New Mutants (1st series) #8

Issue Date: 
October 1983
Story Title: 
The Road to... Rome?

Chris Claremont (Writer), Sal Buscema (Pencils), Bob Mcleod (Inker), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer), Glynis Wein (Colorist), Louise Jones (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Trying to enjoy some down time, the New Mutants accompany Nina Da Costa on an expedition to the Amazon Jungle. Thanks to Castro, a crewmate who secretly works for the Hellfire Club, a swim turns almost deadly for Danielle, she is rescued by Cannonball, who lands them across shore. They are faced by four Native woman and attacked. After a brief battle, they take one native girl prisoner aboard their boat to learn about her. Nina discovers the girl leaves more questions than answers, as her weapons are from various places and times more advanced than the girl’s tribe should be.

Upon taking a meal to the native girl, Rahne discovers Castro trying to beat information out of her, and turns into wolf form to stop him. He runs in fear, as Rahne returns to normal and confides into the girl, who’s name she learns is Amara. Rahne spills her heart out, believing the girl cannot understand her, and when she opens the door, she discovers the captain is dead with an arrow in his back. Castro has returned, and knocks her unconscious. She awakes with the New Mutants, Amara, and Mrs. DaCosta all passed out next to her, as Castro had drugged their food. Sunspot awakes and tries to drive the ship away from the heavy current it’s steering into. He fails, as they destroyed the ship’s engine, and the ship crashes down a small waterfall tossing them into the waters. Cannonball rescues Moonstar, as Sunspot tries to save his mother. He fails and is dragged underwater, and saved by Cannonball. Wolfsbane saves Amara, who’s native disguise washed away by the waters. Her skin is white, her hair is blonde, and she wakes from shock as Wolfsbane discovers she can understand her. Hurt by her deception, she knows she cannot let her die. They are flown onshore by Sam, and they begin to search for Mrs. DaCosta as they are approached by an army of warriors in ancient Roman armors. The warriors are the Thunderclap Legion, and they tell the Mutants they are now their prisoners, and slaves of the Imperial Rome.

Full Summary: 

In the Amazon jungle of South America, the New Mutant known as Wolfsbane moves quietly across the jungle ground. She leaps on a near by tree, shifting from her pure wolf, to wolf-human form to grab the branch . After climbing higher she looks down on her target, her fellow teammate, Psyche. In full human form, Wolfsbane jumps down at her friend. They are using this wonderful jungle for an elaborate game of hide and seek. Frightened by the surprise Danielle reminds her of the object to find her, not scare her. Sweat pours from the Wolfsbane’s face as she apologizes. Danielle notices her drenched in sweat, the humidity of the jungle being a drastic change to the cool weather of Scotland. She offers to help her get out of her uniform, but Rahne declines as it isn’t proper with their male teammates close by.

Not far away, Sunspot and Cannonball search for their teammates. Considering Wolfsbane’s tracking abilities, she should have found them by this time. They fear jungle was dangerous and something awful might have happened. Hearing distant barking they continue, only to find Wolfsbane playing in a small pile of snow. Psyche near by, legs akimbo concentrates deeply. She is focusing on conjuring Wolfsbane’s greatest desire, which in this case is cool snow.

With their game of hide-and-seek over, Cannonball takes it upon himself to give himself a workout by testing his maneuverability throw the trees. Passing throw the first several trees, he gets carried away, and smashes into a nearby tree. Luckily for him he is invulnerable in this form, but the tree topples towards his teammate Sunspot. Transforming into his solar charged self, Sunspot smashes the tree, saving himself from harm.

Later on, they set up satellite communication with the teacher Professor Xavier in New York. While Roberto works on the fix on the satellite, Rahne explores the beautiful creatures and scenery of the jungle. Roberto knows the jungle will not be beautiful for long if people continue to destroy it. Danielle adds that Sam did not intend to smash the tree, but accident or intent, the jungle suffers. Xavier greets them ,asking if they are enjoying their trip. Roberto reports he is sending the telemetry readings from their training sessions for Xavier to study. Xavier is pleased, but when they ask of the search for Shan, there is nothing new for Xavier to tell. Seeing the saddened looks on the New Mutants faces via the viewing screen , he tells them it is time to accept she is gone. Roberto wonders if they should return, but Xavier thinks they are best where they are. His hands are full with new recruits amongst the X-Men, as well as training Team America. He’ll contact them if needed, until then they should try to enjoy their vacation.

