Story Bill Mantlo
Art WM Johnson
Inks Akin & Garvey
Colors Ben Sean
Letters Phil Felix
Cover Dated 1984
There are sixteen pages before we get to the New Mutants, and from there, this annual gets pretty good. Until then, it is some very deep entrenched ROM plots but I’ll try to get through them so that it doesn’t seem completely odd, once we get to the New Mutants. I type that, as I barely remember this issue.
Issue opens with ROM and a lady Spaceknight (I imagine) as they approach a day care center that has children inside being held captive by Dire Wraiths.
The ESPer Unit of SHIELD is on site to try to help with the Dire Wraith situation. The lady Spaceknight’s name is, Starshine. They all can’t be winners like, ROM! One of the agents states that the terror levels are spiking and Starshine quickly flies into the day care center. Everyone else worries that the children will be endangered but ROM understands that more children will be endangered, if the Dire Wraiths get out of the day care center.
The Dire Wraiths are young and without a leader, so they are directionless. The children’s instructor wakes up and the filthy Dire Wraiths resort to their instincts and murder her – in front of the children! Like the Warwolves, but less less interesting, the Dire Wraiths can absorb the appearance of their victim. Instead of wearing the person’s skin, the Dire Wraith sticks its tongue into the teacher’s forehead and sucks the teacher’s essence and transforms into her as her body turns to skeleton. All of this, again, in front of the teacher’s students – who can’t be older than ten.
One of the other jerk Dire Wraiths is about to do the horrid tongue trick to a small child when Starshine breaks through the wall, with ROM right behind her. The heroes fight the aliens. The children are saved and outside, two Dire Wraiths escape by transforming into Deathwings, like black pterodactyls. The two spaceknights give chase. ROM hesitates to kill the Dire Wraith, as it is only a child. Starshine follows Charlton Heston’s eleventh commandment, “thou shall not hesitate.”
ROM hints that Starshine is really his old friend, Brandy, a character I know I’ve read about in the past but she didn’t much impression besides “lady friend of ROM.”
Apparently, ROM (I had to read this page twice and I wasn’t even to recap it but then I realized it is pretty important for later) fired his gun and kept the chamber open too long – or something. In that fraction of a second, the Limbo ROM sends Dire Wraiths to, something came back!
The being goes down the river until coming across some simple mountain folk. A holy man is baptizing folks when the ooze takes the shape of a young man. They accept the teenager as a gift from God, and we see that the teenager has an evil smirk. He’s going to own these folks.
Now we get to the main point of the issue, the New Mutants arrive! Weeks have passed and Sam is taking his friends to his family home, in Kentucky. Illyana wishes that Storm was here, so she could use her powers to put out the forest fire. This causes Xavier to recap Uncanny X-Men 185, in that Storm lost her powers. Well, more like they were stolen from her by that jerk, Forge, when he was trying to steal Rogue;s powers.
Sunspot and Cannonball aid the firefighters in making a firebreak. They do this, from the shadows and from a distance, so that Kentucky doesn’t feel grateful for having mutants help them – I guess?
Meanwhile, back at the limo. Xavier senses that there is a group of firefighters that need help. He sends Wolfsbane to save them. She finds them and lets out a howl. She’s trapped in the same fire and Xavier wants to send Magik, who has been dreading using her powers.
She has very little control over her stepping discs. She could teleport right to where Wolfsbane is, but maybe a day late or thousands of years early. Being told she is their only hope, so she heads out. Such a nice three panel sequence, where she teleports them to limbo and back to safety.
Illyana, for a moment, gets scared as she didn’t recognize her surroundings. Xavier hugs her as everything went right for her.
Magma is next up, she’s going to put out the fires by creating some hotter fires. As they leave, Rahne notices that a church in the middle of the fire, wasn’t even singed.
Coming out of the church is the Priest and the boy from the river – who now looks like he is in his twenties. The new guy clearly started the fire. ROM and Starshine are nearby, as this is where the Dire Wraith ran to. Following them is the Wraith-Hunter Ranger Command Camp. I wonder what these soldiers are doing these days. In ROM 60, we learn that the Dire Wraiths are gearing up to become a global threat.
One of the ESPers reaches out for Dire Wraith telepathic signals and passes out. This is a stronger connection than the time Doctor Strange helped them, in ROM 54. ROM only had 75 issues, plus annuals, so they are gearing up for the big Total War stroyline, which has actually been going on since issue 52 and ends with 65 with 66 being an Epilogue issue. I guess Mantlo takes nine issues to wrap up everything else.
The ESPer’s last words (before passing out” is “the horror! the horror!” which reminds ROM of another old foe, one he thought was long gone.
The Town of Cumberland, Cameron County, Kentucky. The Gurthries are happy to have their eldest son back home.
Josh, the future Icarus, has been hanging around Illyana and Magma, he’s a bit smitten with them. Illyana finds him cute, in a way. Shame he’s dead now, now that she’s been back for a while.
The local area has had some problems recently, besides with these latest fires. One of the younger sisters, I doubt it is Paige but it could be, thinks it is a miracle that the fire stopped. Robert elbows Illyana, as they were the miracle workers this day.
Mrs. Guthrie references how the new preacher should have a sermon about today’s events. She goes on to talk about the new preacher came out of the river, naked, and not being able to talk and now he quotes scripture like he was always meant to.
ROM and Starshine approach the church. Now that they are finally alone, ROM wants to talk to his love Brandy Clark but name disgusts Starshine. Starshine flies away, as she is upset. ROM is about to go after her, but ROM hears the old preacher repeat “the horror, the horror.”
ROM turns and recognizes the silhouette of an old foe!
