Here Be Monsters
Credits: Louise Simonson (writer), Rob Liefeld (penciler), Tim Dzon (inker), Joe Rosen (letters), Tom Vincent (colors)
Summary: Ghaur frames the New Mutants for the abduction of an Atlantean horn that can summon sea monsters. Namorita and a group of young Atlantean mutants named S.U.R.F. locate the New Mutants on the surface and attack. When she realizes they’re innocent, the heroes team up to stop the monster that Ghaur has summoned. They’re able to bury the monster in the Hudson Canyon, but not before it decimates Atlantis. The New Mutants return to the surface, still looking for a home, but grateful to be alive.
Continuity Notes: The New Mutants are chosen as red herrings by Ghaur because they briefly possessed the horn months earlier in New Mutants #76.
Creative Differences: Looking at the cover, I think it’s obvious that Namorita and the members of S.U.R.F. were added by another artist.
Review: New Mutants annual #5 was never a hot back issue collector’s item, even though it does mark Rob Liefeld’s debut on the title. Considering the massive impact Liefeld’s New Mutants run would have on the entire industry, it’s kind of surprising that so few people seemed to care about tracking this one down. Was Liefeld’s popularity on the title inexorably linked to the debut of Cable? If Liefeld had penciled the entire year of New Mutants stories preceding issue #86 without submitting any of his own ideas, would those issues also languish in obscurity?
My stance when reviewing the early issues of X-Force was that I wouldn’t comb through every panel looking for any artistic shortcoming that could be ridiculed. I wouldn’t ignore the art, either; I just wouldn’t dwell on Liefeld’s weaknesses, since entire websites have already been dedicated to this cause. That’s also my stance on the Liefeld run of New Mutants. Looking through this issue, it seems that Tim Dzon (also credited as “Tom” in the issue) has “mainstreamed” much of the art, even though it’s clearly a Liefeld job. Some of the poses are impossible, many of the facial expressions are inhuman, and occasionally a narrative caption or two has to detail events that simply aren’t depicted by the art. I don’t know if Liefeld is responsible for designing S.U.R.F. (nor do I know what that acronym is supposed to represent), but the team surprisingly doesn’t fall into any of the famous Liefeld clichés…with the exception of Undertow, who might be Liefeld’s first hair-metal warrior figure. (Nice suspenders, bro.)
As a story, this is reasonably comprehensible, even if it is a follow-up to a long-running New Mutants storyline (presumably, this takes place after issue #86, even though it was published months before it), and chapter eleventeen of the endless “Atlantis Attacks” crossover. The premise that Ghaur just so happens to have three followers who look exactly like Sunspot, Warlock, and Wolfsbane is stretching credibility even by 1980’s standards, but the story is still enjoyable as a basic superhero adventure. I purchased this issue as a kid, new to the concept of such things as “annual events,” and I can’t say Liefeld’s art hindered my enjoyment of the story. I certainly thought his style was unusual, but I didn’t think he was killing comics or anything. The next installment of “Atlantis Attacks” is a John Byrne/Walt Simonson collaboration, though, and I easily recognized that issue as one of the “good ones.”
A Case of the Cutes
Credits: Judith Kurzer Bogdanove (writer), Jon Bogdanove (penciler), Hilary Barta (inker), Joe Rosen (letters), Steve Buccellato (colors)
Summary: In a dream, Boom Boom asks the artist drawing her adventures to hook her up with a cute guy. After rejecting Hulk, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Dr. Doom, and more, she asks for someone who’s cute and loveable. He pairs her with Franklin Richards.
I Love the '80s: Boom Boom has posters of Terrance Trent D’Arby, George Michael, and Dirty Dancing on her wall.
Review: No lie, I love all of the late ‘80s annual back-ups that focus on heroines finding dates or ranking the hottest bodies in the Marvel Universe. Jon Bogdanove’s cartooning fits the story perfectly, and it’s a great excuse to see his interpretation of several Marvel heroes. Plus, it’s honestly funny, without coming across as snotty or condescending.