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Jun 18

New Mutants #19 annotations

Posted on Friday, June 18, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

NEW MUTANTS vol 4 #19
” Party of the Century”
by Vita Ayala, Alex Lins & Matt Milla

COVER / PAGE 1: The New Mutants arrive at the Hellfire Gala, presumably to be greeted by Emma Frost.

PAGE 2. Warlock arrives at the Hellfire Gala.

This is a “green carpet”, presumably because of the plant-themed nature of Krakoa. The rope and bollards seem to be made of Krakoan plants too.

The guy with the beard is named later in the issue as Barry thee Artist, and he’s a new character. Presumably he’s one of the celebrities who was invited to the event.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits. As with most books this month, the layout is altered to suggest a Hellfire Gala invitation.

PAGE 4. Warlock & Mirage mingle with the guests.

I’ve no idea what Captain Marvel is referring to when she mentions Dani owing her a game of pool.

Nightcrawler was also drunk in Hellions, so this is clearly in the overall plan. We’ve yet to reach his own tie-in issue, Way of X #3. In characteristically philosophical mode, he is keen to discuss “the veil between life and death”. This topic would have been of interest to Nightcrawler at any time (especially after he got resurrected himself back in the pre-Krakoan era), but it’s a more pressing question in the Krakoan era where the mechanics of resurrection are a little more troubling.

PAGES 5-7. Mirage and Wolfsbane.

Wolfsbane has come in her regular costume, claiming to have no interest in getting dressed up for the occasion. She claims that this is all a show for the humans, and has no interest in participating in it. Dani frames it as a mutant pride speech, but in terms of Emma’s apparent goals in organising this event, Rahne is basically right.

Rahne proceeds to bring Dani up to speed on what X-Factor told her about Tier in issue #16. She tried to go to Dani for support about that at the time, but by that time Dani was off trying to retrieve a mutant teenager from Otherworld in issues #17-18. That mission turned out to be largely a waste of time, as he was perfectly fine. Rahne’s comment – “I’m glad you were there for the bairn when he needed you” – is at least partly ironic. A big part of her distress in issue #16 was the thought that if Tier was alive, yet not contacting her, something terrible must be happening to him. She doesn’t spell that out in terms to Dani.

Quite why Dani has been unable to speak to Rahne before now is less than clear. She’s been back on Krakoa since the end of issue #17, and there were opportunities during issue #18.

The scene ends by leading into the announcement of the new X-Men team, as shown in X-Men #21.

PAGE 8. Data page. The original New Mutants’ group chat, though Magik has changed Cannonball’s screen name.

Note that this group has only eight members – the entire classic New Mutants line-up, minus Warlock. It’s possible that Warlock isn’t in this group because he was thought to share a common account with Cypher, but it does fit into the sense of Warlock being marginalised.

In keeping with his Hickman-era persona, Sunspot is outraged at not being popular enough to get onto the team.

“5 to 1 odds that Sunfire quits the first day anyway.” Sunfire quit the X-Men after one issue way back in X-Men vol 1 #94.

“Amara, your upbringing included extensive training in oration and political dynamics, yes?” Amara’s quasi-Roman-Empire classical education in Nova Roma would indeed have covered that sort of thing.

The way the election is described here makes it seem much more of a conventional election than what was described in X-Men #21, where it was more of a consensus building thing. Here, the New Mutants talk as if it’s a conventional secret ballot. Some of the New Mutants’ choices are fairly random – you can see why Magik would be amused by trying to get Marrow onto the team, but why would Cypher be keen to see Tempo there…?

PAGE 9. Laura looks for Gabby.

Aurora and Daken are a couple over in X-Factor.

PAGES 10-14. Karma deals with Barry.

