December 1987: Fallen Angels 1 – Or, to run a school, maybe you should be good with kids

 

Synopsis: ‘Runaway‘ was written byJo Duffy, with art by Kerry Gammill and Tom Palmer and opens with a football match (don’t care if you call it soccer, it’s always going to be football) being played by six of the New Mutants, Robert ‘Sunspot’ DaCosta, Amara ‘Magma’ Aquilla, Sam ‘Cannonball’ Guthrie, Ilyana ‘Magik’ Rasputin and Doug ‘Cypher’ Ramsey.  Watching fron a distabce are the rest of the team Rhane ‘Wolfsbane’ and Warlock.  This friendly football game is being played in the grounds of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, currently being run by it’s new headmaster Magneto.

 

Magneto  is having trouble, he’s run a school and has little to no experience with children and is struggling. He reaches out to Moira MacTaggaert at Muir Island who is currently studying the powers of Thersa ‘Siryn’ Rourke along with her assistant Jamie ‘Multiple Man’ Madrox.  Magneto asks for help in refining the report cards and other school admin issues. Moira, Jamie and Theresa then all leave for the US.

Back at the football game, Roberto and Sam collide and a pankicked Roberto uses his Sunspot powers to push Sam off, but in doing so Sam hits a tree and hits it hard. He doesn’t get back up and as Sunspot tries to help, be is rebuffed by the rest of the team. Magneto arrives and orders the team to get Sam to the hospital at Salem Center to get checked over and an X-Ray. Roberto skulks back to the school and looks around Magneto’s office, coming across Magneto’s notes on the students, including Roberto. It seems Magneto has concerns over Roberto’s temprament and the path he is taken. Horrified by this, Roberto is convinced that he is evil and runs away, leaving an apologetic note.

 

Magneto reads the note as he and the other students return and Magneto admonishes the students for the reaction to Roberto and sends them to their rooms. Warlock is confused, why is no one looking for Roberto? He concludes that he should go and get Roberto and let him know that Sam is okay and that he should come home. With that decided, he turns into a plane and flies off.

In Manhatten, Roberto walks past a teenage girl called Chance, who is angrily rebuking a 10 year old boy who is selling calendars on behalf of the Glorification Church of Yune Kim Park, just the name angers Chance who was brough to the states by Park and then placed her into slavery. After taking the boy’s earnings, Chance is herself mugged by other criminals, but before any harm can come to her Roberto arrives and powers up his Sunspot form after giing a proclamation of his intent to battle them. But almost immediately, his powers fade away and he’s left powerless alongside Chance and the pair are at the mercy of these thieves.

Notes: This came to my attention through the podcast Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men (if you have ever enjoyed X-Men comics and films etc, this is a  podcast to listen to, funny and informative) and based on that recommendation I read the series. As a whole 8 issue run, it’s a fantastic story full of bizarre moments, great characterisation and more than a little amount of heart. When this date came up I was curious to see how this first issue would read as a single story and without the context of the surrounding issues.

It was a very different read.

Positives were that the dialogue and characterisations were excellent and reflected what the winning team of Claremont and Simonson had done and would go on to do in New Mutants. title. This is all high drama and teenage exuberance and Magneto’s feeling of inadequacy over being an educator were very well handled. Magneto is not a teacher, he is not good with kids and has little interest in either of those things and he constantly feels like he’s doing his old friend Charles Xavier a disservice with the poor job he is doing. That said, his job performance here is decent, he scolds the children for being a**holes when they are and seeks help when he needs it. Most of the drama in this issue is due to circumstance and misunderstanding. Roberto loses his temper, name a teenager that doesn’t. So the story and the characters all hang together for the New Mutants section of the story and does really well.  The Muir Island stuff is less great, but it’s clear that’s just set up for new stuff. Everything up to the point where Warlock flies into the sky to get his friend to come back is great, Gammill going a great job with Warlock’s particular look and therein lies the problem.

Negatives were only two things, the stuff in Manhatten felt very tacked on and lacked the depth that the earlier stuff did and seemed to me to be a forced cliffhanger which didn’t need to be one. A better approach would have been to pick the Manhatten stuff up in issue 2, the only other negative is that I don’t really like the inks of Tom Palmer and the colours of the time don’t really help with that.

But with such minor niggles, this comic does the job of bringing New Mutants readers into this new series, this was dramatic and tense in places and highlighted a good writer doing a great job. Whilst this may be a lukewarm recommendation, I was comforted to remember that this series from a solid start got a lot better.

Next Time: Brought to you by the letter T

 

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