Writers: Nunzio Defilippis and Christina Weir
Artists: Carlo Barberi (p), Avalon Studios (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As the disemboweled Josh lies dying from Rahne's unexpected attack the book jumps back to look at the lives of Rahne, and Laurie, who we discover lived similar lives, as both were raised to be ashamed of their mutant abilities, and encouraged to live insular lives. We also learn that both girls had a mother figure in their lives that kept them from going completely off the rails, and that their entrance into Xavier's school served to give them the means to control and embrace their mutant abilities.
While her less than ideal upbringing was a key element of the character, to the best of my knowledge the only place that really spelled out Rahne's back-story was the "Marvel Graphic Novel" that introduced readers to the New Mutants and given this book was released over twenty years ago, and I imagine it's a bit difficult to locate, this issue's focus on the character is a very smart move. In fact I must confess I had forgotten (blocked out?) some of the sillier aspects of her back-story, like the idea that like Nightcrawler, Rahne was introduced to the reading audience with a Frankenstein style mob hot on her heels, so even I the longtime reader drew something from this refresher course. Now the book does speed past her time in the New Mutants, while her time in X-Factor is reduced to a single plot element. I also have to say I miss the good old fashioned footnotes that gave readers a heads up about the issues that it was drawing the story from as I'm curious about the issue where Rahne confronted her stepfather, and the one where she's robbed of her powers, so I'd greatly appreciate anyone reading this review who knows where these moments took place sending me an e-mail to help me fill this gap. I also have to openly wonder about the idea that given this book does focus its energies on Rahne, I'm curious to see how the book plans on bringing her back into the cast given she looks to be responsible for the death of one of the students, as I doubt they expended all this time and energy on the character only to send her back into comic book limbo.
Carlo Barberi does have the annoying habit of making all his female characters extremely well endowed, but since it's a consistent visual across the board and it was a part of his style when he was working on "Impulse", I guess it's something that I'll simply have to accept. It's a bit of a shame though as all the other aspects of his art do a wonderful job of capturing the youthful nature of this book's younger cast, as they all wear their emotions on their sleeves, and the characters wear clothing that looks pretty fashionable, except for the moments when the idea is being presented that the character is being force to dress in a drab style designed not to draw any attention. I also have to say that while it's not a huge deal, I have to say I did enjoy the panel where we got a look at the entire lineup of the original New Mutants, though I have to confess that part of me wants to issue a complaint that Warlock isn't in the shot, as by the time Shan rejoined the team, Warlock was a regular cast member, and as such he should be in the group shot.
The opposite is true of the half of the issue that centers around Laurie's back-story as the material that we get doesn't really expand on what I already knew about the character, but rather it feels like it's simply repeating the same information that was established in her early appearances. In fact if nothing else her situation mirrors the problem that I had with the character of Rogue, as in the beginning I found her inability to touch others without draining away their memories/powers to be a wonderfully compelling idea but after the first couple years it became clear that the writers really didn't seem interested in expanding beyond the original problem, and eventually her mutant ability and the problems it generated became the only feature of the character that they focused their attention upon, as it became a handy means of generating the drama. Now I'll concede it's a little early to be overly concerned that they might've painted the character of Laurie into a corner, but if nothing else this issue felt like it was moving backwards instead of forward, and it doesn't exactly help matters much that all of the character insight this issue offers up is pretty much exactly in line with the ideas that I already had in place. I mean the idea that Laurie's mutant ability caused her to distrust the feelings that others expressed toward her isn't exactly new information, as it's been the entire hook of the character since her first appearance. In fact the only real new insights we received in this issue are that her father also had this mutant ability, and that her mother is immune to her ability.
Hated, Feared And Damned To The Fiery Pits Of Hell:
This issue leaves the readers off at pretty much the same moment that the previous issue ended with, as it spends most of its time looking at the back-stories of Rahne and Laurie, and while the connections between these two characters isn't immediately obvious, the book does a pretty fair job of mirroring the events that each character encountered in their lives without feeling forced or contrived. I mean they are both the product of an unhappy home life, and both have a mother figure in their life that acted as an anchor. Both characters were taught to be ashamed of their mutant abilities, and this in turn has made them look upon them as a curse that forever stands in the way of their forming normal relationships. Now I wasn't as emotionally invested in either story as much as the writing would've liked me to be, as it's pretty much a reiteration of information that's already been made available, and the new material is pretty much along the line of what I had been expecting. However, the issue does a good job making the new readers familiar with the key moments in Rahne's storied history, though I must confess it would've been nice to get some footnotes, if only to advise the new readers who were of the mind to which issues they should be looking for in the back issue bins.
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