Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson in New Mutants #21

A surprise on a Friday morning in Japan-- Michael Jackson has died at age 50. Love him or hate him, there was a time when he was just a man on the pop charts. And throughout his adult career, he was a man about whom we ultimately know nothing. Constantly publicized yet essentially obscure, a musical Jay Gatsby-- a creation willed into being by both himself and the expectations of the public sphere into which he'd practically been born. Through the scandals and the physical metamorphoses, a chameleon and a chimera. A frighteningly talented yet oddly frightened man hiding behind an image, an outsized Wizard of Oz persona.

During his most creatively vital period, the 80s, before he became more mythological than human, Jackson's presence extended even into comic books. In 1984's New Mutants #21, the gang invite a gaggle of local girls to the X-Mansion for a slumber party and, invevitably, thoughts turn to Michael Jackson. Here someone named "Manoli" demonstrates a Michael Jackson dance move and"Diana" mis-states Jackson's official title. Crown Prince of Rock'n'Roll?

It seems strange to rely on non-castmembers to explain Michael Jackson to the culturally ignorant Amara. The showcase dance panel is given over to some one-shot obscurity (unless I completely overlooked the subsequent The Incandescent Manoli: Pajama Dancing Machine comic book series). But I suppose Rahne would not, Dani (confined to a wheelchair after suffering grievous injuries while fighting a demon bear) could not... and poor Xi'an was still presumed dead at this time.


Derek O'Brien said...

I recognise Travolta in that Teenage Girly Wank Bubble, and Selleck of course - the New Mutants were about two issues away from depicting a mutant circle jerk scene over Magnum PI - but who was the blonde guy?

aderack said...

Clint Eastwood, perhaps?

aderack said...

Or Billy Idol?

Joel Bryan said...

Those are good guesses but I believe it's Sting. Geez... now I feel old!

Or it's an idealized portrait of Chris Claremont.

Pablo said...

I never liked how Illyana was way out of character in this issue because after her experience from Limbo and trying her best to readjust to earth, the way she was portrayed in it was insulting to my intelligence. What the heck was Claremont thinking!??