|New Mutants (1st series) # 4|| || |
Issue Date: June 1983
Story Title: Who's Scaring Stevie ?
Staff: Chris Claremont (writer), Sal Buscema (penciler), Bob McLeod (finisher), Glynis Wein (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Louise Jones (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)
Xavier calls the New Mutants for a meeting and explains to them that for the whole time they have known him he was infected with an alien Brood egg. Now free of the alien parasite, he would understand if they no longer trusted him or even wanted to leave, as he nearly killed them. However the kids decide to stay and continue their training. Karma tells the team that Stevie Hunter, their dance teacher is haunted by several prank phone-calls. Karma offers a reluctant Stevie help from the New Mutants to find the culprit. Sunspots builds a tracking device with Xavier’s help and they trace the call to a phone booth. Though the caller is already gone, Wolfsbane picks up his scent and follows it to a local High School. With her keen senses, she finds the culprit in the middle of a school dance. It is Peter Bristow, one of Stevie’s students of many years. After he runs scared, the New Mutants chase him through the streets. Cannonball saves a mother and child who were almost overrun by Peter’s car, and for the first time manages to turn in mid-flight. Peter runs the car into a wall and tries to hide in an abandoned factory. Sunspot deals with the car before it blows up, but discovers that the fire is about to reach explosives stored in the factory. As the building begins to fall, Karma possess the boy and working together the team manages to get out safely. They soon find out thanks to Psyche’s illusion powers that Peter was in love with Stevie and horribly abused by his parents. His views of love are twisted, believing that loved ones punish each other. When Stevie did not punish him, he wanted revenge, but he now feels very sorry. Xavier arrives with notification of Child Welfare, and telepathically erases any knowledge on the New Mutants from Peter’s mind. Xavier congratulates his team, as it’s only because of their help that Peter gets this chance. Also, while their tactics need improvement, they learned what they are all about - not fighting evil mutants, but actually helping people’s lives.
The telephone rings. Stevie Hunter answers it “Hello?”, with the reply “Hi Stevie. You know who this. You know what I want. Soon I’ll come and get it. Bye!” There is only the buzz on the line after the caller hangs up, Stevie threatens the sooner the better, that when she finds him, she’ll rip his heart out. Stevie slams the phone down on the receiver, as Shan walks in asking if she had received another call, like the others. When Stevie angrily replies yes, Shan tells her to summon the police once more. Stevie asks why even bother, since they cannot do anything about it, verbal harassment being such a minor crime. They leave the room and enter the music room. Shan offers that perhaps the New Mutants or the X-Men could help. Stevie tells her that they can, by staying out of it, that this is her problem, and she will handle it her own way. Shan tells her that is absurd, that the New Mutants are her friends, and they care about her.
Shan is caught off guard when she notices they are not alone in the room. Peering up from the piano, Peter Bristow excuses himself, asking if he is intruding. Stevie asks how he got in, and he tells her that the door was open, and he decided to tidy up the studio before class. Stevie thanks him, and tells Shan she is sorry for snapping at her, but Xavier is expecting her, so she had better scoot.
At Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters the rest of the team are playing frisbee in the snow. Danielle Moonstar tells Rahne Sinclair that this one is for her, tossing the frisbee in the air at a level that would be out of Wolfsbane’s reach no matter how high she jumped. In mid-air, she changes from complete wolf into a half-human form just long enough to catch the frisbee, and fling it back at her friends. Still not complete with her act, she shifts back into her lupine wolf form and races after her own toss, and snatches the frisbee before Roberto DaCosta can catch it, knocking him down. Samuel Guthrie announces score one for the little lady, as Dani wishes she had a camera, with Wolfsbane on top of Roberto licking his face. Roberto says that he is glad she doesn’t. He challenges Sam to do as good as Rahne, tossing the frisbee through the air. Cannonball’s power ignites sending him soaring in the air, too fast for his own good as he crashes into a nearby tree. Invulnerable when he blasts, Cannonball was unharmed by this collision. He thinks that he must look like such a jerk, and questions the usefulness of his powers if he can’t even turn correctly.
