Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Writer: Louise Simonson | Penciler: June Brigman | Inker: Bob McLeod
Letterer: John Workman | Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Editors: Ann Nocenti & Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

The Plot: The High Evolutionary's agents, Purge and Stack, capture a pair of mutants named Glow Worm and the Bulk. Meanwhile, the New Mutants undergo training at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. They receive a letter from a former classmate, Amara Aquilla, who has returned to her home in the hidden city of Nova Roma, where she's been betrothed to a young man by her father. Meanwhile, Purge and Stack remove the powers of Glow Worm and Bulk, then their systems detect Amara in Nova Roma. The Evolutionary's men travel there and kidnap Amara, but her capture is seen by Empath, formerly of the White Queen's Hellions. Empath contacts the White Queen for help.

When the New Mutants' headmaster, Magneto, takes a call from the White Queen, the young mutants eavesdrop. Magneto departs in short order the Mutants teleport to Purge's and Stack's lair in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There they rescue Amara before her powers can be removed, then escape just as the Hellfire Club arrives to battle the High Evolutionary's forces. The New Mutants return to Xavier's School and bid farewell to Amara, who returns to Nova Roma.

Continuity Notes: Glow Worm and Bulk, infected with radiation poisoning, perish this issue after their powers are removed.

A footnote tells us that Forge shattered Magik's scrying glass in Limbo in NEW MUTANTS #66.

Mirage's mutant power is amped up this issue, due to exposure to the High Evolutionary's machine, and she gains the ability to create solid matter where previously she could only manifest illusory images. She recalls that she did this once before, but there is no footnote.

There is, however, a note when she manifests her "spirit lance", as she tells us she's used it twice before -- in NEW MUTANTS SPECIAL EDITION #1 and POWER PACK #21.

Circa 1988: The New Mutants at this point consist of Cannonball, Mirage, Magik, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, and Warlock. Magneto is their headmaster, dressed in a really ugly variation on his classic costume.

As noted above, Amara "Magma" Aquilla lives in Nova Roma at this point, and Empath is there with her.

The High Evolutionary's Plot: Suddenly the High Evolutionary wants to remove mutants' powers due to the danger they pose to his master plan for the human race. In the X-FACTOR annual, also written by Louise Simonson, his men were killing Subterraneans left and right, but here Stack says that "The master has his own morality... He doesn't kill wantonly."

...The heck? Simonson really changed her tune between issues for some reason. Perhaps editorial pointed out to her that the Evolutionary's actions in X-FACTOR made Apocalypse look sane, and asked her to tone down his megalomaniacal tendencies. But whatever the reason, this is the first major fracture to show in this crossover and, ironically, the contradiction comes from the same writer!

My Thoughts: Simonson opens the issue en media res once more, and this time it works. Maybe because we've already seen Purge and Stack at this point, or perhaps just due to better writing or clearer artwork; I really can't say. But whatever the case, it doesn't feel like a scene is missing, as was the case with X-FACTOR's contribution to "The Evolutionary War".

Unfortunately that's about all that's good about this issue. Simonson did a lot of stories about the New Mutants sneaking out on secret missions, and this one is just par for the course. The idea of the High Evolutionary's men randomly spotting Magma, of all mutants, is a bit iffy when there are much more powerful mutants out there -- but Magma has a connection to the New Mutants, so she's sort of necessary since this is a NEW MUTANTS annual.

I've never been a big fan of June Brigman's artwork, either. It looks unnaturally posed to me a lot of the time, and I don't think she handles action well. That said, the inking from NEW MUTANTS co-creator Bob McLeod at least gives us some really nice faces, keeping the characters on model with their earliest appearances.

But McLeod alone isn't enough to save a story with boring writing and lackluster pencils. Simonson's disjointed presentation of the High Evolutionary's plans is confusing, and perhaps speaks to some behind-the-scenes conflict or reshuffling. But somebody should have worked with her to align this appearance with the previous one in X-FACTOR ANNUAL, even if only by giving us a throwaway line explaining why the Evolutionary was willing to slaughter the Subterraneans when it apparently goes against his code to kill indiscriminately.

But, while that might have helped with the continuity, it still wouldn't have saved this issue for me. For the first time since I started reading the EVOLUTIONARY WAR OMNIBUS, I found myself counting pages until the story was over, I was just so bored with both script and artwork. It was a relief when I finally reached the last page.


  1. Yeah, this is not great. Magma getting picked up is one of those comic book coincidences that does the writer no favors when its used as the inciting incident.

    Brigman's art is almost the definition of "workmanlike" for me - it doesn't get in the way of telling the story, but isn't terribly exciting, either.

    I'm curious how much time passed between this issue and the X-FACTOR annual. I think these were released a few a month, for a few months?

    Basically, if Simonson wrote this, like, four months after the other one, I'd be more forgiving of the High Evolutionary inconsistencies. If it's just been a month or two, less so.

    1. I believe the X-FACTOR and NEW MUTANTS annuals were released a month apart, at least according to the research I did when I figured out how to tag them.

      Though that doesn't necessarily tell us how far apart she wrote them; it's possible "The Evolutionary War" was in planning stages for a longer time than your typical issue.

  2. Suddenly the High Evolutionary wants to remove mutants' powers due to the danger they pose to his master plan for the human race.

    I've read Chris Claremont's X-Men, wouldn't that like going and killing the first Cro-Magnon when he shows up to pester the Neanderthals?

    Soo... I think it was a back-up plan of his then that he took Magda there to his Wundagore base to give birth back in the day. Hello headcanon my old friend, Wyndham program'd Wanda then... (please don't go check the lyrics further, it gets icky).

    1. Technically, I think Magda just randomly shows up on his doorstep. I don't believe the Evolutionary brought here there -- or at least, that's how it's presented in the backup serial we'll look at in a few weeks.

      Also, since my post above was about Magma, I thought that was what you said in the comment. I had to re-read it to see what the heck you were talking about! Someone should've had the foresight to not name Magneto's wife so similarly to the codename of a New Mutant who would factor into an annual I'd be writing a post about thirty years later.

    2. They don't think the little man. You're a collateral victim in the Byrne-Claremont feud.

      Everything was of course only a pisstake based on the hilariousity of the fact that Wanda will one day achieve pretty much what the High Evolutionary here was trying, and the entwined backstories of both characters. Though, if body really really wanted to, something could be cooked of the AVENGERS issues #185-187 explicitly stating that Chthon impued Wanda with "latent magical potential" alongside her "latent science-spawned power" on the night when he lost the battle to the forces of Wundagore and even later kept diminishing her science-rooted powers in favor of the magical ones. I don't think anything ever came of the tease of Wanda having science (?) powers, (unless the probability tweaking thingy brought in later also by Byrne is meant) .The High Evolutionary certainly seemed interested enough to find parents for the Maximoff twins, the first choice being Robert and Madeline Frank, the once team-mates of the original android Human Torch whose body will later be recycled (and then some) for other purposes. Just writing down the facts makes intentional shenanigans start suggesting themselves.