Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Hey Millennials, I know it seems the 1980’s were, like, ten million years ago, and you seem to dislike Hillary Clinton way more than I do, but can’t we cross the Generation Y/Millenial border and all agree that comics are in need of more diversity even if we disagree on how we achieve it? One answer seems like the NEW MUTANTS. Consequently, allow me to be your comics historian for a moment if you don’t mind, but first, some questions… First of all, do you love Deadpool? Therefore, are you excited to see Cable in the next Deadpool movie? Isn’t Emma Frost totally kick-ass? Excited for FX’s new show Legion? Wondered where Magik (Illyana Rasputin) came from? Finally, don’t comics need more diverse characters that are portrayed three-dimensionally? If you answered “yes” to one or more of the preceding questions and you haven’t read volume 1 of Chris Claremont and Bob McCleod’s NEW MUTANTS, the first X-Men spinoff ever, then what the hell are you waiting for? First of all, NEW MUTANTS contains the first appearance of Cable (NEW MUTANTS #87). DEADPOOL debuts in this comic (NEW MUTANTS #98). Furthermore, Emma Frost is wonderfully fleshed out as a villain. She’s amazing as the headmistress of a team of mutants rivaling the X-Men and New Mutants. Most noteworthy, Legion debuts as the autistic and disassociative son of Professor Charles Xavier. Magik had a soul and was actually rather charming and sweet (NEW MUTANTS #15). Diversity? What comic book team roster today probably compares to Native American and Vietnamese female team leaders with a team consisting mostly of women? Answer: #None. What’s the moral of this story? NEW MUTANTS volume 1 is the greatest comic you probably never read. It tackles issues of racism, globalism, and sexuality in addition to mental health, and growing up with incredible and groundbreaking art from Bob McCleod, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Rob Liefeld. Most noteworthy, this comic was a beacon and precursor to the kind of forward thinking that would come to be a definitive aspect of comics culture. Therefore, read it. In conclusion, read it, but first, listen to this podcast. The following ComicsVerse-ers appear in this podcast: Justin Gilbert AlbaChief Executive Officer, Podcast HostView ProfileJamie RiceVP of Content, Culture Head EditorView ProfileDr. Gabby “Bird” BeansPodcaster, Doctor, BirdView ProfileNolan BensenPodcaster & ContributorView Profile Transcript: Jaime Rice: I’m Jamie. Gabby Beans: I’m Gabby. Nolan Bensen: I’m Nolan. Genesis: I’m Genesis Tuyuc. Justin Alba: And I’m Justin. All: And this is ComicsVerse! Nolan: This podcast will include several spoilers for the 100 issues of NEW MUTANTS that we will be discussing so if you would like to read them please read them first and then listen to the podcast. Justin: Welcome to another episode of the ComicsVerse podcast. I’m your host, ComicsVerse CEO Justin Alba. As always, I’m joined by a panel of ComicsVerse friends, employees and interns. Before we introduce everybody, I just want to get into the subject of today’s podcast which is New Mutant’s Volume One came out in the eighties, 100 issues bunch of crossovers, written mostly by Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, later Rob Liefeld. But it was also co-created with Bob McLeod, who we interviewed many times at various comic conventions so definitely be sure to check that out. You want to YouTube ComicsVerse and Bob McLeod. Just a reminder you can find us on the web at ComicsVerse.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/ComicsVerse, on Twitter @ComicsVerse on Tumblr, at ComicsVerse.tumblr.com, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/ComicsVerseTV. Definitely check out our videos we’re gonna be revamping our YouTube page really soon so I’m really excited about that. This is kind of like an all-star cast. We have some rather veteran ComicsVerse faces and we have some new ones. So Gabby, ComicsVerse podcaster, actor extraordinaire. Gabby: And medical doctor. Justin: And medical doctor, as well as as well as one of ComicsVerse’s breakout stars if I do say so myself. Gabby: Okay. Justin: How are you? Gabby: I’m doing great, Justin. Justin: Are you? Gabby: Yep. Justin: Are you excited to discuss the NEW MUTANTS? Gabby: Woo! Justin: That’s what I love to hear and Nolan is joining us. Colombia University PhD student in… Nolan: Chinese history. Justin: Yes, and the ancient Ming dynasty second half. Nolan: You could say ancient. Justin: Oh just the Chinese Ming dynasty? Whatever. Nolan: First half of the modern Ming dynasty. Justin: How does it feel to be back, Nolan? Nolan: Feels good, it’s been a long time since we did a podcast. I missed it. Justin: Genesis, new ComicsVerse intern. Been shooting a ton of stuff been in some videos that are coming out. How are you? Genesis: I’m good. Justin: And people might remember you from the Monstress podcast which will have come out a couple weeks before this. Genesis:I hope so. Justin: How can a podcast that I do be complete without Miss Jamie Rice? Jaime: Thank you I feel the same way. Justin: Jamie is a kick-ass editor. How is editing going, Jamie? Jaime: It’s going awesome, the work is great. Justin: Be sure to check out the articles that Jamie, not only writes but also edits. We’re gonna be talking about NEW MUTANTS today and I’m really, really excited about that because it’s one of my favorite comics. Like I was saying, it came out in the eighties. I grew up sort of reading it in the nineties the older issues. I remember when issue 100 came out though in the nineties. And when Deadpool— a lot of people don’t know that Deadpool first came out of this comic book. They think that he is—a lot of people don’t even know that he’s tied to the X-Men world but he actually—yep first came out in NEW MUTANTS ’98 I believe. His first appearance NEW MUTANTS ’87 and probably an annoying story that my uncle Mike who is now in his nineties hates telling us that he used to buy all my comics for me and as a gift, spend several thousand dollars buying me NEW MUTANTS ’87. Five years ago, I looked up the price and it was worth, like, $4, so yeah. Anyway, sorry for that comic crash in the nineties but for those of you that don’t know about NEW MUTANTS they are an off-shoot or spin-off of X-Men comics and Nolan is gonna give us a little background about how they got started and all of that. Nolan: That I am. So, most people probably know Cannonball as the New Mutant who has enjoyed the most inclusion in the X-Men proper. Justin: Or maybe Magik. Nolan: Magik today, yeah. Cannonball from the nineties and 2000’s Magik today, for sure. Justin: Right. Nolan: Since she was brought back from the dead, which I know is a very rare thing in X-Men. But there are four other original New Mutants and four other New Mutants who joined the team early on in its history as well as a cast of seven villains who are their sort of opposites. The other members besides Cannonball are Wolfsbane, whose name is Rahne Sinclair. She was Moira MacTaggert’s adopted daughter who was viewed as a demon by Scottish protestant fundamentalists during her childhood because she turns into a wolf-form and into a hybrid-wolf-form and has the sense powers that you might imagine such a character having. Karma, whose name is Xi’an Coy Manh— Justin: Woo! Nolan: What? Justin: Oh I like Karma. Nolan: You like Karma? Okay we can talk a lot about Karma today. Justin: Right, yeah. Nolan: —Who is South Vietnamese, extremely powerful psychic. She’s very powerful but she only has one ability. She can just possess people and she can possess anybody no matter how tough they are against other powers. Justin: Even alligators. Nolan: Even like super strong psychics, she can possess them. Justin: Yes, but alligators, you seem unimpressed by the alligators, Nolan. Nolan: I’m not that impressed by that. I think that Justin: She possessed an alligator and then ate it. Nolan: Whoa, that’s cool. Justin: Yeah you should have read that issue. Nolan: I think that Mirage’s animal powers are better than hers honestly. Justin: You think who’s? Nolan: Mirage’s animal powers are better than Karma’s. Justin: Her animal powers? Nolan: Yeah well the way she can communicate with animals. Justin: Oh, yes. But she can’t anymore because she lost her powers in M-day—spoiler alert. Nolan: Yeah I don’t know how, we’re not gonna talk about the whole 30-year arc of these powers. Justin: No just the original volume one to 100. Sorry, Nolan, I digress. Nolan: That’s okay. Justin: Please continue. Nolan: Mirage, Dani Moonstar, has taken on the most powers since her original role which is not a bad thing I think. Justin: Ow! Nolan: She’s just a character who is a psychic and can learn to use it in a lot of different ways. At first, she has no control over them. All she can do is talk to animals and spontaneously cause people to see their own greatest fears. But eventually she’ll have like Valkyrie powers and all kinds of crazy stuff. Like Cannonball, she has some dead parents. Justin: Cannonball’s parents aren’t dead. Nolan: At least one dead parent, his dad’s dead. Justin: Oh his dad but not his mom, yeah. Nolan: Yeah. She is a Cheyenne individual, which is probably the most groundbreaking aspect of her character in the X-universe, maybe in comics in general. The last original member of the New Mutants is Roberto da Costa, code name Sunspot, who is the child of a biracial family in Brazil a very wealthy family who can absorb sunlight to generate super strength and super toughness in an alternate form and who does not have any dead parents but who’s parents don’t get along and who’s girlfriend dies right away. Justin: His parents die soon too. Nolan: Oh that’s right, well his mom. Then his dad dies? Justin: Yes. Nolan: When does that… Justin: He actually is now a member of the new Avengers with Cannonball and he’s the leader. He’s funding the whole thing and he became the man, the Black King or the White King or the hellfire? Nolan: Black King I think, Black King. Justin: Yeah Black King. Nolan: The nicest of all Black King’s. Justin: Yes. Nolan: Second nicest maybe Magneto, but he’s White King. Justin: Yes, yeah let’s not get our king colors confused, shall we? Even though I have no idea which they are. Nolan: Now, there are a lot of other New Mutants members and there is a kind of interesting relationship between them and their others, their opposites the Hellions. Early on in the run, four characters are added to the NEW MUTANTS and they are definitely core New Mutants. There were more characters added later who are not as essential. These characters are Magma whose name is Amara Juliana Olivians Aquilla. She’s the heiress to a Roman City state that has existed deep in the jungles of the Amazon ever since like Ancient Roman times. Justin: Yes. Nolan: That is discovered early on in the NEW MUTANTS comic and she has the power to turn into a magma form and to control tectonic movements and generate fire and fly, which is cool. She is the earliest edition, then I believe Magik joins the team, Colossus’s younger sister who can create teleportation discs that she can throw or just use. Justin: Where do they come out of? Nolan: Her hands. Justin: Okay just checking because I thought she would poop and then just get up and be like, oh look there’s a disc. Nolan: I don’t think so, I don’t think that they would do that. This is a comic book for children. Justin: I know. I’m just saying that… Jaime: Kids would love that though. Justin: There are proper orifices. Gabby: She’s not a goose. She’s not a disc goose, she’s a woman. Nolan: She’s a dignified person. She really, no she has a lot of dignity. Gabby: She was trained in the abyss. Nolan: That’s true, she spelt her whole life in this demi-plane called Limbo where demons taught her to use magic. Justin: You act like no-one’s ever heard of Limbo before. Nolan: Well Limbo is a word but it means a specific thing in X-Men. Justin: True, that’s true. Nolan: It doesn’t necessarily mean in other context. Justin: This is true. Nolan: Then, last but not least, a pair of characters are introduced in the same arc. One of them is a dude who has the very modest but enviable mutant power of being able to speak all languages and decipher all things that are language-like such as math and his name is Cypher. That’s his code name, he’s Douglas Ramsey. They bring him in to interpret the expressions of very alien being that is an alien that is a techno-organic being called Warlock who lands on earth fleeing his society. And like all the other members, he is a teenager in a sense who has a kind of rocky relationship with the previous generation. In his case, he’s the heir to the monarchical position in this alien society and their right of passage is that to inherit rulership he has to kill his father and his father tries to kill him to prevent him from doing that. He doesn’t want to be involved in this so that’s why he flees that society and he’s a gentle being but incredibly powerful because he can shape shift, he can spread his techno-organic nature to other things by touch and he can interface with machines. He’s probably one of the most powerful members of the team. Justin: Agreed, that was a very awesome summary. Okay so it’s interesting because when I wrote notes on what to write in the script I think we’re gonna go into all this stuff in a second but some of the themes that came to my mind were guilt, revenge, fear and overcoming ones own obstacles. I’m gonna ask a bunch of questions about that later but I just wanted to bring that up as something that I was struck with when I was writing the script. Justin: I wish that if I was writing a script about more modern comics that I felt themes as strongly as these involved in them. Unfortunately, that’s not true and I don’t think that it’s because of me I think probably the writing in some comics has changed to exclude that in an effort to make certain comics more light. That being said, one of the reasons why I love this comic is because it’s so diverse. Comics nowadays, Marvel and DC are making such a huge effort to appeal to a wider audience by becoming more diverse. I kind of wanted to ask everybody obviously you guys know Marvel is trying to be more diverse nowadays. We’ve all seen the covers Genesis you’ve been covering Red Wolf. We know the Avengers team now consists of Falcon who is Captain America is part of the team. Ms Marvel is on the team Miles Morales who is half black and half Puerto Rican the new Spiderman is on the Avengers. Justin: When you look at that and the efforts that Marvel and DC comics are doing to become more diverse does the original NEW MUTANTS comics stand up to that? And if you want to talk about, for example when Len Wein and Chris Claremont and several other people created the second team or actually, we found out third team of X-Men which consists of Storm, the original Thunderbird Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler you guys can talk about that too. So does anyone have anything to add about that? Jaime: When they have the first issue it’s so clearly international in a way, it’s like we’re gonna look at all of these different small stories around the world