Writer Chris Claremont
Artist Bill Sienkiewicz
Colorist Glynis Wein
Letterer Tom Orzechowski
Cover Dated August 1984
This is an issue full of firsts! First Bill Sienkiewicz issue. First issue of what will be known as the Demon Bear Saga. First Appearances of Rachel Summers (in the proper timeline) as well as Warlock and his father, Magus.
Technically, the Demon Bear has made various appearances as a mental thought of Dani’s from the beginning of the series and it showed up at the very end of last issue but there is a world of difference between Sal Buscema’s Demon Bear (which looks like a big bear) and Sienkiewicz’s Demon Bear – which looks like a bear ripped from a young lady’s nightmares.
Right with the opening splash page, readers knew they were in for a different type of treat. Sal Buscema is awesome, don’t get me wrong but Sienkiewicz is an artist of an higher caliber. The way Dani is laying in bed with her blanket over her and how the blanket blends into the Demon Bear, is incredible.
I imagine if the Internet was around in 1984 (to the point where it is today) that fandom must have erupted. There were probably people who hated it or didn’t get it but what he does on the page, is a true sight to see. I’m sure I probably thought it wasn’t to my taste back in the day, but now I really like it.
Sienkiewicz loses me while he was the artist during the Clone Saga issues of Spectacular Spider-Man (220 to 229), his inks are way to heavy on Sal Buscema’s work. I can tell you that I for sure didn’t like those issues. So I read those first and then I read these New Mutants issues with hesitation but I was able to pull my head out of my own arse and appreciate them. He must have just been trying a new style or something during that year, 1995.
We get Rachel’s origin story. The Mansion is under attack. Xavier tells Rachel to get to the Danger Room, even in 1984 it is the safest place in the building. Xavier gets near the window and in an awesome panel that takes up the upper section of both pages, is just blasted away, the blast is done in completely white (instead of a red or orange hue) and poor Rachel has seen her mentor gun down like a criminal. She is the sole survivor.
Rachel, in the present, looks like how she did at the end of the Uncanny X-Men 142, if not a tad younger. She is walking towards the Mansion. The last time she was there, as we have seen, was not a great time. A police officer sees her and makes sure she is okay. Rachel tells him she is there for Xavier and the police officer drives off. Rachel goes through the gate.
The New Mutants are in the Danger Room. The members training right now are – Cannonball, Magma and Sunspot. Watching them is Dani and Magik. Cannonball is flying too fast and is about to hit Magma. He thinks about a suggestion Nightcrawler gave him recently and tries it out. Before he gets to close to Magma, he turns off his mutant power, spins in a different direction and then blasts off again.
Unfortunately the damage is done, she was distracted by the close collision. Some metal tentacles grab her, she burns as hot as lava and escapes her mechanical foe.
Watching this, in the room, Sunspot can’t help himself but to laugh. Apparently Sam has a crush on Amara, he hasn’t told her and I have forgotten about this brief attraction. Amara is also the new girl on the team, so I reckon there would be feelings from the guys.
Amara falls backwards and Sam is there for the catch. Sunspot is glad that Sam is able to at least get her into his arms.
All the robot opponents are defeated, Sunspot declares they are the winners. To which, Dani and Illyana (with Lockheed on her head!) tell them that Xavier will be the true decider if they have accomplished his goals and expectations for them.
I’m sure how often Lockheed is seen with Illyana is the reason why I started collecting all of her appearances. Owning so many issues of Kitty’s, made me realize I had naturally been collecting Lockheed appearances so that made sense. Owning every other issue of New Mutants, left me missing half the story so I started collecting Illyana as I really like her as a character.
The two ladies start talking about their teammates. Dani doesn’t believe Amara likes Sam in that way. Also that Amara must be having a hard time adjusting to her new life as she came from a hidden country that still acted like the Roman Emperor was still the proper way to conduct themselves. Now she is living in this new modern world. Illyana quietly mentions how she can relate. As she spent seven years in Limbo and that is a long time as well. Then to come back to the world that only changed by ten minutes. That has to mess up one’s mind.
The previous storyline had the New Mutants training with the Hellions, and Dani plus Illyana missed out as Illyana teleported too far into the future (by a week) and missed out on the adventure. This is also why Xavier is training the New Mutants harder, to see what ramifications there were.
Dani is worried about how recurring her nightmares involving the Demon Bear. The Demon Bear haunted her as a child, her parents went to investigate and were killed by the Demon Bear. So she has guilt from that and now the Demon Bear wants what it always wanted, Dani’s death.
The door bell rings. Illyana comes down the stairs, she shoos Lockheed away as the general public can’t see him as he is way to awesome and will pose too many questions. Questions that people in the Marvel Universe probably wouldn’t ask as they have gotten use to a guy who slept in ice for twenty years or a Norse deity who fights among mortals and lives in a billionaire inventor’s house.
