New Mutants (1st series) #92

Issue Date: 
August 1990
Story Title: 
When the Carnival comes to Town

Dwight Zimmerman (Writer), Bob Hall (Penciler), Jeff Albrecht (Inker), Michael Heisler (Letterer), Nel Yomtov (Colorist), Suzanne Gaffney (Assistant Editor), Bob Harras (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description: 

Cable tests Wolfsbane in the Danger Room, but it leads to her remembering a terrible encounter the New Mutants had recently, where they were visiting Cannonball’s family and went to a carnival, only to become trapped by evil Skrull Slavers who intended to turn the New Mutants into slaves. The New Mutants managed to free themselves and rescue the civilians, before the Skrulls fled into space, though one of them, in the form of a rodent was left behind. Wolfsbane and Cable discuss the need for hope in this dangerous world, unaware that the Skrull rodent is watching them.

Full Summary: 

‘Push it, girl - push it!‘ Cable, the leader of the New Mutants exclaims to Rahne “Wolfsbane“ Sinclair during a Danger Room training session. ‚‘You know you want to succeed - wanting it means doing it - and in our business, doing it means staying alive!‘ Cable exclaims as he and Rahne dodge some lazers. Cable reaches a control panel on the wall, exclaiming that they made it, and pointing out that Rahne kept the pace with him all the way through. He tells her to shift to her human form and give him a second to reprogram the Danger Room sequence, while adding that she performed very well, as he expected her to.

Rahne thanks Cable, before he points out that one success doesn’t matter much in battle, and asks her if she is ready to try something a little different. ‘When you are !‘ Rahne smiles as she replies. ‘Good‘ Cable replies, before warning Rahne to get ready to get small! Rahne is taken by surprise as a hologram image begins to appear around her, and a giant clown appears, ready to stamp its foot down on Rahne, who screams, then pleads with Cable to stop the program now, exclaiming that it was not a funny joke.

Cable aborts the program and replies that it wasn’t supposed to be funny, before asking Rahne why she threw a hissy fit. Sobbing, Rahne replies that the sequence reminded her of something. ‘The case of the corrupted carnival?‘ Cable asks. Shocked, Rahne looks at her mentor, asking him how he knows of that, as he wasn’t with the New Mutants then. Cable replies that he knows everything he needs to know about the people he deals with - both enemies and allies, before suggesting that they get some air, topside.

Arriving at the ruins of the once glorious Xavier Estate, Cable explains to Wolfsbane that he ran that sequence to test her psychologically, not physically. He adds that it was routine at best, and asks Rahne what sparked the excessive reaction. Rahne replies that she doesn’t know, but perhaps it was simply the first time she realized how even the most innocent of places, the most lovely of days, could be turned foul and corrupt. Cable and Wolfsbane stand in the moonlight, being watched by a small rodent, Cable asks Rahne if that should go without saying. ‘Maybe, maybe not‘ Rahne replies, before remarking that it was a disheartening experience nonetheless.

(Rahne’s story)

Rahne tells Cable that the New Mutants were visiting Sam‘s family in Kentucky, so far away from the problems they faced during the Inferno - such a nice night it was, and begins the tale of the corrupted carnival:

…Rahne and her teammates - Tabby “Boom-Boom“ Smith, Julio “Rictor“ Richter, Bobby “Sunspot“ DaCosta and Sam “Cannonball“ Guthrie - pile out of Lucinda Guthrie‘s car, and Sunspot looks at the carnival, exclaiming that it is more like a village fair. He begins to say that back in Rio de Janeiro, when Rictor cuts him off, pointing out that Cumberland Kentucky is not Rio, so he needs to cool down. Guthrie family matriarch, Lucinda, tells her eldest son not to eat the food and to watch the rides, reminding him of how he gets nauseous. ‘And put your money in different pockets!‘ Lucinda adds. As she begins to drive away, she calls out the window, warning the kids to stay together, to have fun, and that she will see them back here at eleven, sharp. ‘Bye, Momma!‘ Sam calls out.

Boom-Boom smiles, exclaiming that they are here to have fun, she suggests they go and have some, when suddenly a lion comes up behind her and begins sniffing her. This scares Tabby who spins around and screams, while the lion roars, and Wolfsbane senses something different, something wrong about it. Suddenly, a blond man standing on the backs of a rhinoceros and a hippopotamus, and with other animals around him exclaims ‘Have no fear, young lady - Sebastian, the world‘s greatest animal tamer is here!‘ He adds that all the savage creatures around him are tamer than house pets. ‘If you say so…‘ mumbles Boom-Boom.

