New Mutants (1st series) #90

Issue Date: 
June 1990
Story Title: 
To Hunt the Hunter

Louise Simonson (Writer), Rob Liefeld (Penciler), Hillary Barta (Inker), Joe Rosen (Letterer), Glynis Oliver (Colorist), Bob Harras (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

With the New Mutants as his charges now, Cable takes them to the ruins of their former home, the X-Mansion, and they take up residence in the sub-basement area. Cannonball, Sunspot and Wolfsbane show the newer members around, and Cable announces that he wants them, to all design education programs for themselves, and also a team uniform that comprises their individual attitudes. Rictor expresses his dislike of both those ideas, and of how Cable has his teammates under his thumb so quickly. The New Mutants have a training session in the Danger Room, during which Rictor freaks out and has a break down when he finds himself in a situation similar to when his father was killed. Rictor thinks Cable did this on purpose and runs away. Later, the New Mutants don their new costumes, before realizing that Rictor is missing, they assume that he went into the adjoining Morlock Tunnels, where he was told now to go. In those tunnels, Sabretooth is finishing off his original job by killing any remaining mutants, one of those, Rictor finds dead in the sewers. Caliban is tracking Sabretooth however, and comes across Rictor, at first they do not recognize each other, but when they do, Sabretooth reveals himself, and wounds Rictor before engaging Caliban in battle. The New Mutants have gathered Cable in the meantime, and are preparing to enter the tunnels.

Full Summary: 

Beneath New York…a large mutant known only as Samson runs through the sewer tunnels. He is a man who does not miss the surface world, as his blindness made him different there, as did his enormous size and strength. That‘s why he fled to the tangled tunnels and joined the disaffected mutants who called themselves the Morlocks. Here, his mutant powers were a blessing, as he discovered that his blind eyes could „see“ - by infrared - in the darkness. Samson became a valued member of the Morlock society, where he belonged. But then, the Marauders invaded the tunnels, strangers from the surface world with genocide in their hearts. When the Marauders left, most of the Morlocks had been killed. The tunnels are catacombs now, tombs for the slain - and the soon-to-be-dead - which Samson might find himself in that category, as Sabretooth - who took part in the slaughter of the Morlocks - is hot on his tail….

Sabretooth watches Samson from the shadows, recalling how he and the Marauders slaughtered most of the Morlocks, and declaring that it is up to him to clear out the stragglers, as he doesn’t like to leave a job unfinished. Trudging through the water, Samson knows that someone is following him, and admits that his tracker is good - but not so good that Samson cannot hear him. Samson wonders if it is one of Masque‘s gangsters, or someone else, while thinking to himself that there are not enough survivors left to ring a decent campfire! Though Samson knows that doesn’t stop some of them from trying to extend their power by killing off the others. ‘Stupid gits. What good is power over dead men?‘ Samson asks, before realizing that he needs to brace himself….

….and just in time too, as Sabretooth leaps at Samson. Samson realizes that it is Sabretooth, and calls him a murderer, before asking him what he is doing here. ‘Three guesses, loser - first two don‘t count!‘ Sabretooth replies. Samson boasts that Sabretooth will not take him the way he took the others, and uses his strength to smacks Sabretooth aside before the villain can attack him. ‘Good move - for a Morlock!‘ Sabretooth snarls, before lunging at Samson again and boasting that it is the last move he will ever make. Samson screams - then there is a mighty slashing sound as Sabretooth continues his attack.

However - not all Morlocks have remained helpless victims, cowering in the darkness. A few have left the tunnels, and now, one who has sold his soul for power, has returned. His name is Caliban. The tracker-mutant knows that Sabretooth is nearby and tells himself that is good, for it means his hunt has almost ended!

Meanwhile, on the surface, at the ruins of the Xavier Mansion in Westchester. ‘This is the famous X-mansion you‘ve told me and Boom-Boom so much about?‘ Julio “Rictor“ Richter asks his teammates in the New Mutants as they stand in rubble that was once home to many mutants. The alien New Mutant Warlock informs his teammate that their home is not as it was, while Rahne “Wolfsbane“ Sinclair tells Rictor that he should have seen it before Mr. Sinister blew it up, as it was a real mansion then, and they were happy here.

Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball informs everyone that Jean Grey told him the sub-basement is still intact, and that Forge and Banshee even left the lights on. ‘I don’t think, like, a little light will improve the ambience all that much‘ Tabby “Boom-Boom“ Smith mutters, and Rictor agrees, adding ‘Or change this into a place where any sane person would want to live!‘ Warlock remarks that they have no choice, and the New Mutants new mentor, Cable, who is currently clad in full armor declares that Warlock is right, as Freedom Force - and the individual federal government which they represent - are not too pleased with the New Mutants and he right now, so Cyclops‘ suggestion that they lie low here was well taken.

Bobby DaCosta a.k.a. Sunspot points out that you cannot get much lower than the X-Mansion‘s lower levels, and Rahne, in her half-wolf half-girl form helps him move a boulder which leads to a secret passage. Bobby adds that most of the good stuff is down in the sub-basements anyway. ‘Like what?‘ Boom-Boom asks. As the young heroes and Cable make their way down below, Cannonball exclaims that there are supplemental living quarters, a medical area and a gym. Bobby exclaims that it has everything - showers, an artificial sun-deck, ‘Even a swimming pool! Maybe this won‘t be so bad after all!‘ Tabby exclaims as she sees the pool.

Soon, Cannonball leads everyone into the library, boasting that there are books on every subject and computer terminals for each of them. Cable stands at the back of the room and noticing something is bothering Rictor, he wonders if it is himself. Cable decides that he doesn’t know Rictor well enough to tell, and that it would be useful to pry, but that given time, they will sort it out. Cable informs his charges that the complex seems both secure and well suited to their purposes, before remarking to Sam that he is glad to see he appreciates the library and the need for learning.

Cable goes on to tell the New Mutants that he wants them each to design their own curriculums and clear it with him. Cable adds that the curriculum must be heavy on the “three R‘s“, and also with history and government, geography, the hard sciences and psychology. Puzzled, Rahne, addressing Cable as “Sir“, asks him why. Cable replies that the New Mutants would be wise to get to know the world in all its complexities if they have any hope of saving it.

Cable continues, informing the New Mutants that they will also design new costumes with motifs that express team unity, but including variations to express their own identities. He adds that they can transmit the designs to X-Factor‘s Ship for implementation. ‘Commander Cable, sir, new costumes will not hide selves from Freedom Force!‘ Warlock exclaims. Cable replies that the new costumes might confuse Freedom Force momentarily.

Sunspot suggests to Cable that they should keep out of the tunnels that lead out of the lowest level, as that is Morlock territory. Bobby adds that, from what Jean Grey said, the Morlocks that are still there have gone dangerously insane. Boom-Boom exclaims that she seconds that, as she was in the tunnels once, and once was certainly enough for her!

Later, Cannonball leads everyone into a large chamber, declaring that he saved the best for last, and asks everyone what they think. ‘This is your amazing Danger Room?‘ Rictor asks, unimpressed. Sunspot remarks that it may not look too impressive now, ‘But wait until we switch it on!‘. Cable announces that on that note, they will convene here at 3 o‘clock to try the Danger Room out.

Meanwhile, in the tunnels beyond, Caliban continues to stalk Sabretooth - but what he finds is slaughter. ‚‘Another Morlock dead‘ Caliban thinks to himself as he stands over Samson‘s body, blood gushing into the water beneath them. Caliban declares that these very walls weep with the cries of the slain, and the waters run red with their heart‘s blood. Caliban remarks that Sabretooth is arrogant, so convinced of his own powers and invincibility, that he leaves a trail of death that any fool could follow. Caliban boasts that he is no fool though, nor is he just any tracker, for his is a special power. ‘I am a hunter of mutants!‘ the former Horseman of Apocalypse exclaims, adding that he is the Hell Hound, and that before dawn, he will corner Sabretooth - and Sabretooth will die!

