Monday, August 5, 2013

NEW MUTANTS #98 - February 1991



The Beginning of the End - Part One
Credits:  Rob Liefeld (plot & art), Fabian Nicieza (script), Joe Rosen (letters), Steve Buccellato (colors)

Summary:  Gideon arranges for one of his minions, Eve, to poison Sunspot’s father.  Meanwhile, Cable and Cannonball train in the Danger Room, as Boom-Boom and Rictor debate over what to do about Wolfsbane.  Later, Deadpool abruptly enters and attacks Cable.  The New Mutants fight back, but it’s the sudden arrival of Domino that rescues Cable.  After Cable ships Deadpool back to his employer Mr. Tolliver, he reviews new potential team members with Domino.  That night, Rictor leaves the team for Genosha, hoping to retrieve Wolfsbane, and Gideon enters Sunspot’s room, informing him his father has died.

Continuity Notes:  

  • This issue marks the debuts of Gideon, Deadpool, and Domino, along with Gideon’s assistants, Adam and Eve (they really catch on).  Domino is actually Copycat in disguise at this point, but the readers won’t discover that until over a year later.  
  • Mr. Tolliver is also mentioned for the first time, although he won’t physically appear until several months later in X-Force(And even more months pass before we learn he’s Cable son, Tyler).  Speaking of Mr. Tolliver, why is he sending Deadpool to kill Cable on the same night (we later learn) he’s sending Copycat to spy on him in disguise as Domino?
  • Gideon’s powers are described as “super-human enhancement assimilation,” which means he can mimic other people’s powers.  Bizarrely, he first exhibits this power when training with robots, not super-humans.
  • Deadpool’s first words to Cable:  “You’re Nathan, right?”  This establishes Cable’s first name, and clearly implies that this is Cable and Deadpool’s first meeting.  While writing the Cable and Deadpool series, Fabian Nicieza seemed to be under the impression that Cable knew Deadpool from his old mercenary days, which doesn’t work.  
  • Deadpool’s given those Orzechowski-style double word balloons, although they’re colored red in this issue.  Beginning with his second appearance, they’re colored yellow, setting the precedent that continued into the first ongoing Deadpool series, which dropped the extra lines around his balloons, but colored his standard word balloons yellow. 
  • Cable shoots laser blasts out his mechanical arm.  The arm we’ll later learn is consumed by the techno-organic virus.
  • Gideon makes casual references to his friendship with Sebastian Shaw in the opening scene.  Later, Sunspot recognizes him as an “old friend.”

I Love the '90s:  Rictor has a giant Bart Simpson poster in his bedroom.

“Huh?” Moment:  Liefeld draws the mansion’s underground complex as if it’s the actual mansion, which is in ruins at this point.  Every other interpretation of the underground level has it slick, metallic, and futuristic.  Liefeld gives some of the rooms wooden walls and floors, and even staircases that lead to…somewhere.  This could work, assuming that the underground level has multiple stories, and it’s not impossible that some of the rooms would have traditional furnishings.  Still, it’s hard to reconcile this with what we’ve seen before.

Review:  Rob Liefeld makes his debut as sole plotter on the series, and inker, and it’s appropriately Liefeldian.  The plot consists of three unrelated characters all suddenly appearing in the team’s allegedly secret headquarters on the same night, some vague hints about Cable’s past, and a few training sequences that involve giant robots.  Oh, and the ongoing Rusty and Skids subplot, the original motivation behind Cable’s introduction in this series, is dismissed by Cable casually saying that it’s “too difficult” to do anything for them now.  That’s commitment to your readers.

In terms of a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end, there’s not a lot here.  If you have the goodwill to assume that there’s a great plan in place for the Gideon and Mr. Tolliver mysteries, this issue might not seem so bad, but I don’t think anyone will tell you these plot threads had satisfactory endings.  To Liefeld’s credit, Domino and Deadpool have gone on to have long lives outside of this issue, although I think much of the credit goes to Nicieza’s scripting abilities.  Nicieza's script also creates a nice dynamic between Cable and Cannonball, which initially seems like a father/son relationship, but takes on a different meaning when you discover Liefeld wanted Cable to be Cannonball's future self at this point. 


