New Mutants (1st series) #62

Issue Date: 
April 1988
Story Title: 
To Build a Fire

Louise Simonson (writer), Jon J Muth (artist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ken Lopez (colorist), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Chris Claremont & BobMcLeod: creators

Brief Description: 

The grieving New Mutants receive a letter from their former teammate, Magma, currently residing in Nova Roma with Empath. Her letter informs them how they got there. After a training session with the Hellions, which showed that Tarot was jealous over Magma whereas Empath seemed to have feelings for Amara, Magma receives a letter from her father, ordering her back to Nova Roma to get married. The White Queen, in the meantime, hints to Empath that she is aware of him subtly influencing Mara and tells him to accompany the girl, to make sure she can return and that her father is well disposed towards the Hellfire Club. On the way to Rio to Nova Roma, the private plane crashes and only Manuel and Amara survive, stranded in the rainforest. Amara’s time as an Amazon comes in handy for their survival, but despite Empath’s threats of forcing her she refuses to use her powers to call for help, afraid of burning down parts of the rainforest. They brave several threats together, either growing closer or arguing. When Amara is injured by a jaguar, Empath tries to force her to call for help. Amara kisses him. Days later, they are found by Nova Roman troops.

Full Summary: 

Xavier’s school: The New Mutants are in a funk, still depressed over the death of their teammate, Cypher, and the seeming deaths of the X-Men. The alien Warlock has turned into a couch for the others to sit on, his way of embracing those of his friends which still remain. Wolfsbane is refusing to come out of wolfform, snuggling up to the dejected Magik, which enables her to better deal with her grief.

An excited Cannonball joins the others. A letter from their former teammate, Magma, has arrived. They wonder why the letter is in the form of a scroll – after all, Amara is currently supposed to be at the Massachusetts Academy. Even the curious Rahne switches back to her human form, as Sam begins reading the letter which details that Amara, as well as Empath, are currently in Nova Roma, having a wonderful time.

(Amara’s story)

It starts in the Hellions’ version of the Danger Room, where the Hellions are ganging up on Magma to test their newest teammate. They can’t help needling her for her past as a New Mutants and Tarot announces to Empath that they are gong to cream his “girlfriend.” Magma asks her what her problem is, as she fires a lava bolt at the French girl, which Tarot easily evades.

Roulette uses one of her bad luck disks to make Magma trip and Jetstream calls out for Empath to take her. Strangely, though, the Spaniard remains reluctant, instead asking Jetstream whether she is too hot form him to handle.

Catseye attacks Magma over Jetstream’s warning that Magma is a flame creature, who’d fry her to a crisp. Quickly, he grabs the werecat before she can be injured by the heat.

The teamleader, Thunderbird, impatiently calls for Empath to possess Magma, as he hurls a heavy object at the girl, only to see it incinerated. Again he urges Empath to intervene.
With a smirk, Empath remarks that it’s the only way they’ll beat her, isn’t it? He begins using his powers to calm Amara down, telling her she doesn’t want to harm them. She s one of them. She loves them. Amara powers down at his words, repeating them before suddenly flaring up again. She shoves Empath away, ordering him to get out of her heart.

Empath has a girlfriend, Tarot sing-songs, and asks mockingly whether he has gone soft. He respects her too much to really take her over. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, Empath spits back and asks who among the Hellions would be worthy of his respect. Certainly not Tarot, but doesn’t she wish she were? He begins using his powers on her as he moves closer to the redhead. He reads her overwhelming enmity for him that is really so close… to something else. She wishes to smother him in kisses, he continues, whishing he’d care for her like he does for…

Magma can’t stand the other girl’s humiliation any longer and flares up, shouting at him to stop. Angrily, she asks why the others don’t stop him as she runs away. They shrug it off, figuring she just isn’t used to Empath being his usual creepy self.

Thy are joined by the White Queen, who asks Amara to stop and then chides Empath about his mindgames. She turns to Amara giving her a letter from her father.

The others still needle Empath, asking if he has a crush on Magma. Empath explains that unlike Tarot Amara is strong-willed and well-trained in resisting mind-control.