Yeah, this doesn’t work. Barry’s a one-dimensional straw man character who exists solely to be humiliated by the regular cast, and there’s really not enough to him to merit devoting this much space to it. On top of that, he’s surely correct that Karma using her mind-control powers on a celebrity guest is a bigger deal than anything he’s actually done here. As for the claim that a diplomat behaving in this way would face consequences, I’m not convinced that you can run that line at the same time as having Coven Akkaba try to disrupt proceedings over in Excalibur – though they do at least maintain a veneer of civility. Why did this guy even get invited to the Gala in the first place, if he’s just a celebrity artist of no interest?

PAGES 15-16. Warlock talks to Warpath.

This echoes the way Scout was seeking advice from Warpath in the previous issue.

PAGES 17-18. Warlock approaches Doug and Bei, while Amahl Farouk talks.

The art here basically shows Bei accepting Warlock as a friend. Meanwhile, in narration, Farouk addresses Gabrielle directly. This finally gives us a clear explanation of his status on Krakoa: for some unclear reason, Krakoa keeps the Shadow King persona / entity restrained, and so we’re dealing with (more or less) the real Amahl Farouk. Quite why this wasn’t spelled out at an earlier stage is difficult to follow, since there’s been no previous mention of it and it’s essential information in order for other characters’ treatment of him to make sense.

Essentially, the Shadow King claims that he knows Krakoa will eventually fall, and he has to train some of the kids to be ruthless enough to deal with it; therefore, Gabby can’t be allowed to stop him.

PAGES 19-20. The New Mutants share a drink after the party.

They’re on Mars, which was terraformed in Planet-Size X-Men #1. Rahne remains detached from the rest of the team.

PAGES 21-22. Laura receives Gabby’s letter, while Cosmar & co find Gabby’s body.

The letter is delivered by Gabby and Laura’s pet wolverine Jonathan, and we’ll see it on page 23. Laura promptly takes it to her half-brother Daken.

The dialogue in the previous scene clearly implies that Farouk has killed Gabby. This normally wouldn’t be very effective to get her off his back, because of resurrection, but Gabby has made the point several times in recent issues that there seems to be a policy against resurrecting clones (like her). This is clearly heading somewhere: the no-clones policy hasn’t been expressly stated to the Krakoan people, and Havok has already been complaining about the failure to revive Madelyne Pryor over in Hellions. But nobody else much cares about Maddie. A refusal to resurrect the beloved Gabby, in the normal way, would be much more of a political issue.

PAGE 23. Gabby’s letter.

“…since you got back… You don’t remember being gone.” This refers to the Children of the Vault arc from X-Men #5, #18 and #19, where Laura spent an extended period (from Gabby’s point of view) and an outrageously long period (from her own point of view) trapped in the Children of the Vault’s time-dilated city. She died as soon as she escaped the city, and without a backup of her time there, and so she doesn’t remember any of that.

“The rules are always shifting (except the Big Three…)” Gabby makes the point that, aside from the three laws of Krakoa, the Krakoan authorities (such as they are) are just making up the rules as they go along. There’s no predictability here, no transparency, and part of that (for Gabby) is the fact that she can’t get a clear answer about the position on resurrecting clones.

“I don’t want to go back to what my life was before I met you…” She was a lab-grown assassin, basically.

“…but I miss knowing who I was and what I was expected to do.” This has echoes of Nightcrawler’s concerns about social directionlessness over in Way of X.

What’s abundantly obvious is that this is not in any way, shape or form a suicide note.

PAGE 24. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: ONE OF A KIND. Which, of course, Gabby isn’t.

 

Bring on the comments

  1. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    Was it me, or was this issue a little incomprehensible? Around the time of the letter from… Gabby? Or whatever that mess was at the end? Do I need to stop reading these issues before an hour before bedtime?

    Also, does it seem like some of these Hellfire Gala issues do not add much to the overall Hellfire Gala?

    I’m glad this isn’t Reddit. Otherwise, I’d be eviscerated.

  2. Chris V says:

    I wonder if the Quiet Council has an ulterior motive for not resurrecting Pryor. Especially since it seems as if Sinister wants her resurrected.
    I’m wondering if it has something to do with Limbo (considering the use of “Inferno”), considering that the inhabitants were infected with the techno-organic virus by the Technarchy.

