New Mutants #18-20 (1984): Demon Bear Story; First Warlock

This is where New Mutants stopped being a pop comic and moved into art, and the main reason?  Bill Sienkiewicz.

It starts with that splash page, a strange mix of shadows and dreams, pixilated imagery, and fear.

From there, we are immediately shown Rachel Summers, who we know from the Days of Future Past storyline.

She’s back in our timeline now, and being hunted by Hellions, but when she goes to X Mansion and sees a teenage Illyana “Magik” Rasputin, she runs away, thinking she’s returned to the wrong point in time.  She doesn’t know that Illyana aged while locked in the demon realm, so that she is now much older than expected.

Then, it’s a jump into a danger room session for the New Mutants.  Professor X is missing, and Dani Moonstar is wishing he was there—because the demon bear dream from her splash page is keeping her unsettled during her waking hours.

Quite a lot of set-up for this arc, all in the first nine pages!

But that’s not all…

Warlock, running from his daddy, is introduced with no explanation and only stark, black-white-yellow art.  Only Bill S. could have pulled this off.

We also get a glimpse of the Starjammers, as they watch Warlock hurtle past in space, heading towards Earth, and take up pursuit.

As the story progresses, Dani’s dream Demon Bear manifests in reality, and she fights it, and loses.  She’s rushed to emergency surgery, and the rest of the team take on the bear, which pursues her to the hospital.

We also learn, during the fight, that Magik has a new power—and it’s kind of similar to her big brother Colossus.  When she’s struck by the demon bear, her skin becomes armored.  Ultimately, it is Magik who kills the bear with her soulsword, which frees Dani’s parents who were imprisoned within the bear.

All that, and an appearance by Alfred Hitchcock as a hospital patient!

Creators: Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz
Grade: A-
For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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