New Mutants (1st series) #60

Issue Date: 
February 1988
Story Title: 
Suspended Animation

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

Brief Description: 

Recently captured by the Animator, the New Mutants are trapped on the island of Paradise. The insane scientist Animator who has been creating various lots of animates (half human, half animals of various stages) has decided to try his skills on working on mutants. He destroys Lot 6, a small group of smaller animates. Cameron Hodge, the Animator’s employer, calls him on the video screen, and asks questions as to why he has looked up information on the New Mutants. He lies, trying to keep Hodge away from the island and the animal projects he was not supposed to be making. Not trusting him, Hodge and his crew make their way towards paradise.

Back at home, in Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, Magneto sets off in search of his students. He flies to the Hellfire Club building to use their tracking equipment. Warlock and Sunspot, decide to look for their teammates in their own way, looking at the maps left out, they fly off to join their friends. While in Paradise, the Mutants make their escape from the Animates. After a quick battle, they go to find their friend Bird Brain, who was sent into the maze. On their way, the run into Cameron Hodge and his smiling army, who fire tranquilizers on them. He orders his army to destroy the rest of the island, and anything living on it. Finding the Animates and Bird Brain in the maze, the army faces a quick battle. After a few casualties, Bird Brain and his friends have defeated them, and are off to free the Mutants.

Finally joining their friends in battle, Warlock and Sunspot help the Mutants fight the Right. While Wolfsbane fights a soldier, Cypher notices the Animator pointing a gun at her. A shot is fired, as Cypher jumps in front of the bullet. Unnoticed by his friends, he falls to the ground and dies. The Mutants fight on, and Hodge sees their battle is getting them nowhere. He orders his army onto the plane and destroy the island. Mutants, even these young ones, are too dangerous to be left alive. Flying away they drop a few bombs, but their plane is grabbed by an octopus animate, and dragged into the ocean. Rejoicing in their victory over Hodge and the Animator, The Mutants find Cypher dead, lying on his stomach, covered in blood. Rahne starts to go hysterical blaming herself, as the Animator boasts in the background. Grabbing him, Illyana sends him into Limbo to feed the demons. A wolf animate tries to eat a dead animate, since they have a severe lack of food. Bird Brain tells him to stop, and respect dead men. The wolf tells him they are not man, men were clothes. Cannonball tells him is wrong, it’s not clothes that makes someone a man. It’s thinking about your decisions and actions instead of only acting on instincts like animals. That is the way Doug would have wanted it.

Full Summary: 

Inside his Paradise lab, the Animator violently grabs Bird Brain. He warns him he will never be men, be given clothing, or even have a name. He gave him brains, for him to know fear, not to escape and bring back strangers to his island. Bird Brain squawks they are his friends. Smacking him down, the Animator tells them he has no friends, he was supposed to be an example to the other Animates. But he has broken the law, and for this he will pay with his life. The New Mutants look onward as their new friend, whom they came to help, is beaten before their eyes. They are shackled, and Cannonball is wrapped in a metal net. Still he tries to blast towards them, to help. The net has him in an awkward position, and he is soon knocked down by a giant Animate.

Mirage scolds him for going into action half-cocked. She tries her own approach, grabbing the Animator’s worst fear, and bringing it to life in a mirages. Cameron Hodge appears behind him with a disappointed look on his face. The Animator is upset that he did not call or write, and demands to know what he is doing here. He should know his loyalty is with the Right. He falls for the illusion until a bat-like Animate walks through him. He knows he has been played fool by mirage, and he is angered. In a rage he insults them claiming they’re not even human, they’re mutants. Nature has scrambled their genetic pattern more than he could, and chance has brought them to him. They will play a humble part in his creation of a slave race. He orders the Animates to cage the New Mutants, and soon the experiments shall begin. Bird Brain squawks upset, he wants to join his friends.

Cypher cries out in on of the Animates arms, he demands Bird Brain should come with them, he is now one of them. He is an animal until he proves otherwise, The Animator claims, but he shall be joined with them, to observe the fruits of his disobedience. In the arms of the Animates Mirage and Cannonball reconsider their original idea to come for help. Their “help” has caused death to the Animates, and possibly their own.
The Animator actually thinks he’s doing good in all of this, Wolfsbane admits. Cypher compares him to Nazi soldiers, with compartmentalized minds. He is evil, and doesn’t view himself that way, he’s accomplishing something positive through his animal lust for bloodshed. Wolfsbane wonders if that is what make shim evil. Setting the New Mutants down, a wolf like Animate touches Rahne’s face speaking some sort of language she doesn’t understand. Doug tries to decipher it and learns they want her to know if she is the animal called Wolfsbane, and they sexual innuendos. Doug screams out at him to shut his filthy mouth, and to leave her alone. The wolf creature backhands him and blood flies from Doug’s mouth. Rahne cries out and shifts to her full wolf form lunging at the beast. He grabs her by the face and laughs at her slamming her into the ground.