of all of these people dealing with their mutant powers manifesting and I think that’s a nice change because it kind of feels like what’s been happening a lot and it’s not necessarily a bad thing nowadays is that people kind of do a one-off with this new character that’s different and/or diverse and it’s like, oh people like it so we’ll just throw it into the team. Whereas with this comic, it was kind of like the main conception behind it was this international we all struggle with these kind of problems concepts and I think that was really nice. It was kind of based it’s one of the things that makes X-Men really great a lot of the time is that it was based there’s a lot of different kinds of people in this world and we all struggle with similar issues even though they’re different issues individually we all have them. So I think that it was nice, that could have been a lot. In the conception of the book that was kind of the point of it. When you looked at all these different spaces around the world. I thought this was very nice, very international and very not necessarily like a diversity tribe but rather this is what this book is about. Gabby:Obviously, when you talk about X-Men the whole metaphor, like the extended metaphor of being a mutant, being someone who is outside of or ostracized from society. I think that concept in tandem with the diverseness of the cast shows that the experience of feeling ostracized is something that has a cultural aspect but then also can have a more universal aspect. I think that’s kind of cool. Nolan: I think one thing about that first international team in X-Men is that it’s diverse in a very Cold War kind of way. Justin: I do think it’s significant to mention that Dani Moonstar, a native American character in the 1980’s, 1982, is made leader of a team. Her and Xi’an, I think are the biggest leaders of the team. Nolan: Yeah! Justin: And Xi’an happens to be Vietnamese. This is kind of gonna lead into my second question which is what do you guys think of the impact? Well actually, before we get into that I do want to say that I think that if you compare the NEW MUTANTS that came out in 1982 and put it up to really any comic today that it is diverse, still. It’s still probably more diverse than any team coming out today. Genesis: I appreciate that you noted the time period it came out and it is, because I’m covering Red Wolf and being new to comics as well. There’s still the diversity in comics or at least in NEW MUTANTS and Red Wolf still kind of superficial. You can still tell that it’s not written by the communities itself or at least like an artist from the community. I appreciate the effort and the inclusion of these characters that are Vietnamese, like Xi’an and Cheyenne, who, Dani Moonstar, is from Cheyenne Native American but there is still a lot to be said about how diversity is shown in NEW MUTANTS and also how they tap into tropes of these cultures. Justin: Do you think that there’s something to be said though about the fact that I think three or four years earlier I think we talked about this Genesis on a separate occasion that you have Marlon Brando not accepting his Oscar. Having a Native American woman come up and tell everyone that he cannot accept this because of how Native American’s are treated. Do you think there’s something to be said about the fact that the creators of this comic even tried to get this into people’s heads. Genesis: I think so, I think it does say a lot about the creators and what they I mean its difficult for me to see artists not reflect or just touch the topic about what’s going on in their social atmosphere political atmosphere, you know what I mean? That’s ’cause in my opinion that’s what artists do. So I definitely think that, yeah they were reflecting the times and they definitely were addressing and giving their opinion through these characters in their own way. There’s a long way to go to represent minorities, I guess you can say in a way that it’s like, oh man they know exactly what they’re doing these people seem exactly like my neighbor or like my mother. Gabby: I completely agree with you and I’m torn because I think that for the period this was coming out having a first nations person who is a main character and who’s history and emotional reality is explored in depth is pretty progressive. When we talk about superheroes we talk about the aspirational sort of values of a culture and so when you have someone who is not of the dominant culture in that position it does really great representational work because it means that yes, this person can be exceptional in this way. However, obviously, there is a kind of superficiality to how her culture is shown in the same way like when we were in the Storm podcast and we talked about her African-ness, how that was shown but it’s crazy because even today I cannot think of any pieces of mainstream culture that I’ve seen that’s dealt fully with the life and experience of a First Nations person. Even I remember I was watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s I think it was a Golden Globes acceptance speech and he was like, I want to thank all the First Nations people your story is finally told. When this is a movie about a white frontiersman so it’s something that we’re still dealing with. Nolan: That’s the thing, that’s what’s aspirational about it is that instead of having a bunch of people from other highly developed countries who represent the main ethnicities of those countries except for maybe Kurt, I don’t know if he does or not. Then what you have is someone from America. You have America dealing with its own oppression someone who has been oppressed in the United States instead of evading that and pretending that diversity just means a global tension rather than and in the other case, you have someone from Vietnam where America has recently been perpetrating atrocities. Justin: I absolutely agree. I think it’s kind of groundbreaking to have a Vietnamese character, especially as the most powerful character in the beginning of the most the one who has a really sad story that deals with her uncle and her twin and her brother and sister. I think about if I was seven-year old in 1982 imagine being a seven-year-old kid and reading this and saying, hey, there’s a Vietnamese character oh, weird, we just had this whole Vietnam war. Jaime: There’s something to be said about just having the depiction in general. You were saying there really isn’t a strong presence even now and like Leonardo DiCaprio saying we’re doing it, it’s like you’re not doing it. It’s like even at some points you’re like maybe this isn’t like a Sherman Alexie novel but it’s still doing something by putting it there. Justin: I definitely see where everyone is coming from and especially, Genesis. Genesis also you having done a Native American video which people should check out online, right? Genesis: Yes, they should. Justin: What’s it called? Genesis: So it’s Indigenous people today 2015 and I shot it with a couple of friends at NYU where I studied linguistics and blah, blah, blah. Basically another, it’s just a short video talking about the importance of celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus day and I definitely agree that’s a great point to start a conversation about these cultures and talk about mainstream and why there aren’t as many brown and black people, artists and what not definitely do agree that this was ground-breaking in many ways and still is. Justin: An important point that we’re all making is that, yes, it’s awesome these characters are introduced to an American society, which would not have been introduced to them without these wonderful creators bringing them to the forefront. But also yes, it would have been amazing especially now that Marvel and DC are pushing so much more diversity if we get people who actually have first-hand experience of lives like these to write the characters. What do you think—oh so we kind of talked about this—but does anyone have anything to sort of add about the impact? If you think that there was any at all at the time the NEW MUTANTS was released in time in terms of its diversity for someone reading it? Nolan: I think you mentioned, Gabby, certain educational aspects to X-Men and I definitely see that in NEW MUTANTS. For instance, when they go to Brazil and they’re there for Carnival. There’s a lot of stereotypes that are drawn out. But you can imagine a 14-year-old never having heard of these things in the eighties and being exposed to them for the first time and I think that diversity, such as it is it’s a limited diversity, does have an educational quality for instance in the first issue when I think it’s the first issue. When Dani Moonstar says no Professor X is a white person I hate white people. Justin: Oh yeah that’s Marvel Graphic Novel number four which is the first appearance of NEW MUTANTS. Nolan: Exactly, that’s the introduction of her character and it’s like, I could see a lot of parents telling their kid not to read this after she says, “I hate white people.” But she says it and that’s educational. Gabby: Oh yeah and that’s totally one of the most real moments of the comics in terms of, I think, her portrayal is when it was at her grandfathers like, oh this is your new caregiver. It’s like, a white man? Hell no. I think that really shows, and I think it points back to your point, Nolan, about dealing with America’s own dirty laundry as opposed to presenting an international team in this sort of clean, cosmopolitan kind of way. Actually showing the deep hatreds and divides that we have on a social level and not just a good versus evil kind of level. Justin: So I mentioned earlier that the themes that I was kind of struck by some of them were in the early issues anger, fear, revenge, self-loathing, guilt and I wanted to ask which theme put forward by the comics towards the beginning of the run resonated most with each of you? Jaime: For me, I would say a lot about Dani Moonstar but I think initially, she kind of pulled ahead as the best character so for me, I think it was like it wasn’t necessarily anger but it was this confusion about where to go with a being in between two worlds type of situation. And I think it’s one of the other reasons why I really enjoyed Illyana, later or Magik because she was kind of like had this amazing dark side and pull between the two worlds. So I think for me, it was kind of—I think it was not necessarily anger but it was kind of those characters had a choice I don’t know, I think is probably the best theme for me. So for me it was kind of that decision to choose to stay with the team or to leave the team. Kind of like a choose your own destiny type situation which I really enjoyed. Justin: Would you say it was about the decision between right and wrong or the decision between holding yourself back and moving forward and moving on? Jaime: Yeah, I think it was kind of I think it was almost a moral decision but which was made even better by the idea. It’s kind of like, you want them to be a part of the X-Men but there’s also an asset where it’s not even like what’s best, it was really great because it blurred the lines of morality. Kind of choosing what is good but when you don’t quite know what good is for you and what good is for the world. Nolan: I think that the twin-related themes of loss and perseverance are very strong in all the characters. You read it and it has this kind of lighthearted quality despite what you’re being told is that awful tragedies have happened to almost all of these characters and you really think of them as idealistic and perseverance and this is a major difference from Generation X which is the sort of second NEW MUTANTS. Justin: Right. Nolan: Like aloof and bored, like the actual Generation X. Justin: Right. Nolan: Whereas these characters, they’re just so plucky. Gabby: I think one of the themes that I really enjoyed thinking about and seeing in the books was the theme of self-actualization or overcoming fear of self or self-loathing or something. I think that what Nolan says about the almost dissonance between the horror of these people’s backstories and their indomitable will and lust for life to me it really just feels and reminds me of being a teenager and having the sort of almost bipolar experience of feeling really feeling crushed by your own inadequacies and insecurities and your family history or whatever. And then also just being so hopeful for the future and so ready to take your place in the world. And I think that, as everyone said, is really exemplified by Dani’s storyline and even though all of the mutant’s kind of encounter the New Mutants.They all kind of encounter troubles because of their powers and out of virtue of being mutants, she is the one—I think Rahne is arguably also in this boat—but I think they all kind of take pride in the fact that they have these, or at least find some sort of sense of self-worth in their powers. But I think Rahne because of the Rahne definitely does find pleasure in her powers but she feels conflicted because of her religious upbringing but Dani definitely has a real conflict about whether or not the fact that she is different in this way; if that is a good thing and whether or not she should just go back into the wilderness where she can’t inflict people’s worst fears upon them. I think that that’s really, you know, seeing her go from this place of fear and hopelessness and confusion into a place of strength and self-possession, is really cool and for teen audiences especially I think would be really important and kind of a light in the darkness of what it is sometimes to be an adolescent. Justin: I very much agree with you actually. I think self-acceptance from you is a big theme that resonated, specifically with Dani specifically Rahne Sinclair, Wolfsbane. Karma I thought was really interesting in the beginning because even though she was terrified of herself and her power, she learned that she had to use it in order to survive and I thought that was pretty interesting. Just overall, you can even just say a couple words for this but what were your just general first impressions when you started reading it maybe after like the first five or six issues? Jaime: I would say I really liked it. I think it kind of relates to the diversity aspect we were talking about but I really liked, I always like books that I feel like have really strong characters in them. So for me with all of their losses and the way they were already starting to develop, I immediately felt a really strong connection to all of the characters and all of their struggles and I thought their tragedies were extremely poignant. So I think for me, initially I enjoyed it because I felt a really strong sense of connection emotionally to the problems that these kids were all going through. Gabby: Yeah I absolutely agree with Jamie. I think that the character backstories make you really, really feel for these characters and really want to know how the story will play out because the nature of the tragedies are such that you’re not really sure whether or not they’re going to cohere as a team. And you’re not really sure whether or not—I don’t think it’s certain at any point that all of these people are going