Wednesday, 10 April 2013
NMU #17: "Getaway!"
(Those who are about to fly...)
I mentioned last time on NMU that the Hellions, in making their initial appearance, didn't really manage to make too much of a first impression. I also acknowledged that this issue might help out on that score, and in general that is indeed what we get. In truth, I feel like the Hellions have always been more well-known and referenced as a group and as a concept than they've generated specific important characters (James Proudstar being an honourable exception) but NMU #17 does at least make a fair stab at giving distinct personalities to Emma Frost's new charges, as well as giving us further insight into how her approach differs from that of Charles Xavier's.
Turns out, she's not doing so well. Which is no surprise, really. One of the first things they taught me when I started my teacher training course was that no-one would learn lessons I taught whilst wearing nothing but a corset, panties, and high heels. We know now that Frost will come to care for her charges, but right now it seems pretty clear that she sees them only as useful powers, and has no interest in teaching them to interact, just to shut up and follow orders. This kind of approach might work a little better when you're telepath, since you can have at least a distant feel of how one's students behave when you're not in the room, but it's still a ridiculously short-term approach. Much like Cersei in A Song Of Ice And Fire/Game Of Thrones, Frost knows she needs powerful flunkies to prop up her power base, but she has no idea of how to maintain it other than throwing her metaphorical weight around.
This is how you end up with a problem like Empath, a stone-cold monster - and obvious racist - with no interest in anyone other than how much fun they might be once he's commanding them. He almost got Jetstream killed last issue, and his response to this is to control the young man into apologising to him. He's quite obviously gearing up for an attempt on Emma's position, but she's seems confident she can deal with it when the time comes. I can't see anything going wrong there. Elsewhere we have the equally unpleasant and sadistic Roulette (who's kind enough to wear revealing negligee in bed so we can all know she's one of those horrible slutty sluts our mothers warned us about); the bonkers Tarot, who's so obsessed over the meanings of her cards she'd probably think a game of Happy Families was pushing her to become a greengrocer; Thunderbird, who has no thought other than to revenge himself against the X-Men (because when your brother jumps onto a jet in mid take-off and is inevitably killed, the most logical course of action is to blame the people he voluntarily joined and who taught him self-defence); and Catseye, whose hatred of her human form and bizarre Yoda-style baby-talk are symptoms just screaming out for immediate therapy. Hell, Jetstream's the most normal amongst them, and he has rockets that come out of his calves.
Whilst most of our titular team - along with Kitty Pryde, who turns out to have some mad massage skills that seem to make Roberto much happier about having damaged his back - stew in a power-dampening dorm somewhere on campus, Dani and Illyana are trying to recover from their sudden jaunt into Limbo. With this being a Claremont book, Illyana finds herself knocked unconscious and wakes up to find someone has changed her into sexier clothes. Dani is standing next to her in scraps of animal fur, though there's no suggestion that Dani was unconscious, and frankly you can imagine her picking a minimalist furkini over almost anything that didn't include nipple tassells. S'ym has brought them back to his place, now that he's working for Illyana (after the deal they made three issues earlier). Apparently he'd rather work for a fourteen year old in a slit dress with a plunging neck line, which is pretty unsettling, and given Illyana immediately drops him into a teleport disc upon awakening, I'm guessing she thinks the same thing.
After a time out to run through some healing spells, Illyana and Dani are ready to rescue their team-mates. Unfortunately for them, the young sorceress' teleporting is more than a little erratic, and they end up some eighteen months in the future, when the rest of the team is already fully in Emma's sway, and have joined the Hellions. I'm not entirely sure what this scene is supposed to accomplish other than fill two pages - and make Emma Frost look entirely idiotic - but it'll be interesting to see just how different the X-books' status quo looks when we get to the X-Men's eighth year of existence. It already seems ridiculous that the main book's protagonists couldn't break out their younger colleagues over a year and a half, but for the sake of a dozen or so panels, there's not much point thinking too hard about it.