The animal trainer leaps off his creatures and asks Boom-Boom if he doubts her. ‘Watch!‘ he exclaims as his tiger goes over to Cannonball and begins rubbing itself against him, purring. Cannonball exclaims that it really is tame, to which Sebastian motions to all of the other animals and exclaims that they love all of them. ‘Little lower, please!‘ Rictor exclaims as the tiger begins rubbing against him. Sunspot puts his face close to the hippo‘s mouth and exclaims that the trainer is right, the animals really want to stay with them. As the elephant uses its trunk to place a mouse on Rahne‘s shoulder, while Rahne asks Bobby if he thinks it is a wee bit strange. ‘Nah, it‘s neat!‘ Bobby replies as Rahne notices the mouse on her shoulder, exclaiming that its touch is so comforting.

The trainer announces that he must go, and leading his animals away tells the New Mutants to enjoy their evening. ‘We will!‘ Bobby calls out, remarking to his teammates ‘What a class act!‘ Boom-Boom asks Sunspot if he is kidding and exclaims that the trainer was creepy. Sam agrees and suggests they go and find the rides.

Nearby, the trainer pats his tiger and asks ‘You‘re certain? Fascinating!‘ A clown approaches the trainer and asks him what they have found. ‘Those adolescents - they are Terran exotics!‘ the trainer exclaims, adding that the red-haired one is a changeling. ‘Indeed! Then they will be tested immediately!‘ the clown exclaims. ‘And after that…culled!‘ he adds.

Back with the New Mutants, Wolfsbane is lagging at the back of the group when Boom-Boom calls out to her, ‘You‘re straggling!‘ Tabby exclaims. Rahne apologizes, and begins to remark on the sights, when suddenly she picks up on a smell, which she describes as “heavenly“ from a nearby stall. The smell is in fact emanating from a stuffed toy, and seeing it held out to her by a stall-keeper, Rahne exclaims that it is so beautiful. ‘Can’t live without it, can you?!‘ the stall-keeper exclaims, adding that you get three balls for a dollar, and tells Rahne that if she knocks down all the bottles, then the bear is hers.

Intoxicated by whatever strange smell is emanating from the bear, an enchanted Rahne replies that she cannot live without it. Rictor calls out to Rahne, telling her that she wont have to, while suggesting to Bobby and Sam that this is a way to square things between the two of them - whoever wins the bear, wins the argument. The boys agree, and Bobby exclaims that he is first, while Tabby watches Rahne with some reservation, thinking to herself ‘She loves that cheap, stinky thing? Weird!‘

Bobby aims the ball at the bottles in the stall and tells Sam to get ready to apologize. Boom-Boom makes a smart comment as Sunspot misses twice. One his third shot, Bobby thinks that the balls are rigged, and decides that he will win by using his super strength - but even that attempt fails. ‘Tough luck, Bobby!‘ Sam mutters as he takes a ball - which gets very close to the bottles - as do his second and third shots, but each just missing slightly. Sam apologizes to Rahne - who is actually crying - while Bobby mutters that the game is rigged.

‘Oh yeah?‘ Tabby exclaims before snatching a ball from the stall-keeper as she gives him a dollar. ‘It‘s your dollar, miss!‘ the stall-keeper grins. ‘Yeah, and I just bought me a bear!‘ Tabby boasts as she tosses her ball, while thinking ‘Provided you don‘t see my little boom boom!‘ and on cue one of her plasma energy bombs explodes, knocking the bottles from each other. ‘We have winner! Enjoy your prize, little lady!‘ the stall-keeper exclaims as he hands Rahne the teddy bear. Rahne thanks Boom-Boom, and the New Mutants take their leave as a certain clown approaches the stall-keeper. remarks ‘Those exotics could be dangerous - look at what the blond female did to the analysis ball!‘ The clown looks at the ball, a metal globe, its disguise torn apart, the clown replies ‘So? That merely sealed their fate - and doubled their value!‘

While Rahne hugs her bear, Sunspot boasts that he would have one, except the stall-keeper cheated. Tabby asks Bobby how he thinks she won, before telling him to forget all of that, as she wants to find a ride - one that will get them nice and sick. Suddenly, Rahne exclaims that everything is whirling around her, and that she feels so weak. Sam reaches out to prevent his friend from falling over while exclaiming that they have got to get help. Rictor sees a first aid station and suggests they take Rahne there.