Miss Frost observes that the letter seems to have upset Amara. The girl explains that her father is ordering her home. Surprisingly, Miss Frost agrees without any problems and suggests Amara pack. She tells the others to leave with the exception of Manuel.

Under four eyes, she observes that Manuel wasn’t really trying to influence Amara. Empath defends himself, claiming that, unlike Tarot, Amara hates being controlled. He didn’t want to humiliate her like that. Very noble, Emma mocks, not like him at all, especially considering the subtle influence he has been exerting on Amara recently. But she isn’t angry. Hadn’t he stopped by himself she would have. She commends him for learning subtlety and because of that, she wants him to accompany Amara on her visit home. The Hellfire Club wants Amara to stay at the school and her father who controls an area of great mineralogical wealth to be well disposed towards them. Manuel is to see that he is… subtly.

Later, Manuel visits Amara in her room. He observes that she has already finished packing. Ready to leave so soon? Can’t wait for her to be gone, can he? she snaps back at him, before admitting that she doesn’t want leave. She still wants to experience so much in this country. Manuel grabs her wrist and asks her not to go then. Her father commanded her, Amara begins and then states that he couldn’t possibly understand. Their cultures are so different…

In exasperation she asks him to leave her alone or has he come to torment her like Tarot? Tarot likes him so much and is jealous because of Amara, and he just torments her. It is so easy form him to make people love him, isn’t it? Not as easy as making them hate him, he replies as he helps her packing, or hasn’t she noticed? He reveals that he is to accompany her and maybe he can convince her father to let her stay.

Several days later, they are in a private plane en route from Rio de Janeiro to Nova Roma. To make matters worse, they are in the middle of a thunderstorm. Amara is worried, but Manuel tries to calm her, telling her he’s flown through storms in his family’s plane many times. Since she is still nervous, he offers to talk to the pilot. He finds the pilot nervous and ready to begin an emergency landing, however at that moment the plane is hit by lightning and spins out of control. Amara panics. Manuel tells her to stay calm, or he will take her over. The plane crashes. Manuel manages to get Amara out of the burning plane, the pilot is already dead, though.

As they watch the burning wreckage, Amara points out that her father will come looking for them. Manuel realizes, though, that the plane was off course. He won’t find them. At least the plane landed in the swamp, Amara states, and won’t set the forest on fire. A moment later, she urges him to get on solid land – crocodiles are closing in!

Several rain-filled and uncomfortable days later, Amara is using her powers to build a small campfire when Manuel suddenly feels something being thrown at his head. The culprits are small monkeys and Amara realizes this is close to the primitive environment she came from. For a while, she lived in the forests as an Amazon, she relays. Not his idea of a good time, Manuel jokes before suggesting she set a larger fire as a beacon. Amara refuses. Controlling a fire in this environment would be extremely difficult. She lectures him that 25 % of the world’s oxygen originates from here. If this forest were destroyed…

Not that anyone would see the beacon in this traceless waste, he sulks, adding that this is just home for a bunch of monkeys and God knows what else. Insulted, Amara points out that it’s her home. Manuel threatens that he could make her build a fire. Furious she shifts to her lava form and dares him to do it. She should let him do it and then let him burn up in the conflagration.

Several silent angry hours later, Amara wakes up to Manuel moaning. First she sulks, thinking it serves him right, before remembering that he saved her from the burning plane. Annoyed she asks him what’s wrong, before turning towards him. She is in for a shock when she sees a bat feeding off him. Quickly, she tosses a burning log at the parasite and it flees.

She explains it was a vampire bat and hands Manuel some leaves, explaining that the bats’ saliva contains an anti-coagulant but the juice of the leaf should control the bleeding. Trying to make light of the situation, she jokes that he won’t become a vampire. He should try to think of them as Nova Roma mosquitoes.

He turns away, bitterly berating her for making fun of him. Amara protests. He retorts that he can sense her feelings, he can sense everyone’s feelings. Tarot’s, hers, he’s bombarded with them. He knows much more than he wants to … about how she feels. Reaching out, she carefully suggests that while he can tell what people feel, maybe he can’t tell why they feel that way. When she was little, a bat tangled itself in her hair. For years she dreamed about it and woke up screaming. But bats were all around them and she had to learn to laugh or spend her nights huddled in fear. But she also learned that bats don’t like the light… maybe they could use a bigger campfire.