The students are mind-called by Xavier to join him in his study at once. Still not used to his telepathic projections, Sam is somewhat afraid of them, and wonders if he smashed Xavier’s pet tree. Dani thinks that every time she sees Xavier she either wants to run and hide, or face him with her knife. She cannot forget that only recently Xavier tried his best to kill her. Awaiting them inside the mansion is Lilandra, Empress of the alien race Shi’ar, and Xavier’s love. The children reactions are varied as she tells them that they look like they have been enjoying themselves. She offers that after Xavier has met with them she has mulled cider and sandwiches in the living room. Looking shocked, Roberto thanks her telling her she is too gracious. Sam knows she is a friend but thinks to himself that she gives him the willies. Rahne tells Lilandra that she should not be doing the work of any common house maid, that it not right. But Dani says that they at least rate it. Lilandra smiles to herself and thinks of how Dani reminds her of herself, always the rebel.
In the study Xavier thanks them for their prompt arrival, as Rahne notices that Shan is not there. After Xavier tells that they will wait for her, Dani wonders what this is all about. She is upset that Xavier can read their minds, and know their secrets yet they know nothing of his. As Sam thinks he’s gonna get it, Shan walks in quickly, excusing herself and asks if she had missed anything yet. Xavier reassures that she missed nothing, but now that all the New Mutants have arrived, he shall begin. Xavier tells them that his actions over the past few months have been governed by his possession from the Alien Brood. That, whenever possible, the parasitical species seek genetic superior hosts to lay their eggs. The alien subconsciously prompted his decision to re-open the school and gather them all as his students. It’s intent for them were to become living hosts for it’s offspring. But luckily the alien was destroyed before it achieved it’s goals. Xavier continues that while his original decision was tainted, he believes that it was the right and proper one to make. All of them being gifted with mutant powers they must learn the proper uses of them, and he can be the one to teach them. He knows that some of them do not trust him, with good reason, as under the Brood’s embryo he had tried to kill them. But those days are the past, and he is himself once more. He understands that they might be reluctant to stay, and he will not force them, but he hopes that they do. Dani thinks that she has never heard him speak so ‘from the heart’ before, she had wondered if he had even had one. She says that speaking for herself, and she believes for her friends as well, that what had happened between them was not his fault. That while they might unfairly condemn themselves, they have no right to condemn him. That they may not work out, but all of them, them and Xavier deserves a chance, so for better or worse they will stay.
Shan looks withdrawn, and Xavier asks her what is wrong, that contrary to popular believe, he does not eavesdrop on his students’ thoughts. Shan tells him that her problem is Stevie Hunter, as she believes her to be in great danger. Someone has been telephoning her with vague threats, but the police or telephone company have not been able to find the culprit. Stevie has refused Shan’s aid, but she says she plans to help her regardless. Shan notes that Stevie has risked her life for them in the past, so they should do the same for her. Dani adds to count her in, with or without Xavier’s blessing. She thinks to herself that part of her hopes he says no. Xavier heard her statement, but suspects that was her intention. Rebellion at her age is common, but Dani is carrying it too far, he thinks, and he must soon put a stop to it. He asks if the rest of the team agrees with Shan and Sam replies with a “Yessir”. Xavier tells them to devise a plan and report back to him for an evaluation and approval of it. Dani tells Xavier that this is not a game or a classroom exercise, that Stevie’s life may be at risk. Xavier agrees with her, but tells her that there is something to learn from every situation, real or artificial. Only a fool refuses to take advantage of that, or waste her strength at pointless confrontation. Xavier tells Dani that he is not her enemy, and she should stop treating him as such. With that Dani frowns angrily and leaves with the rest of her team.
