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Jul 22

New Mutants #20 annotations

Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Secrets & Lies”
by Vita Ayala, Alex Lins & Matt Milla

COVER / PAGE 1: The Shadow King looms over Scout. Seems like a cover that would have fit better an issue or two back.

PAGES 2-4. Anole, Cosmar, Rain Boy and No-Girl decide what to do with Scout.

The previous issue ended with them finding Scout’s body. The strong implication was that Scout had been killed by the Shadow King, after she confronted him in issue #18 about her concerns over his influence over these four.

The group is named later in the issue as “Lost Club”.

“Cosmar asked for their help, and they gave her platitudes.” Issue #15. Cosmar, who believes that her distorted appearance is not a feature of her powers but merely a self-inflicted injury when her powers were out of control, asked Dani to kill her in the Crucible so that she could be resurrected in her original form. Dani refused and gave her a mutant-pride speech, which went down very badly.

“And yet they enter the Crucible for little things – Karma still had her powers!” Issue #18. Although Karma herself didn’t require resurrection, her twin brother Tran was stuck within her mind, and could only be freed by resurrecting both of them. So Cosmar is downplaying the significance of what Karma was trying to achieve, but she has a fair point that her own reasons for wanting to be resurrected were at least as valid.

“When Scout asked if the ‘rights’ Krakoa promises extended to those like her – to clones – they patted her on the head and didn’t bother to consider.” Issue #14. Scout expressly raised the point that Madelyne Pryor wasn’t being resurrected because she was a clone (a Hellions storyline). The cast of New Mutants all appeared to agree that this was such an obviously bad rule that it simply couldn’t be the rule. They’re wrong, as Hellions has made clear.

“Humans took me and tore my brain from my body, and instead of the X-Men undoing what those monsters had done, I was left to figure out how to fend for myself.” This is No-Girl’s origin story from New X-Men vol 1 #118-119, in which she was one of a number of mutants who had been kidnapped and organ-harvested by the U-Men. She was already a brain in a jar when we first saw her.

“They even gave me a name that pokes fun at what I went through. No-Girl.” This is a retcon. The name “No-Girl” originates from New X-Men vol 1 #135, where Martha is a member of Xorn’s Special Class. “No-Girl” is supposedly an extra Class member who is invisible because she’s “totally conceptual”. The very strong implication is that she’s a joke that the Class are playing on Xorn. But either way, the dialogue is absolutely clear that Martha and No-Girl are different people (Xorn lists the Class members at one point, and names them both).

However, in issue #154 (part of the alternate-future arc at the end of Grant Morrison’s run), Martha is indeed addressed as “No-Girl”: “I love being in your mind, Martha… everything’s so colourful and exiting in the cartoon world of No-Girl.” The overall implication seems to be that the No-Girl name was invented by the Special Class and subsequently taken on by Martha, which isn’t what she claims here.

“And even though we argued with Scout…” Issue #18.

“We switch bodies like we practiced…” Issues #16-18. In issue #18, they wanted to test the theory that the dead bodies in X-Factor’s body farm would endure the experience better. From the fact that they’re now theorising that it’ll work if the mind matches the dead body, one has to assume that the experiment went badly.

What actually happened to Scout? An obvious question which nobody asks in this scene is what actually happened to Scout, given that her body – as animated by No-Girl – is apparently perfectly capable of walking around as normal. It can’t have healed into this condition (she’s dead), and it shows no signs of obvious injury. Similarly, at the end of last issue, she was just lying on the ground with her eyes rolled back. So… what actually happened to her? Is she actually dead, or did the Shadow King relocate her mind somewhere?

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-8. Karma, Wolfsbane and Shadow King in the Green Lagoon.

The Shadow King befriended Wolfsbane in issue #17, during the period when Mirage and Karma were off in Otherworld and Wolfsbane was especially upset about the news that her son Tier was alive and missing. Hence Wolfsbane trying to build bridges between Scout and the Shadow King in issue #18 – which probably led to Scout’s demise, though she doesn’t know that.