Nearby, Sabretooth thinks that someone is following him, though he doesn’t know who and does not really care either. Sabretooth assumes his follower thinks he cannot hear him splashing through the water, and looking at his blood-stained hands, Sabretooth exclaims ‘Doesn’t know my claws are living razors!‘ Sabretooth‘s pursuer gets closer and the deadly villain catches his scent, which seems familiar to him. ‘A lucky Morlock who escaped our little massacre? Another fool, looking to die!‘ Sabretooth exclaims that it is bad news for this loser, and that whoever it is should have stayed cowering in the shadows, should have left all of this alone. ‘You put your head in the tigers mouth…you better expect it to get bit off!‘

Meanwhile, the New Mutants are busy designing their new uniforms. Cannonball asks Warlock what he thinks, to which Warlock replies that the designs are acceptable, but that Cannonball does not need goggles, as his power protects him when he blasts. Sam asks Warlock to give him a break, as he wants the goggles because he thinks they look cool, before he calls out to Rictor, informing him that he is next and asking if he has worked out a design yet. Rictor replies ‘Nope‘ and declares that he doesn’t want a new uniform, as it is just macho kids stuff, and he likes his clothes the way they are.

Boom-Boom turns to Rictor and tells him that ever since Cable came along, he has been acting like a real pain, and asks him what is up with him. Sullenly, Rictor announces that he knows Cable, from a long time ago. This surprises his teammates, and Boom-Boom remarks that Cable doesn’t seem to know Rictor, before asking him what the problem is. ‘He some kind of mass murderer or what?‘ Rictor replies ‘No‘ and that he doesn’t want to talk about it, as it is personal.

Wolfsbane begins to try and get Rictor to talk about it, when Warlock exclaims that he must interrupt, pointing out that it is three o‘clock and therefore time for the Danger Room practice session. ‚‘Fantastic!‘ Sunspot exclaims, before suggesting they “modem“ the uniform designs to Ship. ‘Then self friend New Mutants are out of here!‘ Warlock exclaims excitedly. With regards to the Danger Room, Sunspot tells Boom-Boom and Rictor that it is great, that they will not believe their eyes.

Rictor stands back from his teammates as they leave the room, and Rahne asks him if he isn‘t coming. Julio doesn’t answer, instead, he thinks that he is just like Rahne - the New Mutants are the only family he has left, but that Cable, with his new uniforms and practice sessions has stolen them from him - just the way he stole his father. Rahne asks Rictor again to please come, as it is going to be wonderful and she wants him to give it a chance. Rictor turns to Rahne and tells her that he will give it a go is she says so - and he will give Cable a try. ‘But if it doesn’t work out…‘ he thinks to himself.

Soon, the New Mutants, except Rictor of course, have changed into some work-out outfits and stand in the middle of the Danger Room, their pulses pounding, despite this being an apparently empty, metal sheathed arena. From the observation and control booth, Cable asks the New Mutants if they are prepared. Cable addresses Cable as “Sir“ again and replies that they are as ready as they will ever be. Cable declares that they shall begin, but nothing happens. ‘Where‘s all the special effects you guys were bragging about?‘ Boom-Boom asks, when suddenly, ‘Heads up, people! Here we go!‘ Cannonball shouts as the New Mutants find themselves on small asteroid like platforms, with warriors rushing towards them and small aircraft firing lasers at them.

Boom-Boom asks where they are and what those creatures are, to which Wolfsbane replies that this is an alien landscape and those are their enemies, creatures from another world. Cannonball blasts in between the asteroids while explaining that the Danger Room was built by the Shi‘ar using alien technology so advanced, that it is near incomprehensible to humans. As Sunspot begins punching the alien warriors, he exclaims that the Danger Room is programmed with scenarios from hundreds of worlds, both real and imaginary, adding that he is operating at his maximum strength, even though this is a pretty low-level exercise, and that the more advanced states can get pretty dangerous.

Warlock announces that he is more than glad of his own body‘s malleability, as he dodges the warriors, while Wolfsbane exclaims that the enhanced strength and agility of her wolf-form can be truly a life-saver. ‘You mean, these things aren‘t just holograms? They‘re, like, real?‘ Boom-Boom exclaims in horror. Warlock replies that in the Danger Room they are, and suggests she creates her explosive energy spheres as he calls them now. ‚‘No kidding!‘ Tabby mutters, before unleashing her time bombs upon the approaching warriors.

