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New Mutants

Unearthed: New Mutants #18

This is the start of not only the Demon Bear Saga, upon which the New Mutants movie was supposedly based, but also the beginning of Bill Sienkiewicz’s legendary run!

This was one of the first times I can recall seeing a painted comic book cover. Visually, the colors alone make it a striking choice on your newsstand.

This was also the first time I had encountered the work of Bill Sienkiewicz, and it destroyed my teenaged brain. “Comics can LOOK like this?” I asked no one. Yes, young, stupid me, they CAN.

I mean, come ON with this. I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did, as long as you love this page. It’s not “realism” as such, it’s not hyperrealism, which seems to be the standard in comics these days. It’s a very specific stylized art that I can’t get enough of.

Here we see a young Rachel Summers in one of the X-universe’s alternate timelines. I think it’s the only time we ever see her with long hair. The mansion’s under attack and only Xavier’s around to defend it, somehow.

THIS image was seared into my brain.

Really the only reason I include these panels is because of the apocalyptic drama aspect that Sienkiewicz renders so wonderfully. Rachel doesn’t appear again in the Demon Bear Saga.

A routine session in the Danger Room that the kids are operating by themselves without Xavier present for some reason. Sienkiewicz’s rendering style makes even random robots look amazing.

Here’s the kind of situational power mechanics that used to be standard in superhero comics but which has, sadly, gone by the wayside. Superheroes never struggle with their powers anymore, and that’s a shame.

Check it out, guys: Dani actually looks Native for once! And Sienkiewicz’s mastery of light and shadow is on full display here.

Here Dani’s referencing the bear that she keeps seeing in her dreams… not to mention that it essentially spoke to her in smoke form the last issue…

Lockeed gets the best lines.

We’re cutting away now to somewhere in the universe. This is our first look at Warlock, a character that Sienkiewicz created. Every single other artist draws him more like a goofy, madcap robot, but here he’s a visually striking figure.

And here’s Warlock’s father, Magus, casually ripping apart a STAR. These guys aren’t the focus of the Demon Bear Saga, but Claremont’s giving us a taste of what’s to come.

Yes, Magus is hunting his own son, out to destroy him. That’s apparently the way it works where they come from. It doesn’t make sense, but then, does it have to?

Meanwhile, Dani is hunting bears in the Danger Room to prepare herself to confront her own bearish nightmare.

Illyana questions Dani’s motives and Dani avoids answering. She’s trying to tough it out; she thinks only she can take care of the problem. That’s not what a team’s about, Dani!

Scary…

It should be mentioned here that Illyana’s the younger sister of Peter Rasputin, also known as Colossus the X-Man. Her mutant power is to create “stepping discs” — a nod to science fiction writer Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” series — that travel through both space and time.

Sienkiewicz’s sense of negative space is one of the keys to understanding why his work is so amazing. Dani’s about to challenge the bear once and for all.

I’ve always wondered: is that animal the bear reacting to Dani’s challenge, or is it Dani’s spirit calling out? Is it a bear or is it a wolf?

HOLY CRAP

Dani’s power is to manifest a person’s most intense fear… and in this case, it’s Dani herself. How? Why? We’ll find out… TOGETHER

Some cool moment-to-moment action. I like it when fight scenes are choreographed well like this.

Oh Dani. Oh no.

Rahne shares a telepathic link with Dani. When something happens to either one, the other knows it. Here she sounds the alarm, waking the rest of the New Mutants from sleep.

Apparently, her nightgown is made of unstable molecules too.

Brace yourselves, True Believers…

Look at this gorgeous image, holy cats.

Though because I am the way I am, I’m going to nitpick something here: they all arrived together, walking in the same direction. Why, then, do they seem to have approached from different places in this last panel? But hey, it’s beautiful, so I’m fine with it.

Join us on Monday for New Mutants #19!

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