“What Farouk did to me…” The Shadow King possessed Karma after her apparent death in New Mutants vol 1 #6, and she resurfaced as his (grossly obese) host body in New Mutants vol 1 #30.

“I have tried to take the promise of Krakoa to heart.” Wolfsbane is echoing the Shadow King’s speech to her in issue #17: “When we came to Krakoa, we were told that this was a land of change. By submitting to the laws of this land, we would be remade and reborn into our truth… Krakoa is for all mutants, regardless of who we have been and what we have done. I have taken the mission of our new home to heart.”

“One abuser…” Tran was undoubtedly a villain in most of his appearances.

PAGE 9. Data page. A new mutant has been detected on Tristan Da Cunha, which is indeed a British Overseas Territory. It’s one of the most remote places in the world, with a population of about 250, and no airstrip. The easiest way to get there is by boat from South Africa, which takes about a week (though some passing cruise ships do stop by).

PAGES 10-15. The rescue mission on Tristan da Cunha.

This seems to be a genuine case of misunderstanding: the islanders are alarmed that the kid is going to be carted off to Krakoa for good, and since it takes the New Mutants a page or so to figure this out, they come very close to being right. This, even though the first thing the girl says to Warpath is that she wants her mother. There’s a parallel here with issues #16-17, where Mirage and Karma spent two issues traipsing through Otherworld to retrieve a mutant who had no interest whatsoever in being rescued. The New Mutants seem a little too ready to jump to the conclusion that all mutants belong on Krakoa, though they do back off it pretty quickly when challenged.

The group of students who accompany Warpath and Magik on this mission are:

  • Kappa, a new character with water-control powers. The codename presumably refers to the amphibious creature from Japanese folklore, not the Greek letter.
  • Brutha Nature and Leo are two of the bullies that Magik punished in issue #16.
  • Sprite has been seen hanging around in some of the New Mutants’ classes before. For some reason she’s still wearing her school uniform, perhaps because it’s the only established “costume” she has – isn’t that blazer hot on Krakoa?

“Kappa / Magik synergy.” These captions explaining the way that mutant powers can be combined to create new effects have appeared in numerous training sessions in Ayala’s run.

PAGES 16-18. Lost Club meet Daken.

“You missed all the fun last night!” The Hellfire Gala, in most of last month’s X-books (including issue #19).

“You left a weird-ass message…” It’s shown as a data page at the end of the previous issue.

“There was a murder last night at the gala.” The Scarlet Witch’s body was found in X-Factor #10. It’s a bit odd that Daken mentions goes from talking up the fun of the Gala to mentioning that someone died in the space of two lines of dialogue.

“You blow me off every time I want to spend time with you…” Scout was trying to get Daken’s attention twice in issue #15, and he was indeed busy with Aurora (his partner over in X-Factor). Quite how No-Girl knows this isn’t made clear; either Scout told her so, or she’s reading it in Scout’s mind.

“You’ve cared more about trying to get into Aurora’s pants than you did about your own sister.” This could be referring either to Scout herself, or to the absence of Laura during the period when she was in the Vault, something that seemed to upset Scout a lot more than Daken. (But so it might, since Laura had a much closer relationship with Scout.)

“I’d kill for you… That means something to me, even if it doesn’t to you.” Generally, Daken has been more or less heroic during his time in X-Factor, or at least a reliable team player. So this might be thought of as a rather harsh and out-of-date judgment. That said, X-Factor #10 reveals that Daken killed the anti-mutant group who attacked Aurora in X-Factor #1, so No-Girl may be on to something in saying that Daken still sees a willingness to kill as a touchstone of attachment – or at least, this may hit home for Daken in ways that Scout/No-Girl isn’t aware of.

PAGE 19. Data page. The standard map of Krakoa from earlier data pages (without the legend), but with four locations marked by the members of Lost Club.

