of X. He directly complains that the mutants have overreacted to their history of persecution by creating a culture of mutant exceptionalism, which he doesn’t particularly buy into. He doesn’t see the possibility of permanent death in Otherworld as a big deal because that’s just how things were before Krakoa. All of this is very un-Krakoan, and while Dani and Xi’an don’t much like it, they don’t try to muster any real argument against it either.

PAGE 22. Data page. More extracts from Warpath’s journal of self-examination, answering questions provided by Dani. We saw another of these pages last issue.

Warlock seems to be lost without Cypher’s full attention. Cypher has been preoccupied with his new wife Bei ever since “X of Swords”.

PAGES 23-24. Dani conjures the rabbit again on Krakoa.

The rabbit is Tran Coy Manh, Xi’an’s twin brother. He was the main villain of the pre-Krakoa miniseries New Mutants: Dead Souls, which ended with Karma killing him and absorbing his soul into her body. The rabbit is indeed wearing the same clothes that Tran wore in Dead Souls #6. Xi’an’s plan is apparently to get herself killed in the Crucible so that both she and Tran can be revived, in separate bodies. If Dani agrees to this, then it’s probably going to rub salt into the wound so far as Cosmar is concerned.

The rabbit on the moon is a commonplace folk story in various Asian countries, including Vietnam; it’s said to be based on the idea that the dark markings on the moon look a bit like a rabbit with a pestle.

The candle is the one that Jamie gave them last issue.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: KILL ME.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    Well, the Shadow King entity is supposed to be dead. Professor X apparently finally destroyed it in Astonishing X-Men.
    Psylocke was supposed to be monitoring Xavier, because if any piece of the Shadow King still existed, it would live in Xavier’s mind.

    Amahl Farouk was obviously not always possessed by the Shadow King.
    It possesses him as a teenager.
    The Shadow King has been shown to possess other individuals.
    It’s goal was to eventually create a collective consciousness of all living beings in the universe, and do away with all difference.

    The Shadow King solely exists on the astral plane. It wouldn’t have any DNA to resurrect, and Cerebro only records mutant “souls”, so Cerebro shouldn’t have accessed the Shadow King while recording Farouk.

    So, I think when you combine the above, it would be possible to resurrect Farouk without having to worry about the Shadow King.

  2. Redd Dayspring says:

    *Shan’s twin. Not Dani.
    Anole has always been portrayed as being kind of angsty for having a lizard appearance, going back years. It’s a little Beast “woe-is-me, how can anyone love an ugly person like me!!!” characterization, but at least Anole is a teen boy. Gay teens definitely have worse body dysmorphia than most, so it feels truer to life.

  3. Paul says:

    Fixed, thanks.

  4. Drew says:

    Maybe Farouk is breaking bad not because of the Shadow King, but because he’s pissed they resurrected him in a grossly overweight body. Like, there’s no way he gained that much weight in the few months Krakoa has existed (especially if the diet is mostly fruit and veggies), so clearly the Five gave him an obese body to start with. I’ll bet every time his knees ache getting up, he thinks about another mutant to corrupt.

  5. Mark Coale says:

    Not the JMDM White Rabbit? Disappointed.

  6. Si says:

    I thought Anole’s deal was that he was the rare happy mutant, loved by his family and community, and okay with what he is? It’s very disappointing to hear that he isn’t.

  7. D says:

    Something felt really off in this issue, then I read the annotation and realize key information about their mission was given in the data pages. I always skip those things. Now they’re going to be important?! LOL

    And wasn’t Farouk’s size because the Shadow King indulged its own gluttony when in possession of a body? That was why, when it possessed Karma, that it forced Karma to become obese. Is that meant to be proof that the Shadow King is indeed possessing him, or has it simply became canon that Farouk = fat?

    (Also, I read Karma’s fascination with Roma was just her crushing a bit. Very Claremontian.)

  8. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Yeah some of the Otherworld stuff was confusing.

    Poor Gabby is left to live all alone, and no one cares she’s struggling. That’s enough of a reason to burn down Krakoa.

  9. MichaelWayne says:

    I’m enjoying what Ayala is doing in New Mutants, but I am confused about whether we are dealing with Farouk or Shadow King. I have been thinking that it is Farouk, but then the recap and credit pages state that “a group of young mutants have fallen in with the Shadow King” and the cast of characters section (the grid with the head boxes) identifies the character as Shadow King as well.

  10. Jon R says:

    I was taking Shan as being glamoured by Roma for a panel, for the strength of the reaction, then Dani’s “Back off” made her stop. There were little sparklies around Shan for that one panel.

    Maybe Anole would just like his arms to match? It’s been a while but I thought there was some point where his arm being replaced with the bulky one bothered him.

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    I don’t know if it has been brought up before, but there is somewhat of a parallel between the Shadow King’s power and Xi’an’s. Or for that matter Tran’s.

    He has, after all, lived “inside” Xi’an for years – since her very first appearance in 1980’s Marvel Team-Up #100, as a matter of fact.

    While Xi’an was the dominant personality, Tran’s presence may have made Xi’an a more suitable host for the Shadow King back in 1985. His personality is very predatorial and callous, not all that distant from Shadow King’s own.

  12. Chris says:

    In my head canon the Shadow King that resides on the astral plane is an ascended form.if Farouk and if Professor X’s body died under some similar circumstances his psychic abilities and astral form would evolve similarly.

    Clearly Marvel creative sees the characters differently than I always did

  13. subject wears pink socks says:

    There was an Anole story in Amazing X-Men a number of years ago that was about him having insecurity about his appearance and it impairing his dating life, so that isn’t completely unprecedented for the character tbh

  14. Karl_H says:

    Didn’t Anole’s other arm grow to match the bulky one, back when he and some of his fellow students got trapped in another dimension for a year (I can’t remember where.)

    I was half-convinced that the rabbit was going to turn out the be the actual disembodied Shadow King.

    And while I haven’t read a lot of stories with Roma, I don’t recall her being so aloof and out-of-touch. She seemed to have been paying a lot of attention to the X-Men back in the Claremont days, so why would she not recognize Dani and Xi’an?

  15. Taibak says:

    Karl: I’m in the opposite boat. I’ve read a lot of stories with Roma et. al. and by the sound of it she and everyone else in Otherworld has been WAY out of character in this series.

  16. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Karl H: Anole has been trapped for a year in Extraordinary X-Men, during Apocalypse Wars. He was beefy. It was forgotten.

  17. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    *trapped in the future

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