Monday, December 23, 2013

New Mutants Winter Holiday Extravaganza starring Dani Moonstar!

If there's anything the New Mutants love more than ostracizing Kitty Pryde or cuddling up together on the sofa with some popcorn to watch Magnum, P.I., it's enjoying seasonal hijinks in the snow.  Let's take a moment to share a few holiday memories with Dani, Sam, Roberto, Rahne, Xi'an and all the rest.

The snow love starts as early as New Mutants #4:

New Mutants #4 (June 1983); words: Chris Claremont; art: Sal Buscema and Bob McLeod

These sequences are useful for showcasing each kid's powers or personality, and for comedic relief.  Outdoor frolicking later helps the team quickly recover from the apparent death of leader Xi'an Coy Manh and welcome new additions Amara Juliana Olivians Aquilla and Illyana Rasputin to the team roster.  Amara shows her holiday spirit by helping plan a surprise party for a moping Professor Xavier.  Did you realize the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters allows its students to get out of class early during inclement winter weather, even though they both live and study inside the school itself?  I didn't, either.  Here's proof, though:

New Mutants #14 (April 1984); words: Claremont; art: Buscema and Tom Mandrake

We all know how Dani shuns clothing in favor of what Xi'an jokingly calls l'aventures naturelles.  Leave it to the coolest mutant around to don a winter ensemble consisting of assless chaps and a loincloth even as the mercury dips below zero...

New Mutants #17 (July 1984); words: Claremont; art: Buscema and Mandrake

As someone who grew up in the Colorado mountains, Dani has probably developed a greater tolerance for low temperatures, but this is a bit much even for her.  After a quick hallucination as frostbite sets in, it's time to repair to the mansion to warm up with some hot cocoa and possibly a long inner monologue about recent events. 

This next example isn't so much fun and festive as it is moody and menacing.  For Dani, snow isn't just about having fun and walking around half (or wholly) naked.  It's also about undertaking spirit quests.  Here's a dark and troubling page by Bill Sienkiewicz from New Mutants #18, where Dani goes solo against the demon bear that consumed her parents.

New Mutants #18 (August 1984); words: Claremont; art: Bill Sienkiewicz

With Chris Claremont's genius for involving characterization, New Mutants rarely goes wrong when the story focuses on Dani, the best of all its characters.  But what's this?  Looks like Dani's not the only New Mutant trying for a membership in the Polar Bear Club.  Check out Sam Guthrie and Illyana in this slapstick sequence set at a local airport.

New Mutants #29 (July 1985); words: Claremont; art Sienkiewicz

Okay, so they're not just flying around in swimsuits because they enjoy it.  They do.  But more importantly, they're chasing after kidnappers who have just spirited away Roberto and Amara.  This happens while Dani and the others are fighting for their lives in a wartorn dreamscape inside a kid's mind.  No snow there, though, which is why I left it out.

I'd hoped to find an issue with the team decorating a Christmas tree, lighting Chanukah or Kwanzaa candles, with Rahne doing her best Tiny Tim impression and Amara sharing a few Saturnalia traditions, but the only overt reference to a winter holiday comes in New Mutants #38, where the kids attend a party at Salem Center High School.  Dani, despite wearing a sweet party-appropriate black and yellow striped winter coat, decides to hang out in the Xavier school stables with Brightwind, her winged horse from Asgard.  Instead of the ghosts of Jacob Marley and Christmases Past, Present and Future, she gets a visit from what I believe is Thor in the guise of a frog.

New Mutants #38 (April 1986); words: Claremont; art Rick Leonardi and Sienkiewicz

While Dani proves largely impervious to cold due to her upbringing and frequent nudity, her young pal Rahne Sinclair has the natural advantage of being able to transform into a wolf.  Each time she and Catseye (a member of the Hellfire Club's off-brand version of our heroes they call the Hellions), meet, they shapeshift into their "furforms" and go do lord knows what together.

New Mutants #39 (May 1986); words: Claremont; art: Keith Pollard and Del Barras

Around this time, new school headmaster Magneto decides it's better for his charges to become Hellions themselves, which leads to an extended run of issues where practically everyone wears magenta costumes.  And also to conflict with some of the Avengers.  Which, appropriately enough for today's theme, takes place in a scenic snow-frosted wilderness.

New Mutants #40 (June 1986); words: Claremont; art: Jackson Guice and Kyle Baker

But what of the most important of all the kids, Dani Moonstar?  Not wanting any part of this magenta nightmare, she bugs out for her hometown in Colorado where she spends a lot of time...  you guessed it... in a stable with Brightwind.

New Mutants #41 (July 1986); words: Claremont; art: Guice and Terry Austin

I've never been, but I imagine with the Rocky Mountains being right there and all Colorado must have some beautiful winters.  During this particular story, a would-be boyfriend from Dani's past turns up and she has to engage in a fast draw duel with the personification of Death itself to save the guy's life (even though he's a complete creep).  It's your typical "guy likes girl, girl wants to be just friends, guy gets drunk and crashes his truck then goes into insulin shock, girl gunfights Death to save guy's life" story.

As if the Hellions costumes weren't bad enough, the team received their "graduation" uniforms soon after.  Poor Sam gets stuck in a purple and white jumpsuit with some kind of rejected prototype helmet left over from the Robocop pre-production phase and kneepads and Dani, much to her horror, has to wear a top that seems to have been woven from an old carpet Professor X had stored in the mansion's attic.

New Mutants #54 (August 1987); words: Claremont; art: Buscema and Austin

Amara looks like she just came from the Jem and the Holograms concert, or else she's splitting the visual difference between Spider-Man's animated friend Firestar and one of Santa's elves.  But with Rahne providing the perfect fifty-issue bookend by once again knocking over one of her teammates in the snow we've reached an appropriate stopping point.

Happy Holidays and a joyous 2014 to our reader!

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