    Maybe they will resurrect Gabby, and this will serve as impetus to drive Havok further over the edge.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and this will lead more mutants to side with Sinister in his plan to create clones of the characters that Krakoa refuses to resurrect…
    At least, that’s where I think “Inferno” is heading.

  3. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    “I wonder if the Quiet Council has an ulterior motive for not resurrecting Pryor. ”

    They did say multiple versions of clones wouldn’t be accepted for the resurrection queue. So now would Gabby be resureccted, since there’s Laura and Logan? Does Gabby count as her own person? I say yes, but does the Quiet Council?

  4. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    This is why I don’t like the current era. It doesn’t allow for multiple versions of characters to exist, and there are too many rigid rules for multiple characters to exist at the same time. Like why does editorial care about that?

  5. SanityOrMadness says:

    > They did say multiple versions of clones wouldn’t be accepted for the resurrection queue. So now would Gabby be resureccted, since there’s Laura and Logan? Does Gabby count as her own person? I say yes, but does the Quiet Council?

    She shouldn’t from what’s been shown, but they bent the rules for the Stepford Cuckoos already. (Laura is only half-Wolverine, half Sarah Kinney, so she’s fine; OTOH, Gabby’s a 100% clone of Laura…)

    > This is why I don’t like the current era. It doesn’t allow for multiple versions of characters to exist, and there are too many rigid rules for multiple characters to exist at the same time. Like why does editorial care about that?

    Because it creates story potential. Krakoa was doomed from the moment it was conceived – we all know this is not going to be the X-Men status quo in perpetuity. So they need to build in flaws to make the fall believable. (Moreso than the build up, with everyone dropping sticks and moving to Krakoa regardless of prior characterisation…)

  6. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    “Krakoa was doomed from the moment it was conceived – we all know this is not going to be the X-Men status quo in perpetuity. So they need to build in flaws to make the fall believable. (Moreso than the build up, with everyone dropping sticks and moving to Krakoa regardless of prior characterisation…)”

    Ok, this take I can get behind. Good job in breaking it down.

  7. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    As soon as Paul posts about X-Corp #2 I have thoughts about that too.

    (Says a fellow 90s Usenet Hellfire Club Inner Circle member, for anyone who was around from the ’90s AOL days).

  8. Chris V says:

    SanityOrMadness-Oh, that is just because Hickman has been reading books about Russian cosmism.
    He obviously read Fyodorov’s work.
    His belief was that the struggle to overcome death would unite all humans.
    So, Krakoa created a way to overcome death, ipso facto, it unites all mutants together in a common cause.
    Fyodorov’s idea becomes reality.

  9. Crash says:

    Anyone else think that Barry thee Artist was supposed to be Jonathan Van Ness at first? I was super annoyed that he was being portrayed as bitchy (until they identified him as Barry).

  10. Allan M says:

    I remain baffled it seems like we’re going to breeze by Karma opting to keep her bionic limb with no explanation. Which she has because her leg was stabbed to bits by a racist immortal cyborg. I mean, if nothing else, shouldn’t she be using plant-based Krakoan tech?

    The Rahne subplot is boring me, since it’s founded on the Tier stuff, which I always thought was the worst part of X-Factor. Guido killing Tier is the only part of the story I found interesting. And upon reflection, I think I’ve only ever liked one Rahne-related subplot, period (the original Doug stuff from Claremont New Mutants). Remember when she was revamped to stop having a Scottish accent, grew her hair out and then slept with her student, Elixir? It’s weird that I like Rahne as a character but I think I dislike nearly every storyline she’s ever had.

  11. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    “Anyone else think that Barry thee Artist was supposed to be Jonathan Van Ness at first? I was super annoyed that he was being portrayed as bitchy (until they identified him as Barry).”