Entering the room, Lilandra notices that Dani left very tense, asking if she had argued with Xavier. He tells her that Dani confronts him at every turn, even over the most trivial of things. He asks what is she trying to prove. Lilandra tells that Dani is afraid of many things right now, herself, her powers, her new life, failure, even success. That she deals with her fear by defying the strongest authority figure available. Xavier tells his love that she sounds as if she speaks from experience. Stepping behind him, she admits that she wasn’t always an Empress. Noticing that he feels unusually tense, she begins to massage his shoulders asking if that helps. He replies wonderful, as she asks how he will deal with Dani. He tells that once he would have simply overpowering her with his power, and the force of his personality, but he no longer acts this way. That he is working now with children, much younger than the X-Men, who are raised in a more rebellious age. There might come a day when he has to ask them to risk or even sacrifice their lives, and that kind of loyalty and trust comes not from fear, but respect. Respect has to be built slowly from both sides, but he guess that Lilandra already knows that. Leaning in and hugging him from behind, she says that she and every leader or teacher worthy of the name knows that fact. Xavier starts to laugh, asking her what she is doing, and that it tickles. She assures him that she is making him laugh, something he should enjoy more often. She leans over and kisses him.
At Stevie’s apartment, Cannonball peers over Sunspot’s shoulder as he finishes screwing in a bolt to a machine hooked to the telephone. Sam asks what the gizmo is supposed to be. Roberto tells him that it is a phone trace that Xavier helped him build, that it can track the source of incoming calls. Still not understanding, Sam asks how that is supposed to help. Shan walks in telling them that she dropped off the twins with Father Bowen in New York in case the maniac would show up. When she asks Roberto if he’s ready, he tells that as he went over with Sam, this device will not only give them the caller’s phone number, but as well his location. Stevie tells them that she thinks this is all unnecessary, but she sees there is no stopping them now, telling Roberto to continue. He says that all he has to do is call, and they’ve got him. The hours pass by when the first call comes in startling them. At 6:15., 6:55, and 7:23 the telephone rings only to be false alarms, but the fourth is again the person scaring Stevie. The machine gives them the address from which he called even before he hangs up.
By the time, the New Mutants arrive in Stevie’s Saab at a telephone booth, the caller is already long gone. Piling out of the car, Dani tells Rahne it’s up to her. Telling her to shift to wolf form and follow the newest scent, hoping that no one has used the booth since their caller. As Wolfsbane does, one sniff off the booth’s interior ground makes her choking to the ground. She gags asking how people could be so disgusting. After quickly recovering, she attempts once more, communicating telepathically with Psyche. Dani’s other mutant power includes a mental rapport with animals. Psyche reports what Wolfsbane has sent her, that they are looking for a boy, someone very close to their age. Stevie replies that crazy.
Soon, still at disbelief, Stevie steps outside of the car telling them there must be some mistake. Psyche tells her that according to Rahne the trail ends here, at the High School. Seeing the lights inside of the school, Psyche realizes this is the school dance they were previously invited to. The team splits up, as Cannonball and Wolfsbane watch inside from the window. Cannonball tells her to stay low and quiet, as they don’t want to be spotted. He is reminded of his hunting days back home in Kentucky. He tells her that he doesn’t mind telling her, but he wishes he was back home with his mother and family. When he asks if she can see okay, she replies with a “Wruf”. He hopes that means yes, and recalls trying to dance like that Travolta fellow, but he should’ve known better. Inside the children are all laughing and dancing, but to Wolfsbane’s lupine perception they are alien and disturbing. She no longer sees them as merely people, but also as brilliantly colored patterns of energy, with each body giving off it’s own distinctive heat
signature exposing that persons physical and emotional state.
