New Mutants (1st series) #21

Issue Date: 
November 1984
Story Title: 
Slumber Party

Chris Claremont (writer), Bill Sienkiewicz (artist), Tom Orzechowski and L. Lois Buhalis (letterers), Glynis Wein (colorist), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

To celebrate Mirage’s release from hospital, the female New Mutants have invited girls from town for a slumber party. In spite of several misunderstandings and apprehensions on both sides, the girls are having a great time. But in the meantime the weakened alien Warlock approaches Earth, collides with Magneto’s Asteroid M, before heading for Xavier’s Mansion, attracted by the Shi ‘ar power generators. Cannonball and Sunspot witness Warlock’s crashlanding in Breakstone Lake. Mistaking him for a meteor or something similar, they leave the disguised alien in one of the mansion’s labs. Alone, Warlock attempts to reach the energy core, but overloads and causes a blackout. Noticing something amiss, the little dragon Lockheed attacks the alien furiously, followed by Magik. As she she can’t harm the creature and realizes how dangerous it is – as Warlock drains the life of one of her demons – she teleports herself and Lockheed away. The boys have heard the noise and investigate, joined by Magma and Wolfsbane. They find Warlock and attack him violently (causing major damage to the living room), even injuring and causing him to flee back inside, where he runs into Mirage, who in self-defense projects his fears at him, causing him to flee into the Danger Room. The Mutants finally realize, that he might not be hostile, but they need a means to communicate with him. They contact Doug Ramsey, a friend and mutant linguist, who so far wasn’t aware of his power. Doug uses the Danger Room holograms to establish contact with the dying alien, who finally realizes the mutants are sentient, organic beings. He tells them his story – how on his world every newborn has to fight it’s “parent” to the death. Warlock was afraid and fled, searching sanctuary. Now he is completely out of energy. Wolfsbane takes pity on him, grabs his hand, and guides it to an outlet, where he can replenish himself. Later Xavier comes back and doesn’t believe the chaos in front of him, a situation exacerbated, when Magik teleports in, dressed in an outlandish space suit. The other New Mutants join them and ask Xavier to accept Warlock as a new student. Xavier is briefly shocked, but agrees.

Full Summary: 

Several local girls approach Xavier’s School at night with mixed feelings. Apparently, they’ve been invited for a slumber party by the female New Mutants, a party, that’s already in full swing (and numbers among its guests among others Marvel editors Louise Simonson and Diane Shultz as well as reporter Manoli Wetherell). The girls are having a fun time, with the exception of Rahne who’s scandalized and wishes to be anywhere but there. The wheelchair-bound Dani Moonstar asks Illyana amused, whether that was what the professor had in mind, when he said they could invite a few friends over, while he was gone. Illyana refuses to worry about details like that and besides they have to celebrate Dani’s release from the hospital. She then proceeds to ask Dani about what her folks are up to, now that they are back among the living, so to speak. Apparently they own a ranch in Colorado.

In the meantime, three local girls are having a quiet but forceful argument: Laurie and Jenny ask their friend Marcie, what’s wrong with her. This is the first time local kids have been invited to Xavier’s. Where’s her sense of adventure? Marcie however insists, that a school with that small and that odd a student body cannot be quite right. And besides Professor Xavier creeps her out, as he seems to be able to know, what people think. She then goes off the deep end, assuming that they probably have bodies or worse in the cellar. The other girls tell her, of course the kids are strange – most of them are foreigners, after all. They’d probably take that back, if they noticed that they were being watched from above by the rather amused little dragon Lockheed.

At that moment the alarms are going off on Asteroid M, Magneto’s base in Earth’s orbit. A celestial object is dropping out of warp space and heads straight for the asteroid. Before Magneto can defend his home, the desperate Warlock collides with it, before plunging towards Earth. Falling, the depleted alien notices an energy source that will restore him, if he can reach it and prepares for lading.

