New Mutants (1st series) #41

Issue Date: 
July 1986
Story Title: 
Way of the Warrior

Chris Claremont (writer), Jackson Guice (breakdowns), Terry Austin (finishes), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Dani returns back home to her parents’ ranch, full of self-doubts. At the shopping mall, she runs into Pat Roberts, formerly her best friend until she accidentally used her powers on him when they were kids. Ever since, he’s despised her. Pat confronts her and Dani runs off when she sees a death-image above him. Later, back at the ranch with a huge storm coming up, she is contacted via radio by Pat, who has had an accident. She flies into the storm with Brightwind, finds Pat in his totalled truck and drags him into a cave. There, she accidentally uses her powers again and learns that Pat doesn’t only hate, but also love her. They begin to talk and, when Pat fears that he will die, Dani challenges death. Her challenge is answered, as Death faces her as a gunslinger. Using her valkyrie powers, Dani wins the duel, but finds that Pat is in a coma. After they are rescued, Death confronts Dani again, this time more peacefully, and explains that pat is in an irreversible diabetic coma. Dani may keep him alive, but he will never wake up again. Heartbroken, Dani allows Pat to die.

Full Summary: 

Roughly 1800 miles separate Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters from Danielle Moonstar’s home in Colorado. An airliner can fly the distance in four hours. Flying on her winged steed, Brightwind, the journey has taken Dani somewhat longer. Dani’s feeling miserable. She’s frozen to the bones and developing a case of pneumonia as she rides blindly through the clouds. Brightwind isn’t bothered by the cold, but then he’s an immortal horse of Asgard.

As Dani’s mind wanders back to the events in Asgard, her power brings alive pictures of these events. She sees herself as a Valkyrie, which she became when Brightwind chose her as his rider. Odd to her, as Asgard, Valkyries and the like are white man’s totems. And she is Cheyenne. Images of Cheyenne warriors appear before her. Finally, there’s an image of herself as a New Mutant. She feels pulled in three directions at once, not sure anymore who the real Dani is. She prays to her grandfather, telling her what to do.

Suddenly, she is startled, as Brightwind’s hooves touch ground, a bit of rock jutting up though the clouds. Thankful, Dani gets off the horse and stretches her legs. The clouds break with the sunrise and she sees the Rockies around her. She is finally home.

A little while later, she arrives at her parents’ ranch, just as the snowstorm begins in earnest. She almost runs into her parents, who are running out of the house. After a rushed greeting, they have to leave, as they have to take care of their stock scattered across the range. Dani offers to help, but her mother tells her to tend to her horse first. They’ll be back as quick as they can. That’s what they said last time, Dani thinks, the night they both disappeared.

Leading Brightwind to her stable, she tells him how her parents were magically changed into the Demon Bear. At first, Dani was fostered by some friends of theirs, the Roberts, but that didn’t work out. She ran away to the mountains, where her grandfather took her in. She recalls how she was unable to save her grandfather’s life or how it wasn’t even her who freed her parents, but the New Mutants. And now they are in need; Mindshocked by the Beyonder, little more than zombies. Their teacher, Magneto, gave up and handed them over to the White Queen. Getting some hay for Brightwind, she complains that she got better. Certainly the others could have mended as well. Full of self-criminations she falls asleep.

She awakes in a bed and finds herself in her room or what’s left of it. Apparently, her parents use it as an office now. She walks through the empty house, comparing her impressions with her memories. As she takes a shower, she complains about her long hair and wonders if she should wear it short. A psychic image of how she would look convinces her otherwise.

Her mother enters the bathroom, explaining that she and her husband have to get out to work, as another storm front is moving in. Dani offers to help, but they haven’t got the time to wait. Plus, Dani has nothing to wear. Peg leaves her credit card on the table and tells her daughter to buy some clothes at the mall.

A little later on the flatlands north of Denver, Dani has her first sight of Arcadia mall. She settles on an ultra short mini, along with some other clothes, but she keeps thinking about her friends in the hands of the Hellfire Club. Suddenly, a young blond man greets her with a racial slur and asks what ill wind blew her in town. Greeting him as “Pat,” she tries to remain calm, as he and his friends surround her.

They figured she was gone for good, after her grandfather croaked. He was murdered, she corrects him. Happens, especially to redskins, Pat meanly replies. Dani mentions that she’s visiting her parents. And Pat remarks that they came back mysteriously just when his Pa was about to close a deal for their ranch. Too bad. Dani finally gets angry and Pat challenges he to a fight. Dani tells him to drop dead. Pat in return shoves her against the wall. Dani knows he wants to provoke her and remembers that they used to be best friends. But he has hates her now because of what she did to him once.

Pat grabs one of her packages, pulling out a red dress and announcing this is too nice an outfit for the likes of her. Is anyone else interested? Dani suddenly gasps, as she sees the image of a skeleton gunman behind him. A death image, meaning that sometime soon Pat is going to die. Panicked, she shoves the others aside and runs for her life. Still holding the dress, Pat shouts after her that they aren’t finished yet and threatens her, scaring even his friends. He tells them to go to hell. This has been eating him for too long. One way or the other, it’s going to get settled. Watching him from above on Brightwind, Dani silently urges him to listen to his friends.

She sees his car nearing an intersection and wonders whether that’s the moment, but nothing happens save that, without Pat noticing, his six-pack of beers falls off the seat, smashing his insulin supply.

Another dawn brings a brief respite from the winter’s fury and Dani takes care of household chores. She talks with her father on the radio and mentions her run-in with Pat Roberts. Afterwards, she confides to Brightwind that she’s partly to blame for the way Pat has turned out. They used to be best friends. When her parents disappeared, she was fostered with the Roberts. She’d been with them for a week. One day at Sunday dinner, Pat said something stupid to her. She snapped and hit him full force with the power she didn’t even know she had. She grabbed his greatest desire and fear and hauled them out for everyone to see. Instead of staying and having it out with him, Dani ran away.