Within minutes, a large elderly nurse-type woman stands over Rahne who sits in a chair, still clutching her teddy bear. The nurse tells the New Mutants that it is nothing serious, but that Rahne just needs some rest, and suggests they all go and have some fun and can get her when they are done. Sam exclaims that he isn‘t sure about that and suggests that one of them should stay here, or perhaps they can take shifts. Boom-Boom agrees, and asks who is first, to which Rictor volunteers, but Rahne tells him that he should not bother, to which Rictor asks what friends are for, and tells the other three that he will see them in an hour. Sam, Bobby and Tabby leave, while the nurse opens a bottle of what is presumably medicine, and smiling, tells Rahne that a spoonful of this will take good care of her.

Rahne drinks the liquid, and immediately passes out. ‘Nighty night!‘ the nurse exclaims wickedly as she stands over Rahne. Rictor furiously goes over to the nurse and points out that Rahne is unconscious, he asks the nurse why. ‘To make processing her easier, of course!‘ the nurse exclaims, grinning, when suddenly the clown comes up behind Rictor, who asks ‘Processing? Processing for what?‘ when suddenly the clown blasts some kind of spray over Rictor. ‘SLAVES!‘ the clown exclaims, and before Rictor becomes unconscious too, he manages to hear the clown tell him that he and Rahne are now the property of the Skrull Slavers!

Sometime later, Rictor and Rahne awake in some kind of holding cell, and Rictor exclaims ‘Skrull Slavers? What kinda weird…?‘ before asking Rahne if she is okay. Rahne replies that she thinks so, before wondering where they are. Noticing a large group of other people trapped with them, all screaming ‘Help ups!‘ ‘Free us!‘, Rictor points out that they are in some kind of glass room, and wonders what is with the other people, when suddenly, they are shocked to see what appears to be larger people looking in on them. ‘Saints, have mercy!‘ Rahne gasps.

Meanwhile, Sam, Bobby and Tabby arrive outside a fun house. Sam tells his teammates that they can go in without him, but Bobby replies ‘Don‘t tell me you‘re scared of getting scared!‘ Reluctantly, Sam agrees to go in, before making Bobby and Tabby promise that they are not going to do anything to him. ‘We promise!‘ they reply in unison. The trio make their way through the fun house, with Sunspot remarking that this is all pretty standard stuff. Sam motions to a skeleton and exclaims that it looks pretty real to him, to which Boom-Boom tells him to loosen up, when suddenly she notices a large alien-like creature up ahead.

The trio approach the strange creature and Sam exclaims that he is glad it is fake, and behind glass. Bobby motions behind them, ‚‘Speaking of nightmares!‘ he exclaims as they look at what closely resembles a humanoid broccoli-person. Bobby remarks that the way both creatures move, you‘d think they were alive. ‘Yeah…but no way…I mean, intelligent broccoli?‘ Tabby asks. Sam and Bobby turn and leave, and Boom-Boom asks them if this stuff is spooking them. ‘No, we…uh…‘ Bobby mutters while trying to make an excuse. Sam comes up with one though, pointing out that they have to relieve Rictor soon.

A hidden panel next to where Boom-Boom is standing creaks open and a large blue creature lunges out of it and tries to grab her, but she ducks in time, ‘Whoops! Low bridge!‘ she jokes before pushing the panel closed, and therefore pushing the creature back inside, she calls out to the boys, telling them that this place is great, a robot just tried to grab her, ‘It was positively gruesome!‘ she laughs.

Standing over at a glass cabinet, Sam exclaims that this sight really gets to him. Bobby asks why that is, and Sam replies that the figures here look so real - and so scared! ‘That good huh? Let me see!‘ Boom-Boom exclaims as she races over. Inside that glass cabinet, Rictor sees his teammates looking down on them and exclaims to Rahne that they are still on Earth then, but Rahne points out that Sam and the others don’t see them, as they are leaving, and asks Rictor if he thinks the Skrulls will go after them next. Rictor frowns and exclaims that all he knows is they are getting out - now, but Rahne tells him that he cannot use his powers, as everyone else will see. ‘Yeah, and thank me!‘ Rictor replies.