At Xavier’s, the girls are having fun. Manoli is doing a Michael Jackson impersonation that leaves Amara puzzled. As she asks Diana, who that person is, Diana makes some harmless fun of her ignorance, which Amara takes the wrong way. As she becomes angry, she unwillingly causes a very minor earthquake. Amara relaxes, realizing that the girl meant no harm and Diana apologizes. Suddenly Amara becomes the center of attention and admiration as the other girls start noticing her luxurious silk toga and her ancient gold earrings. The only one left out is Rahne, who while desperately wanting to join the fun, can’t get over her upbringing that joy is sinful. Suddenly she is jumped by the other girls, led by Illyana. Rahne panics, almost starting to change into her wolfform, until Dani assures her over their mindlink, that the others mean no harm. Illyana’s intentions become clearer now. She and the others want to make Rahne up and style her.

In the meantime, the two male team members, Cannonball and Sunspot are leisurely strolling home from a Baseball match and discuss the game. Sunspot jokingly asks whether he could have a career in Baseball as he transforms to his solarpowered form tears out a tree and uses it to slug a big rock. Sam admonishes him. What if the rock lands on somebody he asks, as he rockets swiftly through the sky and pulverizes the rock. As he returns, he notices Roberto has grown pensive. Sam mentioning his father during their baseball discussion made Roberto remember his own. They used to get along fabulously, before Roberto’s powers manifested, but by now he despises his father, especially as he was responsible for them almost dying in Nova Roma. How, he wonders, can his mother still love the man, in spite of that? Sam points out, that bad as things may seem now, at least Mr. Dacosta is still alive. And that means, there’s still a chance for them to work things out. Changing the subject, Sam points towards the lights and the music coming from the attic. The girls must be having a fun party. Sam knocks at the door, which is opened, by Rahne, who looks stunning after the girls’make-up job. So stunning in fact, that Sam doesn’t recognize her. Thinking, that Sam is teasing her, Rahne transforms and punches him in the stomach. Illyana chimes in that boys aren’t welcome and the girls shut the door, leaving Sam to wonder, just what he did wrong.

Within the attic, the girls are holding a séance. Rahne is still sulking that Sam didn’t recongize her, until Dani points out that Sam just saw a lovely girl, at which Rahne feels guilty for having hit him. Illyana in the meantime is wearing Lockheed as a hat ornament, much to the admiration of the guests.

Outside the boys are skinny-dipping in the lake, until they notice something, they believe is a meteor approaching fast and hitting the lake. Cannonball dives down to get it, using his power to keep him invulnerable under water and musing that this looked like a partially controlled descent. Looking at the black non-descriptive object, they wonder whether it’s a satellite or a rock and puzzle that it seemed to have cooled down rather fast. Sunspot carries it to the lab and they decide to inform the professor in the morning. Once they’ve left, the lump transforms into the exhausted and panicked Warlock. He scans his surroundings and notices he’s close to the powersource he sensed from deep space. He wonders how to access it as he examines an outlet and notices, he’s so weak that he has a hard time keeping control over his shape. He reaches into the outlet, trying to reach the core, but it proves too much. Warlock screams and the mansion experiences a blackout.

The girls in the attic are blissfully unaware of this – after all lights are out during a séance. Rahne feels guilty playing with things like magic. All of a sudden the shape of a djinn briefly materializes, baffling the girls. Dani winks at Rahne, this was her doing, a test of how well her powers still work after her injuries. Lockheed suddenly is disturbed by something, leaves Illyana’s head and flies away, leaving the girls aghast.

Downstairs Warlock notices that due to the power-overload he has received further damage. He notices a plant, infects it with a genetic techno-organic virus, which turns it into a techno-organic being and then drains its energy, feeding on it. He continues exploring the house looking at the contents of a refrigerator, marvelling at the concept. However he believes the fridge is sentient – as it is technological - and is bothered that the rude thing doesn’react to Warlock’s attempts at communication. Suddenly Warlock is attacked by Lockheed. Not realizing that the dragon is a sentient being, Warlock considers him a possible energy souce, but Lockheed spits fire at him. The girls are alarmed by Lockheeds’s roar, as are the boys in their respective rooms.

Illyana reaches the fight first and mistakes Warlock for a demon. She manifests her Soulsword and strikes at the alien. As Warlock is not magical in origin however, he is not hurt and strikes her, pushing her against the wall. With the exception of her head, her left arm and her right leg, Illyana finds her entire body covered with the mysterious armor as a result. Deciding that she’s outmatched on her own, she teleports in a demon from Limbo to attack the alien. Warlock touches the creature, infect it and drains its “lifeglow”. Illyana’s horrifed, even moreso as she notices that over her armor her skin is overlaid by a web of circuitry, where the alien touched her. She has been infected as well. She urges Lockheed to stay way from Warlock, grabs the dragon and teleports both of them away.

