The New Mutants Summer Special

Issue Date: 
May 1990
Story Title: 
A Mutant in Megalopolis

Ann Nocenti (writer), Bret Blevins (artist), Greg Wright (colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The television-addicted Warlock picks up an alien broadcast signal which transports him, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, and Boom Boom to a world inside the television. With their new friend Vidiot the journalist, they journey through the foreign landscape, along the way encountering personifications of such concepts as mutual assured destruction, media fallout, manufacture of consent, situation ethics, and a plethora of advertisements. Eventually, they reach Megalopolis, the city at the source of the globalized media crisis, and oust its leader, the Mediamogul. By doing so, they set the people of Megalopolis free, and get to return back home. They are about to throw out all the TV sets in their home when they encounter a group of children who exploited the power of TV and the media in order to clean up a polluted river. Conflicted, the New Mutants decide to keep their TVs, if only so they can watch their favorite series, Twin Peaks.

Full Summary: 

The beauty of the twisting tornado is surpassed only by its destructiveness. A child watches in horror and asks why the tornado destroys only one side of the street, but leaves the other untouched. Unfortunately, that’s life. It’s unfair and paradoxical.

Although these images play out on television, the questions they evoke are not addressed by the medium itself. The news station only wants to spew out a few electronic images, death statistics and sound bites before quickly getting to the news it wants to air: heroes! Fireman diffusing a terrorist bomb! Even more death statistics! Of course, the irony that the television itself is what gave the terrorists the power to hold the world hostage. No, the news ignores that, and moves on to reporting more on the drug war. It doesn’t mention the possibility that the “drug war” is nothing but a front used to justify the American military occupation in Latin America. No, those questions also go unanswered. On TV, there is no time, after all. Much like a music video, the news, with its information condensed into split-second images, ensures no one gets to, or even has to, think.

In this post-McLuhanesque era of the global village, TV has the power to manufacture the public’s opinion. It can elect or doom presidents. It can start or stop fads. It can raise and lower hemlines. It can stop and start wars. It can convince its audience to support the murdering, looting, and terrorizing of foreign countries. The audience, after all, never truly gets to see the consequences. All it gets is an array of quick images. Human behavior is its to mold. Some stations even have viewer-interest polls that allow the audience decide what it wants to see. For instance, if the audience decides politics is boring, the station will drop it entirely. Like the marketplace, the news can be consumer-dictated.

It’s time to get a look at a typical viewer. Little Rahne Sinclaire sits cross-legged in front of the television screen, clutching her pillow to her chest while tears stream down her face. A montage of brutal images plays out on the screen – firemen picking through the remains of a terrorist bombing, a helicopter chasing a South American through the a scorched jungle, a southeast Asian soldier standing atop a pile of skulls and bones, a pair of starving children curled up in the fetal position – and Rahne watches it all.

When Boom Boom enters the room, she is surprised to find Rahne so upset. Tears are a real drag, she reminds Rahne. What’s wrong? Rahne explains how awful everything is in the world. People all over get murdered and tortured and starved, and meanwhile, she and her fellow New Mutants get to live in big, fancy home and never have to worry about food or money. “We should give it all away!” she cries!

Boom Boom scoffs as this notion. Why should they give up their lifestyle? “We’re rich, bourgeois, yuppie mutants, living on the endless plastic of credit cards! Somebody’s gotta do it!” As she speaks, a fly buzzes near her face.

“But Boom Boom, I’m serious! Like, what about that tornado? How can God kill one side of the street and not the other? How did he choose?!

Tabitha, intent on tracking the fly that has just landed on her nose, ignores Rahne. She startles the insect with a quick breath, and as it flies away, she flicks a miniature time-bomb in its direction. The fly explodes on impact. She turns to Rahne and asks a far more important question: why did God create flies and cockroaches and homework? That, Boom Boom says, is the bigger question! “You gotta be Zen about these things, Yin-Yang and all that, embrace the paradox, live with hypocrisy, blah, blah, blah!” she reminds Rahne. In response, the young Scottish girl buries her head in her pillow and sobs. Tabitha sighs. What now, she asks?

Rahne whips around and pushes Tabitha away. She doesn’t understand, Rahne cries as she transforms into her lupine form. She was speaking sincerely and Tabitha only laughed at her! Rahne runs out of the room, leaving Boom Boom confused and guilt-ridden. She decides to blame the TV. Stupid TV, she says, destroying it with a time-bomb. Why did it have to go and upset her?