Suddenly, there’s a weak emergency signal on the CB radio. It’s a call from Pat, who has had an accident. First thing Dani tries is to call the state police, but she finds that the storm’s atmospherics are disturbing the airwaves. She can’t raise anyone. The phone lines are down too. She grabs a medkit, a portable CB and blankets and saddles Brightwind, flying straight into the blizzard.

They’re having a bad time in the storm but finally find Pat in his totalled truck. She drags him out and realizes he’s hurt bad. Dani smells the stink of beer on him and silently curses him for his stupidity. She sees that he’s still holding her spoiled dress. He’s really pushing his luck, she thinks angrily. She drags Pat into a cave and tells Brightwind to fly back and bring her parents when the weather clears.

After having bandaged Pat, Dani starts a fire in the cave. Soon as it is lit, she’ intends to start calling on the CB. She worries about Pat, who hasn’t woken up yet. Her thoughts turn to the torn dress she’s holding. Once it was beautiful, like their friendship. Both turned ugly. She wonders if their friendship can be repaired. She doesn’t see Pat standing behind her. Suddenly, he swings an axe. Dani notices it and gets clear only to find it was an illusion. The real Pat has awaken and looks shocked at what he saw. Why? she wonders. It must have been his fondest wish. Her power acts up again, showing another image of her and Pat getting married.

How can he love and hate one person so much at the same time, Dani asks him. Pat admits he doesn’t know, because it’s tearing him apart inside. If he didn’t care so much, what she did probably wouldn’t have hurt so much. They were friends. Why did she betray that trust? Dani assures him it was an accident. Too late for apologies, for everything, Pat states. Dani won’t accept that. She tosses her hat at him and shouts that he’s not going to die. She’s going to save him. She calls out to the medicine powers, asking them to give her friend strength to let him live. And should he lack strength, she will hold on for him.

Her challenge is quickly answered, as everything about them rumbles. There’s thunder right overhead. Dani wants to take a look outside and Pat warns her to be careful. Dani once more challenges death, as she states that there is no one here for him. The gods of the Cheyenne have spoken. They stand beside her to bar his way. As she looks outside the cave, she sees a spooky lightshow and a circling shadow. Could it be the Thunderbird, servant to the all-father, she wonders.

Suddenly a Western style gunfighter appears, telling her to stand aside. Pat’s image of death. He’s there for the boy. Dani refuses. The gunfighter derisively tells her that he doesn’t believe in duelling with ladyfolk. But then squaws aren’t ladies. Suddenly, Dani finds pistols on her hip. Her Valkyrie nature conforming to death’s pattern. Pat urges her to stop. He doesn’t want her to sacrifice herself for him. Dani makes a joke and assures him she’s beaten death before. She’s not willing to let him go.

Dani tells the gunfighter to make his move. She’s faster and shoots him down. As the gunfighter falls, she triumphs that she has beaten death and saved Pat. Pat, suddenly unhurt, stands next to her, telling her he was thinking about what they had as kids and what a mess they made of it. Mostly her fault, Dani admits, but now they can start again. Suddenly, Pat fades away. She turns around to find the real Pat asleep. Was that one of her own spirit forms, she wonders and asks herself what it means. She still wonders when the rescue team arrives and rushes them into a hospital.

They were in the cave for more than a day. She’s been waiting longer outside Intensive Care. Suddenly, an old, Native American woman addresses Dani, telling her he was a diabetic. Dani wonders where the woman came from and remarks that she didn’t know Pat had any tribal friend. He has Dani, the woman replies. What does she mean about him being a diabetic, Dani asks. The woman explains that he was drinking and smashed his insulin supply. That was why he crashed. His body was going into insulin shock. She continues that, through the night, he was slipping ever deeper into an irreversible coma. No matter what the doctors do, he will never awaken. That’s a lie, Dani protests. How does she know these things? Who is she? The woman looks at her from hooded eyes and simply states ‘you know.’ And Dani does. She posts herself before the door to the Intensive Care unit, announcing Death won’t get past her without a fight.

Is she so horrible, Death asks. When Dani tells her she causes pain, Death replies that she also ends it and brings peace. Death isn’t a monster but part of an eternal balance. Dani still refuses to let Death in when she has the power to keep it away. Death tells her that a true warrior must realize which battles to wage and which not. She may keep Death from Pat’s side, but she cannot heal him. He will never awaken. For his sake, she should let go. With a last look inside, Dani asks Pat to forgive her and lets go. A moment later, he dies.

Back at the ranch, Dani talks to Brightwind, telling the horse that she and Pat had made their peace at the end. Or was this only her imagination? She will never truly know. As she walks to the farmhouse, clutching the red dress, she wonders what the sense of having her Valkyrie power is, if she cannot really do any good. Her concerned parents await Dani and eventually manage to comfort her somewhat.

Characters Involved: 

Mirage / Danielle Moonstar


William and Peg Lonestar (Dani’s parents)

Pat Roberts

Pat’s friends

Death in various guises

Story Notes: 

Dani’s parents were turned into the Demon Bear that haunted her for years afterwards. Her friends, the New Mutants, and foremost Illyana Rasputin, were the ones to defeat the Bear and save Dani’s parents. [as told in New Mutants #18-20]

Black Eagle died in Marvel Graphic Novel #4.

Dani was turned into a Valkyrie when Brightwind chose her. [New Mutants special edition #1 & Uncanny X-Men annual #9]

Dani fought death off on Wolverine’s behalf in Uncanny X-Men Annual #9.

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