Canonball and Sunspot nervously wonder, wyh it’s so quiet and dark downstairs all of a sudden. They are joined by Amara and Rahne in her wolfform who is looking for Illyana and Lockheed. The boys tell her about their find, and she relates it to the furious Dani over their mindlink. She orders them to find that thing and deal with it, before their guests learn about it and their true identities. Sam feels like a prize idiot for bringing this menace into heir home. He feels that he always screws up, since joining the New Mutnats, a feeling that hurts all the more, as he used to be a prize pupil at home. And he hates the feeling.

Rahne leads others to their quarry. Seeing it, Magma shifts to her lava form and attacks it with a lava blast that had hardly any effect unfortunately. Sam rockets into Warlock, driving both of them through the living-room wall and crashing them onto the lawn. Warlock believes them to be some sorts of watchdogs, but still doesn’t want to harm them. However, he’s too weak to flee and tries to get some energy by transforming and draining the tree next to him. Sam notices this while trying to keep his towel (his only item of clothing) on and warns Amara to not let Warlock touch her. Amara considers the creature a monster and wonders, whether it has already killed Illyana and Lockheed. As her lava blasts proved useless, she changes her method of attack by changing the ground beneath the alien’s feet to molten magma. Warlock sinks into he firelake, but a tentacle of his resurfaces and grabs Amara’s ankle. Sunspot reaches for it and snaps it into two halves, finally hurting the alien terribly.

Up in the attic the guests don’t notice anything thanks to the loud music. Dani however realizes that two of the girls are missing, and have probably snuck out to explore the mansion. Dani gets up from her wheelchair, but he legs can barely hold her and she sinks down outside and ends up in front of Warlock – just as Rahne mentally warns her that the creature headed back inside. Dani gambles that he is a sentient being and creates an illusion of his greatest fear – his father Magus. The scared creature collapses down the stairs in terror and flees. Rahne, in her transitional form, hurries to Dani’s side. As the two missing houseguests Ellen and Marcie show up, Dani quickly orders her to shift to her full wolfform, so that the girls think she is a trained animal. While asking the girls to go back inside the attic, Dani mentally discusses the alien with Rahne. She points out that he’s sentient, that he may not be hostile, but scared and that, since he’s so different, he possibly doesn’t realize they are sentient beings as well.

The two guests want to go back, bu stop at the window, where they they see the semi-nude Sam flying by. They notice they got lost and then see the stature of Illyana’s changed, drained demon and panic, which alarms Sam, with the hurt Amara in his arms. He reads the girls the riot-act, and explains that Amara got hurt while blundering about in the dark. They need to work to get back the lights and can’t take care of silly girls right now. Insulted, the girls take off. Rahne wonders, whether she ever acts that childish, to which Roberto replies, they all do at times.

Rahne explains the intruder is downstairs. That’s where the Shi’ar power generator is located, Sam realizes. Given Warlock’s dim glow, he’s probably starving. Considering, he’s a stranger and unable to communicate, isn’t the creature’s behaviour understandable, he wonders. Dani has reached the same conclusion. Before they decide the creature is an enemy, they have to be able to communicate with him. To that end, Sam is to fetch Kitty Pryde’s friend Doug Ramsey – a mutant with the gift to decipher languages – although he is neither aware of that gift, nor of his friends’ true nature. Sam wonders whether they have the right to blow their cover to Doug without asking Xavier’s permission. But given the circumstances, they have little choice.

Warlock in the meantime is busy in the Danger Room’s control box. He cannot reach the power core and therefore wishes to communicate with the mansion’s inhabitants, which he believes the technology to be. He manages to get the room to project simple light spheres. He begs for help, falls down exhaustedly – he can copy the light spheres, but that is all. The kids wach him from the control booth, wondering what he is doing. They are joined by the very upset Doug, who’s reeling from the explanation Sam gave him and who still hopes this is supposed to be a joke. He asks the others to show him how to work with the control console and starts creating holograms, explainig life on Earth to the alien, to make the creature realize, they are the dominant species.