Wolfsbane exits the underground complex the New Mutants now call home and runs to the stream on the institute’s property. Still in her wolf form, she approaches the clear, flowing water and takes a few drinks, but spits the water out in disgust. Boom Boom arrives as Rahne, still reeling from the awful taste of the water, shifts back into her human form. What’s wrong, Tabitha asks? The water is polluted, Rahne says! Although Tabitha believes her friend, she notes the water looks clean, and remembers they have often played in it without noticing anything wrong. “Y’know, I always suspected the worst poisons were invisible,” Tabitha says.

Still upset, Rahne confesses her feelings of helplessness. As mutants, she and her friends fight super-villains and save the world, but what good is any of it if their powers cannot even clean up a dirty river? What good can Boom Boom’s time-bombs do against pollution? Tabitha shoots Rahne a stern glance and explains to her she cannot take up all the problems of the world. “We’re just a few kids, and neurotic misfit weirdo outsiders, at that!” she says. “Come on, forget it! Let’s do something really politically important like go shopping!” Rahne sniffles and allows her friend to escort her back home.

Unbeknownst to the two girls, a group of children in the nearby bushes watches them leave. The kids converse excitedly about what they just saw; one of the girls can turn into a wolf! They decide to do the two girls a favor and clean up the river for them. While certainly a difficult task, one of the kids has an idea as to how they can accomplish it.

Meanwhile, back in the underground facility, Warlock smiles. He’s a TV junkie, and the plethora of screens in the facility’s control room allows him to absorb every channel at once. Using his multiple sensors, he can watch everything: music videos, toothpaste commercials, violent news shows, Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune, Honeymooners reruns, the cultural channel, nature shows, The Simpsons, Alien Nation, Roseanne, Whoopi Goldberg, The Yellow Submarine, and everything else that’s fit to air. His friends have warned him watching too much violence might make him violent, or watching too much decadence might make him decay, or watching too much superficial, mindless-action infotainment might spread him as thin as the paper in a comic book. Despite all these warnings, Warlock continues to watch, not caring in the least about the possible consequences.

Suddenly, Warlock detects a broadcast signal that demands his full attention. Concluding it must be an alien broadcast, he decides he must capture it as well. He creates an antenna that pushes skyward, piercing each floor of the facility along the way. It intersects Sunspot’s bedroom and wakes him up from his nap, enraging him. The antenna, meanwhile, reaches up into space. Warlock broadcasts his own voice, searching for the source of the transmission. He promises to guide its signal back to his television. He begins detecting an inter-dimensional anomaly nearby; the alien signal seems to be emerging from the vortex. Additionally, it seems to be attracted to Warlock. Suddenly, Warlock reaches out and snatches something out of the vacuum of space, and carries it back down to his headquarters.

Roberto is incensed at Warlock when he returns; he crashed through five floors of their home, after all. Tabitha and Rahne arrive and ask their hotheaded teammate to calm down; perhaps Warlock had a good reason. Bobby doubts it. He can see Warlock has in his hand some sort of glowing creature, and hardly thinks it can be worth waking him from his nap, let alone creating five gaping holes in their residence.

“Please don’t be angry with Self,” Warlock, confused and frightened, pleads. “I believe this to be an inter-dimensional impulse! From outer-space! Or… inner space?” His explanation confuses Tabitha. Rahne asks Warlock to open his fist and let them see what he found, but Roberto decides to open it by force. Transforming into Sunspot, he punches Warlock’s clenched fist and knocks loose its contents: a diminutive, blue alien with a television screen for a head.

An iconic face appears on the alien’s TV-screen head as it addresses the New Mutants. After thanking them, it introduces itself as a “vidiot” journalist from a nearby dimension. Apparently, it wanted to do a story about something the corporate CEOs did not like, so they booted it out. It comes seeking help, whether in the form of military, intelligence, or even freedom fighters. Warlock enthusiastically enlists both him and his friends. Forget it, Roberto shouts! Traveling to other dimensions always proves dangerous, he reminds his teammate. Desperate for help, the Vidiot lays on the guilt-trip. It bows and begs for help; its antenna droops. The emotive gestures are more than enough to convince the empathic Rahne to help.

Suddenly, a vortex opens up high up in the room. The Vidiot, believing it came to retrieve him, greets it with enthusiasm. However, it seems to have trouble opening entirely, but Boom Boom thinks she has the solution for that. She hurls a time-bomb into its center, completely ignoring the objections of her teammates. They each scream nonsensically as its light flares. The Vidiot, however, is delighted. As the vortex pulls them in, the screams of the New Mutants become as distorted and incomprehensible as their corporeal forms. The Vidiot asks them why they aren’t speaking the universal language anymore; it’s impolite, he says. The New Mutants, struggling to maintain their sanity as they plunge through the dimensional vortex, have little room to worry about social impropriety, however.