    Was that the long haired dude? I had no idea who that was.

  12. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    “I remain baffled”

    The sate of the 2021 X-Men line, tbh 😀

  13. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Crash- yes I thought it was supposed to be that guy, who I only know very casually.

    I was like “wait is that guy a jerk in real life?”

    My second choice was what’s his name Fight Club My So Called Life Morbius guy.

  14. alsoMike says:

    I also thought Barry was Jonathan Van Ness at firsr. Even if I doubt JVN would wear a suit to the Hellfire Gala. (And you know, be cruel like that)

    Another thing worth pointing out about the issue I think, is that Laura is DEFINITELY avoiding Synch as she makes an excuse to leave as he’s walking over and then he’s sad in the background.
    I guess he’s trying to rekindle the romance she doesn’t remember and she’s very uncomfortable with that. Kind of a Hawkgirl-ish plot in a way.

  15. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Oh yeah I forgot, I’m glad they’re not just jamming them into a creepy relationship.

    Yet.

  16. Drew says:

    I would like an entire issue of the New Mutants’ private chat, please. Actually, make it a prestige miniseries. That was g**damn delightful.

    That is all.

  17. I'm Over Krakoa X-Men says:

    “I would like an entire issue of the New Mutants’ private chat, please. Actually, make it a prestige miniseries. That was g**damn delightful.”

    Very much this, yes, but not in data page format, pls.

  18. D says:

    So…. what happened to Xian’s brother?

  19. Drew says:

    Now, as far as Warlock being excluded from the group chat, that stuck out to me too. Ultimately, I think the other eight just realize it’d completely throw off the flow of the conversation. He’s their friend, but he’s not human, he doesn’t share many of their cultural touchstones, and he wouldn’t “get” many of the in-jokes, even the ones he was there for.

    Frankly, I’d be more offended if I were Boom-Boom or Rictor or James. Not that I want them included (I’m a snob when it comes to the classic New Mutants), but Tabitha and Ric in particular were New Mutants for almost as long as Doug was (and longer than Shan), even if you don’t count the X-Force years.

    Poor Tabby’s all, “COME ON! I made out with Sam AND Bobby, and I still don’t get invited to the group chat?!?”

  20. Mark says:

    It’s very weird how much time they spent on Xi’an’s brother needing to resurrect/separate from his sidter, and then to never show him on panel.

  21. neutrino says:

    @Allan M
    Vita Ayala is taking the stand that fixing it would be the equivalent of erasing Karma.
    https://twitter.com/definitelyvita/status/1398301576121487360
    Apparently it can’t even be as lifelike as a real prosthetic would be.

    One wag in the thread said “Agreed. Cyclops is an ableist unless he let’s Hope shoot out his eye again.”

  22. Ryan T says:

    I thought Barry Thee Artist was a Bernard the Poet reference, from the early Lee/Kirby issues

  23. The Other Michael says:

    No offense intended to disabled people, but if you were an able-bodied person who only recently suffered a major injury necessitating amputation, such as in Karma’s case, and the technology existed to restore you to perfect functionality…

    Why wouldn’t you take it? I mean, Karma’s already going to the lengths of DYING and being resurrected to get her brother out of her head (something which has been part of her character since her first appearance, practically), why not be restored to factory settings? Her identity as a disabled person is nowhere near as set in stone as a character trait. (And again, hell, they let Xavier walk again!) (Wow, it happened 10 years ago? Still, for a character who was introduced in 1980, that’s a distinct minority of her existence.)

    If I could be killed and resurrected according to specifications, I’d definitely make a few health-related tweaks.

    But no, it’s either “it’s baked into the character” like with Callisto’s missing eye, Cyclop’s lack of control, Cable’s prosthetic arm, or “We can’t risk offending readers by taking away a disabled character of color even though it would make perfect sense in the context of the ongoing storyline.” I just want to see, in-universe, a scene where she reasserts her identity as a disabled person to make it clear that it was her choice.