Having changed into civilian clothes, Dani informs the others that Rahne is in place, and that she thinks Rahne never been to a mixer before, so she must be scandalized. She orders that they’d better make their entrance before it becomes too much for her. Stevie tells them that their plan seems a little thin to her. Do they really think that her appearance at the dance will be enough to reveal the caller? Dani tells her that it is at least worth a try. Roberto reassures that it worked on last week’s Magnum P.I., and that they are wasting time by standing there talking. Once inside, Shan notices Diana who had invited them to the mixer, and she calls out a greeting to her. When Roberto claims that the band is awful, Stevie tells him that he is a guest, and he should endure. She is approached by two of students who tell who are happy to see her. Stevie suggests that since they are here, they might as well enjoy themselves. A boy named Tim comes up and asks Shan to dance. Shan smiles and tells that she doesn’t know how to, but Tim is willing to teach her.
Outside, looking in through the window, Sam tells Rahne that he thinks they got the short end of the stick. As the wolf growls, he asks if she’s spotted something. Inside when a boy glances at Stevie, while his facial expressions do not change, his skin heat patterns do remarkably. Rahne senses with the boy initially shock, then it turns immediately to fear. With her psychic rapport with Rahne, Dani knows that they plan worked, telling Stevie that her caller is the boy in the turtle-neck. Stevie is says that it can’t be – it’s Peter Bristow. Shocked, Peter claims that they know, he doesn’t know how, but they know. Stevie confronts him and tells him to wait and they can talk about it. Pushing her away, Peter runs yelling that she can’t make him, and he will die first. When he runs towards the door, Wolfsbane crashes trough the window to head him off, not even thinking about what the appearance of a wolf would do to the school dance. The students try to run in panic, resulting with some being trampled, including Shan. Running to her side, Roberto asks if she is okay. Holding her arm, Shan gets up telling that she is bruised but not broken, asking where Peter is. Dani notes that he headed for the parking lot and Rahne’s hot on his tail. The team with Stevie runs towards the lot, as Shan offers the idea to possess Peter before he reaches a car.
Unfortunately, Peter gets inside of his red Corvette and peels away, tires screaming on the street. Sam is shocked that Rahne is still on his trail, but no matter how fast she is, Peter is loosing her. Knowing she is no match in speed with a car, Sam igniting his mutant power propelling him as Cannonball towards the car. He thinks to himself that Peter was a nice, shy kid that he would never suspect him for his threats to Stevie. From above the racing Corvette, Cannonball notices an unaware mother crossing the street with her infant daughter. He wonders if Bristow can see them, or if he even cares, as the car isn’t even slowing down. Flying faster than the car, Cannonball knows it’s up to him to save them as he grabs them both, one in each arm. The little girl screams for her mommy as Cannonball notices that he is approaching a building very fast. He knows his maneuverability is poor, that his blast field will protect him, but the mother and child are not as easily protected. Never making a successful turn is his life, Cannonball is sweating with stress as he knows this time he has no choice. As he reaches the building he successfully turns upward, propelling all three into the sky. Sam cheers for himself, but then he is faced with the fact on how to get down. Xavier telepathically contacts him and tells him to trigger his power in short bursts to slow his descent. While it might not be the softest of landings, it should leave the others unharmed. Landing with an ‘Ouch’ Cannonball is overjoyed telling the crying child not to worry, that her mother will be fine as she only fainted. Sam feels like cheerin’ as he saved them without smashing anything, and he finally did something right.
Peter’s Corvette speeds out of control, unable to make a sharp turn and crashes into a wooden fence. The sign on the fence warns Danger Blasting. The car smashes into a wall, starting a fire. Running out of the car, Peter knows the car’s a wreck and his father will kill him. He decides he’ll cut through the factory and hitch a ride to New York where no one will ever find him. Cannonball flies over Rahne, who is still running after him. Cannonball tells the others that he sees Peter ducking into the derelict building. Roberto tells him to cover the far side of the site cutting off the escape route, that the others will trap him in-between. As Stevie tells them to wait for her, she screams in pain, claiming it’s just her bum knee. Karma orders Sunspot to stay with her, but he objects. Karma insists, explaining that with his strength is the only one of them who can properly deal with fire. They don’t need him to find Peter, but they need him to stay with Stevie. On the ground, Stevie apologizes to Robert, that of all the times for her knee to give out.