They soon arrive at a planet the Vidiot refers to as the Global Village. From a distance, it appears to be synthetic; large antennae protrude from its surface, it emits a visible electrical signal, and it has three intersecting, orbital rings of energy. Vidiot describes it as a “writhing, spiraling, zigzag of conflicted impulses, twisted antennas, and criss-cross politics”. As they near its atmosphere, he warns his new friends to watch out for themselves; they’re entering the “media fallout”. They soar past a field of spent advertisements and consumer images. When the advertisers lose their spin control, or use the wrong sound bites, all hell breaks loose, Vidiot explains. As they near finally near the surface of the Global Village – still traveling at a breakneck speed – they begin to see the smoke stacks and smog of the planet’s industries. “There’s a huge problem with media pollution by the cultural imperialists,” Vidiot nonchalantly informs them. “The MultiTransNationalMegaCorporations are polluting the poor countrysides that don’t want the media product showers!” That, he says, is the story he wanted to cover that got him booted from this world.

Before the New Mutants and their companion can splatter themselves all over the surface of the Global Village, Warlock converts his body into a safety net, thus breaking their fall. He makes sure everyone is alright. Once he catches his breath, Sunspot sneers at Boom Boom and asks if she will ever resist her impulses to throw bombs at everything.

Vidiot, meanwhile, seems glad to be home, and shows his new companions around his home planet. While Boom Boom scurries to pick up some of the cosmetic products that litter the ground, the Vidiot explains the Global Village is a free country, where everyone is free to be selfish. Warlock, Rahne, Roberto and Tabitha look around them and see nothing but advertisements, falling products, dollar signs, and piles upon piles of trash, most of which guarded by the Global Village’s gluttonous, slovenly residents. They look zoned-out, Rahne says. Vidiot explains why. The combination of wanting, owning, and consuming too much of everything has resulted in a world whose inhabitants suffer from chronic depression. This consumer heaven, he says, is a breeding ground for vidiots like himself.

Suddenly, a limousine adorned with advertisements pulls up and demands the attention of the stranded New Mutants. On its hood sits an artificial-looking woman with bright white teeth, unnaturally large breasts, and a low-cut dress with the words “buy me” written across the torso. “You need it, you want it, I got it!” she says. “Buy my blue jeans – and look like me! Buy my lipstick – and have lips like mine! Buy my stereo – and girls like me will love you!” Rahne looks horrified. Warlock looks confused. Tabitha looks disgusted. Roberto looks smitten. He asks Tabitha to keep brushing his hair; he wants to look nice to impress the girl. She’s not a girl, Boom Boom says; she’s a Barbie Doll!

The advertising model approaches Rahne and, without getting permission, smears garish makeup all over her face. The horrified Rahne remains still during the process. After slapping on Rahne’s head a wig similar to the one she wears, the advertising woman shows her how she appears in the mirror. The reflection depicts a cute girl with modest makeup and a neat head of hair; Rahne has no idea her makeup looks gaudy and streaked. She now believes herself to be beautiful, and gleefully chases after the advertising wagon as it leaves. It made me so pretty, she squeals! Her teammates try to get her to return, but as they chase after her, they run right into an intersecting TV screen and disappear into yet another dimension.


A group of local kids, intent on ending the pollution of their creek, stage a sit-in. Of course, their intention is to impress the cool werewolf they saw earlier. Several of the kids complain; the water is cold, and dirty, and they’re getting hungry! Mookie, the leader, informs them they aren’t moving until someone cleans up their river. After a few more complaints, Mookie decides to explain to them how the media operates. According to his dad, problems like dirty rivers just get ignored unless the networks believing covering such problems might benefit their ratings. A thing is only news, Mookie says, if it’s made into a spectacle. Otherwise, it remains boring, and common, and therefore unworthy of the news. Like kids, Mookie says; kids are not newsworthy unless they make a spectacle.

One of Mookie’s friends – a little girl with dark hair – follows his advice and decides to create a spectacle of her own. While the rest of the kids discuss how polluted the river is, this girl pulls out a blue felt-tip pen and begins making blue spots on her skin.


Boom Boom, Warlock, Sunspot, and the Vidiot are expelled from the TV in a new dimension. Their bodies, having just been squeezed through a tiny vent, are now paper-thin and flimsy. Fortunately, Vidiot returns them to normal with a press of his remote control. After this initial shock wears off, the mutants look around at their new environment. Sunspot sees a junkyard, but Boom Boom sees a thing of beauty. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, she says. Roberto tells her to shut up.