to stay on the New Mutants or whether or not they’ll go off their own way and I think that’s really interesting there’s not a sense of determinism. You’re just like I don’t know how these personalities are gonna work together. Genesis: I think Gabby has pointed out something that I really liked was that there were so many personalities in the first issue like the first issue of NEW MUTANTS you read that they’re in the danger room or every single person is going through the danger room and for me, that was a lot of fun and I love stories that get into it right away it depends on what the artists and the creators are aiming for as well but for me that just pulled me right in. I think them dealing with their powers and then you see some of them excel and others not so much. You see them struggle a little bit more so I just thought that was a really interesting and fun way to start a comic about teenagers who are doing exactly that exploring their powers and exploring their abilities. Justin: So we talk about the diversity of New Mutants and how diverse it was at the time. Soon after the comic book starts they add Magma Illyana or however it was pronounced by Nolan which was probably much better than my pronunciation who is from Nova Roma which is like an Ancient Roman colony that somehow survived in the Amazon jungle for thousands of years. She’s obviously a Pagan woman, Illyana Colossus’ younger sister, she has the power of course to control Limbo, well not the power but she grew up in Limbo and controls it and she has the power to, again, poop out teleport discs. Gabby: Not poop. Justin: Not poop, sorry, they come out of her hands. Kitty Pryde, of course a Jewish woman but these are all white woman and you know, two of them are blonde and then we’re adding Cypher later another just typical blonde guy. So do you think the addition of any of them to the team in any way diluted a sense of diversity in the comic? If you think they added something to the team and the story what is it that they added conversely? Jaime: Magik or Illyana, as I mentioned before I really enjoyed her because of her kind of like pull to the darkness that she’s constantly fighting with and dealing with so I think that, I don’t know, it’s kind of like one of those odd situations where we talked about how like with the first, when we had the first X-Men we had the woman character and we were all like that’s really surprising to have a woman superhero. And it’s kind of like you have this weird moment where I like there’s all these women characters being added but they all kind of look the same. That’s a huge problem and I feel like that’s still a very prevalent problem but there were some interesting stuff I think at least with their personality types. Magma is actually kind of like Fauny especially as she goes on and I think she has some really intense power and so I think it kind of just comes down to one of those awkward moments where you have to be like I appreciate that you’re all here but you’re all very white. So I have to be like, oh well okay you have interesting character pieces but you’re just not diverse. Then you’re like well shall we just color it up? Like I don’t know, I always prefer more diversity because it’s always more interesting inherently because the world we live in is interesting and complex like that. But I do think that there was a lot especially for me with Magik just because of her pull to the dark side and her being in between. That was interesting but I definitely think that there were other interesting stories to tell as well that definitely weren’t told. Justin: Do you think, Jamie, that it become more of a feminist book adding three or four females to it? Jaime: Yeah. I think inherently, in some ways it has to be just because they’re all kind of different types of woman and I think that it was also inherently feminist in some ways whenever Dani would star very clearly stood out as the most complex leader character. So I think that for me, I always enjoy more being added because there’s a million different stories to be told, especially about women that haven’t been told before so for me, I think yes. For me, it’s always a good representation technically especially because sadly, we need it more, all the time. So I think yes and I think that they’re fairly complex so I appreciate it. Justin: I also want to say this NEW MUTANTS I’m sure passes the Bechdel test, right? Jaime: I’m fairly certain, yeah. Gabby: I mean, I have a really small point. I agree that Illyana is one of the characters that the problem I have is not with the volume of women or necessarily the genre of women that are included as more women come to the series. It’s more just like, what purpose do they serve in forwarding the story? I felt like I really understood why Illyana was part of the story and I feel like she was more fleshed out than Magma or whatever any of the other characters. Nolan: Cypher. Gabby: Yeah, I just felt like at certain points—I think, Jamie, you said in your answer just now that you said set pieces or just like I don’t know, plot points or something. They just felt, I don’t know, I just didn’t understand necessarily why it was important to include these characters in the story and that just might be my thin reading but I think, I don’t know, at certain points I was just like, what? I don’t really understand why these characters are here. Nolan: All four of Magik, Cypher, Magma and Warlock add something and what I can say first is that Magik and Warlock both add things that writers want that then it’s their job to flesh out well and they may or may not have done a good job. But Warlock introduces space to the team which was becoming a major aspect of X-Men and Magik introduces magic to the team which very soon as X-Men became a mainstream title in Marvel was gonna play a big role in these as Guardian crossovers that were happening. I think today we consider it normal that X-Men has magic involved in it but for the first 15 years or so it did not have any sorcery at all that I know of. Certainly, it’s only in Red Con that Scarlet Witch is related to the X-Men at all. Justin: And now Red Con that she’s not. Nolan: Well yeah, whatever. So they add these kinds of avenues that writers can then go down later on, if they do it well. So at least they’re an opportunity. Then, Cypher is more questionable. He is certainly a very thin character I think that’s why they killed him off. Justin: The writer’s hated him. Nolan: Yeah. But he is the first X-Man who has a power that I would want to have, you know? It doesn’t have too many complications there’s no big draw-back to it. In the real world, it’s very useful. Justin: You can still be handsome. Nolan: Yeah, sure. Justin: I was referring to Cypher, yeah but you can too, yeah. Nolan: Yeah, no. Then Magma, I mean, what Magma adds I think is she’s another character who’s naive like Cannonball she has a different kind of naivete that can be interesting her unfamiliarity with the modern world is sometimes interesting and most importantly I think she adds in a great villain in the form of Selene who I didn’t even know about as a kid and having read stuff in recent years that makes me realize how cool of a villain Selene is I just add her to the roster of great villains that X-Men is a contender for greatest comic villains basically. So I’m glad for the whole Amara Aquilla scenes because Selene is awesome. Justin: A lot of people don’t know Selene pre-dates Apocalypse in terms of… Gabby: Whoa. Justin: She is the oldest mutant I think she is 10,000 years old or something. Nolan: Yeah. Justin: Just kidding, 17. Genesis:: When I was reading it and I didn’t really notice the inclusion of these characters as they’re making it more white I just thought they were diversifying the abilities in the team their superpowers. So I don’t know, I just kind of like— Justin: You went with it. Genesis: Yeah exactly. I just went with it. Justin: It worked for you. Genesis: Yeah, it started off really strong then it’s like, there’s different mutants out there that have special abilities. Especially Magma, she doesn’t even know and she’s thrown into the volcano and she finds out that she has these powers. In that story, in that issue I think it’s like ten? You also see the other characters their role and their leadership evolving like their roles within New Mutants team. It does, I think they do bring a lot. The New Mutants, I mean the new inclusions into the team just so it kind of brings up situations that perhaps the first NEW MUTANTS wouldn’t have encountered before. Not only dealing with your own powers but also helping other fellow mutants deal with theirs and understanding their powers. Justin: I know probably only Nolan and Jamie can answer this question but Emma Frost is one of the main antagonists in NEW MUTANTS for those of you who don’t know. And a lot of people don’t realize that her character was so tremendously fleshed out in NEW MUTANTS in the first volume, One to 100. Now she’s currently one of the most popular characters in X-Men. She’s actually in Missing in Action which will be back soon as Cathy who now works for Marvel says, “Emma Frost is Evergreen and it won’t be long before she comes back.” And also for a shameless plug we did an entire two-hour podcast on Emma Frost and we talk about her origin story and she’s a fascinating character, one of my favorites so I hope you guys check that out. Since you know Emma Frost in the Bill Morrison era and the post-Morrison era, an astonishing X-Men. How do you reconcile that Emma Frost with this Emma Frost? I know I was lucky enough in the nineties to read her journey from villain to anti-hero to co-leader and head mistress to the X-Men. I’m not sure if you read that or not if you haven’t, can you see the new Emma and the old Emma and vice versa? Jaime: I think that I see a lot of the modern day Emma in this Emma, at least in the sense of her commitment to her students, especially whenever she kind of gets to be in charge of the New Mutants and that whole situation with Magneto. And she is trying to help them and clear their brains. And she looks at Rahne and she’s like this kid is really screwed up. I feel like she has this really intense sense of even though at that point in history she’s still obviously evil and works for the Hellfire club she also has this sense of understanding of the struggle of these kids and I think that once you kind of flesh that out later on with the backstories that we get and the depictions we get later you understand more of why that happens. But I do think it’s definitely a trait that she already had. I think it came out of a natural place they’re putting in with New Mutants especially in her Firestar incarnation. Like she very much she clearly has this really strong affinity for the kids and a really strong understanding of the kids. I think that that’s one of Emma’s greatest qualities it’s like one of the things that gets thrown in her face later on and Grant Morrison, whatever Jean like throws all the dead students she’s had in her life— Justin: Right. Jaime: Like that’s the most distressing concept to her. I also think that her commitment to molding and helping other kids maybe not become just quite the same as she is in her adult life is very strong and even subtly present all the time in NEW MUTANTS. Nolan: Firestar run is the perfect thing to bring up for Emma. Justin: Oh totally. Nolan: She is in some ways just the plain old villain of that run quite simply but at the same time. Justin: She kills her horse, kills Butter Rum. Nolan: She kills, yeah she kills the horse. Jaime: Poor Butter Rum. Nolan: And she blames it on the girl herself who loves the horse. Justin: In know. Hashtag Butter Rum, yeah. Nolan: She just uses it to undermine the girl’s identity it’s terrible but since there are so few characters in there you do get way more page time, I don’t know, with them. Justin: Right. Jaime: Yeah. Nolan: And you get a sense of her complexities and you mentioned Genesis just now helping mutants understand their powers and this is one of Emma’s huge things that she’s been doing throughout NEW MUTANTS towards the Hellion’s end. There was New Mutants who would interact with her who were willing to, towards Ice Man in the early nineties to a lot of characters she has this cutthroat attitude that you know, very similar to Magneto’s in a way. You must understand your powers or die and I will help you at all costs. Gabby: Listeners at home can’t have seen it but Nolan was making some very strong gestures with his fist. Justin: So we’re gonna talk about the Hellion’s for a second. They’re Emma Frost, rival team to the mutants they’re introduced early in the series. We’re kind of running out of time for this segment so I just want you guys to answer are they a worthy opponent to the New Mutants? I’m just gonna go through them quick I know that you’ll help me, Nolan. There’s Jetstream, the dude from Morocco. I know there’s Roulette, Jennifer Stavros and who’s blonde and she has Luck discs also that come out of the pooper. Nolan: Roulette and Tarot suck, but the other ones- Jaime: Tarot— Justin: I love Tarot! Jaime: —is so weird. Justin: No I love Tarot, I like Catseye. Jaime: Her power is really annoying because when she uses it sometimes, somebody will be like oh why, I tripped! They’re like oh my luck is just bad today. It’s the weirdest power, it’s the weirdest power. Justin: Wait, Tarot or Roulette? Nolan: Both. Jaime: Oh no, it’s Roulette I think. I can’t stand that power. Justin: They blend together. To me Jetstream is a little thin too, I think. But the other three of them are all really interesting for each of them being a kind of combination of two New Mutants in a way. Like Empath is like the child of a wealthy Central or South American family who has somewhat racist— Justin: I think he’s Spanish. Nolan: Hispanic traits, he’s from Spain? Justin: Yeah, I believe so. Nolan: Oh, okay. But his powers are more like Karma’s than like Sunspot’s. But his personality is a little bit similar to Sunspot whereas Catseye has Warlock’s inability to communicate with Wolfsbane feline form. James Proudstar has the position of a native American but probably similar to Sunspot. Justin: And powers of being a super native American which Genesis and I talked about. Nolan: Well yeah, yeah. Justin: Yes or no, are they worthy opponents to the New Mutants? Gabby? Gabby: Yeah, sure. Justin: You’re not sure on that one, why aren’t you sure? Gabby: No. I mean I think Empath is one of the coolest characters. Justin: I love Empath. Gabby: Yeah so I think they are. Justin: He’s blind now, I love him. Genesis: Touching on James Proudsta,r I thought he was just a little, too native. They just put all the tropes in one character, it was overwhelming. Jaime: I think going along with that. I think like we were all kind of saying they’re kind of like a more thinly veiled version of the New Mutants. But I do think that especially Empath, I think his story is so compelling. Just his whole thing where he can’t when you think about emotion. What would it be like if you could manipulate and feel everyone’s emotions around you? How would you ever know how anyone ever truly felt towards you? I feel like it’s