Walking back towards their boat, Danielle knows there was something he wasn’t telling them about Shan, you could just hear it in his voice. Roberto thinks he just doesn’t care. Danielle, at one time would have agreed, but not anymore. She wonders if he is trying to protect them. Sam asks from what, and if he does care about them, why not enough to trust them with the knowledge of what’s going on. Roberto confesses they’re just the “X-Babies” and no one will take them seriously. They see the boat out in the water, and Roberto tells them they should be aboard in another half an hour. Danielle takes off her shirt, revealing her bathing suit. She tells them to waddle through the mud if they want, but she’s going to swim across. They try to call out and warn her not to, but she is already in mid-dive.

Aboard the boat, Castro notices one of the children in the water, not surprising given the temperature of the day and the coolness of the water. She must not have listened to Mrs. DaCosta’s warnings, he thinks with a sinister grin appearing. He tosses a bucket of slop into the water near Danielle, and bids her silently to enjoy her life, it’s about to end. Danielle notices the water near the boat appear as if it’s boiling. Just then she realizes her mistake, that there are piranha in these waters. She’s too far from the shore, and the piranha are between her and the boat. She can’t run, she must fight or they will eat her alive. She tries hard and pulls something they fear out of their tiny little minds. It works the piranhas turn and flee. She reaches the top of the water and signals for help, knowing that one bite would sever her concentration, and she would as good as gone. Nina DaCosta sees her and calls out to her, she orders the men on board to launch the dingy at once. Sam ignites his mutant power flying towards Danielle’s rescue. Roberto warns him he will reveal their secret powers to the crew. But Sam knows he cannot worry about that when another teammates life is in danger.

He launches through the sky, grabbing Danielle’s arm as it waves above the water. She lets out a slight scream, as the speed of his flight yanks her arm. He asks if she wants to be dropped back into the water. Forget she mentioned it, she says asking only one question as they rocket over the ship causing the crew to have to duck out of the way. Where do they land? Sam tells her one the beach, of course, as he crashes into the muddy shore of the opposing side of shore from his teammates. Looking up, Danielle hates to ruin his gallant effort at a rescue, but his plan leaves a little something to be desired. Four native women stand over them looking angry. They carry spears and shields, and one kicks Sam across the face before they have a chance to get up.
Sam’s glad his father’s not here, he taught Sam to treat girls with respect, but these girls play rough, he warns his teammate. He grabs one of their legs to throw them off balance, as Danielle warns she plays rough as well. As one Native girl lunges towards her, she grabs their wrist and tosses her into two of her partners. The Native girls do not appear interested in a fight, Danielle notices, but their sudden arrival startled them. The girls flee, but Sam grabs one by the waist. He holds onto her as they make their way for the boat. She struggles wildly. Danielle wonders how long these Indian girls were watching their boat. Sam bets Nina, Sunspot’s mother, might know. But Danielle worries that their hassles are nowhere near over.

Back on the boat, an argument has started over the recent display of power. The captain warns Silvera his talk is near mutiny, but he does not care. He saw Sam shoot over head like a rocket, he’s not human but a freak. Silvera bets his friends are the same way. He did not sign on this mission to work with monsters, and there’s no way the Captain can force him. Castro steps in reminding Silvera that for the last two weeks, he thought these were good kids, only up until five minutes ago, now he suddenly thinks different. They may come in handy before this expedition reaches it’s end. The captain thanks Castro for his help, and orders them to shove off. He doesn’t want to be around if the native Indians regroup.

