Whilst the X-Men are off fighting over the smoking husk of an obliterated galaxy, let's take a look at what the New Mutants are up to. When last we left the junior team, Kitty was accompanying Doug Ramsey on his visit to the Massachusetts Academy, only for both of them to be abducted by the very much no-longer-in-a-coma White Queen!
The next morning, suspicious of the lack of communication, Illyana secretly casts a scrying spell, sending her over to academy to check things out for herself. Sure enough, she finds Kitty tied to a chair, with the White Queen hovering over her like a scantily-clad fart. Apparently the White Queen has decided to take a leaf out of Xavier's book and go into the mutant recruitment business, but she's not too picky about her methods of persuasion. Kitty's going to toe the line if she wants her parents to not be bankrupted by Frost's various methods, and Doug is currently under mental domination and believes he's making out with Kitty. Which is really, really vicious, actually, especially given how gleefully Emma shows Kitty what's going on in Doug's brain. Fortunately - using a very narrow definition of the term - the White Queen has discovered that Kittty's fallen for Doug in return, so it could be worse. So long as you're not Colossus, obviously.
Illyana finds further snooping impossible when Kitty sees her astral form and gives the game away. Which is interesting because, as the young Ms Rasputin notes, that shouldn't be possible at all. This is as good a time as any to start keeping track of unanswered questions in the X-books. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but as we approach and finally enter the '90s, such mysteries are liable to pile up. Here's a list of those I've noticed so far:
- How did Toad escape the planet he was stranded on by "the Stranger"?
- How did Magneto find the X-Men's base to strike at them in UXM #17?
- Who built the Magneto robot Mesmero was unwittingly working for until UXM #58?
- Who was the mysterious mutant detected outside the Sentinel base in UXM #59?
- What is the relationship between Nightcrawler and Mystique?
- How did Emma Frost end up in a coma?
- Why can Kitty see Illyana whilst the latter is using spellcasting to travel from her body?
Question 5, of course, is dealt with later, and question 6 is explained in this very issue; turns out Mastermind hit Frost with such a barrage of extremely personal and utterly horrific illusions that she lapsed into catatonia to protect herself, before ultimately managing to drag herself back to consciousness through sheer force of will.
Anyway, I digress.
The instant Emma Frost sees Illyana's spirit-presence, she fries it with a psi-bolt, flinging Illyana back into her body, which is now screaming in agony. The resultant noise awakens the other New Mutants, who run to her aid, only to find that she's rather unfortunately leaking flying demons at an alarming rate. This necessitates a few pages of battle as our heroes attempt to round up the escaping gribblies. Really, this just feels like marking time, though there is a nice moment involving Cannonball sulking at Amara already having more control over her powers than he does. Blam notes in comments over at Gentlemen of Leisure that this is pretty clearly a metaphor for the difficulty in controlling one's responses as a teenager, and that "uncontrollable thrust" in particular ain't exactly subtle, which is an excellent point, though in the context of complaining that women seem so much better at it, the metaphor becomes a little bit too "if only men could be more like women", perhaps.
Whilst the others battle the rampaging phantasms, Dani tries to help Illyana, and discovers the truth in the process; everyone's favourite Russian girl has a nasty sideline in demonic sorceressing (sorceressness?). This isn't something any of them are particularly keen on, but there's bigger fish to fry: Kitty has to be rescued, but not only have the X-Men disappeared, but the Fantastic Four and Avengers that Xavier told them to call in emergencies have disappeared as well.
With no teacher and no allies, and no-one with the ability to fly a plane or the license to drive a car, the New Mutants have no option but to raid the back of the sofa to try and scrimp together the bus fare to Massachusetts. This is a nice echo of the time the senior team (then only a couple of years older than Sam and Dani themselves) needed to fly to Europe to affect a rescue of their own, and were reduced to busking in the park to raise cash. That's one of my all-time pre-Second Genesis comics, so it's a nice link, even if there's no indication that Claremont is referring to it specifically.
Whilst on their bus ride, Sam finds time to talk to Rahne about her insistence that both Illyana and herself are Satan-spawn. Sam's considered opinion is that this is bullshit, and as a fellow committed Christian, he's just the person to point this out. The nub of his point is that Rahne has confused the word of her minister with the word of God, an entirely obvious point that nevertheless seems to escape an awful lot of people. Respecting someone's religion is not the same thing as respecting their own personal spin on that religion. We generate those ourselves, and we must answer for them ourselves. The massive organised push in America - and far from stamped out over here, as we learned only a few days ago - to label homosexuality as somewhere between terrorism and comet impact in terms of hideous dangers has nothing to do with being Christian, and everything to do with the most hideous form of bigotry justified through religion to make sure people can claim their pointless, incoherent loathing can be confused for a spiritual principle.
Once the New Mutants get to their destination, it's an easy task for Magma to burn her way inside the academy, and the search for Kitty can begin. It doesn't take too long, since Illyana already knows where she is, but things can't go all that smoothly, not with only one page to go. And sure, enough, "Kitty" is just a hologram, an illusion to trap our heroes, and the White Queen arrives to slam it closed!
Dun dun DUUUR!
It's made very clear here that this story takes place the day after the Beyonder swipes the X-Men. It starts early in the morning, and concludes in early evening. It's worth noting that the trees are all entirely bare, supporting our assumption that this story takes place in winter.
Wednesday 11th January, 1984.
The New York Times reports on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USA and Vatican City.
"I suggest we crack open our piggy-banks." - Roberto. Superheroism is never as glamorous as you'd think.