  • The Fort was the building that was destroyed by bullies in issue #15.
  • The Crow’s Nest is a location in the “Wild Hunt” training area, seen in issue #17.
  • The Shadow King’s home has been seen in various issues in this run.
  • No idea what “Santos” refers to. Shark-Girl’s real name is Iara dos Santos, so it might be something to do with her.

PAGES 20-24. Lost Club at Arbora Magna.

“I wanted to apologise for how out of sorts I was last time.” In issue #15, Elixir sent Wolfsbane a note refusing to accelerate Tier’s resurrection, and advising her that he wasn’t even in the queue. Perhaps Wolfsbane is referring to an argument she had with him leading up to that story, or maybe this is meant to be referring to her conversation with X-Factor in issue #16.

“Either way, it was not made to withstand my powers.” The resurrection process involves reality-warping, which is Proteus’s contribution (and explains why this is not just glorified cloning – Proteus is presumably the magic element that helps to get the actual soul back). The fact that Cosmar’s own reality-warping powers can interfere with this suggests that she really, really, really shouldn’t be meddling with this stuff, and that Very Bad Things could happen.

Tempus is a member of the Five, and the Lost Club seem to be seriously proposing to try and telepathically coerce her into helping. Unsurprisingly, Wolfsbane steps in here – even if she wasn’t questionably allied with the Shadow King, it’s very obvious that she needs to intervene.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krakoan reads NEXT: WOLF AND SHEEP.

Bring on the comments

  1. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I liked this issue. The flashbacks suggest the Lost Club spent a lot of time with Gabby, so No-Girl might just be using what she knows about her friend when she speaks with Daken. It was a good scene regardless of the technicalities.

    Also, thought balloons? In a current Marvel superhero book? In this economy?

    The only thing I thought was a misstep was very minor and could be attributed to the weirdness of comic book time. Elixir refers to the Lost Club as kids, even though he was on the same team as Anole.

    Then again Victor seems to have been aged down in this book… Though that doesn’t quite gel with him being the backup bartender of the Green Lagoon.

    On a mostly unrelated note Elixir himself seems to lose about ten years between his debut and enrollment at the Xavier Institute several issues of New Mutants (vol. whichever) later.

  2. CitizenBane says:

    I wonder why no one has brought up Esme and Sophie Cuckoo as the obvious contradictions to the “clone rule”, as the Cuckoos are all clones of Emma Frost. Perhaps the so-called rule is just arbitrarily applied by Council members – Emma wants her clones resurrected, so they come back, Jean wants her clone to stay dead, so tough luck for Madelyne, and no one outside the Council has the clout to argue. Which touches on something Paul brought up in the annotations for the last Way of X issue – Krakoa is just a straight-up tyranny with supreme and uncontestable power vested in a small handful of people.

  3. Chris V says:

    Of course it’s an oligarchy.
    Even moreso, it’s a dictatorship with Xavier and Magneto as the supreme rulers.
    Wait. There’s more. Because the society is also a synarchism, as we realize that Moira is the secret power guiding everything on Krakoa.

  4. The Other Michael says:

    Santos might refer to Rockslide, who is likely of interest to younger mutants as one of the relatively newer generation, especially after his botched resurrection.

  5. johnstonteacher says:

    Very strong issue. I haven’t been high on this run, but now the groundwork that it’s been laying is starting to pay off.

    I agree that the Cuckoos are a double standard that needs to be addressed. And I’m hopeful it will be, since this series is clearly interested in the question of who counts as a person in Krakoa.

    The core New Mutants increasingly seem to be positioned as characters who buy into the premise of Krakoa without seriously considering the implications of its rules and customs. That’s quite a promising direction.

  6. Ben Johnston says:

    Oops, accidentally typed the wrong user name. Sorry about that.