So what does Liefeld accomplish artistically, given the freedom to draw and ink however he feels?  There’s a lot of material here if you want to make another one of those “Top 10 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings” lists.  Starting with the cover, Deadpool’s around seven feet tall and standing on straw legs, as the nine-feet-tall Gideon is standing behind him, striking a duck-face while squinting so hard his eyes have disappeared.  Little things like, say, Sunspot’s father drinking a cup of coffee, or even decorating his office or drawing his chair consistently, also seem beyond Liefeld’s grasp.  And, of course, the characters feel the need to spread their legs as far as humanly possible for absolutely no reason during the middle of conversation scenes. Pretty bad stuff, although this issue will probably always have a life on the secondary market due to Deadpool's first appearance.

4 comments:

Teebore said...

Ah, I remember back in middle school receiving this issue from one of my few comic reading friends in a trade for Youngblood #1. Both craptacular Liefeld issues, but I still think I got the better deal, since at least this issue is part of a larger narrative.

The trio of introductions (and continuing departure of pre-existing cast members) makes it very clear that Liefeld has taken the reins, even without looking at a credit box. He'd been on the book for awhile at this point, but really for the first time, this issue reads less like New Mutants and more like Prelude to X-Force.

Speaking of Mr. Tolliver, why is he sending Deadpool to kill Cable on the same night (we later learn) he’s sending Copycat to spy on him in disguise as Domino?

I suppose a case could be made that he hired Deadpool to kill Cable with every intention that he would fail, because Tolliver was also sending in Copycat with instructions to defeat Deadpool in order to ingratiate herself with Cable...except that would be pointless, since Copycat is taking the form of one of Cable's old friends, someone who shouldn't need to ingratiate herself with him.

Oh, and the ongoing Rusty and Skids subplot, the original motivation behind Cable’s introduction in this series, is dismissed by Cable casually saying that it’s “too difficult” to do anything for them now. That’s commitment to your readers.

Heck, I'm mildly impressed Liefeld even bothered to wrap it up even that half-assedly

Scott Church said...

The price on this issue went up almost immediately, retailers were marking up issues of New Mutants on release day of the book because of how hot it was, if you didn't have it in a pull list, it went up in price. I remember people would hit up grocery stores and 7-11's on release days of some of these hot X-Men days to get these issues at cover price to then resell for $5 or more.

I got one of these in one of those Sears Christmas Book packages, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten it.

The "You're Nathan Right?" comment could be in context to there being two people that looked exactly the same and he might not know if it's Stryfe or Nate and so even though they had met before, that might be something he just wanted to double check on.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I remember those days. There would be a line outside the local comic shop, waiting for it to open, when new comics would arrive each week.

I dropped New Mutants when Liefield started on the book, and only jumped on again when X-Force #1 was released, so I've never read the Liefield issues of New Mutants.

With Deadpool an even more prominent member of the Marvel Universe today, this issue's value hasn't suffered, like a lot of over-printed, overly-inflated early '90s hot books.
It's only gone ever upwards in price.

wwk5d said...

"I suppose a case could be made that he hired Deadpool to kill Cable with every intention that he would fail, because Tolliver was also sending in Copycat with instructions to defeat Deadpool in order to ingratiate herself with Cable...except that would be pointless, since Copycat is taking the form of one of Cable's old friends, someone who shouldn't need to ingratiate herself with him."

I had the same fanwank. I guess her defeating Deadpool would prove to Cable she really was Domino, ie, she had the same skills, plus, she would ingratiate herself to the rest of his team as well.

"Heck, I'm mildly impressed Liefeld even bothered to wrap it up even that half-assedly"

If anything, it seems like a left-over Simonson plot he just wanted to jettison asap, along with the cast members he didn't care for.

"this issue reads less like New Mutants and more like Prelude to X-Force."

Marvel could release this issue and the 2 after it as "Countdown To X-Force 1.0!!!"

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