New Mutants (1st series) #59

Issue Date: 
January 1988
Story Title: 
Fang and Claw!

Louise Simonson (Writer), Bret Blevins (Pencils), Terry Austin (Inker), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer), Glynis Oliver (Colorist), Ann Noceti (Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor-In-Chief)

Brief Description: 

After deciding to help their new friend, Bird-Brain rescue his friends from the test, the New Mutants find themselves on a semi-deserted island. They believed they were alone on the island until various Animates approach them, looking more hungry than friendly. Bird-Brain feeds them the hamburgers he brought with them, but their feast is interrupted by a calling whistle. The whistle somehow hypnotizes the animates into starting the tests. The New Mutants decide to try the tests with them, to save Bird-Brain and his friends from this madman, the Animator. Soon inside the maze, they realize the test is something to be taken serious, as they discover various bodies belonging to fallen animates. They find themselves in battle with huge animates, and dangerous traps. After the New Mutants are captured, the Animator reveals himself. He tells Bird-Brain he should have never come back, because his return trying to save his friends has cost all of their lives. He orders the animates to destroy them all!

Full Summary: 

The New Mutants approach an island (carried by Brightwind and cannonball, respectively). It looks severely deserted, as Cannonball wonders if this is worth sneaking out of the school, breaking their recent grounding, and risking being grounded forever. Their new friend Bird-Brain, squaks he is home. Cannonball sets Magik down. The others mutants, Mirage, Cypher, and Wolfsbane rode on Mirage’s winged stallion, Brightwind. Wolfsbane defends their choice in action, as Bird-Brain feared his friends would die in animal testing if they didn’t save them. The look around and find no one. Magik, who scouted around some of the bigger rocks states she hasn’t found anything either. Just then various creatures appear from the shadows, all looking similar to Bird-Brain, sort of human and sort of animal. Sam wonders if they just evolved that way, or someone made them that way. The move closer to the Mutants. The fact that they are Bird-Brain’s friends doesn’t stop Magik from noticing they still look like they want to eat the Mutants.

Meanwhile 250 feet below, the Animator works away in his lab. His wardrobe has a skull head, and a lion like cloth draping him. His current experiment in front of him through a glass cage, he knows the parietal lobes are too prominent, leading to over developed cerebrum. They’ll be like the last batch, with heads filled with dreams, they’ll be too human for his experiment. Behind him Bolivar, a mouse like creature has brought him his globe. He examines the insides of this sphere. He notes that while it is cute, it might suffer the same defects as his water baby. Tonight will be the test for Lot E, and their performance shall decide their fate. As he continues his mad rant, a frog creature warns him of intruders shown on the video screen. Pleased by Bufo’s observation, he promises the frog an extra ration of flies. Seeing humans have invaded his paradise, he suspects Commander Hodge has discovered his secret. With no call to warn him, he knows they have no respect for his science.

With a flick of the video screen he views Magik and Cannonball. Magik isn’t afraid of the creatures still surrounding them, actually she is amazed at their teeth. this angers the Animator, for they are not screaming or being killed. Looking closer at the crowd of figures, he notices his own Bird-Boy amongst them. Upset that his own creation, his master piece could lead them into his paradise. He wonders just who these oddly dressed children are? With flicks of switches and buttons, his viewing screen changes, bringing up the information about the New Mutants. He knows Commander Hodge and the Right must be kept away. He tell his beasts to join him on the surface, as he tosses the globe smashing it on the floor. This shall be a test which none of the other lots have experienced.

The animates approach closer to the Mutants, Mirage tries to make Cypher talk to them. To let them know they are mutants, born different as well. Hearing only a few snarls and grows, Cypher is unable to decipher the language they are speaking. he attempts to try Bird-Brain’s language with them. No answer, Mirage tries pulling the thoughts of what they really want to life in her 3-d images. Food appears before them, fooling the animates. Bird-Brain pulls the food from Magik’s arms. He throws it to the ground, feeding his friends. He tells his friends through squaks he brought them hamburgers and chocolate shakes.

The food doesn’t last long as they approach the Mutants once more. A lizard like animate approaches Cypher, but Bird-Brain pushes him away. Cypher has heard enough of their language and he’s beginning to understand what they’re saying. As Bird-Brain talks to his fellow animates, Cypher learns the reason for their anger. Bird-Brain’s escape provided them with hope, but when he returned, he did so with humans. Humans are the ones who are the enemies, they do the testing, and hold the whips. But Bird-Brain returned wearing the clothes of man , so he is now their enemy as well. As they approach to kill Bird-Brain, Wolfsbane snaps. He brought them here to save them, not to test or hurt them any further. She dives into the middle of the crowd of animates. The Mutants fear for her safety, but realize the animates take to her, believing she is a like-creature. a human, but a creature. They believe she is one of them.

Back in upstate New York, Warlock flies home carrying his teammate Sunspot. They decide to try to sneak in, to avoid awakening Magneto, and try to face him in the morning after he’s fully rested. Attempting to open the door, they realize the locks have been changed, as they set of the alarm. Magento busts open the door, Warlock jumps away. but he wraps Sunspot up in two umbrellas. Realizing it is his two missing students he quickly hugs them. Their running away had caused him a great of deal of worry. Warlock quickly searches for his best friend Cypher, and learns that they are gone.