Later they anchor down as the sun sets. Danielle reports the Skipper is posting guards throughout the night. Sam volunteers, as does Roberto. Nina announces she has tried every dialect she knows on the Native girl, but she will not talk. One arrow she carries are Jivaro, native to this region. But the other arrow, is Hovito, from Peru. Peru being over 500 miles away, and the girl herself is neither. Roberto tells his mother the knife she carried doesn’t look Indian. Nina reports it is steel, a modern design with sophisticated workmanship. None of the Amazon tribes have knowledge of such technology. The girl remains a mystery. Outside in the dusk, the young girl’s fellow Native girls gather, as one points her bow at the ship, she warns of their rifles. Another tells her to put her bow down, they dare not risk Lady Amara’s life. For now, they will have to wait, until her signal, and then it will time to strike.

In the sea front home of Multi- Millionaire, Emmanuel Da Costa, he speaks to his new acquaintance, Sebastian Shaw. Lighting a piece of paper on fire, he is not pleased with Shaw’s agent Castro, as his attempts of sabotage have been unsuccessful. This is hardly an incentive for him to join his secret Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. Shaw admits the difficulty of the mission, to stop the expedition, without causing harm to his wife or son. His son, and his friends being mutants, complicates things more. DaCosta reminds him what is at stake, the Maderia uncharted and unexplored. A mineralogical goldmine that he will not let anyone keep from him. While he still loves his wife, nothing comes between his business. If she stayed at home, like a proper wife, then she would be in no trouble. Then the evening’s entertainment enters. Four young ladies.

Aboard their ship they see their destination, the Maderia. In a day, they will leave the river and hike. Danielle , thinking that her mountains in Colorado were amazin , is impressed. The Captain tells them of the legend of the Maderia, of the lost civilization hidden within the peaks. Ruled by Gods from the other side of the world. Several expeditions have ventured their, mostly to never be heard from again. Sam and Rahne wonder what kind of vacation this will be if they follow their footsteps. The captain reassures them that they are only stories, nothing to worry about. Rahne takes food down to their young captive, excited about her forthcoming adventure. Near the door, she hears voices inside the girl’s cabin. She swings open the door to find Castro slapping the Native girl. He warns her to leave, he’s only finding out information from this savage. Raising his hand, Rahne stops him, grabbing his hand in mid-swing. She knows Nina Da Costa wanted the girl unharmed. Castro back hands her down, telling her she should have headed the warning. Rahne looks up at him, enraged she warns him he really should not have done that. He clenches his fist, and threatens her again, but as she shifts into a full wolf, snarling and growling. Castro runs in fear, screaming about a werewolf.

Shifting back into her human form, Rahne unties the girl, telling her not to worry, she’s not as fierce as she looked. Rahne tells the girl her name, and when she replies ‘Rain?’, Rahne tells her she’s right. The girl speaks the word Amara. Rahne tells her that’s a lovely name, and starts sobbing. She apologizes for crying, but the look on Castro’s face when she shifted reminded her of the faces back home in Scotland. People she knew her entire life, ready to kill her, thinking her a monster. Although she doesn’t feel evil, she wonders deep down if she really is. The only time she truly finds happiness is when she is in her wolf form, she wonders if she should stay that way forever. Standing up, looking shamefully, she asks if Amara understands anything she is saying. Amara says “Amara!” once more, and Rahne is happy. She would not have actually told her these secrets if she understood. Rahne tries to leave, in anattempt to tell Professor DaCosta about Castro, but she gasps as a body falls once she opens the door. It is the ship’s Captain with a Hovito arrow in his back. A voice taunts her she’ll soon be joining him, as she sees Castro right before he slams her in the head with the handle of a shotgun.

Rahne sees total blackness, and after awhile she makes an attempt and opens her eyes. Everything is fuzzy for awhile, as she jokingly asks why is it her always getting hit on the head. In the room with her are her friends, along with Nina DaCosta and Amara, all whom are passed out. Roberto slowly wakes up, as Rahne tells him she was hit by Castro. Roberto admits he got to them too, by drugging their food, but wonders why he didn’t finish them off. He wonders why the crew would join him, maybe because they’re mutants? He smashes through the door in solar charged form. Unless it’s another attack to stop his Mother’s expedition, like in Rio. Outside on deck, he sees the boat on course down the tributary the Captain warned them about. With too much turbulence and rocks, Roberto grabs the steering wheel of the boat. trying to steer his way out of the mess. Trying the starter engine, he notices they wrecked the engines. Roberto shouts for Rahne to wake everyone up and place them in life jackets as soon as she can. The ship hits a chuck of rock with a loud crashing noise. Roberto screams another warning as the boat heads over a small waterfall falling onto a huge rock.