Sam, Bobby and Tabby suddenly see the vibrations coming from the glass cabinet, and Sam remarks that, if he didn’t know better, he would say Rictor is causing them. Boom-Boom offers up a scary thought when she asks if what if the people in the cabinet are actual shrunken people, and Rictor is in there. ‘And what if we‘re next!‘ she adds, when suddenly that blue creature from before pops back out of the hidden panel, and grabbing Boom-Boom shouts ‘This time I got you!‘ Boom-Boom warns the creature that his paws are getting rather personal with her and tells him to let go, while she begins pulling at his face. ‘Maybe the robot‘s in love!‘ Bobby jokes, believing that the creature is in fact artificial. ‘Robot my eye!‘ Boom-Boom replies, declaring that there is a man under this mask and that she is going to see the color of his real eyes - right before she scratches them out!

But the creature calls out to Boom-Boom, telling her to stop, and wide-eyed Sam and Bobby tells Boom-Boom that it is not a mask. ‘But, if that‘s his real face…‘ points out Bobby, ‘He‘s an alien!‘ shouts Sam, before exclaiming that he thinks they blundered into a snake-pit of trouble. Suddenly, the glass cabinet explodes, shattering glass everywhere, and some of it strikes the blue alien attacking Boom-Boom, causing the alien to fall down, injured. Boom-Boom complains that she has got a whole lot of bruises now, while Sam exclaims that there is a strange smell coming from the case, before pointing out that it is broken. ‘Oh, gross!‘ Tabby exclaims as all the small people come running out of it. Rictor and Rahne begin tugging at Sam‘s feet, shouting out that they will explain everything later, but right now they have to go. Sam sees his friends, and Rahne points out that it is clear ahead, so they have to hurry.

Shortly, a stampede of shrunken people rushes past the admission booth, past several surprised civilians, and the admissions officer who announces to those wanting to enter the carnival that they have to shut down, while thinking to himself that they need to get ready to clear out, and blowing on a whistle.

Back in the park, Sunspot exclaims that they have just got to make one more turn, while Cannonball points out that Rictor and Rahne are both growing back to their true size. Rahne tells everyone to hurry, as something is approaching them fast. Sunspot tells his teammates to get ready, as they may have to fight their way out of here, when suddenly the animal trainer, the clown and several animals block the New Mutants‘ path. The clown tells the New Mutants that they will not escape, but instead they will be sold into intergalactic slavery. The animal trainer informs the New Mutants that they are not humans, but Skrull Slavers, the most feared in the galaxy. The clown explains that this carnival is a sophisticated trap, to tells, cull and collect new stock, especially exotics like the New Mutants. ‘We‘re not yours, yet!‘ Boom-Boom shouts, while the clown remarks that it is a pity, “the disaster“ prevents them from changing their shapes any more, and tells the trainer that he would enjoy assuming his bohemian form.

The clown fires a net out of a gun and it lands on the New Mutants trapping them. But Sunspot uses his super strength to break through, though the act cost him more than he can reveal, before he goes over to the animal trainer and clown and smacks them both hard in the face, though he exhausts his power in the process. Wolfsbane motions to more approaching Skrulls, while Boom-Boom declares that she will save the day - or, rather night. Sunspot asks if Tabby can make enough time bombs to stop them all, to which Boom-Boom replies that if she does, she will end up like him, without any power, before pointing out that she can make enough to start a stampede, and tosses several time bombs in front of the animals.

However, when the time bombs explode, the animals do not move. Rictor remarks that something must be wrong, when the lion begins talking, exclaiming that they are all Skrulls! ‘That‘s why they were so tame!‘ Boom-Boom exclaims as she and her teammates make a run for it, while Sam tells her not to start a panic, otherwise they are lost. Turning to Rictor, Sam suggests that it is time for a “New Mutant one-two punch“, and Rictor obliges by unleashing a powerful seismic wave, which knocks the animals - err, Skrulls - off their feet, and in the process separates the mouse from the elephant. The mouse cries out to his sister for help, while the elephant warns Rictor that if her brother dies, then she will kill him.

Sam turns and looks at the Skrulls who are approaching them from behind and while thinking that Rictor is now pretty weak, the Skrulls would be wrong to assume that the leader of the New Mutants is, and blasts through them, knocking them all over as if they were bowling pins. Boom-Boom tells Rahne that the nice thing about brawls is that unwritten rule, that you get to destroy things - like the un-fun house! Boom-Boom tosses a couple of time bombs and it explodes, while Rahne replies that she has not heard of such a rule, and asks Tabby if she is sure it exists. Tabby jokes that she got it from the source - John Wayne - in all of his western films.

