New Mutants (2nd series) #3

Issue Date: 
September 2003
Story Title: 
Safe Haven (see notes)

Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir (Writers), Keron Grant (Pencils), Rob Stull (Inks), Avalon's Dan Kemp (Colors), Virtual Calligraphy's Randy Gentle (Letters), Mackenzie Cadenhead (Assistant Editor),
C.B. Cebulski (Editor), Joshua Middleton (Cover), Joe Quesada (Editor-In-Chief), Bill Jemas (President)

Brief Description: 

Danielle Moonstar starts her venture to recruit new mutants to Xavier’s School for Higher Learning. Before she starts her trip, she talks to the Professor about the old days, after seeing a photo of her old team, the New Mutants. Her trip takes her to Atlanta, Georgia, where she is in search of a young mutant by the of Kevin Ford. After no answer at his house, she tries his school, only to find he’s been missing for two days. She learns form his art teacher he sometimes searches for spare pieces for his industrial art projects in junkyards.
Kevin is hiding in the junkyard, afraid of his out-of control powers. But he ends up coming in contact with a dog, who decays after he tries to bite Kevin. He is found by the attendants who see what he has done to the dog. Their fear of him and mutants cause them to beat him. Danielle appears in time to scare them off. She comforts the frightened boy, and takes him back to his house. She learns that his power of decay grew out of control, and in an accident, he killed his father. She offers to take him to Xavier’s.
Back at the school Sofia Mantega sticks up for her new friend and roommate Laurie Collins, who is called a freak amongst freaks by Julian Keller. Danielle returns to the school with Kevin, and learns that Allison whom she knew as Amara, was crucified on the front lawn with other young mutants in a recent attack and is now in coma.

Full Summary: 

At the Xavier's Mansion, Professor Xavier stares at a picture of his former students, The New Mutants. Danielle Moonstar enters his study and announces she is ready. She has prepared to track down a new mutant located by Cerebra in Atlanta. She has matched it through the street atlas, and admits hopefully she will not get lost. Xavier warns her to use discretion and be surer not to mention the school at all to anyone but the family. As the school is now out to the public, it'd be best not to "out" anyone. Glancing at the picture he was staring at , she asks if he's feeling a bit nostalgic. Even though the photo was not taken long ago, she notices her and her friends all look so young. Rubbing her fingers across the photo, she admits it's hard to believe that two of them are already dead.

Danielle tells Xavier not to blame himself. Living here might be dangerous, but it’s a lot more dangerous out in the world. He smiles at his former student. She glances at the picture once more, specifically at her former teammate Magma. Hearing Magma had returned to the school as well, Danielle asks why she hasn’t seen her yet. Xavier looks down at his desk, and admits that she has been away. Danielle grabs her bags and tells him to tell Allison hi if he sees her before she gets back. She has a plane to catch. Later Xavier walks down the hall to the medical wing, he enters a room. Alison lies in the hospital bed, on her side. she is in a coma with an IV, and bandages on both hands. He looks down at his former student with sadness. Danielle says hi, he tells her telepathically.

In one of the many classrooms at Xavier’s, several students stare up their teacher, Dr. Hank Mc Coy. Known to many as the X-Men’s Beast, today he is simply a teacher. He asks for volunteers, but the students do not reply. He decides to lighten them in on a secret, that algebra is fun. saying this he stands on one hand and uses the blackboard chalk with his feet. Smiling he tells them one last secret, they will probably get it wrong. While it is early in the term, you can only learn by trying. Once more he asks for any volunteers. Sofia Mantega offers to try, but the school bell rings to save her from the algebra problem. Mr. McCoy thanks her for at least volunteering, and tells his students to go eat.

Outside the classroom, Julian Keller stands along the wall with some friends. He asks how she is settling down and she admits very well. If there was anything else she needs, or questions she has, then he is her guy. She does. She is interested in finding a place to dance in town, as she admits she loves to dance. He knows just the place, he says before he turns around and gives his friends a smirk. They give him the “thumbs-up” . Walking down the hall, they come across Laurie Collins. Sofia says hi and invites her to lunch. Laurie agrees, but decides to wait away while Sofia talks to Julian. With her powers still uncontrolled, she fears to affect others. Julian tells Sofia he cannot believe they gave her that freak as a roommate. Shocked by his comment, Sofia asks him to repeat himself, as Laurie looks on. He continues she is weird, an outcast. That’s something hard, to be a freak amongst freaks.