    (Again, no disrespect meant to disabled people, but speaking from a writerly POV, this is a narrative thing which throws me out of the story until addressed.)

    Speaking of which, has any reference to her recent status as a billionaire been made since the Dead Souls mini? Are her younger siblings shoved into the closet there?

  24. Allan M says:

    Thank you, neutrino. I’m with Other Michael on this, where I find it baffling that I’m having to learn about why Karma chose to retain her bionic leg from a Twitter link instead of on the page of a story that is specifically about body dysmorphia, resurrection ethics, and Karma killing herself and being resurrected to solve a problem.

    Why is a psychic trauma from 40 years ago that almost never comes up in practice resurrection-worthy but a physical injury from a racist cyborg from 10 years ago is now part of her identity? No idea. And if Ayala was not interested in addressing this, why in the world did they dig up the mostly-forgotten Tran thing in the first place? Everything about the story is telling me to think about these issues and then it just skips over this choice. Just weird.

  25. Mathias X says:

    “I find it baffling that I’m having to learn about why Karma chose to retain her bionic leg from a Twitter link instead of on the page of a story that is specifically about body dysmorphia, resurrection ethics, and Karma killing herself and being resurrected to solve a problem.”

    This is unreasonable. Her resurrection was at the very end of last issue. This issue was part of a crossover and didn’t dedicate much space to Karma. There have only been 22 pages of New Mutants since Karma was resurrected, and she wasn’t on very many of them — it will probably be addressed, but people haven’t really given enough time to do so.

    It would be like if I started throwing a fit now because Honey Badger’s murder wasn’t addressed on panel yet. It was an end-of-issue reveal.

  26. Allan M says:

    There is more story ahead so yes, I’m probably being presumptive and will take my lumps. Point conceded.

  27. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    You guys are being very over concerned about it, IMO.

    Disabled people also don’t really want to read about disabled characters who just stand around talking about being disabled.

    Alaya probably isn’t interested in writing a story about the disabled having to justify their decisions to the abled, nor do I blame them for wanting to avoid that.

    She’s missing a leg, Calisto is missing an eye, Wiz Kid is in a wheelchair, Chamber has no face, Hawkeye is still hearing impaired.

    People in the 616 still get cancer and believe in entirely fictional gods while actual gods run around.

    They’re not going to use scifi/fantasy powers to render the world totally unrecognizable to the reader, nor use it to erase the disabled.

    If you can read the current books with the X-Men hanging out on a vampire island engaging in threesomes while Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse, and Magneto hang out without issue but you’re having a big problem with a disabled character not explaining themselves, that’s on you.

  28. Mathias X says:

    “There is more story ahead so yes, I’m probably being presumptive and will take my lumps. Point conceded.”

    Nah, I get it. For those of us on the comic book Internet, these weeks between issues can really skew our perceptions of “how long has this been out here unaddressed.”

    For what it’s worth, there were certain people agitating about this on Twitter … before issue 18 came out, so they were pre-primed to be mad. Then 18 came out, they already had their mad talking points ready. Now we’re on issue 19, and almost three months into people pissed and ready to be pissed about it.

    I don’t really discount that Ayala’s reasoning will suck, but it might be great too. I just don’t think it’s fair to treat it as unaddressed when there’s really been very little space provided to address it. (& honestly, crossover issues might just not be the best place to start a Capital D Discourse that we know is gonna get personal and nasty.

  29. Allan M says:

    Thank you, Mathias. One of the endless annoyances I have with online discourse is that nobody ever admits that they’re wrong, so I wanted to acknowledge that you have the right side of this discussion and I was wrong.

  30. Daibhid C says:

    @Ryan T: My thought as well. Until I get evidence to the contrary, I’m choosing to believe they’re brothers.

  31. Donnacha says:

    “Frankly, I’d be more offended if I were Boom-Boom or Rictor or James.”

    That’s the least of it – where is Skids and why hasn’t Rusty been brought back?

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