Rachel and Illyana meet for the first time! But not really as Illyana doesn’t get her name. Once Rachel sees a fourteen year old Illyana, she freaks out and runs away. When Illyana died in Rachel’s timeline, she was fourteen and never experienced Limbo – so Rachel is shocked and afraid. Poor Illyana, she must have closed the door and was super confused.
How many visitors can they even get on a daily or weekly basis? I imagine Dani had to ask her what that was about, especially as Rachel asked for Xavier by name so he will surely ask once Illyana brought it up to him in a week.
Cut to Outer Space! space space. We see Warlock has he crashes into an unknown planet, he is trying to catch his breath. What he isn’t doing is speaking or thinking in that Warlock dialect slash speech pattern that we have come to expect from the character. We will have to track that to see when he does eventually start that.
His father is right behind him and Magus destroys the planet. Warlock is already flying away at that point. Magus comments aloud – thus he is a villain – that he will kill Warlock as that is what fathers and sons do where they are from. I wonder what the percentage is of fathers winning these fights?
Back on Earth. Dani is in the snow, she has been for a while as she is getting cold and tired. She must keep marching on. Then a bear comes at her and she shoots an arrow through its mouth and into its skull. Dani, she was better than Katniss Everdeen even before Suzanne Collins had the thought to create her.
A second bear shows up and due to how tired Dani is, that boost of speed and desperation gives her the edge to kill the second bear.
The snow disappears and we see that she was in the Danger Room the entire time! Illyana was supervising this session and comes into the room to speak to Dani. Illyana is worried that Dani is pushing herself too hard and for no apparent reason.
Dani tells Illyana that she is tired of not being useful in fights where she can’t use her mutant power to pull nightmare or pleasant thoughts out of their opponents, so she is practicing with actual arrows. Illyana isn’t convinced, though that is good of Dani to have that reasoning in her back pocket. Illyana asks why bears, and Dani tells her that she has to start somewhere.
I really like these two characters together. I think of the friendships Kitty has with the X-Men and her two friends on the New Mutants, Magik and Doug. Magik doesn’t really have that, she has Kitty and her brother Colossus, even Lockheed but Dani is the closet person I would say she could call a friend. And Dani isn’t even willing to reveal to Illyana what is up.
Dan is in her room and feels bad for not confiding in Illyana. She knows she has the aid of her teammates but she has to settle a blood debt with the Demon Bear. Dani thinks to herself how she is a Cheyenne Indian and she needs to seek out the Demon Bear and set right with once went wrong. I’m glad she mentions which tribe she is from as it is a detail I should really do better to remember.
Dani is deep into the woods that surround the Xavier Estate when she encounters the Demon Bear. It is a giant of a bear, like half of a skyscraper, big. She pulls its worst nightmare out and is surprised to see that it is herself and in her New Mutants uniform! Probably because Sienkiewicz hadn’t gotten to draw her in her uniform for his entire first issue.
Demon Bear hates Dani, so takes a swipe at the image of Dani. Dani takes advantage of the distraction and fires an arrow into its neck. Unfornately, this does nothing to slow it down. First, it knocks her bow out of her hand, next, it swats her to the side and then it picks her up. She looks like a little doll in its meaty paw.
It moves to maybe eat her and she shoves an arrow into its mouth. The Demon Bear drops her, giving her a chance to go for her bow. She fires another arrow into its mouth and it appears to be killed. She makes the classic horror movie mistake of wanting to make sure it is dead, not by firing more arrows into it but by letting down her guard and stepping closer. The final panel on the page is the Demon Bear opening its eye.
Making the Hunger Games reference earlier, FOX is really making a mistake by not instantly making a Dani Moonstar movie. Especially as the Hunger Games films are making a load of money. Reminds me of how puzzled I was that there wasn’t a Doctor Strange film when the Harry Potter films were being released. Or how there wasn’t a Spider-Man versus Morbius film when the Twilight films were coming out. That’s the beauty of comics, they can take advantage of any trend that Hollywood is going down.
Back at the Mansion. Wolfsbane wakes up, screaming. Typically, her connection with Dani is only active when she is in her wolf state but maybe because she was sleeping, she has a connection there too. Though, who knows how intricate that bond is while Rahne is sleeping.
Rahne starts running out of the mansion. The New Mutants follow, minus Magma.
They head deep into the woods, and then they see. The final page is a splash page of poor Dani, bleeding out onto the perfect white snow.
I’m sure I’ll do the other chapters of the Demon Bear Saga one of these days but for now, this is it for us here at S&FwM.