one of the most interesting and compelling ideas, ever. It’s not even necessarily complete. I mean I guess it’s compelling in the same way that Dani Moonstar’s compelling in the sense that she can pull into people’s brains. It kind of makes her an inherent leader in some senses and she steps up for it. But I think that it’s not the most impressive pairing. But there are certain characters that just shine so much you can’t help but appreciate them. Nolan: I love that they attempt to make combinations of the heroic characters. I don’t like that one half of each combination is a racial thing and I think Jetstream is just dumb. It’s just Cannonball, he’s like, who even is he? Haroum ibn Sallah al-Rashid, where is he from? Justin: Morocco. Nolan: He does the exact same thing that Cannonball does. Justin: He’s more of a Jetstream and Cannonball is more of a Cannonball. Gabby: Oh when you explain it like that, it makes total sense. Justin: Oh no, my blast field. I feel like that’s what Cannonball would say. He’s like, oh can’t control my blast field thank God I’m invulnerable or else I would’ve been killed. Otherwise, I’ve got a blast field. Gabby: Literally every single time he explains why he’s fucking up but not done. Justin: He’s like, woops I got thrown into Wolfsbane while my blast field was on. I’m invulnerable but she’s probably dead. Rahne are you dead? Oh no. I can’t turn. I have a blast field, makes it hard to turn. Nolan: Listen though, it expresses his personality. He’s a stubborn, persistent guy, right? So he can’t turn, you know. Justin: He’s like I got more power but I can’t turn. Jaime: Honestly, he didn’t need to do the danger room anymore he needed to go to flight school. Gabby: Exactly! Justin: He’s like, if only I can turn more but I just keep hitting the ceiling thank God I’m invulnerable. Gabby: I know and there’s that hilarious moment where—I don’t know who says it—but one of them is like, he’s old and he has trouble learning how to control his powers. Then literally the next panel he’s like, dammit I’m gonna break something else. It’s so funny. Like, aw poor Sam. Jaime: It’s like you’re teaching someone to ski. They don’t understand turning so they just go straight down the mountain very time and they almost break their ankle every time. And you’re just like, goddammit. Justin: Yeah, no Sam is like that friend who, I guess, your typical friend with blast field powers who just can’t turn I guess. Nolan: Seems a great guy though. I love Sam’s personality. Gabby: Oh he’s wonderful and he’s overcome some really great adversity. Nolan: And I love how when girls come on to Sam he’s just like, I don’t know what to do with this. Justin: I actually love the Hellions. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be on the Hellions. I want the White Queen to be my teacher and I want to be in the Hellfire club. I want to be on the Hellions and that’s when I started to love Emma Frost just putting that out there. My favorite Hellion, I love the team, I’m like everybody else. I think it would be awesome if they got brought back to life after Trevor Fitzroy kills them in the nineties. Many ways to bring them back. Selene did during the whole X-Necrosha storyline, etc, etc. Do you have a favorite Hellion? For me, of course I love Empath and Magma. They’re my favorite shipped couple—in this I just learned the word shipped a couple months ago. I originally thought it had to do with actual ships—yeah, nothing to do with that. Favorite Hellions for me, definitely Empath. Definitely Firestar, Magma. Definitely Thunderbird, who becomes Warpath later on. Genesis, favorite Hellion? Genesis: I would say Magma. Justin: Besides her, original Hellion. Genesis: Oh, pass. Justin: You don’t like them? Genesis: No. Nolan: Empath creates the most interesting plot lines but Firestar is the most interesting in terms of her personal life. Justin: Agreed. Gabbylicious? Gabby: I can say Empath, right? Justin: Yeah, yeah. Gabby: Then I’m gonna say Empath. Justin: Yeah I could tell if you were gonna sleep with one of them that would be the one you’d choose. Gabby: How did you you know me so well! Justin: Yeah, it’s true. Jamie? Jaime: I love Empath, so much. Justin: He sounds like the one you would want to sleep with but you’d end up sleeping with Jetstream. Jaime: How do you know me so well? Justin: You’d end up sleeping with Sam Guthrie for sure. If Sam Guthrie was real, Jamie would have slept with him. Gabby: Let’s just hope he can turn in that context. Jaime: I feel like he’s the most basic of the group. Justin: For those of us who have read Astonishing X-Men Joss Wheadon’s book. Interesting that Kitty Pryde hates Emma Frost when Astonishing X-Men starts. There were so many issues that pitted Kitty Pryde against Emma Frost. Jaime: It’s interesting because I think that I really love both of those characters and as we all know, if I was an X-Men I would like to be a lot of people but one of them would be Kitty Pryde and Justin would obviously be Lockheed. Justin: Of course. I would be on Illyana’s head the whole time. Jaime: I think that, it’s interesting because I think they’re both really great characters and I think in some ways because of that they’re inherently destined to conflict. Like Kitty is great because she just, I don’t know she just has an amazing personal sense of worth in some ways and she just gets this stuff done, and Emma’s the same way. They have different approaches to it. So I think it’s inherent and actually I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently about kind of how when you pit your women characters against each other and whether or not that’s okay and I think that there’s some instances where you have to be aware of the context and whether or not it’s okay but there are some instances where you have to respect your characters and their inherent differences. And the things is Kitty and Emma are just too similar in a lot of ways with different goals to not conflict. So for me, I think that’ why it was great it worked well enough in Astonishing X-Men and I think that was why it was good here too. Justin: The next thing I want to talk about is what’s known as the Demon Bear saga. I know a lot of people have a lot of emotions about it but the beginning of it, Issue 18 marks a major shift in the tone of NEW MUTANTS. It clearly gets darker and that’s not only in the art but the overall tone which includes the writing. How would you describe Bill Sienkiewicz’s art compared to the artists that came before him in the series, most noticeably Bob McLeod. Gabby: I mean, I was actually thinking about this and I saw some panel, like panel to panel comparisons of some of the renderings of Rahne’s intermediate form for instance and of the Demon Bear and there’s just no contest really in my mind between who is the better artist in this or just the more evocative, interesting art. Justin: Right. Gabby: I mean, the Demon Bear earlier in the series is just kind of like, either like a cloud bear or an angry bear but then the Demon Bear in the Demon Bear saga is really kind of a formidable and I don’t know, it feels symbolic, you know? Whereas before, the Demon Bear just looked like a representation of a bear. In Rahne’s transitional form early on in the series it’s like laughable, she looks like a weird I don’t know, she looks like a plush toy almost and then in this form, it’s a better rendering of a half woman, half wolf form. So I really appreciate the artwork and I think for this episode or the sort of storyline of the NEW MUTANTS, it’s so great that they got an artist who could capture the complexity and capture the dark internal landscape as it is projected into the external landscape. Justin: It’s interesting because the book was almost canceled and that’s one reason why they switched artists. So, Gabby do you think that, if you were reading this back in the day, would this have saved the book for you? Gabby: I mean, you know, I think that a lot of times in comics the writing can be elevated or it can be hurt by the art and I think that in this case the art definitely elevates the writing and definitely, if I was a reader I would just out of sheer novelty of this new style and the more sort of impressionistic kind of I don’t know, abstract kind of style even that, like, one of the first big panels in the Demon Bear saga when Rahne is lying underneath the checked cloth and the checked cloth turns into the face of the bear. It says everything that you’d want to say about what’s going to happen. Her battle with the bear and how it’s literally haunting her dreams and it’s just one panel and I just think that it’s just really, really well done art. Justin: It was beautifully terrifying, if I can say that without being cheesy. I mean that in a non-cheesy, non-sarcastic way. Jaime: Going off of what Gabby was saying there was something about the art that had to do with the bear. It would haunt and encapsulate the page. It would kind of, literally in some panels, consume the other characters so that they were in this frame of this huge formidable bear. And it never felt like, you were saying laughable before it never felt laughable, just like foreboding and terrifying even the entire coloring and lighting of those issues is just so dark and purple and it’s like the stars and these people are being consumed by the jaws of the bear. And I think it’s amazing and I think it just added a whole other dark side which I think continues to show up in other places throughout the rest of the run but it all began there. Yeah, I think especially like you were talking about Rahne’s transformation, in the past she looked like the wolf version of her looked too human-like. Its eyes were too expressive and it had too many forehead wrinkles. Gabby: And she was purple. Jaime: But especially with the understanding of animals and stuff as it went along with this art style that was a choice it was attempting to be more expressionistic but this is like what you said Gabby like more abstract. And I think especially with the Demon Bear saga well considering it’s dreams anyway it needs to be focused more on feeling that it focuses on the anatomy and I think that with the bear even though it might have been too big or insane it felt, like that was how it feels to the characters and I think it really elevated the story like Gabby was saying. Gabby: Totally, Jamie. And I should have said expressionistic instead of impressionistic, so I’m glad you said that. Nolan: I think another shift in tone is marked by the setting in the real world of the Demon Bear saga. They are trapped in a police station in Westchester county and they must hide their identities and their identities as mutants in a much more active way than they have in the previous issues. They are dealing with kind of everyday people who live near the X-mansion in Westchester county and this is very interesting and it is dark because it starts from a realistic point and then it moves in a dark direction. Justin: Shout out to Westchester county. Also what I was gonna say before is shout out to Scott McCloud and the picture point because I feel like we have a more clear understanding and better vocabulary to talk about this from reading his Fury books like Understanding and Making Comics. So I just wanted to point that out that I wish I had the picture point in front of me and that would be interesting to map where NEW MUTANTS was in the beginning of the series versus when Bill Sienkiewicz comes and takes over. Be interesting to see where those two things lie on the picture point and then later in NEW MUTANTS when it gets a little bit more cartoony. How would you describe Bill Sienkiewicz’ art compared to the artists that came before him in the series and about the overall shift in tone to something darker? Genesis: It just came out of the blue for me. The fact, this whole Demon Bear saga. Although, I do have to say and I have to agree with everyone the art was extremely well done and very beautiful and it is really difficult to portray this dream-like phase that Dani is going through and how her friends are also dealing with them trying to help her out so I definitely appreciate the deep portrayal of these expressions and the confusion that is going on because they don’t know what’s happening to Dani during these few issues. Justin: I know Jess just from talking with you that you had some issues with the fact that Tom and Sharon are transformed from Caucasian to Native America. Gabby, you look like you’re shaking your head as well. Genesis: Yeah. Justin:: Would you guys like to talk about that for a second? Gabby: I mean, what is there to talk about? Genesis: I know! Gabby: Why does that happen? Genesis: I don’t, I don’t– Jaime: It was insane. Genesis: I was kind of horrified when I saw that. Gabby: You know what? The thing that’s really problematic about it is okay, just aside from the WTF why value is the fact that these people start off as your blue collar nurse and policeman. And then after they’re touched by the evil the primal, demonic other sort of figure, they’re turned into native American people? Genesis: Right. Gabby: And then it’s like oh gosh they’ll never be their true form again. And it’s almost like that is the cross that they’re burdened for eternity it’s that now they’re native American people after being possessed by the Demon Bear. Genesis: Exactly. Gabby: Which is just like, I don’t even want to try to unpack that because really, why? And the thing is, it was so unnecessary, you know? There’s no sort of logical process you can go down to try and figure out why that decision was made. Genesis: I think it’s dangerous to portray to give this little to add this part of the story that white people these two white people were turned into native Americans just because it kind of happens in football games. When people do red face and they think it’s just so easy to represent native people and so I think that’s where the danger lies in the fact that it’s just to mainstream to think oh yeah, I’m just honoring your ancestors or whatever. That’s what came to mind for me but apart from that, I think I was just yeah, I’m at a loss too. I don’t understand why they would do that. Gabby: And also the point that you make that I think about is the idea that just because they look like native American people that they are now native American people. Genesis: Exactly. Gabby: When all we really see is that they have darker skin and long dark hair. Genesis: Exactly. And the fact that they had to enter this other dimension and I think also when they try to rescue Dani in this other dimension, they also come back other native people I believe, like native spirits that’s the only other encounter you have of native people or native characters up to this point in NEW MUTANTS. So it was really alarming for me to see that. Like oh, you have to go to another dimension you have to go into this dream-like world to encounter native American characters and not just that but native American illusions I guess you can call them. Gabby: Like demonic avatars. Genesis: Exactly, yeah literally. And these, just like, I don’t know. I was just so horrified about it and I do think though that it did help Dani become the leader that she is because she