  7. Paul says:

    The Stepford Cuckoos’ position was addressed in a data page in Cable #9. “Exceptions were made in cases where ‘duplication’ is an extension of mutant gifts – e.g. the Stepford Cuckoos being able to be resurrected back to their five selves…” This isn’t very convincing as an answer, since the Stepford Cuckoos are simply five out of a large number of Emma Frost clones, but the claim seems to be that because of their powers they experience themselves as a five-in-one semi-hivemind, which is incomplete without all five. It’s obviously possible that they just get special treatment because of their connection with Emma.

  8. Si says:

    It’s always a bit strange the way traditional family dynamics are expressed in X-Men comics. Why should Daken and Gabby have any familial bond? They didn’t grow up together, they’ve never lived together or presumably shared any moments other than combat. They barely even qualify as siblings in the technical sense. Of course he cares more about romantic bonds than talking to that kid he’s kind of related to by blood.

    Then there’s Rogue and Mystique. Rogue has actual parents who raised her. Mystique looked after her for what, a couple of months? While she was in her late teens? How does that make Mystique a mother figure and not just a room mate? Then there’s Havok having a huge chunk of his personality being him living in Cyclops’ shadow, even though he barely even knew he had a brother until adulthood, and again has adoptive parents and a normal childhood to look back on.

    I know most of this comes from characters or relationships being retconned in, but it all just seems sloppy to me.

  9. James Hayes-Barber says:

    Si, that’s not that different than irl families that are blended or have age gaps or have siblings raised by different people. My mom has an aunt younger than her because my great grandad had a child not known. When my Grandma reunited with her unknown sister she was welcomed into the family with open arms.

  10. Drew says:

    I know it’s too late because it’s established canon by now, but maybe we just ignore the ill-conceived retcon that the Cuckoos are clones of Emma? And have them go back to just being five blondes with telepathy that Emma consciously molded to talk and dress like her?

  11. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Phoenix Endsong was dreadful.

    Greg Pak and Greg Land…

    At least we got Quentin Quire back (as basically an entirely different character.)

  12. Si says:

    Sure anyone can be accepted as family, that’s perfectly understandable. But that’s about love. What I find hard to swallow is all the baggage that goes along with traditional family, the kind that you only really get after being close together for years. There’s often no reason for any of that to exist in the comic.

  13. Si says:

    And yes, I agree with Drew. For so many reasons, but if only because Emma Frost is canonically a bottle blonde but her supposed clones are not.

    But mind you, the Cuckoos aren’t exactly clones anyway, not in a Mr Sinister kind of way. They were grown from Frost’s eggs, so they’re really individual offspring of Frost, born via artificial asexual reproduction.

  14. Thom H. says:

    Everything about that explanation makes me roll my eyes. Very little is gained by making more characters related to each other by blood/cloning/whatever.

    The exception that jumps to mind is Magneto being Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s father. But of course that has been undone in favor of him being Polaris’ father because…they have the same power? Ugh. So boring.

  15. Si says:

    No I agree, the Cuckoos should be their own thing, tying them to frost was stupid. Way too many families and dynasties going on in Marvel, it’s positively incestuous. The Pym family tree is the worst (and somewhere there’s a child of Wasp and Havok, which intertwines it with the nearly as awful Summers family tree).

  16. Alastair says:

    Gabbie, was big into building her new family (after her other sisters died) all through All-New Wolverine and Daken was a big part of that, so especially with no Laura around, she would reach out to Daken and not Logan who she barely knows.

    Si: I’m not sure the Pym tree is worse than the Summers tree, all it takes is the acceptance that robots count as and can have offspring. Naida van dyne to Viv Vision is simple, (Nadia’s father created Ultron, who created the Vision, who created Viv,) compared to Rachel and Cable, (Rachel is the alternate universe daughter of the man who fathered cable with the clone of the women who would be Rachels mother in the universe if she was not dead for while, who is older then his father because he was sent into the future to save his life from an alien tech virus)

  17. Thom H. says:

    @Si: We’re absolutely on the same page. I have such strong negative feelings on the subject that it might have seemed like I was arguing. Sorry for the ambiguity!