On another asteroid, Rictor is all by himself. Two warriors approach him, and he boasts that is child‘s play, as all he has to do is shatter them, vibe them off this rock. But much to Rictor‘s surprise, he finds that these aliens are not flesh and blood, but they break into pieces, only to reform into another creature, and soon he is surrounded. Observing from the control booth, Cable notes that Rictor is surrounded, and that the more valiantly he fights, the more skillfully he shatters those creatures, the more of them emerge. Cable realizes that Julio doesn’t have a clue how to deal with these warriors and will soon be overwhelmed.

Rictor gasps as more warriors approach him and he thinks that this is like what happened to his father, what he saw happen to his father. ‘What I see over and over again in my dreams - and I can do nothing!‘ Julio thinks to himself, before collapsing to the ground, and trembling, he covers his face as he calls out to Cable, asking him to shut the program off. His teammates rush over to him, with Sunspot asking Rictor if he is all right. Wolfsbane exclaims ‘Thank Heaven Cable stopped the exercise‘ while Cannonball tells Rictor not to sweat it too much, as they are supposed to make mistakes in here. Wolfsbane agrees with Sam, and assures Rictor that over time, the Danger Room has frightened all of them.

Cable has come down from the control booth and remarks to Rictor ‘You aren‘t actually hurt?‘ Rictor replies ‘No thanks to you, Cable‘ before telling him that sequence he ran was to set him up, ‘Like you did my father‘ Julio thinks to himself, before declaring for all the Danger Room‘s ultra-realism, it was just a game, ‘And I hate playing games!‘ Julio announces. Rictor then thinks to himself that he will use his power to clear the Morlock tunnels of Masque and his followers, then his teammates will see how wrong they are to follow Cable, and to take the Danger Room so seriously.

As Rictor strides away, Cable watches his young charge and thinks to himself that Rictor is the most difficult of them all, a puzzle to him - proud, stubborn and fiercely independent. Cable decides that Rictor thinks he has failed here, and will not even admit it to himself. Cable supposes he could order Rictor back, but decides against it as this is not the army, so there is no point in getting into a battle of wills where they would both be losers. Cable reminds himself that the New Mutants risk their lives in battle because they choose to do so, which is their greatest strength. Cable decides that he will talk to Rictor later, quietly when they are alone, as Julio must accept him as his leader, as the others do. Cable knows that Rictor must chose to remain, for if he pushes Rictor too far, then he will lose him…‘As I once lost my son!‘ Cable thinks to himself.

Later, ‚‘Did Ship do a great job in constructing these costumes or what?‘ Boom-Boom asks as she examines herself in a mirror. Clad in a skimpy pink and white mini-dress, but still wearing her trade-mark sun glasses, this time a larger pair, she is pleased with her appearance. As is Sunspot who is checking her out. Cannonball is dressed in his new costume, purple and white, and Sunspot in his, red and white. All three comprise elements unique to the wearer, as Cable asked for, but also have a team look to them. Sam remarks that Ship had great designs to work from, before asking where Rictor and Wolfsbane are.

Boom-Boom replies that Rahne is looking for Rictor, and that she doesn’t know what got into him just collapsing like he did, as Rictor has fought guys worse than that. Sunspot agrees that it was odd and suggests maybe Rictor thought Cable did it on purpose, before pointing out that they will talk it out with Julio when Rahne finds him. As if on cue, Rahne rushes into the room. Sam informs Rahne that her uniform is here, but Rahne exclaims that it is not important right now. Sam asks her why not and what is wrong, to which an anguished Rahne exclaims that Rictor is gone, and that she is afraid he went into the Morlock tunnels!

In a panic, the New Mutants race down the hall after Rahne changes into her orange and white uniform. Cannonball cries out to Cable, but Wolfsbane points out that he cannot hear them, as he has the Cerebro helmet on, trying to get it operative so that they can use if to find the Mutant Liberation Front. Rahne goes right up to Cable and gets his attention, informing them that he must listen to them. ‘What is it, Rahne‘ Cable asks, seemingly unimpressed that he is being interrupted. Rahne replies that it is Rictor, and informs Cable that he has gone into the tunnels. ‘What?‘ Cable replies urgently, before taking off Cerebro and telling his team that there is no time to waste, that they must be at the tunnel entrance in five minutes, for they have to go after Rictor!