Back in the North Artic, The New Mutants and the animates are bombarded with a noise blaring from various sirens surrounding them. The whistle alarm somehow hypnotizes the animates, including Bird-Brain. Wolfsbane tackles him in attempt to figure out what is going on. he squaks wildly. Cypher learns that the whistle announces the test, where they are trained and rewarded with food. Magik wonders what are they tested for, and who is testing them anyway. Cypher learns more from the squaking. The man who runs the test is called the Animator, the tests are to see who’ll live or die. The tests are very scary, and the reason why he escaped in the first place, he knew he’d never survive the maze. Wolfsbane wants them to teleport him away home. But Cypher learns he won’t leave he has to survive the maze, and face the Animator.

The Mutants decide to face the maze with him, with their powers, it shouldn’t be hard at all. Magik wonders how a few traps and a maze could actually be dangerous. Upon entering the maze they see it is no easy task as they find skeletal remains of an animate crushed under a rock. Further into the maze a trap door opens under Cypher, but he is quickly grabbed by Bird-Brain. Magik decides the maze might be more dangerous than they had thought. Just then a horrible scream rings through the cavern. They soon learn the screams origin, seeing an animate impaled by various spikes emitted from the wall. Wolfbane kneels down in praying position, and prays for God to rest his poor soul. Bird-Brain is confused by the gesture, but Cypher explains it is to honor the fallen souls of the dead. As Bird-Brain tries to comfort the crying Wolfsbane, another scream rings through the maze. They push on further, only to find a dead end. Or so they think , as three doors open, releasing three very huge animates. A walrus like one, with huge teeth, a bull with horns an a huge mace, and the last, a huge lizard. Magik’s Soulsword appears in her hands, a true sign of the danger they face. she offers porting home to find Magneto, as he was good helping her fight demons in Limbo, he would certainly be of use here. Cypher tells her no, they don’t need to crawl back home for help, they are here to fight the bad guys, and here they are. He bashes the Bull with a rock, as Cannonball blasts into the walrus.

Bird-Brain leaps into action smashing the lizard animate with his feet. Magik notices more approaching and warns her teammates. Just then the floor opens beneath them, releasing a poisonous gas, knocking her and Wolfsbane out. Wolf animates grab them, and punches Bird-Brain. Cypher in the midst of his own battle, cries out to them to stay away from his friends. Mirage reaches into the beats minds, pulling out the image of the Animator to scare them away. A huge bat animate grabs her, as Cannonball flies to her rescue. His attempt is stomped by a metal net launched at him, wrapping him up. Bird-Brain tries to free him, but is clubbed from behind. The Animator reveals himself, congratulating the army of his creation. He tells them to continue further into the maze, and bring him all who did not survive the maze for him to further test.

Back in his lab, the Mutants are shackled on the ground in front of caged animates lot F and G. He rants on, as the Mutants discover he’s a lunatic. Cannonball wonders if being captured was worth it for a bunch of dumb animals. Wolfsbane tells him Bird-Brain isn’t dumb, and neither are his friends. They only think different than others, and the animals were smart enough to capture them. The animates bring the beaten Bird-Brain to the animator, who sits upon a small thrown. He taunts him, in clothes, he and asks if they gave him a name. He screams at his creation, calling him an accident, he was never to dress like humans, or speak, or have a name. To earn a name he must know evil, and evil is to become man. He continues his taunts and refers to the Bible’s serpent with name and apples.

Wolfsbane shouts at the Animator, calling him out. She knows he is talking Genesis, with Adam and Eve. They did eat the apple, but it gave them knowledge of good and evil. Her church taught her people wouldn’t be good automatically, they had to choose to be. Cannonball tries to silence her, as this madman surely isn’t trying to have a scripture debate with her. Animator tells her the animates should never choose. Choice is a right of man, choice for animates is not an option. Wolfsbane continues to argue, that Bird-Brain has a name, he is more than an animal, and he’s practically human. Angered he orders her silenced, and a wolf animate backhands her, drawing blood instantly. He tells the Animates who are shackled they disobeyed, letting strangers to live on their surface, and they turned against their creator with hopes to have escaped like Bird-Brain. That choice will cost their lives. He grabs Bird-Brains face, telling him his plans to save his friends cost them their lives. He kills an animate, taunting it’s only the beginning. Bird-Brain starts to cry, as he puts his hands together to pray like he saw Wolfsbane do earlier.

Cypher knows now all the animates will die, not just the ones in the maze. Mirage admits they messed up, going into the maze like it was some sort of game, not even taking it serious. Cannonball adds the stakes are now higher than they ever knew. Grabbing Bird-Brains feathers, The animator demands to know what he is doing. seeing him pray set him off. He rips off Bird-Brains uniform, screaming clothes are for decoration, for shame, for those with knowledge of evil. Clothes are for man, and he is nothing but an animal. He orders the animates to take these monsters away, and destroy them!

Characters Involved: 

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



Bolivar (mouse), Bufo (frog), among various Ani-mates


Story Notes: 

The New Mutants first learned of Bird Boy in New Mutants #55. Cannonball, drugged by villains, flies into the building holding him. They decide to rescue him thinking him a mutant, in New Mutants #56. They had to beat their rival team the Hellions who were also after Bird-Brain, and succeeded.

Cypher began to understand Bird-Brain after Wolfsbane demanded he should try his linguistics on him in #57, and in #58 through the help of Cypher and Wolfsbane, he learned how to talk some English. He also stole hamburgers in to take to his friends, who he’d told the New Mutants about , as well as the dangerous tests that lie in store for them. All #58.

Sunspot and Warlock ran away in Fallen Angels #1, their story carried on through #1-8 of that limited series.
Magneto helped Magik face her demons in New Mutants #52.

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