Tuesday, 23 April 2013
NMU #18: "Death-Hunt"
("All black and brown, and covered in hair!")
Well, isn't this pretty?
OK, so "pretty" probably isn't the right word. It's too angular and off-kilter for that, all bleached palettes and deep shadows. But it's certainly effective. Any time someone inspires me to discuss artwork, it's usually a good sign. Sienkiewicz has done a great job here. This is exactly the kind of experimentation Marvel should have tried, and should continue to try.
Mind you, such forays into less common approaches can have their cost. It's slightly unclear whether Dani's dream which starts the issue is a different dream to the one immediately following it, in which the mansion is attacked and Xavier killed. Is Dani dreaming the future, or is the red-headed teenager shown there dreaming of the past? Or remembering it? Sienkiewicz's artwork really helps in giving these events a dreamlike quality, but it makes it difficult to understand what's going on. This may be the point, of course, but I like my fractured narratives to have rather more precision to them. It's not confusing because we know Xavier has not yet been shot to death, but because I can't tell who the girl at the top of page 3 actually is.
Whoever is dreaming this, though, its clear it's a memory of the redheaded girl. She's not identified, but from her hair, her reference to her mother helping her with her telekinetic abilities, and her memories of events not yet taken place, it seems pretty clear this is Rachel Summers, last seen trying to rewrite history along with the adult Kitty Pryde in Days of Future Past. Somehow she's now in "our" present, and is looking for the Professor, though right now she doesn't seem to have plucked up the courage to do more than lurk around outside the gate.
Meanwhile, inside the mansion, Sam, Amara and Bobby are busy practicing in the Danger Room, whilst Illyana and Dani (neither one with powers particularly suited for beating up the robots currently in use) observe. Even when they're not fighting foes Dani is no use again, though, she's having trouble integrating with the rest of the team right now, on account of seeing last issue a parallel future in which all of them had signed up with Emma Frost's Massachusetts Academy. Having missed a whole week of their friends' incarceration due to Illyana's imprecise targeting skills, it's clearly occurred to Dani that some of the White Queen's intended damage might already have been done. Who knows what might be buried in their subconscious?
Oh, also; she keeps dreaming she's about to be eaten by a giant demon bear. Which can't be much fun.
The doorbell goes, and Illyana answers it. 'Tis the girl we're assuming is Rachel, but the instant she sees Illyana she freaks out and runs. Apparently Illyana shouldn't be so old just yet. I'd have thought Rachel would be quite pleased to learn the future has already become something different from the hideous extermination of the X-Men she remembers, but then who knows how temporal jet-lag manifests itself?
(We interrupt your scheduled programming to bring you news of Warlock, a jet-black robo-punk from another star system, currently being chased around by his murderous father, who apparently is willing and able to detonate entire planets just in the hopes his son is caught in the blast. Clearly another of the New Mutants most famous members will soon be joining the fold).
Back in the Danger Room, Dani has decided to get some practice of her own in. Where the rest of the team tried their hand against robots, though, Dani plumps for savage bears. When Illyana discovers what's going on, Dani fobs her off by claiming she's practicing her bow skills so as not to be utterly useless against any foe her mental projections are useless against. The young Russian doesn't believe a word of it, and is kind of annoyed at the obvious lie, but really, doesn't Dani's claim make perfect sense? This is exactly the sort of thing she should be doing, especially given her frequent crises of conscience about whether her powers are too torturous for her victims. Far better to shoot them full of arrows instead.
First on the list for a good arrow-stuffing: a giant demon bear. Dani's sick of waiting for the other shoe (paw?) to drop. The bear killed her parents, but it was always her it was after. Time to give it exactly what it wants. Dani drags some Cheyenne warpaint across her face, and strides out into the deepening snowdrifts to call out her family's ancient enemy.
It doesn't take long to get a response.
There's really no chance this could ever end well. Dani has sense enough to generate an image of what the bear fears most - and it's Dani herself, of course - but otherwise, she's a teenage girl going after a supernatural bear twelve times her weight with claws taller than she is. She gets points for managing to loose enough arrows to make the bear decide it's easier just to play dead and get to Dani that way, but in the end she's no less bleeding to death in the snow...
This story takes place over the course of two nights. We can be sneaky here, because there's nothing here that suggests this issue must take place after the July issue of Uncanny X-Men. Illyana looking after Lockheed suggests Kitty has already left, but it's certainly not definitive. All we know is that Xavier is away and the New Mutants are in residence, which means it can't take place alongside UXM #183, in which the New Mutants were away somewhere with Xavier.
We'll therefore start this adventure on the day after the X-Men return, which in turn we'll assume takes place the day after Rogue's adventures with Michael Rossi.
Sunday 22nd to Monday 23rd January, 1984.
X+5Y+328 to X+5Y+329.
"Shoo, Lockheed!" - Magik