Inside the building, Wolfsbane pads on through the darkness with her keen senses well alert. Never feeling more alive, she feels in the back of her mind wishes for a way to stay like that forever. Catching that thought, Dani keeps it to herself. Dani tells Shan to be careful, that Rahne’s senses the boy is very afraid, which would be bad if they cornered him. Karma notes that in a place like this anything could happen, right before noticing a slight crumble in the ceiling. As she screams for Dani to watch out, Karma leaps and tackles her to safety, just as a huge wooden beam falls into the place where they were.
Simultaneously outside, Roberto becomes his powerful form as Sunspot as he tries to get rid of the car before it explodes. He feels the heat of the flames, even through his insulated uniform. Lifting the car he notes to himself that he has lifted heavier weights, but the fire doesn’t give him descent leverage. Throwing the car quickly away, he knows his power is solar charged and he has no chance to recharge at night. The is a boom when the car hits, as he notes that the shack he threw the car into is filled with explosives. Sunspot mentally alerts Xavier telling him to warn the others.
Through mind-link, the professor tells the girls that the situation has just become extremely dangerous, that a blast of that magnitude will destroy the entire factory. Karma tells Psyche that they must leave, but it will mean they have to leave Peter to his death. Psyche tells Karma that he deserves it. Karma states that it is not their place to pass judgment, villain or not. Just then they hear Wolfsbane scream and following it, they find Peter hovering over her human form with a stick. He thinks he’s crazy as the girl was a wolf when he hit it. Dani yells at him to stop. Karma tells Dani to see to Wolfsbane as the cut on her head looks nasty and Peter will give them no more problems as she possesses him.
Outside, Stevie yells from her car as the equipment shack blows up. Karma knows that Xavier was right as the whole factory begins to fall. Psyche tells her to run while she covers Wolfsbane’s body with her own. Swooping inside, Cannonball grabs Rahne’s limp body as he tells the others to quickly follow behind as he punches through the wall. Running after them, Karma knows that she cannot run as fast while possessing someone, but risks it for fear that Peter’s distraught state might cause him to kill himself. Knowing that she slows Dani down, Shan tells her to run ahead and they will be right behind her, but Dani tells her to stuff it, they go together or not at all. As the approach the tunnel that Cannonball’s blast created, they find Sunspot holding a heavy beam to keep it open. He tells Shan that it seems his muscles are needed after all, but to hurry as he has nearly reached his limit. Once the are out, he drops the beam crashing it to the ground, turns back to his normal form and leaps to safety.
In Stevie’s apartment, the group sits around the couch occupied by Stevie and Peter. Stevie tells that they want to help him, and they need to understand why he made her life a nightmare. She asks why he is not cooperating, and if she needs to call the police. Sitting hunched over with an upset look on his face, he tells her that she cannot prove anything. Telling him he is wrong, she notes the fact that they have recordings with his actual voice. She asks what will his parents think of that. He screams “NO”, begging for her not to tell them. She looks concerned as she asks what is wrong, he tells her just please leave them out of it.
Xavier’s astral image tells them that Peter’s fear is so strong it blocks out his psi-scans, suggesting that the New Mutants use their own abilities to get the root of his problem. Dani knows that Xavier means her, but wonders if it is right to use her mutant power to pull real life 3-D images from people’s inner-most fears. She wants to punish Peter but not like this, she thinks that people have a right to the privacy of their own thoughts. Yet Xavier knows what he is doing, and wouldn’t advise otherwise. She kneels down on the floor touching Peter’s lap as he whimpers when her mind touches his. He screams incoherently as she shows the room his heart’s desire to be with Stevie and them kissing and holding each other.
