Fight – in the Favela!
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Al Rio (penciler), Bob McLeod (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Guru eFX (colorist)
Summary: Sunspot’s mother, Nina da Costa, is pursued by armed men during Carnival. Sunspot and Warlock are nearby enjoying the festivities when they receive a panicked call from Nina. They rescue Nina and learn she’s recently escaped from Nova Roma. Invaders have enslaved Nova Roma, and Nina’s seeking the Brazilian government’s aid. Meanwhile, Cypher and Magma meet their cellmate, Tiberius Sum, who claims he’s been the Red Skull’s captive for as long as he can remember. The Red Skull enters, with a female lookalike companion, and injects the teens with a mind-control serum. Cypher’s treatment also mutates his body into the Red Skull’s mirror image. Soon, Magik teleports with Cannonball and Selene to Nova Roma, where they run into Sunspot and Warlock. They’re quickly attacked by Cypher, Magma, and Tiberius Sum.
Continuity Notes: Sunspot’s mother is an archeologist who has been living in Nova Roma. She traveled to Brazil with the aid of a teleportation ring, which is only explained by her saying that “Aquilla's people often prove full of surprises.” I have no idea if this ring is connected to Viper’s teleportation ring. (Viper faced the New Mutants in an early storyline, and she’s often a pet character of Claremont’s.)
Not Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Al Rio clearly has no problem presenting realistic depictions of skimpy Carnival outfits.
Review: I didn’t complain about the use of armed goons in the first issue, since it was the opening chapter in the storyline and there was more than enough going on to distract from the bland villains. Two issues of armed goons in a row, however, is much harder to forgive. Making matters worse, Claremont’s decided to dedicate the opening ten pages to a fight scene with the generic henchmen, which is slightly ridiculous. The comic is halfway over before Nina da Costa finally reveals the relevant plot info – Nova Roma has been invaded and she needs help. The scene then shifts to Magma and Cypher’s prison cell, which introduces yet another teenage protagonist into the story. Was anyone desperate to meet another young hero during this retro-project? New Mutants was a book packed with cast members, and unless Claremont has a fantastic plan in store for Tiberius Sum, a part of me is going to assume that he’s eating up space that an established character could be using. That might not be fair, but Claremont’s occasional tendency to cram his plots with characters and lose track of plotlines he’s already set into motion makes me wary. This issue also brings us mind-control and a physical alteration of an existing character, for those of you keeping track of Claremont Clichés at home.
All that said, I am curious to see where this is ultimately going. I think using the Red Skull as a villain is a clever idea; not only because he’s the Marvel Universe’s most famous bigot, but also due to the Nazis’ post-WWII connection to South America. I don’t know if Claremont is going to establish that Nazis have been hiding out in Nova Roma for decades, but as far as lost Marvel Universe civilizations go, it makes sense that the Red Skull would consider the city a strategic asset. The potential for a Selene/Red Skull confrontation, or perhaps even a villainous team-up, is also intriguing. At the very least, this series is paying off the Selene/Magma storyline from the final days of Claremont’s New Mutants run, and the overall tone matches that of the original title.