did have to face those demons. I just think it could have been done so many other ways. Gabby: Yeah, I mean really what we’re both pointing to is the fact that so much of it just feels incongruous or just feels kind of like it doesn’t feel supported. Genesis: Right. Gabby: It feels random almost. Even the idea that the demon bear is actually Dani’s parents– Genesis: Yes! Gabby: And they say, we were sort of possessed by this demonic being and forced, incorporated in it. So they’re real and it’s just so weird. I just don’t understand why this happened and that’s why it’s a bit infuriating that we were told that the Demon Bear killed her parents but then when the Demon Bear is vanquished they just appear and they’re like sorry we had to stalk you and try to kill you all this time because we were stuck in this Demon Bear. Genesis: Yeah. Nolan: She’s not awkward about it at all. Good to have you back mom and dad. She’s just like it’s fine. Gabby: Like oh so it was you guys? Oh it’s fine, it’s all clear now, I love you! I’m not an orphan! Genesis: Thank you. Justin: Do we like the Demon Bear saga? Gabby: I actually, as much as I have objections to it I enjoyed it. Jaime: I did too. I think yeah, the things that we all just said about the ending are a huge problem but I think that the idea and like we were saying, applied to Dani’s life I think was really good. Nolan: I always wanna see more of just kind of regular U.S. life which you also see some of in Generation X but most of Demon Bear saga is not that. It’s like a demi-plane desert before the European’s arrived blah, blah, blah. So that stuff is cool, it’s avante-garde it’s very surreal art style but it’s at the cost of some problematic stuff. Justin: How would you guys describe the Demon Bear saga at its core? I talked about it in my notes here as it being a struggle within Dani or herself? What is it symbolic of? And how would you describe it in a sentence or two to someone who asked simply what is the Demon Bear saga? Jaime: I think I would go with kind of what you were saying as a struggle. But I think it’s also kind of like a metaphorical attempt to reconcile the loss of her parents is what I’d say. That’s another reason why the ending is kind of wrong. You get them back so it takes away all of the work she kind of did with the ending. I do think it’s definitely about dealing with your inner demons. But I think the more specific theme is accepting and coming to understand the loss that you had in the past and learning to use that and accept it and then grow from it. Gabby: The Ipson’s ghosts, like the ghosts of the past literally come to haunt the future. You have to overcome that haunting to be able to move forward and progress. But the ending throws that idea kind of out because the parents are literally I don’t know, it’s strange but yeah I totally agree with you, Jamie, that it’s about dealing with loss facing ones fears so that one can be actualized. Justin: All right, so another interesting thing about NEW MUTANTS is that it is the first appearance of David Haller also known as Legion, also known as Professor Xavier’s son with Gabrielle Haller who apparently likes to smoke a lot of cigarettes. So, what I thought was interesting about him was that he is labeled as having autism and I wanted to get some of the stats on autism. So I was looking up—I was interested in looking up how many people had autism at the time when this comic came out versus now which we know it’s greatly increased. What I found was that autism itself had just entered the DSM in 1980 which was only a few years before Legion’s appearance. Given that autism is so prevalent now the statistic that I found most recent was one in 68 of American children have or are born with Autism. We know so much more about it now. It’s so much more in society. My nephew is actually on the autism spectrum. Do you think that we read this differently now than we might have, or that other people did in the 1980’s when, here’s an autistic character who also not only has autism but multiple personality disorder which is now called dissociative personality disorder. Jaime: I think that, oh no I’ll say I think that in a lot of ways that issue or that kind of arc is more explanatory than in a lot of ways it’s interesting. But then at the same time, it’s also very informational in a lot of ways and I think that’s interesting. I think it’s clear that people wouldn’t do now at least not in the same way because I feel like there’s an aspect to it. There’s a whole thing where they go inside his brain and they’re considering they’ll get trapped inside of it and it’s kind of like, it breaks it down into the most simplistic parts. It’s like this is how his brain works. So in some ways it’s kind of like the same problem where it’s simultaneously extremely progressive but at the same time, let’s dummy it down to he is his autism. So I feel like it’s kind of like the same problem with a lot of things we’ve been talking about and maybe just the eighties in general where it’s like all these things are coming into consciousness all at the same time. It’s like at some point, people just don’t understand so you have to explain to them that the other point you’re dumbing it down. Justin: Do you think it was courageous, Jamie, of Chris Claremont to have an autistic character? Jaime: I think it was. I mean, I think he was also courageous to have that character be so connected to Xavier in some ways it feels like it’s against the grain to be like, we shouldn’t imply that one of our most powerful characters has a son with a disability. So in that way, it’s fine, it’s really generally just fine so I think that almost like the connection he has to the world is more impressive than even just having him in general. Gabby: I mean, but I also think that correct me if I’m wrong but when did Rain Man come out? Justin: Oh, I’m not sure, somewhere in the eighties. Gabby: I feel like from seeing a couple of films— Justin: Right around then, yeah. Gabby: Around that time and just remembering in my foggy memories about some of the stuff I’ve seen from the eighties, there was kind of a cultural moment of awareness of autism and I don’t want to be so cynical as to say that Chris Claremont was cashing in or just putting his horse in the race of autism awareness but I did kind of, as I was thinking about the time this came out and reading it kind of got a sense for that. There was a sort of cultural fascination with autism at the time and then like Savants and autistic people and their difference and this and that. So I think it’s great, as we were talking about representational politics earlier it’s always great to explore different narratives and ways of being but at the same time I can’t help but think that it was also kind of like a moment of fascination. Justin: So that being said, David is portrayed as the antagonist for this portion of the New Mutant series. Did you find his character to be sympathetic? Gabby: I think yeah, especially in his connection with Xavier. Justin: Nolan? Nolan: I didn’t feel like David had a character in this. He doesn’t have lines, I mean within his own mind there is a David but he is more this world unto itself in which, within which what’s being played out to me is not a conversation about mental disability but a conversation about Israeli, Arab relations in the 1980’s. I mean that’s what’s going on inside his mind there’s a terrorist character there’s a western adventurer character that his mother is an ambassador from Israel to England, I believe. Or is it the other way round? I think she is an Israeli ambassador to England, to Great Britain and that is what’s going on in this story to me. They just kind of use this excuse of autism to have this vegetable of a character into whose mind we can go and have a mixed-up version of the political situation in the Middle East at the time. Justin: Genesis or Jamie, do you guys have anything to add? Genesis: I do remember reading about Legion and yeah I agree with Nolan I didn’t see the autism as an important role or an important part in his character in Legion’s character. I was surprised to learn that he was autistic and I think it would have surprised many people in the 1980’s reading this comic book. Would it be safe to say that they would go out and research on it? Who knows? We don’t know but it could be. That could be something that they were aiming to do but I honestly doubt it. I just think it’s something that, again, was happening or you’re trying to understand in the larger context and they added this to the character. Justin: I’d say when I was a kid, I thought whatever he had was some really far off obscure thing when I was reading it because as a society, it wasn’t as in the forefront it was after Rain Man had probably died down from being in the forefront of the cultural conversation we were having about mental health. With that being said, yeah, it was very foreign to me is probably the word I would use to describe it. Jamie, how about you? Jaime: I think just going off what everyone has said I would have to agree and I think what Nolan was saying about it being its own world is definitely true because it’s just kind of an excuse for this world. At the same time, it makes you think about how even right now, I don’t know if I could think of a lot of great characters that have disabilities that fall on the autism scale. And he’s not necessarily he’s not a great one either because like we said he has a good David personality and it asserts itself but it’s really less about that than it is about the world and more about Xavier in a lot of ways and his past relationship. So I think it’s just kind of like one of those things where you have to look at it and go it’s cool that you brought it up because it was a part of this culture moment and you kind of explained it but honestly I don’t think you can say it inspired any real interest in it going forward at least in our modern day. I think it’s interesting and if I saw a lot of characters coming out of it connected to that but sadly I can’t. It’s kind of sad to see that that was the full extent of our exploration in a lot of ways. Justin: It’s worth knowing that FX has picked up a television pilot about the character Legion. That’s gonna come out in 2017. That takes place in the X-Men cinematic universe although it will be outside of it but it’s supposed to be in that vein. It’s going to talk about Legion’s struggles in X-Men Legacy when he’s the main character after spoiler alert, the death of Professor X at the end of Avengers versus X-Men. So moving on from there. I thought, what a huge difference a colorist makes. Bill Sienkiewicz is still a penciller but the colors and inking are so much less dark so much more vibrant, very saturated, kind of bold colors versus the dark, how muted the colors were during the Demon Bear saga, the inks, the black we saw a lot less of that. I was wondering, as we moved into the story with Xi’an and the Shadow King if that changed how you received the story at all. Jamie? Jaime: I think it did. I would say that one of the cool things about that story was kind of when she was possessed she had that disco layer thing. It was a nice, new vibrant feel and it kind of injected a lot of, because that was a different kind of story because like whenever those kind of people more like plot-driven and it’s plain with the characters and the way they act to each other and the tropes and just controlling all these people in all these wacky ways. So I felt like it was more appropriate because if they had done the same thing they had been doing with the more muted, a dark feel it would have just felt so menacing and creepy and gross that you couldn’t even get into it or appreciate it, but when it’s vibrant like that it’s got more of a manic, almost Quentin Tarantino feel with its craziness, so I think that it was a nice change. ‘Cause definitely it’s still upsetting but it’s like if you brood too much, I can’t brood anymore. So I think the update with the style was a nice a nice change, for certain and a change of type of story too so I think it really helped. Nolan: I think that it brought the comic back to a much more typical kind of comic art style that was less challenging and less avante-garde and it has its advantages and its drawbacks. Justin: I did see this kind of leaving the Demon Bear saga behind kind of entering a new era, both with Dani and the New Mutants itself I thought it could have been representative of that but it could have also been that the colors maybe see it as that. I did like it, although I definitely loved the way the Demon Bear saga was colored. So the big reveal in this arc with the Shadow King is that Karma is still alive and that she’s actually possessed by him and she gets extraordinarily obese. So was anyone shocked by that? It was kind of a typical comic book trope in that they brought someone who we all thought was dead back and I guess if anyone had that kind of moment? Or were you guys expecting it? Nolan: She was definitely coming back. I mean, she disappears, the body is not found, you know. It’s only like seven issues into the series or something you know there’s something that they’re planning here. Justin: Jamie, what about you? Jaime: I was kind of surprise, only because it took a lot of issues for her to come back. So even though I was reading them all at the same time I was kind of just like, oh I forgot because you know characters sometimes when the comic will come, I mean in the X-Men you know it’s not always they come in and out based on just how interesting they are whether or not they had a story so I always felt like her story just kind of told I was kind of like oh they just let her out and they’ll bring her back randomly. So for her coming back, I think it was more of a surprise to me that she came back as such a major antagonist. Justin: So in between some of the issues that were in the thirties I forget exactly which number, I think it was 34 and 35 a New Mutant special comes out. The art is definitely a departure from what we see in the main New Mutant story and I thought that series did a really good job of getting to the nitty gritty of the characters there was a little bit of Asgard in it and it definitely dealt with Karma. I guess that I saw a special significant issue kind of yes or no, did you guys also see it as an issue that helped move the story forward? That really helped us get into Karma, her mind and the way it works and her journey and struggle. Jamie? Jaime: Is that the issue where they’re on Asgard and Dani gets asked to join the Valkyries, yes? Justin: It might be. Jaime: I think it is. Justin: It’s the one where Karma loses her weight. Jaime: Yes and she loses the weight, okay, yeah. No I thought that, I really did like that issue. Because it was kind of nice because it kind of did the same thing that I liked about the first issue where it kind of segmented off all the characters and it gave them their little moments. I thought that was the thing that kind of was missing and they were getting too groupy and not enough of themselves. So I think I really enjoyed it and I did think that the things that stand out the most were either Valkyrie episode because it was interesting