By Steve Morris
Comic books and farms… they never mix well, do they? It feels like any time a comic sets itself on any kind of farm, horror and bloodshed is waiting literally just around the corner for every character involved. That’s the case in New Mutants #6, which ends on a shockingly dark note.
With the primary New Mutants off having fun in space, Ed Brisson’s team have been tasked with real-world politics, in the sense that their enemies are a drugs cartel trying to muscle in on Krakoa’s miracle medicines. Having been taken hostage, this issue the X-Men escape with the help of Boom Boom, who seems to be riding the high just before her hangover really kicks in. There’s banter and silliness, but that’s actually all a place-setter for the surprisingly bloody finish to the fight on the farm. Everything played as a semi-serious joke at the start comes together to form something which is way more shocking.
It revolves around Manon and Maxime, two mutant students who can influence people’s minds. Last issue they used their powers to trick two of their guards into shooting each other – although Flaviano’s artwork suggests that they weren’t killing shots, Glob still reprimands them for taking the worst route through their predicament. Instead of finding any other way forward, they chose the violent path, which made things worse for themselves – and obviously also resulted in two villainous characters getting gutshot in the process. Glob goes on to show them a better way of dealing with problems, which shows the looonnnnng path that character has taken from his first (murderous!) appearances in New X-Men.
It’s a nice character beat to see one character pass on their understanding to others, and you’d expect that to be the end of their role in this arc. There are bigger characters to deal with, after all. But then the main villain shoots both of Beak’s human parents before killing himself, figuring the whole thing will be seen as a mutant massacre which he’ll laugh at from beyond the grave. This is just like She Lies With Angels all over again! Like I said at the start… don’t go to a farm with mutants. To make things worse, there’s a data page afterwards which shows readers just how low down this villain was in the cartel’s hierarchy. This guy didn’t even matter and he murdered both Beak’s parents.
That’s a bleak thought for that section of the comic to conclude with, but then we get the aftermath: Maxime and Manon are revealed to have wiped Beak’s mind off-panel so he forgets completely about his parents being killed. He thinks they died years ago, so his mourning for them is already done. Armor yells at them about it, but they don’t really understand – their understanding of empathy is still way off-target.
But when Armor says “you can’t just rewrite people’s memories to make them happy”… well, does that remind you of anyone? Over in the central X-Men title, we’ve already seen that the Krakoan resurrection ritual is being altered slightly so that the mutants who come back to life are happy. Synch was considered “off” until they tweaked him and brought back Skin so he had a friend who he could hang out with. Have the twins done anything which Xavier and co wouldn’t have done anyway? It’s a neat comparison, and one which offers a stark reminder for readers. We obviously condemn the twins in one respect, but on the other hand… do we really want to see scenes of Beak mourning his parents in the following issues?
I suppose that’s what a lot of the Krakoan era has been playing on: the idea that we get to see idealised and happy versions of the characters we’ve all loved for years. If it takes a bit of a mind-wipe on occasion for that to be possible, is that all so bad? I mean, yes, yes it is, but it makes for involving drama at least. And given the reminder that Xavier will be pretty immediately aware of what’s happened to Beak and his family, we’ll have to see if he has anything to say about it. 10-1 odds will say that he lets it rest: he doesn’t want that sort of drama on his paradise island either….
New Mutants #6: Not As Hoped
Writers: Ed Brisson
Colourist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Designer: Tom Muller
Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.
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