The boat smashes into pieces as Rahne, Danielle, and Roberto are tossed out of it. Nina Da Costa clings to what is left of the ship, as Cannonball reacts instantly as the cold water shocks him into action. He flies and rescues Danielle first, who jokes this is becoming a habit. Roberto in his solar charged form swims to the aid of his mother, who is now clutching a rock in the heavy flowing water. Thinking only of rescuing his Mother, he does not see a piece of floating wreckage until it smacks the back of his head, shattering his concentration and leaving him in his human form. His Mother looses her grip and he weakly calls out for her before the undertow grabs him, dragging him lower and lower underwater. Cannonball propels himself underwater rescuing his younger teammate. Outside the water he assures Roberto he has him, but thinks to himself he sees no sign of his mother.

Wolfsbane in an attempt to rescue the native Amara leaps from rock to rock over the rushing water, shifting forms when need be. She grabs the young Native’s hand as the current pulls hard at her. Amara is dunked briefly underwater, and once Rahne sees here, she notices Amara’s skin is now as white as her own, and her hair is blonde. Rahne is shocked to discover she was in disguise. She tries talking to her, realizing it’s pointless as the girl will not understand her. Amara speaks weakly admitting she does understand, and she’ll try to help Rahne pull herself out. A look of shock and fear comes across Rahne who had recently poured her heart out to Amara on the boat, telling her things she wouldn’t tell her best friend. She asks how she could be so cruel, as to pretend she didn’t understand, but Rahne knows no matter how betrayed she feels she cannot let this girl die. She shifts into transitional from, pulling her out of the water and onto the rock. Rahne warns her, she has a lot of questions for Amara, and she will not get away again with playing dumb.

Cannonball flies overhead to evaluate the situation. He asks Rahne who this girl is, and she announces it is Amara, and reports she has not seen Mrs. Da Costa. Sam flies the girls to shore to join Danielle and Bobby. Rahne announces she couldn’t pick up a scent of her either. Bobby screams out that they have to find her, she has to be out there. Sam grabs his friend hugging him, telling him they will find her, and they’re lucky to be alive themselves. Bobby tries to go into the water shouting for his Mother as a voice calls out to the Mutant telling them to stand where they are. Sam thinks he must be going crazy, but Bobby tells him the legends his mother spoke of were true. They see an army of Roman legionnaires, their leader orders them to be silent, if they wish to live, they will remain silent. He tells them they are now prisoners of the 4th maniple, 1st cohort, Thunderclap Legion, and henceforth they are slaves of Imperial Rome!

Characters Involved: 

Cannonball, Psyche, Sunspot, Wolfsbane ( New Mutants)

Professor Charles Xavier


Nina Da Costa
Castro, Silvera, amongst river boat crew members
Amara (in disguise amongst natives)

Her attendants (also disguised)
Thunderclap Legion

Sebastian Shaw

Emmanuel Da Costa

In Danger Room:

Cowboy, El Lobo. R.U. Reddy / all Team America

On Video Screen:

Professor Xavier, Cannonball, Psyche, Sunspot, Wolfsbane

Story Notes: 

Amara would become Magma in issues #11-12, where her mutant power manifests.

This is another of the early displays where Wolfsbane was shown with a limited healing factor. This would be ignored or forgotten by later writers.

Shan disappeared in New Mutants #6, where she was believed dead, but actually she was possessed by the Shadow King. She will be shown again in New Mutants #29.

Nina Da Costa was first attacked in New Mutants #7, by Axe ands his henchmen who were working for Emmanuel Das Costa, her own husband, and Sunspot’s father.

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