Meanwhile, Vidiot, gesturing toward the pile of junk, declares it the tip of the media spill he is investigating. The pile contains several statues, figurines, electronics, vehicles, mannequins, and other household and commercial appliances. Something threatening suddenly emerges, however, and the Vidiot instructs everyone to hide. They duck out of the way just in time to avoid the electronic sensors of the M.C. What’s the M.C., Roberto asks? Vidiot informs him it stands for “Manufacture of Consent”. This device, he explains, is a media conglomerate that decides the safest opinion to broadcast.

A figure walks by, engrossed in its cell phone call. It fails to see the New Mutants hiding in the junk. Vidiot identifies the figure as Moopert Rurdock, a media tycoon. They listen in on his phone call, during which he discusses the recent media spill. “This is a very disturbing fact,” Rurdock says. “What can we do?” The person on the other line suggests manufacturing a villain. Rurdock likes the idea, but does not know who to blame. The government? No; they sign his paycheck. The media? No; he is the media. The corporations? No; they would withdraw funding and leave him bankrupt. With no scapegoats at his disposal, Rurdock decides they must bury the fact under a landslide of lies and misinformation. Staging an alternate event to distract everyone seems like the best avenue, he says. They will rent a president and have him kiss a baby, cut a ribbon, throw a football, feed some homeless people, and give out a medal, all at once. After following this up with some purchased expert opinions discussing how the media spill was a spontaneous accident, they will have successfully shaped public opinion and manufactured consent.

From her hiding place, Boom Boom scoffs at this plan. He cannot possibly pull off this cover-up, she says. Roberto asks her to be quiet; he hears a car approaching. Sure enough, a van arrives, adorned with an American flag blowing on top. Rurdock directs it to the M.C. and it parks. Its doors open. Out walks a stiff-looking man dressed in a nice, tan suit. Several helper vidiots prepare the man’s hair, makeup, and physique, and in mere moments, create a flawless, U.S.-President lookalike.

As per the orders of Moopert Rurdock, the Rent-a-President stands in front of a large American flag and salutes for the cameras. “A kinder, gentler world,” he says. He removes his jacket and kisses a football wrapped in a baby’s blanket. “National security!” he says. He picks up a vidiot and throws it like a football. “Education!” He then pins an array of service medals to a homeless vidiot. “It’s the end of history and democracy won!” He makes a quick speech while cutting a sound wire he believes to be a grand-opening ribbon. Without an electronic feed, the subordinate vidiots must hold up cue cards, which he now reads. “Uh…I wasn’t there…I saw nothing,” the Rent-a-President says in response to the media spill. Moopert Rurdock looks on and smiles. Not a bad performance, he says while chomping on a cigar. It had a few goofs, but no one will notice. As usual, the media will lap it up!


The gang of children, still sitting in the pond, grows restless. They still haven’t eaten. Mookie refuses to let them leave, even for food. He tells them passive resistance takes time. They can’t give up until they show adults that kids have the power!

Fortunately for the children, an old man happens to walk by with his dog. It’s so late, he tells them. He asks what they’re doing, where there parents are, and, most importantly, if their parents know what they’re doing. Little does he know, he is about to create just the spectacle they desire.


Sunspot, Boom Boom, Warlock and their Vidiot friend traverse the barren landscape. Sunspot occupies his mind thinking about everything they just learned. The people of this land must know the truth about all the corporate conspiracies. Unfortunately, they believe they have a free press, and therefore think they already know everything that transpires. It’s like double-censorship, Roberto says. Nobody knows how to read between the lines. Boom Boom suggests attacking the problem at its source. Vidiot informs them they will have to attack Megalopolis to accomplish that. Although Megalopolis is on the other side of the wasteland, they can follow the muddy brown road to get there. He gestures toward an ugly path adorned by a statue that resembles the dollar sign and bears the inscription “Wrest ‘n Fleece.”

Eventually, the traveling quartet arrives at a destitute village the Vidiot refers to as the Third World. Bombs keep falling on the village. More outstanding than that, though is how the villagers do not seem to care. They are just used to it, the Vidiot tells his allies. The bombing has become a part of their lives; were it to stop, the Third World villages would find it weird. They just focus on living their lives.

Suddenly, a rather large bomb lands nearby and explodes, sending the New Mutants reeling. Sunspot demands to know who is responsible. The Vidiot directs their attention upward toward two figures fighting in the sky. These two fight all the time, he says, but the poor countries have to deal with the fallout! Warlock decides to remedy this travesty. Turning into a hot-air balloon, he hoists his friends into the air, much to Vidiot’s awe. Sunspot and Boom Boom find Warlock’s transformation less impressive; they certainly do not appear very threatening in a balloon, after all. They ask Warlock to change forms before they attack.