The Skrulls are on a rampage now, and fire rages thanks to Boom-Boom‘s time bombs. Rictor motions to an exit, while the elephant calls out to her brother, the rodent. The rhino tells the elephant to forget her brother and not to let the exotics escape. Suddenly though, sirens signal the arrival the police. The trainer asks a Skrull called Gragnon what they should do, while the clown points out that they are slavers, not soldiers, so they should go where they can capture a quarry without a fight!

The elephant exclaims that her brother is still missing, that she cannot leave, they cannot desert him. The clown replies that they can, and warns the elephant that she will leave that ‚‘overweening musard‘ to fend for himself, unless she desires to be captured and displayed in one of Earth‘s primitive zoos.

Less than a minute later, the five New Mutants have made it safely outside the perimeter of the carnival, and watch in amazement as every part of the carnival is collapsed together, automatically falling into shape - a space ship! Nearby, the rodent watches as the space ship takes off, with everyone else inside, the rodent cries out for his sister, ‘How typically illogical of her! How does she expect to find me now?‘

The New Mutants listen to the sirens and see the approaching police cars, and Rictor remarks that he is sure glad Sam is here. Sam asks why, to which Boom-Boom replies that it is because he is logical, and the police will believe what happened when he tells it….

…back on the ruins of the Xavier estate, Rahne tells Cable that Boom-Boom was right, adding that she usually is about such devious things. Rahne informs Cable that the rest of their stay in Cumberland was uneventful, before Cable addresses Rahne as “Child“ and tells her that if her sense of fear stems from the fact that she perceived the carnival as a place free from danger or worry, then he is sorry to tell her that the world will never be polite enough to accommodate her perceptions.

Rahne replies that it would be nice to believe that there remained places free from ill or strife for the children of the world, and adds that from her time with the New Mutants, she has learned that the reality of such a request is difficult to oblige - but should not be impossible. As they walk side-by-side, Cable tells Rahne that no it shouldn’t, and that she should never let for of that hope, that innocence. ‘Lord knows I could use some of it‘ he remarks, before pointing out that there must be something things on God‘s green Earth that don‘t pose a threat to them?‘ Unaware that a certain rodent is following them….

Characters Involved: 

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

in Rahne’s story :

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

Gragnon, Rekxor (Skrull Slavers)


Story Notes: 

The exact timing of this Skrull story is unknown. In her comments to Cable, Wolfsbane remarks that the visiting Cannonball’s family was so far away from the problems they faced during the Inferno, which suggests that it might be placed closer to that time - but the presence of Boom-Boom and Rictor, and absence of Mirage, Warlock, Skids and Rusty is strange, as the New Mutants and X-Terminators did not merge as one team until New Mutants (1st series) #76. There is a possibility that the story takes place between New Mutants (1st series) #76 and #77, and that the four missing members simply remained on Ship, though it seems surprising that Rahne would leave the infant Illyana alone. Or, the story could have taken place when the New Mutants returned from Asgard, but before they joined up with Cable, though Warlock’s absence is confusing. At any rate, it hardly matters considering how un-important the issue is to overall New Mutants history.

Warlock appears on the cover of this issue only.

This issue features a Liefeld-drawn pin-up featuring Cable, Cannonball, Sunspot, Skids, Rusty, Boom-Boom, Rictor, Wolfsbane and Warlock. Interestingly though, Rusty and Skids are wearing costumes which they have never worn before, and do not wear during the comics. Rusty’s is a yellow version of the team-style costume that was adopted in New Mutants (1st series) #90, while Skids’ is a re-modelled version of her classic yellow and blue. Whether this was drawn as a preview of the future team is unknown. Additionally, another Liefeld-drawn team image that never came to pass was seen in New Mutants (1st series) Annual #6. The caption for the preview reads “A glimpse into the future - we saw one timeline for the New Mutants this issue, here’s another that may occur sooner than you think. The line-up included Cable, Cannonball, Sunspot, Rictor, Boom-Boom (in a costume she has never worn), Wolfsbane, Warlock, newcomer Shatterstar, a teenage Magik, and a blonde girl who would either be Magma or Skids.

The disaster that prevents the Skrulls from changing into other forms, trapping them in the form they had assumed when the disaster occurred, was a hyper-wave bomb being detonated, which took place in Avengers (1st series) Annual #14 and Fantastic Four (1st series) Annual #19.

The Skrull rodent is not seen again.

Issue Information: 
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