The next morning, Manuel wakes up next to a small mountain of fruit. Busy making a spear, Amara tells him it is breakfast. Lots of stuff grows around there wild if you know where to look. So where is the bathroom in this ritzy establishment? he asks. Down the hall, second floor, she deadpans back, before warning him not to go too far. She saw Jaguar tracks earlier and Brazil is famous for its Anaconda… the second-biggest snake in the world. Nice neighborhood, he mutters as he walks off.

A little above him, he sees a beautiful orchid and figures he could surprise Amara with it, playing Tarzan. He climbs up, wondering how the flower would look in her hair, when suddenly he is faced with a jaguar. The animal attacks and jumps at the worried Amara next. Before she is able to chase away the cat with her spear it slashes her leg.

Angry and in pain, Amara snaps at Manuel, asking what he was doing up there. Looking at the remnants of the flower in his hand, Manuel replies nothing. As she bandages her wound, Amara lectures him on being careful. There’s a large chance that their injuries will fester and they don’t have any anti-biotics. But surely some hand native remedy will suffice, he replies mockingly. She is so superior in her jungle, so self-sufficient… almost as if she doesn’t want to be rescued.

She admits that he knows her feelings. She doesn’t want to be rescued. She has good reason. After he presses some more, Amara admits that her father want to marry her off to some noble she hasn’t even met. She was just settling in with the Hellions. She was so happy. Manuel demands she tell her father no and that there is someone else. It doesn’t work like that in Nova Roma, she just replies. And so the brave Amara hides, he mocks, towering over her.

He points to her still bleeding injury. The jaguar may have severed an artery. Will she cower here at the cost of her life? He insists they need help and tells her to call a volcano. They’ll investigate that. Amara refuses to take the chance of starting a jungle fire. Shaking her, Manuel threatens to force her. He begins to use his power on her, trying to make her afraid. Furiously, she slaps him, insisting it is his fear she is feeling, not her own. He feels what she feels, he retorts.

Keeping her from stalking off, he insists hat he knows she is afraid. He is afraid. Everybody is always afraid of something. He again insists she shake the earth, make a volcano, call them. Calling her ‘darling,’ he repeats his order. Why is he doing this? she asks. She’s afraid. She’s hurt. She might die. He wants to save her. He can feel how frightened she is. How she feels is her business, she retorts, how she handles what she feels is her responsibility. Amara kisses him and the ground begins to shake.

Manuel sits back non-plussed. Why did she kiss him? Did she want to or did he make her? Can’t he tell? she demands. He begins to mention Miss Frost’s ominous statement, when they notice the fire Amara has unwittingly started. As she leans on him, they begin to flee and jump into the river.

As he carries her to the other side, Manuel begins to apologize. Sometimes he can’t see the difference between his feelings and those of others. They assault him with conflicting emotions and he grabs hold of one and uses it to block all others, before he drowns in them. He admits to being a coward and taking the coward’s route out. It’s self-defense… rotten, but it allows him to breathe. He’s sorry for making her do that.

She decides they should head northeast until they find the Amazon.

Days later, both of them still worse for wear with Amara feverish they suddenly hear something. Manuel intends to fend off the new threat with the spear as Amara wryly remarks that they used to have headhunters. However, she quickly recognizes the men surrounding them, led by her father. Worried, Senator Lucius Aquila inquires if she is alright and whether the ruffian has harmed her. Amara explains that he is no ruffian and introduces Manuel as her friend, hoping that he will be her father’s as well.

Characters Involved: 

Cannonball, Magik, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)

in Magma’s story

Catseye, Empath, Jetstream, Magma, Roulette, Tarot, Thunderbird II (all Hellions)

The White Queen

Senator Lucius Aquilla

Nova Roman soldiers

Story Notes: 

Cypher died in issue #60.

Amara left the New Mutants for the Hellions to examine her feelings for Empath in issues #56-57.

Amara and Manuel stayed in Nova Roma for a relatively long time until X-Force (1st series) #34.

Issue Information: 
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