Before he has the chance, however, they arrive at the scene of the fighting. On a small platform floating in the sky, they behold a figure resembling twins conjoined at the waist. It has the body of a bear. The head and arms on its left side are also ursine in nature. It wears a leather jacket and written across its ample stomach are the words “We’re M.A.D.” The other torso, protruding from the beast’s right side, looks much different. It is a gangly old man in a top-hat printed with the layout of the American flag: it is the mascot of the United States of America, Uncle Sam.

Boom Boom asks what manner of creature it is. It’s M.A.D., Vidiot says; mutual assured destruction. It has been fighting itself for decades, he adds. They overhear the beast arguing with itself. The right side declares the Cold Way has not ended, while the left swears Communism is dead. The right side doesn’t believe him; he will not fall for such funeral diplomacy or charm offensives. Communist, he shouts! Paranoid imperialist, the bear shouts back! Worse, he’s a media terrorist! The more they fight, the worse the media storms in the land below! The conjoined entities pummel each other. Enraged, they decide to push their own nuclear detonation buttons, simply to kill the other. Sunspot and Boom Boom intervene and attack, but their effort has no significant effect, as M.A.D. drops dead once its two heads explode anyway.

M.A.D. falls over, dead. The four travelers stare at its lifeless, smoking body, and rejoice. “Rest in peace, ya bullies!” Boom Boom says to it before kissing the remnants of its left forehead. With M.A.D. gone, they decide to head to Megalopolis to attack the larger problem at its source.


The river-cleanup protest, having finally attracted media attention, grows in strength. A Channel 13 newswoman covering the story introduces the children as the “Wobblies Sneaker Gang” and speaks to the leader, Mookie, for an interview. His demands are simple: clean up the river. Kids should have clean rivers to swim in, he says. He and his gang refuse to budge until their demands are met.


The New Mutants finally reach Megalopolis, a large city combining elements from the iconic architecture of Washington D.C., industrial smokestacks, New York City’s skyline, and giant, garish dollar signs. Tabitha reminds her allies the only way to get coverage for Vidiot’s story is by turning the news into a spectacle. To do so, Roberto suggests orchestrating an airstrike on Megalopolis. Although Vidiot finds this method violent, Warlock reminds him violence is what the New Mutants do best.

An eavesdropper advises them to rethink their methods, however. “Situation Ethics, at your service,” the eavesdropper says. A line down its center divides its body into two distinct, black and white sides. One side has the word “yes”; the other, “no”. An arrow points both ways. Additionally, patches of black and white have been transposed. Clearly, Situation Ethics is one confusing mess, an observation only compounded when it begins to speak.

“Let’s see, you can intervene in the name of democracy against communism,” it says, “…but on the other hand, communism is dead and no longer a threat.” It walks around, gesturing with its hands as it speaks. “Intervention is usually wrong. But then, so is leaving the world to its own miserable devices. It’s like eating meat. Some say, ‘meat is murder’. Ethics depends on how you look at it. From a cow’s point of view, meat is murder. From a hot dog man’s P.O.V., meat is life. From the hot dog’s P.O.V., meat is existence itself!”

The New Mutants quickly grow bored and confused. As much as they try to interject, Situation Ethics continues to speak, completely ignoring them. “But, if you don’t eat meat on principle, what about your leather shoes, you hypocrite?!” it asks. “How does one figure out if one should eat the cow?” Roberto and Tabitha give one another a look. Should they eat the cow, they ask? The answer is a resounding yes! On their cue, Warlock turns into a jet-plane. They hop aboard, taking Vidiot with them, and speed away before Situation Ethics can catch up. “But, the ramifications! Morality must be considered!” it cries. “Neurotic college students with that disease called academia have written countless dissertations like narcissists talking into mirrors whereby they whittle concepts down to a fine point only two other people can see…” Its words trickle off as the New Mutants get farther and farther away.


A drainage line pollutes a creek. At the pipe’s source, the pollution-spewing factory Megazine, the phones ring off their hooks as receptionists struggle to manage the incoming deluge of calls. The company’s advertisers keep pulling their advertisements, and subscribers keep cancelling their subscriptions. As a coup de grace of sorts, a parent group calls with threats of a civil-action lawsuit against the magazine company. The company’s C.E.O. demands everyone stop answering the phones!

Inside, a group of reporters bangs on the C.E.O.’s office, demanding answers to their various questions. How long has he been polluting the river? Was he aware children swam in it? The C.E.O., meanwhile, informs his assistant the story is far too embarrassing to let continue. He orders him to clean up the river before the company goes bankrupt.

