Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sam "Cannonball" Guthrie Gets No Respect...

Nor does he deserve any.

No, I'm kidding. I kid Sam Guthrie because I love. He's easily my third favorite castmember of The New Mutants after Dani Moonstar and Xi'an Coy Manh. Sam was always so unsure of himself and clumy while using his powers. When he replaced Xi'an as team leader, he was doomed to failure. Dani was pretty unsteady in the early going, but she had more personal force, so it was natural for her to assume command once she got over her flirtations with cowardice and mental illness. But Sam remained the team's heart and soul, a genuinely nice fella who acted as big brother to the other kids.

I bought the first issue of the Chris Claremont scripted The New Mutants Forever the other day. I'd never been especially fond of Al Rio's pencils but after seeing them under Bob McLeod's inks, I could possiby become a fan. The book looks a lot like a classic mid-80s issue of the original series; the only thing I don't like-- and this is fannish of me-- is the strange shape Rio gives to Dani's head and hair. She looks like she's borrowed the top part and bangs from Brice "Wesley" Beckham.

The story reads like an old issue, too. Not only do we get the book's prime cast as teenagers, but Claremont also brings his old school scripter's voice. You know, stacks of wordy narrative captions and every character seems to speak or think in the same awkward, overly-declarative cadence-- frequently while stating something which would be obvious to themeselves or others-- we remember so fondly from when we were junior high kids just re-discovering the new, more mature-themed funny books of the day.

The most Claremont-esque moment is when Doug Ramsey thinks to himself, "I may not have phyical powers like the others... but I can old my own in a fight." During the fight. While kicking a guy. I'm kind of surprised Claremont didn't have Doug describe to himself all the other times he's proven this.

The story just bursts into full plot with no preliminaries, too. I felt as though I'd missed an issue or two of the monthly. Apparently, this tale takes place around the time Magneto took over Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Rio and McLeod put the kids in costumes a bit different than their original suits, but not as ugly as the outfits later artists stuck them with; there's an in-story explanation for it, which actually seems to be something Claremont tossed in after he took a gander at the art for the first time. A kind of "Thank God we invented the... you know... whatever device" moment.

Anyway, this fulfills one of my many comic book wishes-- a New Mutants story with the original team set in the good old days, one not tied into some huge company-wide crossover story where the characters get lost in the mix-- kind of like what's been happening in the New Mutants ongoing. Hell, I bought issue #16 of that at the same time and none of the starring cast even appears in it. It's all about four-star generals in berets and insanely babbling scientists in Hell or something.

An issue without your main cast would be fine if they'd had more than cameos in the previous few issues. Mind you, this issue is the caboose of a massive storyline train that reduced our stars to mere stowaways in the mail car. I was hoping Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid would ride up and blow that baby to smithereens. Hmm. Maybe it's not just Sam who gets no respect; maybe it's the creative team for New Mutants. We've seen little glimpses of what they're capable of, but I'm starting to think this title is little more than a vehicle for crap that wouldn't fit in the main X-books with Dani and the rest as afterthoughts. They should change the title to Things That Vaguely Affect Various Mutants Until We Introduce Them as Plot Elements in Our Main Books and Occasionally Dani Moonstar Shows Up to Punch Sam Guthrie in the Face.

Not so with The New Mutants Forever. It's self-contained as far as I can tell. So much so, I'm not even sure of the context, but it doesn't matter because... Dani. Too bad Xi'an isn't in it. That'd make it perfect. I really have to applaud Marvel for putting out a book aimed squarely at a demographic of one-- me. Actually, the biggest disappointment with this comic is it's only five issues. I'd like Marvel to know I'd go miles out of my to buy an ongoing series with this cast, this creative team and unmoored from current Marvel universe narrative. Just a sweet focus on the team I love and want to read about.

No comments: