New Mutants Annual #1

Issue Date: 
January 1984
Story Title: 
The Cosmic Cannonball Caper

Chris Claremont (writer), Bob McLeod (penciler, letterer), McLeod and Tom Palmer (inkers), Sharen (colorist), Ann Nocenti (editor), Jim Shooter (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Under Xavier's eyes, Cannonball is undergoing a test in the Danger Room, which shows him how important it is to never let down his guard. A short while later, Sunspot surprises the entire team with tickets for the final concert of Lila Cheney's world tour. As the New Mutants are admitted to the Sound Check, they manage to save Lila from being crushed by a falling speaker. Warlock finds out that the assumed accident was actually a murder attempt. Wolfsbane leads the mutants up the railing above the stage on the would-be-killers trail. The assassin turns out to be an alien Vrakanin. A battle ensues until the Vrakanin is consumed by an energy sphere coming from Lila. Then Lila, her band and Sam disappear in a flash of light. Lila, who's a teleporter over stellar distances, has transported them to her hideout within a Dyson Sphere. Sam is entranced, both by his surroundings and by Lila, who seems to reciprocate his interest. What Sam doesn't know is that she is a thief who plans to steal Earth and auction it off to the highest bidder. Lila, on the other hand, is unaware that her band member Horvannes is a traitor who's selling her out to the Vrakanin. Back on Earth, Warlock is close to overloading, thanks to the stargate energies he absorbed from Lila. He gets rid of the excess energies by teleporting the Mutants after Lila. After almost becoming victims of Lila's trap that would have left them stranded in space, they reach the Dyson Sphere. Searching their surroundings, they are attacked by the Vrakanin. Mirage, Wolfsbane and Warlock are taken prisoner and are taken before the Vrakanin leader Charasulla, along with Lila and Sam, who now learns the truth about Lila. The cavalry arrives as Magma creates an earthquake and, in the ensuing confusion, she, Magik and Cypher beat the Vrakanin and save their teammates. In the process however, they damage the stargate technology, which Lila predicts will lead to the destruction of earth. Since she just took over the abandoned Dyson Sphere and the tech that came with it, she has no idea how to stop it. Help comes from the unlikeliest quarter in the shape of Cypher. He notices that the alien hieroglyphs on the walls are instruction manuals, and, deciphering them in the nick of time, he saves both worlds. Lila gives her word not to do it again and teleports them all to her townhouse in London. There, she and Cannonball have a serious talk about their feelings and become very close indeed, much to the jealousy of the incredulous Sunspot.

Full Summary: 

Cannonball goes through a test of his powers in the Danger Room, under the eyes of Xavier, Mirage and Magik. Using his biothermic reaction, he has to lift a ram, that's pushing downwards, as far up as possible. He's doing fine until Xavier orders Dani to create an illusion of one of Sam's fears. An image of a Brood Queen appears before Sam and, as expected, he loses concentration and reverts to normal.

Xavier explains to the rather angry Sam that the test was also supposed to demonstrate the necessity of never letting down his guard as he turns vulnerable when his powers is off. Sam especially, Xavier urges, needs to set an example as the oldest New Mutant. Sam apologizes for his outburst and Xavier assures him that he did well and will no doubt improve with time.

In New York City, a strange alien warrior appears out of nothing. He sees a poster of the rockstar Lila Cheney and angrily tears it down.

Back at the mansion, with the help of ballet teacher and physical instructor Stevie Hunter, Dani undergoes her daily exercise and therapy session in order to recover from her recent injuries. Dani gets a painful cramp from the exercise, so painful in fact, that it drives her to tears. Stevie assures her that, she knows how she feels, as she went through the same when she had too recover from her broken knee. It's perfectly normal to cry and be angry. She urges Dani not to bottle up her emotions and to rely on her friends. The two ladies are interrupted by the ecstatic Sunspot who bursts in excitedly, telling them he got the team tickets for the final concert of Lila Cheney's world tour on Saturday.

(days later)
So on Saturday the eight New Mutants - including the newest members Cypher, aka Doug Ramsey, and the alien Warlock (in human shape) - attend the Manhattan concert. The Starlite Ballroom is packed and the kids marvel at all the strange people. However, they also fear that given the length of the queue, it'll take hours for them to get in. Turns out though, Roberto got them tickets to the sound check as well as the concert - the advantage of coming from a billionaire household. The kids admire the band members, not even bothered by a rather rude one, until Doug excitedly points them to Lila Cheney's entrance. Bobby declares he's in love, but then Sam points out that he says that about every girl.

Lila and the band practice a number and the kids - Sam especially - have to admit she's fantastic. However, due to the noise, the band doesn't notice a speaker tower collapsing. Sunspot charges up and, with the help of Warlock, catches the speakers, except for the top one - but Cannonball quickly saves Lila from it. Lila gives Sam a long kiss as a thank-you for saving her life and invites the kids for the after-concert party at her place. Sam is utterly entranced and Bobby can hardly hide his jealousy.

Their banter is interrupted by Warlock, who points out that the chain holding the speaker tower was disintegrated. This was no accident. Rahne shifts to her wolf-form and notices an awful stink, unlike anything she has ever smelled before. But it comes from a living being. She follows the trail up the railing above the stage (where the concert has already started). The other Mutants, with the exception of Doug and the injured Dani, follow. They hit paydirt, as Rahne is attacked by another of the alien green creatures (possibly the same one that tore down Lila's poster). The alien introduces itself as a Vrakanin warrior and assures the kids that they will not deter him from his prey. Sam and Bobby attack the would-be-assassin - in vain and while Illyana still wonders what to do, he stuns her. Each of the mutants attacks him on their own and each one fails. Sam attacks while the Vrakanin aims at Lila, who notices, keeps on playing and starts glowing - which causes both Vrakanin and Warlock pain. The Vrakanin falls and is consumed by an energy sphere.

Lila glows until she, the band, and Sam, who is dangling from the railing disappear from stage. The crowd, who think this is part of Lila's act, goes wild. Warlock, in the meantime, has absorbed Lila's stargate energy pulse, for that is what the energy was, but it is too much for him - he has to drain the excess or die. Dani asks him to use the energy to activate the stargate and teleport them, presumably to the place Lila took Sam to. Unfortunately, she's wrong as the unprotected Mutants rematerialize in outer space.

Lila teleported her band and Sam to "her place". She apologizes that they had to leave sooner and couldn't take his friends along. Sam is suspicious of Lila's motives, but flabbergasted when he gets a good look around. Not only are they on another planet, but within a Dyson Sphere - the inner side of an artificial shell, enclosing a star. Sam, the avid science-fiction reader, is amazed that such a concept is real. He asks Lila about the origins of this place. She is rather evasive and starts nibbling his ears instead. She then sends him inside and asks her band members, Conal and Neal, to find him some more appropriate clothes. Alone, Lila is contacted by the hologram of another member of the Vrakanin race called Charasulla. He warns her (rather too late) of an attempt at her life. He then asks her why she actually wants to sell Earth at an auction instead of dealing straightly with the Vrakanin. Lila answers that the theft and sale of the Earth will proceed as she planned. No discussion.

Elsewhere, Dani awakes, amazed to still be alive. She sees her still unconscious friends next to her and realizes that Warlock (with his surplus energy) has shifted himself into a space ship. Warlock informs her that he figured out that the transmit settings of the stargate shifted fractionally after its prior use - basically Lila was making sure nobody would follow her. Warlock explains that he cannot get them home, but a life-sustaining star-body is close and he presumes that it is Lila's hideout.

In the Dyson Sphere, Sam, dressed in an improbable leather-and-spike ensemble (and feeling like an idiot), presents himself to Lila, who passionately kisses him. The band member Phil Hovannes, in the meantime, contacts Charasulla, intending to double-cross Lila. He informs the Vrakanin that he has beamed him the coordinates and opened a channel through the defensive parameters for the Vrakanin fleet to strike. Once Lila's dealt with, he expects to be paid for Earth.

(the next day)

The kids have arrived at another point of the Dyson Sphere. Doug is entranced with deciphering the hieroglyphs on a wall, until Illyana gets him. He worries what the Professor will tell his parents as they walk across a bridge ten miles high. Doug gets vertigo and asks the amused Illyana to please hold him. At that moment, the kids are attacked by the Vrakanin fleet. Magma shifts to her lava form and blasts them in response. Rahne tries to save Dani from some debris, but they both end up falling. While Sunspot is busy organizing a skysled from one of the Vrakanin, Warlock has already transformed into a flier and saves the girls. Unfortunately, at that moment they are caught and knocked out by an electro-net. Berto, in the meantime, is incapable of steering the skysled and flies far away without any control.

Dani, Rahne and Warlock are brought before Charasulla, whose forces have already captured Sam and Lila, who are in chains. The girls cannot believe the way Sam is dressed. Charasulla tells the Mutants that he will sell them along their world, and makes some cryptic threats concerning Lila's fate before killing the traitor Hovannes. He then explains to the kids that once he throws a certain switch, the stargate web, Lila knit across their world will activate and Earth will be teleported into the Dyson Sphere, with its people in stasis and ready to be sold into slavery.

Before Charasulla can throw the switch, they are diverted by an earthquake shaking the building - an impossible thing, since a Dyson Sphere doesn't have geologic plates. Dani surmises that it is Magma burning herself a way to them. Indeed, Magma and Illyana reveal themselves. Illyana attacks, bluffing the Vrakanin with her soulsword. Before the warrior notices that the sword cannot harm him, Doug Ramsey jumps at him, allowing Illyana to grab his gun and shoot him, much to Doug's shock. Illyana uses the blaster to free Sam of his shackles, though not without some pithy comments regarding his new look, and Sam and the other freed Mutants angrily join the fight. They are joined by Sunspot, who, finally, learned to work the skysled control. Of course by that time, the Vrakanin are already beaten.

While Sam rejoices, Lila replies that Earth is doomed. When Amara destroyed the stargate console during the battle, she triggered the self-destruct-circuits - now the web will disintegrate Earth. When Sam asks whether she can't stop the process, she admits that she doesn't know enough about the technology of the sphere. Doug, in the meantime, has discovered another set of hieroglyphs on the wall and realizes that they are an instruction manual. However, a bit of the wall is missing. While the glow grows stronger and Illyana wonders how many on Earth she could save with her stepping disks, Doug finally hits one switch. Thankfully, it's the right one and things return to normal. Doug has just saved Earth.

Dani brusquely asks Lila for an explanation. The singer responds that she's a thief. Stealing Earth would have made her rep. But since she owes the kids her life, she won't do it again. As Doug wonders how they get home without a stargate, Lila ports them home. She's a teleporter herself and can take along a limited number of people. Almost home as she actually teleports them to her townhouse in London. As her power only works over stellar distances, she cannot get them from London to New York. Dani, in a pissy mood, saunters off to call the professor. Doug asks Illyana, why she won't teleport them. Illyana explains it's not safe, since she shifts people in time as well.

The kids head inside Lila's townhouse, with the exception of Sam. When Sam asks why she did it, she cryptically replies that Earth sold her once and refuses to add any more except that she'd never sell Sam. Sam can't believe she's serious, as she can have any guy. But, she assures him, she likes him. When he asks whether he'll see her again, she replies he need only call and kisses him.

Observing from within the house, Bobby no longer understands the world. How is it possible any woman could prefer Sam to him, he wonders, while enduring the taunts and catcalls of the girls. To make matters worse, three months later, Lila writes a lovesong called "Sam".

Characters Involved: 

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

Professor Charles Xavier

Stevie Hunter

Lila Cheney

Conal Duran, Ben Locklin, Phil Hovannes (all members of Lila’s band)

several Vrakanin, among them their leader Charasulla

Story Notes: 

This issue approximately takes place between New Mutants #21 and #22. It’s therefore the first issue that includes Doug Ramsey (Cypher) and the alien Warlock as full-fledged team members.

Dani is still recovering from injuries, sustained in her battle against the Demon Bear in New Mutants #18.

This issue marks the first appearance of Lila Cheney and her band.

A Dyson Sphere is a theoretical construct proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson. Dyson theorized that a technologically advanced civilization could construct a gigantic sphere that completely enclosed a star, effectively utilizing 100% of the star’s energy output. The sphere would be built at a distance equal to the radius of the civilization’s home planet from it’s solar primary, receiving the same light/heat intensity of which they are accustomed. If such a sphere was built in congruence with Earth’s orbit, the corresponding internal area of the sphere would equal ~319 million Earths.

Lila’s origin and the reason why she believes, that Earth “sold her” are so far unrevealed.

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