to see that Dani had this, kind of it makes sense too because she has this independence and calling and sense of justice and she’s very like she’s better than this in my opinion but she’s very like, Spiderman in a lot of ways. She has this great power and great responsibility and I think with Karma it was really great for a very similar reason like her internal strength her perseverance and it’s hard to convey that via comic we’re just watching a person struggle in a desert and they’re not really doing anything. It was very passive but her tenacity I think made it active. Justin: I couldn’t agree more. I love the part with the alligator as we mentioned. Sorry to interrupt you. Were you done? Jaime: No you’re good. Justin: All right cool. Jaime: I was done, yeah. Justin: Nolan, you look like you have something to add? No you don’t, all right. Gabby: So what? She possesses the alligator and then eats it? Justin: Yeah. Gabby: Yeah, that’s amazing. Justin: No, no, no. She had already lost her weight from being the Shadow King now she was getting too skinny and needed to eat something because she was in the desert. Gabby: An alligator is a great choice because one of my favorite rappers— Justin: Could have been a lizard. Gabby: Oh, well okay. Jaime: That’s a big difference. Gabby: Let’s assume it’s a— Nolan: Like a Komodo Dragon? Like a little lizard? Gabby: Let’s assume it’s an alligator. Justin: Okay let’s assume it was an alligator. Nolan: In the desert, or a crocodile. Justin: It’s impossible, why would they be— Nolan: Perhaps a Cayman? Justin: No it was definitely a lizard, do you remember, Jamie? Gabby: A bearded dragon. Jaime: I think it was an alligator but I cannot confirm. Justin: Okay. Jaime: Or deny. Justin We cannot confirm or deny if this was an alligator or a lizard. Can someone please fact check this? Just kidding. Gabby, sorry. Jaime: No I mean this is really off topic but can I still say it? Justin: Absolutely. Gabby: I was just gonna say that I really admire her for eating the alligator because one of my favorite rappers Danny Brown, shout out Danny Brown. Jaime: Oh my God I love him. Justin: Only eats like alligators and top-tier predators because he wants to eat things that could possibly kill him. Gabby: Love it. Justin: And I think that if you’re gonna eat meat you should just eat the strongest meat you can and that’s clearly what she was doing. By the way, for disclosure I’m vegan so I don’t eat any meat but if you’re gonna eat meat eat an alligator, eat a tiger. Nolan: You want us to know you’re vegan. Gabby: Eat a top-tier prime, I’m not against I’m not principally against eating meat for others I’m just saying if others want to eat meat they should eat top-tier predators to become their strongest selves and live their best lives and that’s clearly what Xi’an’s doing when she eats the alligator. Genesis: I don’t know— Nolan: It’s true. Justin: That’s like the opposite of what she’s doing. Jaime: And being lame, not lame, you shouldn’t say that but uncool because I’m eating a low-tier cow. Justin: Exactly, like Jamie, I’ve seen you you could take a cow but could you take an alligator? Jaime: Thank you, yes I could. Gabby: I don’t know, I don’t know. Jaime: I don’t know, I don’t know if I’d eat enough top-tier predators to have the strength to really take an alligator like maybe working up to some really intensely large lizards or snakes and then I keep working up the food chain until I’m at alligator then maybe one day who knows, like buffalo or longhorn. I’m thinking longhorn is really where I want to aim at. Gabby: There you go. Justin: Buffalo is a delicious meat, shout out to bison. Jaime: Shout out to the bison, Oklahoma I miss you! Gabby: Good job. Genesis: Oh my God. Justin: Anyway, but they’re tasty little things. Genesis: I mean, nutrient wise, it’s better to eat lower-tier because you have more, you get more of their— Justin: Genesis, now we’re just getting fucking crazy. Genesis: I’m just saying. Jaime: I want to know what Genesis is saying. Genesis: Because if you eat a cow, then that cow is like, a what is it? What’s the word for? Gabby: It’s a primary. Genesis: It’s a primary, yeah. I mean they eat grass, so. Jaime: You get more of the grass that way? Gabby: I’m not talking about the nutritional value, Genesis. I’m talking about the strength. Genesis: I’m just saying in case some of the people out there are like wait a second. Nolan: Is that just how like when you eat bottom-feeding fish you get more of the mercury? Jaime: For nutritional information this is the wrong podcast. Nolan: If you want a lot of mercury then you want to eat those bottom-eating fish. Jaime: Or a blog. Genesis: I’m sorry, I just had to say it. It was killing me inside, I had to. Nolan: It’s interesting. Justin: Yeah, no I’m sufficiently interested right now. Genesis: I think it was interested to see that Xi’an left or not left the group, but she was taken out of the series early on ’cause I just can’t help but wonder what would have happened if she was still there. For me, she was just this really strong character from the beginning and so I would have thought that she would take the lead or be one of the leaders of the group and maybe Dani wouldn’t be or maybe, what’s his name, Guthrie or Guthrie? Justin: Sam Guthrie, yeah. Genesis: Sam Guthrie, I can’t pronounce his name. Justin: Samuel Guthrie. Genesis: Or maybe he would have been, you know? So I just thought it was interesting that she was taken out of that moment and then brought back. Although I was very happy when she was back. Justin: So, before we delve into the issues I’m about to talk about, I think it is a lot of people don’t know that Magneto was the leader of the X-Men for a while in the eighties and we think of him as a villain, now he’s an anti-hero but yeah there was a time he was fully aligned with Xavier’s vision. So okay, what I was gonna say is I want to combine these kind of questions. So what do you think about the change from Xavier to Magneto being headmaster of the school and is there any noticeable difference between Xavier and Magneto’s teaching style? If there is, do you think it affected the team dynamic? Nolan: Magneto is totally different from Xavier he’s totally authoritarian. He always takes it in the White Queen direction, you know? He has that, survive for your own good kind of like we weed out the weak, kind of attitude. Jaime: Is that how Magneto speaks? Justin: Nolan only has, that’s like the only accent he can do. Gabby: That’s my Michael Fassbender impersonation. Nolan: I love Magneto, my favorite part of the comics is probably when Magneto was headmaster. Justin: Anybody else have any thoughts on that? Jaime: Fight for your own good. Nolan: Magneto also has a great love story during this part. Justin: With Lee Forrester? Nolan: Yeah. Justin: Who Cyclops also has a great love story with. Nolan: Oh I didn’t know that. Gabby: Who doesn’t Cyclops have a love story with? Jaime: Cyclops has a great love story with everyone, honestly. Me and Cyclops are in love in some version of reality, I think. Justin: Anybody else on this topic? Gabby: It’s just a lot, like Nolan was saying. It’s just a lot less nurturing, it’s like this is the world, it’s horrible be strong enough or die. Jaime: Yeah. Nolan: Another thing I think about Magneto here is he is like the third evil version of Professor X to show up in only about 50 issues of NEW MUTANTS. First you have Professor X’s son then you have the Shadow King who is evil sidekick par excellence has a past with Professor X from the early twentieth century, blah, blah, blah. Professor X thought he killed him but he didn’t the Magneto of course is an evil version of Professor X we all know that. Justin: Not evil, alternate. Nolan: Well, a dark version. Yeah no I love it when Magneto is an anti-hero and stuff too or an anti-villain or whatever but he’s a villain version of Professor X. A lot of the time people think there’s only two or three dark Professor X’s in X-Men and they’re like Cassandra Nova, Onslaught and Magneto who is already sort of, Magneto and Onslaught are already like the same thing, right? There’s a lot of them and NEW MUTANTS has a lot of them. Jaime: On the Magneto subject, right? Justin: Oh yes. I was just wondering if you had something do you want to add something? Jaime: I do. I want to say one of the things that I thought was interesting or good about him at least at that point was that he pushed them in a way that was different and I think he kind of pushed them too far and I thought that was interesting and I thought that brought a lot of interesting things out in the characters and it’s kind of like a White Queen situation where it’s kind of like what happens if we teach them in a different way? What happens if we teach them in this reality-focused way? No-one’s all laughing at me. But I think it’s really, I enjoy what it does to the other characters when they’re put into a different situation where they’re under more duress and I think it really helped Dani’s character along too. Honestly, everything that I enjoyed about NEW MUTANTS probably helped Dani’s character along. But I think that it pushed her in a strong direction and I think that she kind of comes to have this really interesting reverence for you know like we were saying, he’s not necessarily evil. He’s different and I think this is a great example of that aspect of him. I think that even though it was kind of short lived and it probably couldn’t last too long I think it was very interesting when it happened. Justin: What did you think of how Magneto related to Emma Frost, Jamie? Jaime: I think I kind of enjoy it I feel like they have this nice sense of interesting respect for each other. I think that this was the arc where he handed them over to Emma for a while there and Dani kind of begged to be taken back. I thought that it was just interesting because they’re interesting characters because they’re powerful and they’re smart and you just never quite know where you stand. think that between their two interactions there’s a great thing and I think that it’s a thing that Xavier and Magneto have too where they can have this respect and suspicion of each other and it can exist in both spaces and I think it’s kind of thrown in with the moral dubiousness like it makes it just more interesting. So for me it was kind of like Emma’s a great character in general and I think that when you put her, in respect her respect for Magneto and Magneto’s respect for her together it just makes them more compelling. Justin: Does anyone else have any thoughts on the power dynamic between Magneto and Emma Frost, Nolan? Nolan: I think that the recent cooperation between them in X-Men was being foreshadowed or perhaps it’s being recalled now at this time when they try to take over the well a little after this when they try to take over the Hellfire club together and establish only a single queen, only a single king and shut out Sebastian Shaw and Selene which is just awesome and also I think their attitudes toward education are implicitly connected to each other but they are and an explicit connection is drawn between them when Empath gets the better of both of them and Emma is the only one who can actually, like stop Empath from doing things and she tries and fails though she thinks she’s succeeded and he ends up tricking both of them, which is awesome. Justin: I love this era of NEW MUTANTS because it has so many great single issue self-contained stories. One of the ones that pop out to me is issue 45 it’s got Magma on the cover with some flowers in her hair and it deals with the mutant who has the power of light who gets bullied at school. He ultimately commits suicide at the end of the issue. Kitty Pryde has a speech which I remember reading as a child and I was, at the time, blown away by now not so much but I think being a little kid and just hearing a character in a comic say I’m flat chested for me was a big deal because I was like oh they’re supposed to be perfect they’re not perfect and I had never really seen someone own not being perfect before. So for me, that was kind of profound so I was wondering if you guys had any strong reactions to this issue, it was obviously meant to deal with diversity, bullying, othering, that kind of stuff. Was it successful? And what were your reactions if so or if it was not? Jamie? Jaime: I was going to say I think that it was very successful. I read it like twice now but the first time I read it I really enjoyed it for two reasons. The first reason was that I really enjoyed who he was trying to cover his powers with the New Mutants and so he was saying all of that whatever, not PC, not Kosher stuff obviously and I thought that was an interesting thread. And then of course I was very upset at the last because we’re all kind of, when we’re in society and we know what’s right. We’re all performing that thing and I think it’s interesting that it’s said and well put by the comic that these people who are similar just because of the way society felt about that concept were not getting to be comforted by each other and it was kind of like, you can’t really say it’s anyone in that specific conversation’s fault it’s just the way, structure wise. And I also think that I really always liked Kitty’s speech, most because it reminds me a lot of I really love Buffy and it reminds me of Buffy’s speech in Earshot in season three when she talks about how everyone, nobody notices your own pain because they’re all too busy feeling their own. So I think that there’s a great, it’s simplistic in a sense but there’s something very powerful and really sad like what I was saying before, we’re missing each other but we have the same problem. So I think that even though it can get dumbed down to like a very simplistic bullying narrative but at the same point there’s a strong sense of loss even in this one short issue where you just meet this character. I feel like the story in itself maybe is just what makes it so poignant for me. Justin: Another single issue that really jumped out to me was number 62. It’s actually one of my favorite issues of NEW MUTANTS ever. It’s the one where Magma and Empath leave the Hellions to go back to Nova Roma. The art to me is really awesome. I wish it was longer, I wish it was annual or double or triple or quadruple size so I could go even more into their characters. It made me think of several different things actually. One of which that Amara defected to the rival team the New Mutants, the Hellions, period. And now her and Empath were leaving with the White Queen’s blessing to go back to Nova Roma. And they both sort of have to deal with each other after their plane crashes and spend all their time with each other trying to survive in Nova Roma until they meet up with Amara’s family. What do you guys think of the fact that Amara defected to the Hellions at all? What did you think about this particular issue as a self-contained story? Jamie, you look like you’re the one most interested in answering this which is sad because you don’t look interested at all. Jaime: No. well I was gonna say the thing I really loved with this issue is—I reread it today and you mentioned before most of us, our favorite character was Empath. I