New Mutants #56-61 (1987-1988): The Birdbrain Saga

Magma’s in love with a Hellion!

Louise Simonson does a good job writing “teen” in this book.  Magma has daddy issues, since her father—who rules an Ancient-Romelike city in the middle of the forest—has told her she can’t come home because she’s a mutant and tainted by the outside world.  And she’s a teenager.  So, naturally, she makes a decision this issue to follow a cute boy all the way to the Hellions—Emma Frost’s academy.  Totally believable, and I mean that in the least sarcastic and most sincere sense.

Also, the team competes on a “scavenger hunt” with the Hellions to track down a newly identified mutant: Birdbrain.  That’s a pretty demeaning thing to call someone, but don’t worry—Birdbrain will be gone by the end of this story.  Not even worth tagging him.

He’s clearly intended to lighten this (very heavy) book about teenagers, but the slapstick feels crowbarred in and it just doesn’t work.

Anyway, with that set-up the New Mutants track Birdbrain to an island where there are other animal-like mutants like him.  And, of course, there’s a mad scientist there.

The doctor is employed by The Right, which is led by X-Factor foil (and X-Factor’s former P.R. man) Cameron Hodge, who in the pages of X-Factor (also written by Louise Simonson) has been using that team to increase anti-mutant hysteria.

So, it’s The New Mutants plus Birdbrain fighting all the other animal creatures and, eventually, a big showdown against Cameron Hodge and The Right.

In one of the (one-too-many) battles, Cypher is killed jumping in front of a bullet intended for Wolfsbane.  And dies.

Frankly, we could use one fewer character in this book—it’s hard to care about them when there are so damn many of them.

Meanwhile, Bret Blevins’ art just gets more and more cartoony.

Note: These issues have a “fall of the mutants” banner, but they don’t really tie to the event all that much, other than a few references.

Creators: Louise Simonson, June Brigman
Grade: C+

 

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