Warlock stretched his arm, reaches towards the console and uses the holograms himself. He shows them his world, a place, where life evolved as a synthesis of living beings and machines. There “babies” are produced on a biological assembly line. Every time, a new being is created, it has to face the adult version of himself – his “father” in a fight to the death, to earn the right to live. Warlock didn’t want to fight, so he fled, looking for sanctuary, even allies perhaps. Having finally realized, that the Mutants are sentient beings, Warlock is deeply ashamed. To him, consuming a fellow sentient is the ultimate crime. The kids notice how shaky he is. He is close to death, Doug explains. While the kids are debating what to do, Doug uses the holograms to evolve a basis for a common language with Warlock, who repeats the pattern.

Rahne cries out. Having been an unwanted outsider for most of her life, she can identify with the young alien. She urges the others that they have to reach out, no matter the risk. She grasps for his “hand” – ignoring the possible risk of infection – and is not harmed – instead his extremity changes into a plug, which Rahne guides to the next outlet. Finally, Warlock can recharge. He turns to Rahne, grasps her hand again, and with his first words in English thanks her and calls her “friend”.

Later, Professor Xavier returns to the mansion, amused by his young pupils exuberance. He thinks the New Mutants’making friends outside school is a good thing – his reverie is rudely interrupted, when he enters the mess that used to be the living room, with its new hole-in-the-wall-décor. To make matters more absurd, Illyana chooses this moment to teleport in, dressed in a strange space suit that covers her from head to toes, holding an energy weapon and shouting that she wants her turn at the “ugly critter”. A very angry Xavier demands an explanation, which he gets not from Illyana, but from the other mutants who have joined them, along with Warlock, whom Sam introduces as the newest student. Warlock politely introduces himself and after hesitating briefly Xavier – deciding that if Warlock is worthy of the New Mutants' trust, he is worthy of his – shakes his hand.

Characters Involved: 

Cannonball, Magik, Magma, Mirage, Sunspot, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)
Professor Xavier
Doug Ramsey
guest of the slumber party :
Diana Shultz, Louise Simonson, Manolis Wetherell
Ellen, Jenny, Laurie, Marcie, Margo, Rona, Sheila and several other unnamed girls from Salem Center

Story Notes: 

This issue is double sized.

It’s rather unlikely that this is truly the same Manoli as the one depicted in Uncanny X-Men #226 and later issues, but they are probably both based on the same real person.

Magneto’s fate is followed upon in Uncanny X-Men #188.

Roberto’s father almost caused the New Mutant’s and his family’s death during the Nova Roma storyline (New Mutants #7-12)

Doug Ramsey’s mutant powers were revealed (though not to himself) in Uncanny X-Men #180.

The story behind Illyana’s spacesuit and gun (and how she got rid of the techno-organic infection) are told – sort of – in New Mutants #63.

This issues includes three excerpts from Xavier’s private journal on several New Mutants along with pin-ups by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Cannonball : Sam is the oldest and most mature member of the new mutants, but ironically he’s the one with most the most trouble learning to utilize his powers. Sam assumed the role as head of the house, when his father died and fills pretty much the same roles for the other New Mutants. He’s everybody’s “big brother” so to speak. However he is a proud ambitious young man, and his lack of success with his powers galls him, therefore he considers leaving school. Xavier fears that he has indeed reached his limit and that this decision may be for the best.Magik : Illyana is the most enigmatic team member, since she spent half of her life in a demonic Limbo away from Earth, as an evil sorcerer’s apprentice. Xavier has the problem, that he knows very little about magic and can therefore do nothing to help her evaluate those powers. As far as her teleporting power is concerned – how to teach her control over that ability, when every jump is a risk at landing at the other side of the world or in another century?Sunspot : Xavier describes Roberto as incredibly charming and precocious young boy, however also a deeply troubled one. His girlfriend Juliana gave her life for him and his father, whom he idolized – has joined the Hellfire Club’s evil Inner Circle. Xavier expresses optimism that Roberto has struck a close friendship with Sam, hoping that the older boy will prove a steadying influence, as Roberto’s arrogance could easily cause him to stray and lead him down the same path as his father.

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