CLAREMONT, Chris. X-Men: Fall of the Mutants. Marvel Comics, 2001 (originally published in 1988). ISBN: 0785108254
The story here is not incredibly strong, especially if you haven't read the issues leading up to this. The New Mutants were a team of "junior" X-Men, sort of a second generation of X-Men teenagers after the original had pretty much reached adulthood. Like the team that was introduced in Giant Size X-Men #1, this team was supposed to be a little more international, to show that mutants were more than a bunch of caucasian Americans. There nine "official" New Mutants as of the first 50 issues; of these, only seven actually appear in this story. Here it's Cannonball, Mirage, Magik, Cypher, & Wolfsbane. It's kind of later on in the New Mutants history, which lasted 100 issues and served as a precursor to X-Force in the early nineties. Shatterstar, who I've talked about before, first appeared late in the run of the New Mutants. I actually really like the stories. Chris Claremont created it and wrote it for a long time. At this point, Louise Simonson was writing the title in Fall of the Mutants. I like Louise Simonson as a writer, but kind of hate what she did to these poor mutant kids. This story is a perfect example.
For some god awful reason, a character who was half-man, half-bird was introduced. In keeping with the lighthearted nature of the title, a previous adventure the team had was talking him to an ice cream store (called a "malt shoppe" here - dated much?) where he caused all sorts of shenanigans. Being half-bird, half-man... he just didn't get human rules, ya know? Anyway, the creature is nicknamed "Bird-Brain" and is able to communicate with Doug Ramsey, whose lame power it was to understand and speak any language. Including half-bird, half-man. He could also do computers, which actually made him much cooler than I think people realized. Anyway, he determines from Bird-Brain that he is from some awful island where he was created and experimented on. There are also others there like them. Being junior heroes, and this being a grave injustice, the New Mutants agree something has to be done. They have to rescue them.
One problem. They're grounded. At this point, though not mentioned in the story proper, Xavier is in space after almost dying in a mutant hate crime. He's okay, but still in space and pretty far away. Before he left, he put Magneto in charge of his school and thus, the New Mutants. Magneto and the New Mutants don't really get along. It's pretty evident towards the end of the story when he's yelling at them why. They're also kind of brats. Magneto is seriously trying to protect them, perhaps overprotect them, from a world that hates and fears them. The New Mutants obviously don't think they need such protection. With Illyana Rasputin's mutant power of teleportation, they also can't really be grounded. Despite Magneto's decree, the New Mutants go off to save Bird-Brain's extended family anyway. For the record, Illyana is pretty much my favorite.
The story itself is bad. This is why I gave you background. A mad scientist named the Ani-Mater is Bird-Brain's "dad." He sics a bunch of creatures on the the kids, the win at first but then get captured. Rahne (Wolfsbane) tends to cry a lot, as she identifies with the godless animals (being able to wolf out herself). She's super reglious and doesn't like the idea of baser feelings taking over. The Ani-Mater is in league with Cameron Hodge and the Right, the bad guys behind Warren Worthington's from the X-Factor story. They show up and a much bigger battle ensues. Sunspot and Warlock, who were not there, find them and it turns to the New Mutants' side. Not before the Ani-Mater pulls out a gun to stop Rahne after all the crying though. In a pretty heroic moment, Doug jumps in front of the bullet, gets shot, and dies. The New Mutants don't even realize it until after the battle is over. It's pretty heartbreaking, and it's the moment where this story gets good.
The last issue deals with the fallout. Magneto is mad. The other stories are mentioned. Illyana sees her brother, Colossus from the X-Men, apparently die on TV. Rahne and, surprisingly, Mangeto mourn Doug more than the other members. Warlock, an alien and Doug's best friend, fails to understand why exactly happened. I like the last issue a lot, but just wish the story leading up to Doug's death was better thought out.