As Sam holds him down from behind, Stevie asks if that’s what this is all about, a student having a crush on his teacher. As she tells him he has a weird way of showing affection, the room is shown another 3-D image plucked from his mind from his fantasy to his every day reality. It shows his father over him with a belt, cracking him with it as his mother simply watches on. His father tells him that when he gets older, Peter will thank him for doing this, shaking in fear, Peter replies “Yes, Pop”. Shan is upset and asks how his parents could do such a thing. Roberto tells Dani to break contact, that they have seen enough. Dani, with a shocked look upon her face, tells that she cannot, the images are too strong.
Escaping Sam’s grasp, Peter lunges towards Dani telling calling her a witch, and he will kill her for what she has done. Sam tries to grab him, ripping the back of his shirt off. Karma takes possession of his mind to stop him asking if he had hurt Dani, who replies no save for the fact of him scaring her half to death. Sam tells the group that anything he does to them won’t matter a ‘beans’ to what’s been done to him, telling his friends to look at Peter’s bare back. From where Sam had ripped his shirt, the group sees several beat and whip marks. Shan notes that some of those marks are fresh while others look years old. Stevie tells Shan to release her hold on him, that she has known the boy for many years.
As Stevie tells him she thought they were friends, Peter slaps her hand away, telling her to call the cops and his parents, as he doesn’t care anymore. Roberto asks if his parents did this because they hate him. Looking down on the floor, Peter tells him not to be stupid, that they love him, he’s just a bad boy that needs to be punished. Looking up at Stevie, he recalls with tears in his eyes that when he started dancing, he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. That he couldn’t help loving her, that she liked him but would never punish him, no matter what he did. So he figured she was lying that if she loved him, then she would hit him. He was mad and wanted to get even. He hugs her, as she is crying now too, telling her he is so sorry.
(within the hour)
Xavier and Lilandra arrive and he telepathically edits Peter’s memory and his awareness of the New Mutants. He summons an ambulance as well as the Child Welfare Bureau. Peter will spend the next few days in a hospital, after his release it might be a long time, if ever, that he returns to his parents. Stevie tells the group she is reminded of the old saying ‘you always hurt the ones you love’ as she wishes it wasn’t so true. Rahne asks Xavier what will become of Peter. Xavier tells her he is not certain while his physical scars can heal quickly, but his emotional and psychological ones will take longer. Hopefully Peter will find a foster home where he will under-go therapy, which he himself will assist in, and given time, he may be cured. While it’s a slim chance, he owes that possibility to them, because without their intervention, he would have returned to the non-stopping child abuse cycle that became his life. If they ever want justification of who they are, and what they do, this is it - not fighting mutant villains, but helping people’s lives. But before they are too pleased with tonight’s outcome, he wants an analysis of the night’s events, what they did right, wrong, and what could have been done better, ready for class tomorrow. That pride has nothing to do with proficiency, that seeing them all in action, they have a lot to learn. As Stevie notes Xavier has good points, she winks to the team, claiming that to her they did real good.
Cannonball, Karma, Psyche, Sunspot, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)
Professor Charles Xavier
Diana, Tim and other local children in Salem Center
Stevie Hunter is dance instructor to Kitty Pryde and the New Mutants, her first appearance was Uncanny X-Men #139.
Xavier was infected with a Brood egg off-panel between Uncanny X-Men #155 and #156, while he was an unconscious prisoner of the aliens. Slowly the embryo gained control over his actions, and by the time the X-Men returned from space, the transformation could no longer be stopped. The professor was saved by transferring his mind to a cloned body in Uncanny X-Men #167.
Being the youngest of the Royal children of the Shi’Ar Empire, Lilandra was never meant to become Empress. She only gained the position after her sister Deathbird was exiled and her brother D’Ken went insane.
Although Psyche recalls being invited to the school dance, she was the only new Mutant not at the mall when the others were invited by Diana in New Mutants #2.
John Travolta stared in the hit dance movie Saturday Night Fever.
Magnum PI is a detective television show starring Tom Selleck. It’s the favorite TV show of the team, and they frequently watched it.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
New Mutants Classic Vol. 1 (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Dreamawake (Doug Cuckler)