    As for who’s the worst family, I’d say it’s hard to judge. The Summers are the Schrodinger’s cat of families — they both are and are not related because of the whole Jean/Phoenix/Maddie hullabaloo. But if you accept that Jean is now all three of those people/entities, then they’re a fairly typical nuclear family with some time travel and alternate realities thrown in.

    The Pyms seem more straightforward on the surface because they’re all from this time and reality, but they also include a whole host of other Avengers: Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, the Wasp. Not to mention villains: the Grim Reaper, Magneto (for a time). You have to keep track of a lot more births, deaths, rebirths, marriages, and divorces to even know who’s in the family and what their relationships are. Vision and Wonder Man could be considered brothers or possibly father and son, for example.

    I think it’s not a coincidence that Wasp having a child with Havok introduced the Pyms to the wonders of alternate reality relations.

  18. Mark Coale says:

    That discussion made me look up so.eone I didn’t see mentioned in the Pym family tree: the kid Hank apparently had with Tigra. Some sites say the father is either Hank or Skrull Hank but Marvel Wikia says Hank, so I’d go w that.

  19. Si says:

    The official story of Tigra’s baby is the father was a skrull, but was impersonating Pym so well it had copied his very DNA in order to fool sensors. So the baby is 100% (cat)human and was effectively fathered by Pym in all ways except the actual fun bit at the beginning. SCIENCE!

    Nadia Pym calls him her brother, so he’s officially part of that whole mess.

    As for Wonder Man and Vision, I’m pretty sure they were calling each-other brothers back in the 80s comics. But that was before Vision got John Byrned.

  20. Taibak says:

    I’m just impressed that Marvel actually put the Pym/Vision/Williams family tree on the cover of Vision #10.

  21. Allan M says:

    Wonder Man considering Vision to be his sorta-brother is also a key character bit during Busiek’s Avengers run. Wonder Man expressly says they’re essentially brothers while Vision is incensed and feels like a faded copy of Wonder Man’s personality because hey, it’s Vision, angst about fitting in is kinda his thing.

    What I’m gathering from this thread is that if Victor Mancha, Hope Summers and Franklin Richards become a throuple, the Marvel Universe will implode.

  22. Luis Dantas says:

    Don’t forget to bring Hyperstorm to join the fun and games.

  23. Chris V says:

    I’m glad someone mentioned the Richards family. I was thinking they were my pick for most convoluted.

  24. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Victor wouldn’t be down with those two bean poles, he likes them proper thicc.

  25. I always thought it was odd that Young Avengers never explored how Vision felt being on a team with his own sort-of-children; now I can see they were just avoiding falling down a Pym family tree rabbit hole.

    (Young Vision is “related” to Young Kang, who is a Richards, and oh god it just gets worse and worse…)

  26. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    They’ve always pretty much ignored any connection to Vision for some reason.

    They’re Wanda’s kids only.

    Damn John Byrne.

  27. Thom H. says:

    There have been as many versions of the Vision as there have been of Jean as it turns out. (I’ve been doing some research.) He’s directly related to the Pyms, the Richardses, the Simonses, and the Starks so far.

    If we’re counting the relationship between Wasp and Havok, then technically (and tenuously) Vision was actually related to Jean at one point.

    If only Wasp and Havok had stayed together, then the Grim Reaper and Stryfe would run into each other at family reunions.

  28. Taibak says:

    Wait… Wasp and Havok? Did I miss something, or is this another reason why I should be glad I missed Uncanny Avengers.

  29. Chris V says:

    Yes, it was from Uncanny Avengers.
    It was the “Planet X” story which involved an alternate future.
    I barely remember the story anymore.

    As amazing as Uncanny X-Force by Remender was, Uncanny Avengers was just about the opposite.

  30. Person of Con says:

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting this title to take a Weekend at Bernie’s direction.

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