think that even though it’s about Amara it’s like they’re both really great characters that never really were supposed to use as much as it was in this issue. Like Amara restores faithfulness and tenacity and she is just the kind of go for it type person. Empath just has these insane doubts about how everyone feels about him all the time. Emma is really great in that issue too with her conversation with Empath and how he is unwilling. Subtly, she tells him he’s subtly changing Amara’s opinion about him. So then he of course becomes very concerned. I think it’s great from an emotional standpoint. I think is what makes that issue the best. Empath is, at his best, very emotional. It makes you even question your own. I think what’s really sweet is people sometimes all question our own emotional responses to things like why do I react that way? So I think Empath is a really great example of that fear we have in our lives. I think him, or in that issue he is in combination with Amara, one of the best things about the Hellions ever. Justin: Cool. Do you think that, or what do you think it says about Amara that she becomes a Hellion and do you think that we learned anything new about either of them in that issue? Well I think you mentioned that Empath is you know, very insecure and is constantly questioning if people are reacting to him because of his power or because of who he is as a person. Aside from that, do you think we learned anything new about them? And again, I just wanted to bring up the part about Magma defecting which apparently I am like, really not cool about but everyone else is like, whatevs. Nolan: Yeah. Jaime: Well I think that for me at least, I like, get it ’cause I think there was some of the stuff that was like sewn in. In the past, I think it was her saying she doesn’t always play by the rules. She left her society and joined a new one. She was like, I just don’t think I quite get these rules. It made sense to me. She was always the most rambunctious and the least concerned about her fitting in to the group. So I think that once she made this connection with Empath and the group, I felt like it feels like she just kind of ’cause she is such a go-for-it, she’s just like a kind of person, she’s just like like she’ll do it. I feel like it was impulsive and that didn’t surprise me. This is like, the best way to put it. I did like how she was like, will they have servants? And I grew up with servants? I should leave and be where there are servants. I was like, yeah. Nolan: You’re not saying you find this to be unbelievable? What is your problem with these chain of events? Justin: I don’t have a problem with it I just thought it was more significant than you guys did because you guys looked like you were all passing a fart. Nolan: It’s pretty temporary, you know. Justin: I guess what I thought was, I don’t know I didn’t like it, obviously I think that it says that her loyalties maybe aren’t as strong as the other characters. I also think that it was, I don’t know it was interesting, to say the least and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, honestly. Genesis: I mean but from the beginning— Justin: Well when I was a kid I got it because that was the team I wanted to be on not because they had servants, I’m obviously kidding but I guess they were a little bit more ruthless so I kind of liked that one a little and the way Queen was leader. I guess I was a ruthless — growing up. Gabby: You were a ruthless, luxury obsessed child. Justin: Yes, yeah. Jaime: That’s why you liked Emma Frost. Justin: Hell yeah. Genesis— Jaime: I love her. Justin: We all do. Genesis: I mean, I don’t think it’s that big of a surprise that she would, Amara. Justin: I mean I’ll just let you know if one of my interns were like hey I just started working for CBR I’d be like. Genesis: I guess if you put it that way. Justin: I’d be like well they are more corporate. Jaime: Yesterday. Justin: Yeah. Genesis: I just don’t, I guess I wouldn’t be that surprised that Amara would cross over or like, you know, not be as– Justin: I guess it depends on the interns. Genesis: I guess so, yeah. Justin: If it was Cannonball, no. Jaime: Yeah, exactly. If it was like Sam— Justin: He was like I want some servants. And also some white guy being like I want servants around like that would freak me out. Genesis: Until the end, Sam is like, one of the ones he sticks around during the end of NEW MUTANTS he’s still there, wondering like, you know this is family, we should stick together. If he was the one who was like if he was the one to join the Hellions then I would have been like all hell has broken loose because it’s so out of his character but Amara, I don’t know, I don’t think it’s that surprising. Justin: Plus, what would Jetstream and Cannonball have done on They would have flown together. Nolan: Oh let’s create stuff. Justin: They’d be like you’re all more powerful than I but I can turn! Nolan: I’m finally on a team with someone I can relate to. Jaime: We can fly together. Genesis: We can’t turn together! Nolan: It is pretty– It is not very believable that Amara would join a team led by someone who is in a four-person team with Selene. That just makes no sense at all. Justin: That is a really good point. Nolan: Does she just not think that Hellions has the first word in it as Hellfire club? Does she not like, oh whatever, you know? Justin: Guys we’re running out of time. So Doug’s death in NEW MUTANTS. Good, yes or no? Sad, yes or no? Jamie? Jaime: Yeah, it was weird. ’cause he does that whole thing with the reanimating his body, right? He brings it back? Justin: Yeah, I was gonna bring that up. That was such a, it was a huge moment. Jaime: It’s so freaky. Justin: Very controversial, yeah. Jaime: It’s like, honestly for me, I was like this is interesting but at the same time, just not okay with me. I was like, I don’t think, I understand why in some sad way it made sense with the character. I mean I think that his death was poignant and I saw why it happened. It kind of reached the point where it’s like, there’s nothing more to do here. But at the same time, the way it was dealt with was so weird and so clearly trying to explain death to children. I was kind of like, this just isn’t for me. Justin: I thought it was weird too, anyone else? Everyone is just shaking their head out of weirdness. I’m with you. So with issue 87, Rob Liefeld has taken over as creator not quite yet writer but definitely artist. It marks a huge creative shift and a huge tonal shift in the comic. So right after that, like I said, Cable’s entrance. We have some new characters coming into play we have Domino. We have Gideon and then the first appearance of Deadpool and many, many people know that Deadpool actually premiered in NEW MUTANTS. I’m not sure if they actually are sure where he’s from but he definitely did come from NEW MUTANTS. We have the introduction of a bunch of new characters. Boom-Boom, Rusty, Skids, Domino all the former X-Terminators. So, you know, now that Deadpool is this huge movie star it’s this huge movie, he’s quite a force in culture right now. What was it like reading this as his first appearance. Genesis? Genesis: I actually thought that it was pretty coherent as in. I saw a lot of qualities from the movie that I saw in the comic. And I remember, I don’t remember his name but he was biting someone in the very beginning when he’s introduced. The villain was like, oh you talk too much and that’s exactly what Deadpool is. He’s constantly talking about what’s on his mind, you know? He’s basically his own narrato. So I definitely appreciated that and appreciated the fact that I saw that in the movie and in the comic book. Justin: Cool, and NEW MUTANTS is lucky enough to have 100th issue and that be the last issue of the comics. Many comics unfortunately get canceled and they don’t really resolve a storyline. X-Men being one of them, off the top of my head. So Genesis, I know you read up to issue 100. What were your thoughts on how the comic ended and the major team roster? I think now we have James Proudstar who is no longer Thunderbird. He stepped out of his dead brothers shadow and he’s Warpath now. We’ve get Feral, some other really interesting characters. What do you think about it? And frankly how it compares to the beginning and the rest of the comic? Genesis: I actually, I was really happy with the ending because you saw disintegration of the New Mutants. That’s an actual really real thing for a group of friends to go through. So you see Sam Guthrie, Gurthie? I can’t say it. Justin: Guthrie. Genesis: Guthrie. Nolan: Samuel Guthrie. Genesis: Samuel Guthrie, you know, being one of those characters that persists til the end. Justin: Persists til the end. Genesis: Persists til the end and I know Sam, Sam Da Costa is one of the last ones to leave, Roberto, isn’t it? Justin: Roberto Da Costa. Genesis: Yeah, Roberto Da Costa is also one of the last ones to leav. So I just think it was very real. I appreciated the fact that they weren’t all still together because that’s not believable to me. I did however feel like I was kind of sad and I think that’s what the creators wanted to bring out from their readers. They wanted to bring out a visceral emotion from the fact that this group has disintegrated and have, you know, followed their own paths. Justin: Do you think it was an appropriate ending to the comic? Did it fit, did the end fit in to the beginning? Genesis: I think so. I definitely feel like we saw most of the characters. Not all of the characters develop in some sort of way. I think that it just kind of sets up a platform for us to be like, what characters do we really appreciate and relate to? And therefore, we follow their paths, you know? So I think it was appropriate. I don’t know what everyone else thinks but I thought it was very satisfying. Justin: Would you say bitter sweet? Genesis: Yes. Justin: Nolan, do you feel differently? Nolan: I think Roberto Da Costa’s departure is specifically meant to recall Cyclops’s. Down to the image. You know, there was the famous cover of Cyclops leaving. Justin: Yes. Nolan: And they repeat the exact same image with Roberto. I think both are very, kind of, short lived departures. It kind of shows you how each one is basically a dramatic movement to sell a comic by putting it on the cover. Though it being an issue 100 then the last issue is much more significant than it being just in the last issue of a certain arc or volume of X-Men. Justin: So now is my absolute favorite part of the podcast I have to say. Where actually, all those acting lessons have use eventually, right? So we were talking about Susan Batson’s Truth. She is a wonderful, wonderful acting coach who developed this new method based on Stanislavski and several other teachers. In her book Truth she discusses what makes a character three-dimensional in art and she discusses the public persona, need and the tragic flaw that a person has. So defining the public persona as how the character wants the world to see them. The need is being something requisite for that character as an organism in order to survive. That is the opposite of the public persona and the tragic flaw being the jam-up of how the characters present themselves from getting their need. I thought we should analyze some of the main characters. So I know Dani Moonstar is a favorite of ours. How do you think Dani Moonstar wants the world to perceive her and what do you think her public persona is? Nolan: I think Dani has a lot in common with Cyclops as a team leader character. Her public persona is like a responsible leader individual and her inner-self is someone who can’t control her powers, whose powers are dangerous and who worries that they’ll hurt others with them. Whenever someone can’t control their powers, you’re invited to think that the tragic flaw is their power—that they can’t control it but perhaps there’s more of a personality flaw. I’m not sure what it would be though. Genesis: I think maybe one of her flaws is that, because she is perceived as a leader, she has to know all the answers. So she is looked upon, whenever there is a certain danger circumstance, for the answers and for some sort of tranquility within the group. She may or may not have that. I think that really feeds into her flaw because she’s not required to know that even though she is the leader. Justin: Do you think that she wants people to think that she has those answers? Genesis: Yeah, I definitely do. I think she also finds a lot of relief in Rahne in her relationships with Rahne ’cause they support each other throughout the series, so yeah. Justin: Gabby, what do you think of the public persona? Gabby: Yeah I mean I think I would agree. Her public persona, she wants to be seen as a competent leader but I also think she wants to be seen as it’s hard to put into words. I think that she wants to be seen as a member of a group almost. Almost something like more basic as that like someone who is— Justin: Part of the family? Gabby: Yeah, exactly. Like part of the family. Not different, but like a part of a functioning whole and so, her leadership is part of that then I think, what was the other one? Her personal— Justin: Oh her need. Gabby: Her need. Justin: Like what does Dani Moonstar need as a human being? Gabby: I think she needs to be Justin: How is that the opposite— Gabby: Well yeah I think her need is to be accepted and to not be feared. But her tragic flaw is that she fears herself like fundamentally. Justin: I think that’s exactly it. Gabby: Yeah. Nolan: That’s good. Justin: What do you think, Genesis? Genesis: I agree. Justin: Cool. Let’s talk about Karma. Anyone have any thoughts on what Karma’s public persona is? How does she want the world to perceive her? Gabby: I think she wants to be seen as an implacable, strong person, who can enact their will without hindrance. I think she goes, we see in how she deals with her past and the really intensely emotionally damaging things that have happened to her. She doesn’t want to seem affected by it even though she is. So I think she wants to seem as a firm, sort of I wouldn’t say unemotional but certainly in control. Jaime: Tough. Gabby: Tough and self, you know, what is it? Self-possessed, self-possessed kind of person. And then her need, I think, is probably I don’t know. I think she needs to be sort of relinquished. Like she needs to have the past sort of taken away or something, I don’t know. Then her flaw would be her ignorance to her own past or not ignorance. But like, her inability to deal with it in a way that would make her be able to move forward usefully. Justin: Totally, I think that’s really smart. I think what you said about the public persona makes the storyline with the Shadow King even more fascinating because here you have someone who, at all costs wants to be in control, wants to seem this way someone who wants to seem completely unscathed by something yet she endorses trauma, that leaves her, you know. Gabby: Vulnerable. Justin: Impossible, yeah completely. Vulnerable to the point that she can’t conceal it and can’t control it. So I think— Gabby: That might even be another, like, tragic flaw. She’s blind or unwilling to accept her own vulnerabilities. Justin: