Tuesday, 28 May 2013

NMU #20: "Badlands"

("The same old played-out scenes...")


Oh, I get it.  The New Mutants aren't out west, they're in the "virgin America" of the demon bear's demonic realm.  The giant red sphere containing Dani's operation represents Illyana's wards thrown up to keep the bear out, and it's come back here where its power is strongest to break through.  That makes sense, as far as such things do, I suppose.

It's also brought along Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander to turn them into horrific demon soldiers, which is where most of the interest lies in this issue.  Much of this is standard battle-fare, which, fine, but as usual it's not something I'm interested in talking about at length.  What makes the battle against Messr. Demonbear above average is the sheer unworldly nastiness Sienkiewicz gives the Corsi/Friedlander revenants.

Fucked up, is what that shit is.

Beyond the extraordinary visuals, this is pretty much a run-of-the-mill fight against malevolent supernatural forces, albeit with a rather strange gimmick by which the spreading influence of the demon bear's evil shadow is periodically displayed on a 14 x 10 grid, white on black, like a Rorschach
test dedicated to nastiness.  There are a couple of moments worth briefly talking about amongst the slashing, though.  The first is a quick conversation between Amara and Roberto about allowable tactics when facing the brainwashed, with Amara taking the pragmatic "we'll still be just as dead" stance, and Bobby taking the rather strange position that if it comes down to killing Tom and Sharon or letting themselves get killed, they should choose the latter option, because at least they have a choice in their actions.  That's... utterly deranged, particularly coming from the usually fairly unsympathetic Sunspot.

The second returns us to the ongoing "can Illyana be trusted" subplot, as Illyana stabs Amara with her soulsword to prevent her getting all demoned up by the bear, and Sam mistaking it for treachery.  For all that I can understand why Illyana's history and behaviour makes her a little hard to trust, I'll confess to getting a bit tired of this constant replaying of the angle (Rahne's "och, crivens, but yon lassie be a witch!" is getting real old, too).  Hopefully Amara screaming at Sam over his trigger-happy mistrust can put this to bed for a while.

Eventually, after much running around and slings and arrows and claws and Cannonballs, Illyana finishes things off when she starts stabbing all and sundry with her soulsword.  The bear is destroye, banishing demons all over the place. The New Mutants returned to the hospital, along with Corsi and Friedlander, now trapped in the bodies of Native Americans, and amazingly, Dani's parents, now freed from the body of a demon bear.

All is once again well with the world, except of course for Dani being paralysed.  Fortunately, Dani is part of a very useful extended family, and she's quickly cured by the Morlock healer, er, Healer, on the say-so of Storm (still with powers according to our timeline).  This seems like a pretty sweet deal for Ororo, actually; she gets to spend all her time in her high-falutin' fancy mansion whilst her charges live in the sewer, only coming to the surface when she needs a favour from them.  In later years, Callisto will accuse her of being a piss-poor leader, and it's kind of hard to argue with that. It also means the X-Men have a way to deal with any injury short of death, which rather lowers the stakes of their confrontations.  I can't remember whether this becomes an issue later on, it's something I'll be thinking about as we move forward.


Most of this issue takes place more or less in real time.  The post-battle coda is a little unclear as to timing, but it's certainly possible it all takes place the day after the fight before.


Tuesday 24th January, 1984.



Contemporary Events

It's hard to find much of anything going on on that day other than the Apple release we've already covered.  Ronald Reagan wrote a letter, though, which might be of use to anyone with an exam tomorrow on the topic of Cyprus in the early '80s.

Standout Line

"How're you gonna beat him?!"
"The old fashioned way, of course."
"Very funny." - Sam and Illyana

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