Shortly thereafter, the Megazine’s public relations manager gives an interview to the news cameras at the site of the protest. They had no idea they were polluting the river, the P.R. manager says. They were not aware a pipe from their printing factory led directly into the water. They will clean it up right away, he adds, smiling brightly. The children raise their arms in triumph.


M.A.D. wakes up from its bout of unconsciousness. The bear side yawns; the Uncle Sam side complains about its headache. What happens, it asks? “I dunno. A little nappy-poo, I guess,” the bear says. Suddenly, the floating platform upon which it rests cracks in two, and M.A.D. plummets to the land far below.

It hits the ground with a loud noise, but thankfully, none of the Third World villagers are hurt. They gather around to investigate the latest visitor to their village. While M.A.D. recovers from its confusion, the villagers look at it and correctly identify it as the monster that terrorized their village for all those years. Up close, it doesn’t look so scary. In fact, it looks downright silly. They realize it is only a single being, yet they are many. The truth of this simple idea astounds and inspires them. No longer afraid, they point their fingers at M.A.D. and tell it they know what it truly is. Upon hearing these words, the monster begins to shrink, until it is no larger than a child’s toy. It runs for its life. The children of the Third World chase it, while the adults stand back and laugh.


The New Mutants and Vidiot soar high above the streets of the bustling city. As per Vidiot’s orders, Warlock follows the “Bottom Line”, a thick black road running through Megalopolis, to the city’s center. Soon enough, the quartet arrives and beholds a vast, awe-inspiring structure of ambiguous nature. They assume it’s a church or a temple, but the dollar signs in front confuse them. Nevertheless, they decide to climb its imposing stone steps.

They wheeze and huff as they climb the steps which Sunspot compares to those of an Aztec ziggurat. Tabitha just hopes their hearts will not be cut out once they reach the top. They finally arrive at the building’s altar and find it a mixture of conflicting symbols. It appears to be a place of worship, but why are there dollar signs, and eagle wings, and communist scythes and hammers, and a large coin bearing the inscription “In Greed We Trust” behind the altar? Is it a church? Is it corporate? Is it military? Those in the audience do not seem to care. They sit patiently with their eyes directed forward. Warlock, Boom Boom, Sunspot and Vidiot continue to walk. They note the room’s extensive sound system. It seems like an auditorium for performing shows. Perhaps it’s a media center, or a network, Boom Boom says.

The New Mutants walk up the final set of steps to the altar. Vidiot, quivering, informs them this is the Megalopolis Power Center, and it’s quite dangerous. Neither Boom Boom, Sunspot, nor Warlock care. They start to destroy the altar. Suddenly, a spotlight shines on them, and a booming voice orders them to get off the altar, or be terminated.


Having just tested the water in the river, a hired chemist proudly announces improvements in the pH level, bacteria count, amoeba counts, as well as the positive results of thirteen other tests. The water is definitely getting cleaner!

The newscaster turns to the children still standing in the river and congratulates them on getting what they wanted. They managed to hold a corporation hostage by staging this event, she says, comparing their methods to guerrilla warfare. How do they feel about that? “Great!” Mookie says, his smiling face marked with blue dots. “TV’s a powerful medium. It’s time the people got access to it, to its power, and used it to help the world.” Kids, he adds, are not political enough. But they intend to fix that. They will change the things that bother them, and eventually, they might even demand the right to vote! He and his gang then let out an uproarious, celebratory cheer.


Rahne – seemingly having forgotten her teammates – sits in a daze at a dinner table, with the garish makeup still smeared across her face. The man at the other end of the table asks why she is still so miserable; she has everything she could ever want: a dreamboat husband, money, all the possessions they desire, and, most importantly of all, a completely P.C. lifestyle. Rahne asks what P.C. means. “Politically correct, darling,” he explains. To elaborate, he points to the sculpture behind her. “That sculpture behind you – it’s recycled garbage! Everything we own is biodegradable! What more could a girl want?”

Rahne knows everything appears perfect, but she still feels so empty. It’s no surprise; her trophy husband is not even human. He merely speaks through a mask resembling a human face. Underneath, he is a dumpy, yellow vidiot, like all the Global Village’s inhabitants. The two kids on the floor are the same way. The fancy dining room is nothing but an illusion. Everything outside its edges is a desolate junkyard.

Suddenly, a news bulletin interrupts the regularly scheduled program on the TV screen, grabbing Rahne’s attention. The news depicts a group of “aliens” invading the capitol. Rahne, however, immediately recognizes the aliens as her friends. She leaps away from the dinner table and transitions into a wolf. Her fake husband screams at her as she flees. What about their children? “Remember, darling,” Rahne says, “…we got them from ‘Rent-a-Kid’!”

Meanwhile, at the capitol, Sunspot, Tabitha, and Warlock stand off against an army of uniformed vidiots in combat helmets. Surrender, the army of vidiots orders! Although the New Mutants do not want to fight, they refuse to surrender. They have a message for the people of Megalopolis and only wish for their voices to be heard. The army refuses. Inevitably, the two sides begin fighting.

Before things get out of hand, however, Situation Ethics returns and pleads for a cease-fire. “You must weigh the pros and cons and morality and immorality of violence!” it says.

“Look, I’ve had enough of your dogmatic lefty ‘situation ethics’,” Roberto snaps. “Sometimes peaceful resistance is the only way and that’s fine and good… but sometimes, chum… you just gotta fight!” He charges into battle. Warlock and Boom Boom follow closely behind and, as a team, pummel the opposing army. Warlock reports none of the opposition shows any signs of life. They must be robots, Tabitha concludes. Not that it matters; the robots can still hurt them!

Wolfsbane arrives in time to join the battle, much to the delight and relief of her teammates. She apologizes for getting sidetracked.

At the base of the altar’s stairs, the touring vidiots cheer at the unfolding battle. They rush up to get a closer look. However, one of the young vidiots – the one wearing a pink “Chernobyl” T-shirt – notices some suspicious activity behind a curtain beside the staircase. It slinks over and lifts the curtain, revealing an obese vidiot in a business suit operating a control room. Charge, rat-a-tat, kill, the fat vidiot shouts into a microphone!

Rahne notices the little vidiot peering behind the curtain at the base of the stairs. Even though she has her hands full with enemy soldiers, she decides to take a break from the battle to investigate. The sight of the bulbous, crowned vidiot operating the control machinery only confuses her, though. The young vidiot in the pink shirt wanders over to the control room desk, spies a video tape clearly marked “secret”, and puts the tape in the cassette player. By the time the vidiot behind the curtain notices, however, it’s too late. The tape begins broadcasting its top-secret message.

The enormous television screen behind the altar suddenly displays the words “OUR PURPOSE IS TO AMASS! HOMOGENIZE! DOMINATE! AND DEVOUR!” The booming voice repeating this message threatens to shatter the eardrums of its listeners. The fighting stops as the fighters clutch their ears, attempting to block out the noise of the message. Fortunately, Rahne, in her transitional form, spots an obtrusive-looking power cord and traces it to its source. She unplugs it, but suffers a severe electrical shock as a result. However, with the power source gone, the vidiot army disappears. The New Mutants realize their enemies were holograms all along.

Disappointed by the emptiness of their victory, Roberto, Tabitha, Rahne and Warlock confront the bulbous vidiot-king in the control room. “Uh – pay no attention to me!” he says, innocently putting up his arms. Boom Boom hurls a time-bomb at his crown, blowing it to pieces. Warlock, puzzled by the vidiot’s suspenders, examines them more closely. They snap off in his hands. The vidiot’s pants fall down, revealing his polka-dotted underwear. The gathering vidiot civilians laugh at the site of the corporate tyrant in his underwear. The emperor has no pants, they chant!

Amidst their hysterical laughter, the New Mutants begin to disappear from the realm. The vidiots barely have a chance to thank them for saving their world from the Mediamogul before they completely discorporate.

The New Mutants, once again zooming through the space between worlds, clench their teeth and stare straight ahead as they are pulled back home. Their words turn to gibberish during this seemingly eternal trip, which in truth only lasts a moment. They emerge to their plane of reality through their television screen and plummet onto the living room carpet. After regaining their composure, they turn and face the TV. Smoke pours out of its shattered screen. Roberto declares he is sick of television and says they should throw them all in the garbage. His teammates agree, much to Warlock’s dismay.

They gather up all the TVs they can find, load them onto Warlock’s forklifts, and begin carrying them to the nearby dump. Good riddance, Roberto says as he carries a pile of old TV sets. “I dunno, once a vidiot, always a vidiot,” Boom Boom says. Roberto tells her to shut up. During their trip to the trash, however, the New Mutants overhear the laughs of a group of children playing water. Rahne’s heart sinks; surely children are not playing in that polluted river! She sets down her load and rushes toward the source of the noise, hoping to warn them of the contaminant danger.

When Rahne and the New Mutants arrive at the river, they learn from the children that the water is no longer polluted. Tabitha asks who cleaned the river. “Television cleaned the river!” one of the smiling children answers. Roberto, Tabitha, and Rahne stare at each other in confusion and amazement. Were they wrong about the power of television all along?