We finally get to the villain of the issue, and it is a great one! Probably, my favorite ROM villain – Hybrid! The product of a Dire Wraith and a Human, so he’s a mutant! I really enjoy this villain, he’s a hot mess and so very twisted.
I looked it up, thinking that I owned all but two of his appearances. Of the 13, I’m missing six, so I’m at that part where I own half and the debate rages if I should try to get the other issues. I have to add ROM 62 as Magik appears in that issue, so one day, I’ll be five issues away. So I’m going to see if Hastings has X-Man 31, Avengers Academy 23, 24, 25 and New Warriors (2014) 1 and I’ll own all of his appearances. If Hastings even has three of the issues, I’m going to commit to getting the other issues and add Hybrid to my favorite character list – which, apparently I take very seriously. Hybrid’s appearance in this issue really took me by surprise and I instantly liked this issue even more. Reading this back issues, I have to confess, I feel like I must have skim right through them to get to the next issue. Probably due to me buying back issues by the 20 or 30 (pending on sales) so I was just trying to own them all and read all of them. They feel like a big sense of memory in my head. Thanks to this blog,
Since writing the above, I did go to Hastings (as this post and the next one is going to take forever) and they only had the New Warriors issue so I was able to buy that one. I’ve tried to back order the Avengers Academy three issues and the X-Man issue but I doubt they’ll be able to get them shipped.
Hybrid attacks Starshine, ROM mistakenly shows concern for her so Hybrid now knows that ROM cares for the golden spaceknight.
Meanwhile, Sam and Josh are hunting like how their father use to do.
The old preacher, Joad, has died. The New Mutants and the town comes out to the funeral. As the young preacher arrives, Xavier senses grave evil as the young man arrives. As Illlyana is in-tune to such things, she can also sense the danger. Rahne also senses evil from the young man,
Soon. Sam can’t believe what he is hearing, that Joad was murdered by an evil mutant. Illyana corrects him, not a mutant, something far more sinister. Nearby, Hybrid is able to overhear everything.
Hybrid returns to the church, transforming into his natural form. He gives us a quick recap of his origins, ROM 16 & 17. Hybrid doesn’t waste any time before threatening to turn Starshine into his new bride. This is one of the things that makes him such a twisted villain, he really wants to enslave women and turn them into baby making machines – which is disgusting. He first tried to turn Kitty into his bride in his first appearances (ROM 17 – 19) and then all three – Rogue, Mystique and Destiny – in ROM 31 & 32. He’s a pretty proper character, now that I’m looking at the years of his appearance. Debut in 1981, returned in 1982 and now, two years later in 1984 for this issue. A year later he’ll be back and then disappears for twelve years. Then 15 years later, had a bit of a resurgence and he hasn’t been seen since 2014, two years after his last run.
Hybrid reverses the spells that made Brandy into Starshine and now she is human again. After that, he causes the church to sink into the ground.
The town and the New Mutants are going through the mines to see if they can find the church. Sam doesn’t like being in the same mines that caused his father’s black lung. Magik doesn’t like being surrounded by such darkness, even though she knows it doesn’t compare to Limbo. Hybrid plans on making the ladies of the New Mutants into his brides. He’s the worst. He just happens to be one of those characters that I own so many of his appearances, so I feel like I really get the character, but his character design really sticks with him.
The mine collapses. Sam has a PTSD flashback to something he hasn’t personally experienced. Illyana tells Magma to light up the place as she tries to calm Sam down. Xavier knows that Magma’s flame is going to eat up all of the oxygen in the room. Cannonball blasts his way through the mine, but takes a super nasty fall at the end.
Magma, without missing a beat, tells Sam that she could have made it all the way through, without causing herself any grief. A bright light appears and the team is in front of the church. Is Dani not part of the team? We’re getting references to ROM issues but not New Mutants.
Hybrid brings Xavier to his flippin’ knees with a mental blast. Everyone is super rightfully disgusted by the fact that Hybrid wants to turn Illyana, Magma and Wolfsbane into a breeding ground. Cannonball leads the charge to attack Hybrid.
Hybrid takes the team down. Hybrid gets a good dig into Rahne, who is super religious and he’s an acting preacher, so she feels conflicted.
Magma tries to burn Hybrid but he turns the lava towards Sunspot, which I don’t really mind.
Hybrid is telepathic, so he has an edge against everyone. Look at how gross Hybrid is in the middle panels! He amost kisses Illyana but look at what he was trying to do there, is that his tongue? Illyana luckily teleports away. Hybrid continues his plans to marry Magma and Wolfsbane.
Illyana is in Limbo, to calm down – which must make her sad that that place can calm her. She sees ROM there, so that’s good timing. ROM mentions Kitty, who Illyana says “knew” so what is happening in their title that Kitty may be gone?
Illyana recognizes that this isn’t her Limbo but ROM’s limbo – that’s why there are Dire Wraiths there. Would it have been that hard to have just named ROM’s Limbo something else? Rimbo?
Illyana and ROM teleport back to the church.
Illyana teleports the two into the church, I guess we needed the establishing shot. ROM allows himself to get excited that Brandy has been reverted back to human.
Oh man, how gross is Hybrid kissing Brandy? There’s no coming back from that!
ROM charges at Hybrid, who claims that ROM’s weapons probably won’t affect him. Hybrid also promises to name his first born after ROM.
Magik is tired of being told she’s nothing more than a vagina and brings out her off model soulsword.
Magik runs her soulsword through Hybrid.
Brandy tries to use her spaceknight powers but realizes she is human now. She grabs ROM’s gun and blasts Hybrid until he fades away.
Brandy falls backwards and ROM catches her. She’ll be okay. ROM and the New Mutants say their farewells.
The next issue is ROM 61 but not for us.
There is an ad for the Dazzler and Beast miniseries, Beauty and the Beast. Get it?