Illyana's second attempt at zeroing is somewhat more successful, in that she ends up a week too late rather than two consecutive pregnancies (always an interesting method of measuring time, especially in comics). Sure she can't do any better, Illyana suggests they just live with the missing time, and get on with the rescue. Dani phones the mansion but can't get an answer (this is presumably the call that leads to the message Rogue failed to hear in UXM #182). It's up to the two of them to rescue their friends. Girl power! Finally, the sisters are doing it for themselves!
Except they utterly botch it. Dani manages to sneak into the dorm where the others are being held captive, but the Hellions are right behind her, having taken out Illyana off-panel. Looks like our maidens need some assistance from those with the Y chromosone, huh? Fortunately, Jetstream is on hand to enable some sausage application. He's not at all happy about the idea of kidnapping and brainwashing new recruits; he joined voluntarily, and the last thing he wants is to watch people getting press-ganged (I imagine he's also keen to prove to himself that he really did sign up willingly, rather than being manipulated by the White Queen). He suggests a duel; one Hellion and one New Mutant fight, with our heroes being freed if they win, and agreeing to join up with Frost's mob if they don't.
Seeing little alternative, Dani agrees, and everyone decamps to the Hellion's rather spartan Danger Room. For whatever reason, the duel turns out to be between Sam and Jetstream. That makes sense for the New Mutants, I guess, what with Sunspot with limited juice and Illyana unconscious after being jumped earlier, but I'm not sure Jetstream would have been my choice from the Hellions, except in that he happens to have similar powers.
After a few pages of alternate dodging and colliding, Cannonball wins the duel, but Jetstream refuses to yield, which rather demonstrates the flaw with this whole not-to-the-death approach to ritual combat. It soon turns out not to matter, however, because the White Queen chooses this moment to return from Boston, with Sebastian Shaw in tow. She's brought him here to check out her latest acquisitions, and she has no intention of letting them go home just because one of her students thinks he has the slightest scrap of authority around here.
Cannonball vs Jetstream therefore becomes New Mutants vs Hellfire, and our heroes find this a much tougher match. In fact, the only reason things don't go horribly pear shaped for our protagonists is that Shaw and Frost are still playing with their catch when Kitty phases into the nada-Danger Room's control booth and shorts everything out. In the resulting confusion the New Mutants get out of harm's way - oddly, with the help of Catseye, who doesn't seem any more interested in obeying her mistresses wishes than any other feline - and Illyana teleports everyone back to the mansion.
But when have they arrived? The surroundings are at least still smothered in snow, so there's that, but until they can find their way back into the locked mansion, who knows what year this might be?
At least they have one clue: it's at least after the point in history when Dani's parents were brutally murdered by evil spirits. How do they know this? Because the monstrous apparition that did for the Moonstars has arrived to inform Dani that she is very much the next course on the menu.
Dun dun DUUUR!
OK, I'll admit it: my concerns about how this issue could possibly fit in with UXM #182 were unfounded. I'd assumed Dani's phone call had come the night of the battle with the Hellions, rather than almost a week later, which also clears up the questions about how long Michael Rossi had spent being interrogated by SHIELD. In my defence, having Illyana and Dani return one week after they initially left seems purposefully done to escape these issues. There's no benefit to the story from their delay, and nothing is actually said about what happened in the meantime.
Still, it's all worked out in the end, and we can end this story six days after it began. That might have to change if we learn Illyana screwed up her final teleport, of course, but it will do for now.
Wednesday 11th to Sunday 17th January, 1984 (and Wednesday 17th July, 1985).
X+5Y+317 to X+5Y+323 (and X+7Y+97).
Your humble scribe turns four. Meanwhile, Ray Kroc, the man most directly responsible for making McDonald's into the global titan it is today, dies aged 81.
"Resistance is useless... and flight quite impossi - good Lord!"
Emma Frost learns an important lesson about not gloating over the impossibility of escape in front of a character with time-travelling teleportation powers.