They return to their pile of TVs and pick them back up. However, instead of taking them to the trash, they carry them back home. Tabitha announces she will make some popcorn, and asks if they saved their copy of TV Guide. No matter, Warlock says; he has the entire thing memorized, and is pleased to inform them his favorite show, Twin Peaks, airs that night! This news excites Roberto, who hopes they can finally find out who killed Laura Palmer. Rahne believes she knows who did it. “They all killed her, but nobody did, because her soul escaped and went into Donna, it’s sinful to think so, I know, and Cooper’s going to marry Audrey, and…” Roberto asks her to shut up; she might ruin the show. “You’ll see, Bobby,” Rahne assures him as the New Mutants finally return home to relax.

Characters Involved: 

Boom Boom, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane (New Mutants)
Vidiot (outcast journalist)


The Wobblies Sneaker Gang

M.A.D., Manufacture of Consent, Mediamogul, Moopert Rurdock, Situational Ethics (all residents of the Global Village)

Megazine president

Public Relations manager

News reporters


Dog-walking man

Barbie-Doll woman, Chernobyl vidiot, Fake husband, Rent-a-President, Rent-a-kids, various other vidiots (all residents of the Global Village)

Story Notes: 

This issue takes place sometime between New Mutants (1st series) #91 and #93. Cable, Cannonball, and Rictor are all members of the team at this point, but do not appear in this issue.

Some definitions:

Global village – the idea, initially set forth by Marshall McLuhan, that, thanks to the instantaneousness of modern communication, the world is essentially one unified culture

Media fallout - the news media’s voracious, and possibly damaging, coverage of popular breaking news stories

Manufacture of consent - the idea that because news has become a business, it is no longer subject to reporting the truth, but as a participant in the free market, now bends to the whims of free market selection. News outlets that report news favorable to the public and the government will survive; those that report facts unfavorable will suffer and eventually vanish. Coined by Walter Lippmann, it was first used in Lippmann’s 1922 book Public Opinion. The implications of this effect, Lippmann said, are that people “can no longer believe in the original dogma of democracy; that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart.” Media theorists Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman later used the phrase for the title of their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media.

Mutual assured destruction, or M.A.D. - the theory that nuclear proliferation is better for the world overall, because one nation striking another would result in an equally destructive counterattack that would bring about the ruination of the entire world. Because no nation would want to bring about its own destruction, theoretically no one would ever use nuclear weapons. Although this is only a theory, it’s worked so far.

Funeral diplomacy - the opportunity for reconciliation provided by somber events such as the funerals of notable heads of state. One classic example, at least according to an April 2005 article in the Taipei Times, was “the funeral of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, which brought together US President Lyndon B. Johnson and his French counterpart Charles de Gaulle a venue to converse despite a grudge between them.”

Situational Ethics –the idea that the best course of action to take is the one that creates the most agapç, or love. Using situation ethics, absolute principles can be set aside for the greater good, and each moral situation must be analyzed and treated individually. Episcopal priest Joseph Fletcher created this new method of tackling moral situations and outlined it in his controversial 1966 book, Situation Ethics: The New Morality.

Charm offensive - a publicity campaign, often by politicians, that attempts to attract supporters by emphasizing charisma or trustworthiness

Marshall McLuhan was a renowned media theorist. In his groundbreaking 1964 book Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man, McLuhan even discusses comics as representative of his idea of “cool” media. McLuhan divides forms of media into a spectrum with two ends: “hot” and “cool”. Hot media, like photographs and film, is less interactive and more direct; it allows the audience to be passive. Cool media, on the other hand, requires more participation on the part of its audience, and is therefore more engaging. Comics are cool media because “the viewer, or reader, is compelled to participate in completing and interpreting the few hints provided by the bounding lines.”
[Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man, p.174]

Moopert Rurdock is clearly a parody of global media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation, the parent company of 20th Century Fox, the studio that produced all three X-Men films as well as 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The “Rent-a-President” in this issue is clearly a representation of then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

The vidiot Mediamogul – in particular his presence in the control room behind the curtain – is an homage to the “man behind the curtain” from The Wizard of Oz, who creates the illusion of an all-powerful entity in the Emerald City. In fact, this entire issue is sprinkled with subtle references to that story, including a “muddy brown road” instead of a yellow-brick road.

This issue was published in the summer of 1990, after only the first season of Twin Peaks had aired. For those worried about possible spoilers, rest assured – Rahne’s prediction do not spoil the rest of the series.

This issue is dedicated to Ben Bagdikian, Noam Chomsky, Marshall McLuhan, Mark Hertsgaard, Walter Lippmann, and all the other media theorists in the world.

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