Julian leans in close to her, arm over her against the wall. He asks about that dancing. She caresses his ear, and repeats she loves to dance, the rhythm, but he could not keep up with her. She puts her hand over his ear, and he falls to the ground. Laurie asks what she did to him as Sofia approaches her. Still not sure how to speak correct English, she explains that she compacted the air. "Compressed," Laurie corrects her. Sofia agrees smiling, he lost his balance. The wind was rattling in his ear. Putting her arm in Laurie’s, Sofia tells her friend she is starving, and they should eat. Laurie smiles, which is something she doesn’t get to do often.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Danielle steps out of her taxi. Still staring at her directions, she walks up the driveway. After no answer from the door bell, she tries knocking. Her knocks creak open the door, and she steps inside. She calls out, announcing her arrival, and that their door was open. She calls out for Mrs. or Mr. Ford. In the living room, she discovers a stained shirt across the couch, and a pile of what appears to be some sort of dust on the floor in front of the couch. She looks up to the pictures on the wall, and notices a prize plaque on the wall, awarded to Kevin Ford for first Prize in the Atlanta art Contest.

In a park in Atlanta, Kevin Ford walks by the crowds of people. He is naked except for a blanket covering him. The people stare at this saddened boy, and don’t even notice the grass dies were his feet touch the ground. He continues to walk. He comes across a fence where he finds an opening, and he enters a junkyard. Sitting on an old car, starring up at the sky, his temporary peace is interrupted by a growl. He turns to find the junkyard dog. He tries to calm the dog, admitting to himself he didn’t know they had a dog. He tells the dog to stay. The dog leaps for him, and he screams out for the dog to stay back. As the dog bites him he screams out no. The dog grows clenched to his arm, but the growl turns into a yip of pain. The dog decays and falls lifeless to the ground.

Danielle decides to try searching Kevin’s school, Frederick Douglas High School, for him. She asks the receptionist in the office what class Kevin Ford is in. The receptionists tells her Kevin hasn’t been in school for the last two days. Danielle looks concerned, and asks for his homeroom teacher, or perhaps a phone number for Mrs. or Mr. Ford’s work. A blond male teacher enters the office. Hearing the end part of her sentence, he informs her Kevin lives with his father. He offers that he may be able to help her, he being Kevin’s art teacher.

Outside the school on a bench, Danielle tells him she’s from an art school in New York. They were running a summer program for kids who show great potential. He agrees Kevin is very talented, and he loves having him in class. Reminding him Kevin hasn’t been in school recently, she asks if he is the type to skip finals. He tells her absolutely not, like he said he is very talented. He won a prize this year for his industrial art. She’s curious, and admits they probably don’t get a lot of kids who experiment in industrial art. He admits no, his vision is quite unique, he seems to bring scraps of metal to life. What always impressed him, was Kevin’s dedication. While other kids were at the mall, Kevin was in the junkyard, looking for scraps for his next art project. Just then, she knows where to look next.

Inside the Junkyard, two attendants leave walk outside their station. One has a lantern, the other a lead pipe. They argue, as one claims to heard their dog. The other claims he probably saw a rat. His co-worker tells him it was probably that kid. That kid was the reason why he got the dog, always coming down here and stealing his scarps. They stop in their tracks when they see the boy in a blanket looking over their dog. He asks what the hell the kid is doing here, but his co-worker wonders in shock what he did to Pickles. In fear they stare down at their decayed dog. They approach Kevin angrily as he tries to explain that he’s sorry the dog had jumped at him. Anger and hatred flash in the junkyard attendants eyes. He demands to know what that kid did to his dog, asking if he’s some kind of freak or mutant. As he calls Kevin a filthy mutant, he approaches even closer, and Kevin warns him not to come close to him.

He takes this as a threat, and kicks Kevin. His co-worker hits him with a crowbar, as his friend notices the boot he kicked him with starts to “decay”. He tells his friend not to touch him. About to hit Kevin again, he admits he wasn’t going to touch him. Looking down at the beaten boy, he taunts you thought you could threaten me. A voice comes out of nowhere, claiming the boy isn’t threatening them, but she is. They look up to see Danielle Moonstar standing in a fighting stance. Al lunges at her, lead pipe still in hand. his boss warns him to be careful, but Al claims she has nothing. Just then she dodges the pipe, as her elbow connects hard to his jaw. As Al falls to the ground clutching his dog, his boss tries to defend their actions. The kid killed their dog, he claims, he’s a mutant.