Meanwhile, the tunnels where Rictor treks are dark, damp and shadowed. Julio stalks through them, armed only with his power and a plan. Julio thinks to himself that it is ridiculous the New Mutants should cower in that wreck they call an X-Mansion, afraid of some bogeyman mutants in these tunnels. Rictor admits that he knows the stories of Masque and the massacre survivors who have joined him, ‘But how many can there be?‘ he wonders, before thinking that the New Mutants should confront them, except that Cable has turned his teammates into wimps!

Rictor mocks his teammates and how they address Cable: “‘Yes, sir!‘, ‘No, sir!‘“, but Rictor is most shocked at how when Cable bosses his teammates around, they actually like it, even Sunspot, and especially Wolfsbane. Rictor declares that Cable, with his talk of new costumes and practice Danger Room sessions, has done a real number on the rest of the New Mutants. He wonders why his teammates don’t know this is just a game to Cable, just pretend. Rictor thinks that it is easy to mess things up when it isn‘t real, before seeing Samson‘s body up ahead in the water. Rictor realizes that something - or someone killed him, when suddenly a voice behind Rictor asks him what he is doing here.

Rictor sees a large figure before him, unaware that it is Caliban who declares ‘These are not your tunnels. They belong to the Morlocks‘. Rictor assumes this bulking figure before him to be the murderer, and exclaims ‘Maybe, murderer…maybe not!‘ as he unleashes his seismic powers on him. Caliban pushes forward, towards Rictor and tells him that it will take more than that to defeat him, the nigh-invulnerable Caliban! Rictor hesitates, ‘Caliban? It cant be - you‘re so different!‘ he exclaims, before declaring ‘It‘s me, Rictor…Caliban, don‘t you remember, we were friends!‘ Rictor exclaims.

‘That Caliban is dead, past redemption!‘ Caliban exclaims, when suddenly, Sabretooth lunges out at Rictor, while snarling ‘This Caliban will be dead, too!‘ Reaching out and trying to slash Rictor, Sabretooth warns him that firstly, he will finish him. Rictor falls to the water as Sabretooth shreds his clothing and looms over him. Caliban approaches Sabretooth, and remarks that he performs well against children, ‘Against the weak…the innocent…the unaware!‘

‘And you ain‘t none of those things, right? Good!‘ Sabretooth exclaims, remarking that he has been spoiling for a fight. Rictor watches the other two mutants and thinks to himself that Sunspot was right, they are crazy down here, before realizing that Sabretooth ripped his guts out, and now he cannot stand, let alone run away. He decides that at least now Sabretooth and Caliban are killing each other, while wondering how long it can be until one has defeated - and the other turns on him?

Back at their headquarters, the New Mutants inform Cable, who has gathered some grenades among other weapons, that they are ready. When Cable doesn’t answer, Boom-Boom asks him if he isn‘t going to tell them that they are too young and should stay here while he goes after Rictor alone. Cable readies a large weapon, and replies that the New Mutants are too young to experience what they might find in the tunnels, but that with all of them working together, Rictor has a better chance of survival.

Cable proceeds to tell his team that they should enter the tunnels at maximum strength, and orders Sunspot to power up. Rahne asks Cable if, with his permission, she can switch to a full wolf-form, and admit that she will not be as strong that way, but that she will be able to track Rictor more effectively that way. Cable replies that Rahne can do that if she wishes, before exclaiming ‘Into the tunnels, then…and may Lord have mercy on us

Characters Involved: 

Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Rictor, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)



Caliban, Samson (both Morlocks)

In Danger Room Simulation:


Story Notes: 

The majority of the Morlocks where slain in the classic X-Men crossover, “Mutant Massacre”.

The X-Men and New Mutants’ home was destroyed in Uncanny X-Men #243.

Though Rictor might not be aware of it, Boom-Boom actually once briefly went to the X-Mansion, back in her very first appearance, Secret Wars II #5.

Jean Grey, Banshee and Forge were all at the mansion in Uncanny X-Men #263 & 264.

Boom-Boom visited the Morlock tunnels in X-Factor (1st series) #16.

Rictor and Caliban spent time together under the guardianship of the original X-Factor.

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