She’s almost narrow-minded and I mean that in the most positive way you can call someone narrow-minded. She takes that just a touch too far where it makes her— Gabby: Yeah she has so much personal strength. But in not acknowledging her own vulnerability she leaves herself open to attack. Justin: Right, what do you guys think? Genesis: Don’t remember the special series the name of the special series, but I remember. Justin: There was just like, NEW MUTANTS Special Edition One. Genesis: I think yeah, I think it was where we go where the New Mutants from the past. Or when they’re younger go to the future and they meet themselves. Justin: Oh that was early on. Genesis: Yeah, yeah and I think that’s where you see Xi’an in her inability to overcome her past like Gabby was talking about. Because she decides to change the sequence of historical events or whatever. She feels that she can’t let one of her members die. So that inability to let someone go or to face the fact that maybe one of her friends will die, I think that’s part of her tragic flaw as well, yeah. Nolan: I personally find Karma to be a very shallow character. I think that this is the reason the writer’s got rid of her less than 10 issues into the series. Then when they brought her back they pretty much overrode who she was before with this like, massive new situation. They created a whole new, very good, compelling villain. Justin: He wasn’t new. He’s been around for a while. Nolan: Yeah? What was he in before this? Justin: Shadow King? X-Men, he possessed Storm. Nolan: Ah, well they made this villain like the sum total of her personality for this whole time. Many more issues than the issues she was actually in as an independent individual. So I don’t know, I mean I think that her three-dimensions would all have to do with the Shadow King from then on. When before that, in some similar ways to the problems with Dani Moonstar—though I do think she’s the best character in the whole series. In some similar ways, she’s pretty much determined by her Vietnamese-ness, you know? Justin: Dani Moonstar or Karma? Nolan: Karma, Karma. Her corrupt south Vietnamese general crime boss uncle, who literally controls her. Right before she disappears, he tells her what to do. And she listens. And he himself is a stereotype of a collaborator with the U.S. imperialism. So, like there’s a lot of problems with her character. I’m very happy that when they were toying with both of the two female leads as leaders, they settled on Dani over Karma and made Karma disappear. Justin: I don’t disagree there. I think Dani is a much more interesting leader. But I do like what Karma goes on to do in the X-Men. I think, to me, she has my favorite power out of all of those guys. So let’s pick from this list who you guys would like to analyze next. We have so many of them. We should probably pick our favorites. So what about between Magma, Magik, Cannonball and Wolfsbane? Gabby: Definitely Magik, right? Nolan: Yeah. Justin: Whoa that’s interesting ’cause to me—I just want to say to the people listening I’m a huge Magma fan, so. Gabby: Oh and Magma too, I mean. Nolan: We can talk about Magma too. Justin: No we don’t have to. I just wanted to give her a shout out because she’s taken some heat here today. Gabby: Whoa, Magma has taken some heat. Justin: Oh shit, I didn’t even realize. Gabby: Hashtag pun! Wait is that a pun? Genesis: Yeah. Gabby: Okay. Justin: Hashtag leave Magma alone. Nolan: I think we should stick Cannonball with any one of them because Cannonball is just— Justin: Why Cannonball? He’s so popular though. Nolan: Everyone has read a lot of Cannonball everyone knows Cannonball. Justin: But they don’t know his tragic flaw! Nolan: He’s from a mining town and he was gonna go to college but then he couldn’t. Gabby: You sounded like Forest Gump, Nolan! Life is like a box of chocolates. Were gonna go to college but then you can’t. Instead, learn how to just go straight can’t turn— Nolan: Got a mind like your daddy instead. Gabby: Back to the mines, Guthrie. Nolan: For like a week then you go to live in a mansion with a bunch of highly talented individuals where all your lifestyle is paid for. Justin: This is true. Okay so I guess safe to say we’re not gonna analyze Cannonball right now. Although we love Sam, too. Nolan: Sure. Justin: Shout out to Sam as well. These are all great characters, you guys. Okay let’s do Magik. Nolan: Okay. Magik has lived like a supernaturally traumatic life most of her childhood. Justin: All right but how does she want to be seen? Let’s start there, what’s her public persona? Nolan: She wants to be normal. Justin: She wants to be seen as just a normal girl? Nolan: As opposed to rich, you know, demon child. Gabby: I’m just reminded of the point where—oh gosh, one of the characters is talking about—how it must be difficult for Dani to adjust to living in the mansion. And like, you know I guess quote unquote the American ideals when she’s been living in, you know? Nolan: In communist Russia. Gabby: No Dani, they’re talking about Dani. And then—but you’re right because Illyana is like, I know how that’s like too. And the little caption is like, she was raised in the Abyss by demons. It’s just like, you see that and you’re like, oh yeah. That must have been pretty dicey. Sorry. Justin: That’s awesome. Nolan: But she learned some good magic, for sure. Gabby: She did good magic. Genesus: She did lose her childhood though, you know? Justin: Thank you Genesis for bringing it back to Genesis: I think that’s one of her flaws. Justin: That she was raised in a hell dimension? Genesis: Right, exactly. That’s traumatizing, man. I can only imagine. Justin: How do you like flossing over that one, Gabby? Nolan: So what’s her flaw and her need then, you know? Gabby: Well her flaw is like, well okay. I think her need would be to be like I don’t know. It’s linked to wanting to be seen as normal; to just be have people level with her on like a normal thing; and to have relationships that are not with demons sorry but to get all seriousness. You know what I mean? Like human relationships where you are emotionally intimate. But then her flaw is that she has this ridiculous dark side that she is trying to deny. And you can take the girl out of the Abyss but you can’t take the Abyss out of the girl. Nolan: Well no it does work because she finds the things that concern the other teammates to be childish. But that’s because of her upbringing but in order to be normal she must communicate with them about these things but she’s not willing to, you know? Justin: Cool. I don’t think we ever answered the question but shout out to Magik. So if you guys had to pick one power of one of the New Mutants. What would it be? Gabby: Definitely, okay I was going to say definitely Empath, but no. Nolan: You’re asking to be purple man? You want to be purple man? That’s terrible. Justin: Yeah purple man from Jessica Jones? Gabby: I know. Actually, let me think about that a little bit. I think that was a little bit too personally revealing. I just want to know how people feel. Nolan: So be psychic. Gabby: Okay come back to me. Nolan: But not Karma psychic. Justin: I would be like Karma psychic, because I would be like—I don’t know it would be the most useful if I had my own plans. I mean, Doug Ramsey is very, oh yeah I keep forgetting about him because he sucks. But no I totally forgot about him. I don’t know, I kind of like all their powers. I don’t want to have a blast field. But it would be cool to be invulnerable. Sunspots, I mean— Nolan: Sunspot is cool. Gabby: I don’t want to throw any kind of discs. Justin: No I don’t want to poop any kind of discs either. Oh my gosh, I forgot to mention something. I forgot to mention a really, really important thing. I have to say that there’s something I need to retract, earlier which is that the people on my panel would like you to know that although they have the faces of someone who looks like they had to fart. They did not actually have to fart. Genesis: No. Justin: They just responded to my story. Gabby: Your retraction is— Nolan: We just didn’t even know what to say, is all. Gabby: Your retraction was so null and void because we did not even have the faces of people who were passing farts. Nolan: We just were like— Gabby: Go ahead, Nolan, go ahead, speak your mind. Nolan: We just didn’t know what to say in response to your question, that’s all. Gabby: Exactly. Justin: You looked busy, like you were passing farts. Gabby: You obviously don’t understand our passing fart faces and you know what? I’m gonna, no. Nolan: If I had to fart, you would hear me fart, okay? It’s as simple as that. Justin: If I had to fart, you would feel a hole in the ground. Gabby: But I think I would stick with Empath’s powers as creepy and horrible as that is. Justin: That’s cool, we could be like our own superhero team. We would be like Magma, sorry it would be like Karma and Empath. And we could possess people and make them feel like how we want to feel. Gabby: Yeah that sounds really creepy but I’m down because that’s the kind of person I am. Justin: Me too, me too. Nolan? Nolan: Are we gonna do Rahne’s public persona, trauma and need? Justin: That portion of the podcast is now over. Nolan: Oh okay. Hers are good, but okay. Gabby: What about you Genesis? Genesis: I don’t know, I think maybe a combination between Karma and Rahne just because I love the fact that she can turn into a wolf. Justin: You’d be a wolf that possesses people? Genesis: Yeah yeah. Gabby: You should write that book. Genesis: Like a demon wolf, oh my God. That would be awesome. Justin: Oh my God you should be like Demon Bear Two. Gabby: Copyright Demon Wolf. Copyright Demon Wolf if you’re listening to this podcast thinking about writing about a demon wolf. Nolan: It’s too late. Gabby: It’s too late, we had that idea, F— you. Genesis: But yeah. I mean I just love those two characters and their relationship. I just like I want their powers together in me, so yeah. That’s it. Justin: That sounds so romantic. Genesis: Yeah I know. Gabby: He lives in you. Justin: Nolan, did you go? Nolan: I picked Doug Ramsey. Justin: Oh, sorry I keep forgetting because he so doesn’t matter. Cool, so before we end, I want to ask each of you do you guys recommend this comic? And if so, who would you recommend it to? And you know, before you get into that, tell us just simply if you liked it or not. Genesis? Genesis: I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read fully fleshed out characters and characters that have actually relationships with one another. Not just, as individuals but as a family and their struggles and yes I did enjoy it very much. Justin: Cool, Nolan Lannister? Nolan: Sorry. Gabby: But you always repay your debts? Nolan: Yeah. Genesis: Wait can I say one more thing? Justin: Yes. Genesis: And as a person who is new to comics, I would recommend it to people who are new to comics. Justin: Oh, beautiful. Nolan? Nolan: I will actually recommend this to someone. And I’ll just, I guess I’ll go ahead and describe the person to whom I’m gonna recommend this. He’s a very serious nerd. He loves Deadpool and so I think that he’ll enjoy it in that respect. He is a maninist. I would like him to read this and have him change his mind a little bit. So there are other things too that I want him to get out of this, but that’s the main one. Justin: What’s a maninist, for those who don’t know? Nolan: A men’s rights activist. Justin: A men’s? Oh, oh shit. Gabby: Whoa. Jaime: Wow. Justin: Wait, wait, wait. A men’s rights activist? Gabby: We can not even get into discussing this. Nolan: We can’t even put that in the podcast. Strike that from the podcast, I apologize. Gabby: This is the tip of the iceberg. You just dropped that in there Genesis: At the very end. Gabby: That’s like dropping the, you know atomic bomb in the kiddy pool, man. Nolan: Let me say something else then. Gabby: Okay, I agree with, Nolan. I would recommend this podcast to anyone who thinks that men are better than women and also. Nolan: No it’s true, I recommend this to him. Gabby: And also I would recommend this actually, you know. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to see that we’ve got a long way to go in terms of diversity in comics. This is something that was really ahead of its time. Justin: Absolutely. Gabby: It’s not perfect. I mean obviously we needed a little bit more depth in how these characters interact with their ethnic and cultural identities. This was done in the eighties and we’re still fighting this battle now. It’s kind of crazy and I think Justin was kind of pointing out at the beginning of the podcast, the NEW MUTANTS is really doing the type of work that we should be trying harder to do now. And so, and as to whether or not I enjoyed it I really enjoyed it. I really cared about the characters, I thought their backstories were really compelling. I really did care about what would happen to them and how they would fare in the world, of these adventures and dangers that they would face. So yeah, I would totally recommend it and it’s probably like maybe I’ll pick this up for my brother, you know? Justin: Cool. Gabby: We can talk about it together. Justin: That would be wonderful. Gabby: He’s a smart guy and just to clarify he does not believe that men are better than women. Justin: That is awesome. All right, cool. So I guess that brings this podcast to a close. I just want to say that I love NEW MUTANTS I read it when I was growing up. I was so excited we did this podcast about it, because I kind of fell in love with it all over again. The characters are really rich there’s some really fun moments. There’s really great action the art, also really, really cool wonderful shadows. For the Demon Bear saga and I forgot to mention it. I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to mention Rahne’s stuff. It was really interesting. You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself and send us an email about it. And when you read NEW MUTANTS! Also we should have probably told you this before but there’s a hell of a lot of spoilers in this. So I hope that you’ve already read it before hearing this, so yeah. Thank you all so much for being here. Pick up NEW MUTANTS Volume one started by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod, continued by Rob Liefeld Louise Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz and many other awesome artists, writers and creators. So again, thank you panel for being here and yeah, we’ll see you soon. I don’t have a special send off for you because, oh it’s awesome. Cathy is editing some books over at Marvel. So check out Jacks and all the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY books to see stuff that she’s working on. And yeah it’s going to be our first podcast without special send off. But I figured in honor of Cathy we can honor her by not having a special send off. Nolan: Sure. Justin: Does that sound kind of sad? Shall we rebuild the towers? Nolan: No, have a good night, y’all. Gabby: Or day, if you’re listening to this in the day time. Nolan: Or have a good trip wherever you’re going if you’re listening to this on your phone. Justin: Yeah. Bye. Want more NEW MUTANTS? Subscribe to ComicsVerse.com!