She stares at him, asking if he’s afraid of mutants. She taunts she’ll give them something to be scared of. Looking at his hands, as they transform in front of his own eyes, he screams out. His hands turn to talons, and he cries out to God, begging to know what has happened to him. On the ground, Al rises to his knees quickly as he is surrounded and covered in snakes. They run in fear. Kevin looks up, asking her what she did. She admits she showed them their worst fear. Looking up at her he asks her name. She tells him she is Danielle, a friend. Seeing how bad he looks, she reaches out to comfort him. He screams out not to touch him. She assures him she will not hurt him. He knows this but if she touches him, he’ll hurt her. She looks over at the decayed remains of Pickles. She asks what happened to his father. He looks down at the ground saddened.

Back at the Ford house, Danielle uses rubber gloves to clean Kevin up. He tells her his powers started with little things like flowers, then his clothes started to decay as well. When his dad came home, Kevin was freaked out. When his father tried to calm him down, he touched him, and grew very pale. He fell over on the ground. Tears form in his eyes as they both look towards the ground, seeing the remains of his father, the dust pile on the floor. Kevin recalls trying to wake him up, but the longer he touched him the worse it got. After he knew he was dead, his body still in his arms, just , Kevin stops his story. He looks away towards the ground again. Too ashamed and saddened to look Danielle in the face.

Looking in his closet for something to wear, Danielle admits there’s not much left. after everything he wore fell apart, he eventually gave up with trying to dress. Danielle gets a theory, he should try polyester. She believes he needs to wear synthetic fabric. Kevin wonders if she will turn him in to the police, he did kill his father, after all. The police wouldn’t understand, Danielle tells him, handing him a polyester shirt. After he tells her his mother died, when he was born, he feels there is no place he can go. She offers Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning. He smiles for the first time, he knows about Xavier and the X-Men. He asks if Xavier will take him in. She tells him that is exactly who sent her.

The next day at Xavier’s, Kevin sits in an examining room. Xavier reports from what they can tell his skin breaks down organic materials and decays them. As Danielle suggested, he should be fine with synthetics. She admits she will try to find him something more...fashionable. Kevin looks at Xavier with a look of hope, and asks if he could be an X-Man someday. Xavier tells him they should learn how to control his power first, but he will be left with their nurse, Annie for awhile. Danielle waves, telling him she’ll check up on him later. In the hallway Danielle admits she didn’t know what to do with Kevin. He is dangerous, but this seemed like the best place for him. Xavier closes his eyes, and tells her she did the right thing. But there is something he has to tell her, but he thinks it’d be best if he just showed her.

He opens another door, and Danielle sees her former teammate Magma on the bed. He admits during an attack, several students were crucified. Physically she healed, but that night she went to bed, and hasn’t woken up since. Upset Dani looks at him, and tells him she should have known, he should have told him. He knows, and it’s wrong of him to have her recruit new students when he isn’t even sure it’s safe here. Safe, she says, the world isn’t safe. When she found Kevin, he was being beat by men with a lead pipe. Xavier has created a haven for mutants, it’s only possible people will attack it. But it is better than the alternative. He should never forget that. He knows she is right. He is just ashamed. Believing he let her and her teammates down, after they looked up to him for so long. Looking at Allison lying there, Danielle tells him he’s not perfect, and she knows that. She’s not a child anymore. Putting a hand on her shoulder, he admits, so he’s learning.

Characters Involved: 

Danielle Moonstar, Allison Crestmere / Amara Aquila (Former New Mutants)

Laurie Collins, Julian Keller, Sofia Mantega, amongst various other students at Xavier's

Beast, Professor Xavier (both X-Men)

Annie Ghazikhanian (nurse at Xavier's Institute)

Kevin Ford
Unnamed Secretary and art teacher at Frederick Douglass High School

Al and his unnamed Boss (Junk-yard workers)

In Photograph in Xavier's study:

Cannonball, Karma, Magik, Magma, Miage, Sunspot Warlock, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)

Story Notes: 

Xavier under control of Cassandra Nova “outted” his school to the public. (New X-Men #116)

The two New Mutants Danielle mentioned who died were Magik (Illyana Rasputin) who died in Uncanny X-Men 303 as a result of the Legacy Virus, and Cypher (Douglas Ramsey) who was killed in New Mutants #60 by the Animator.
Xavier's statement that the school was attacked and that several students were crucified was wrong. Actually the mutants who were crucified by the Church of Humanity in Uncanny X-Men #423 were either never affiliated with the school or were former members of X-teams. The school and its current student body were not attacked.

Once again, the story title was left out. this happened the last issue as well. But co-writer Christina Weir apologizes, and has informed fans that hopefully this will not happen again.

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