Rahne wonders if she is like them, a “like-animal“. He hit Doug and her “animal blood lust” took over, overwhelming her. Reverend Craig was right, being a werewolf, she is evil. She was taught to forgive her tormentors, but she can’t forgive them for what they’ve done. Her thoughts are broken as the Wolf animate spits on her face. She threatens she wishes she’d ripped his nasty heart out. Put inside single holding cells, Illyana wishes she’s done that as well. The Animator keeps using gas on her to keep her from teleporting. Doug in his cell next to Rahne’s reminds her she is the strongest of them, if she switches to her werewolf form, she might be able to break through the glass. Cowering in a ball, Rahne refuses, she will not change in front of those creatures again. They are evil, and when she changes, she has their evil thoughts. to kill them. She never wants to be a wolf again.

Poor little half-breed, the Animator taunts, blows from within will not shatter their container. He orders his horde to destroy Lot 6, a small group of Animates. Bird Brain whines in the background, and the Animator punches him to silence him. The eggs of Lot 6 crash amongst the tubes the New Mutants were placed in. Rahne is horrified by the slaughter, and wonders why they would do something like this. Cypher offers the fact they may be scared, or they might actually enjoy it. Rahne knows they’re horrible, and begins to believe she is too. Much to her dislike, she morphs to her werewolf form to attempt to save the animals. Unable to break the glass, she reverts to human form and cries hopelessly. Doug reaches for her, as much as his tube allows him, and reminds her when he was talking about the animal lust, he was not talking about her. She shouldn’t be ashamed of her animal form, and her power is really useful. All he can do ids decipher languages. She reaches up and touches where his hand is from her side, as he admits he feels helpless, especially at times like these. Staring at the horror around her, Illyana tells him they all feel useless right about now. When they’re lout, he’ll have to stand in line for a chance to rip out that monster’s throat. She knows Magneto helped her in Limbo, and when he finds them, he’ll use his magnetic powers to rip this island apart.

Back at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Magneto stares out the doorway distressed over the recent missing whereabouts of his students. Warlock is concerned for Cypher, as he should have been waiting for him. Magneto reevaluates the situation with glass shattered, Brightwind missing as well as all of his students including the newest Bird Brain. Warlock is confused as to who this Bird Brain is. Magneto informs Bird brain has made the recent papers, and the Mutants rescued him. even made him somewhat civil. They acted irresponsibly and even ventured into a malt shoppe, landing them into their recent grounding. Magneto lifts himself up and out the door, and tells Sunspot and warlock he’s off to the Hellfire Club to use their equipment to track them down. Whatever happens, they are to remain there. Angry that his head master is now friends with the Hellfire Club, Roberto begins to look for clues for the Mutants whereabouts. On the radio a newsman reports the Bird Boy was not heard from until last night when he robbed a McBurger’s and flew North. Warlock notices the maps on the tables, with a group of islands in the north circled. Sunspot knows that's where they have to be, but Magneto wanted them to stay put. Warlock reports that no one ever seems to stay there. Sunspot agrees with his alien friend, and at least leaves Magneto a note. He grabs the map, and jumps on Warlocks back, who shifts his body into a jet form, and flies out the window.

Back at Paradise, The Animator is joining the destruction of Lot 6, as he receives an important call on the viewing screen. It is Cameron Hodge, and Hodge knows he has ran a recent computer check on a certain group of mutant children. If the Right is to rid the world of mutants, they must put a stop to mutations altogether. The Animator lies and reassures that is exactly what he is doing. Once he has these mutant children subdued, and Hodge questions if he is lying. He has lied before, Hodge found him in jail. He had already thrown away a brilliant research career. His curiosity led him to ignore the research he was hired for, and concentrated on researching mutations instead. After faking results, some of which proved lethal to patients he wound up in jail. He didn’t like that much. The Animator knows he hates jail and reassures that is why he would never lie to Hodge. As he lies with that very sentence, drool runs down his chin. Hodge has only seen his results on paper, without a chance to test them yet. Hodge questions his wardrobe and head gear, claiming he looks more like mad hatter than a scientist. Taking the headdress off quickly, he messes with his controls to make the reception poor. He bids Hodge farewell. After the transmission is cut off, Hodge knows that he and the Right cannot afford to lose those mutant children, so he orders his plane to Paradise.

Miles to the south Sunspot rides Warlock and announces with a chill that they have hit Greenland. They must have overshot their destination, they have to turn around. As Warlocks turns around, the Animator back in Paradise places his headdress back on. Magik tells him he’s not supposed to be making animal men. No he was not, as he orders his Animates to take Bird Brain and the rest of his rebellious lot into the maze and kill them. Wolfsbane cries out he mustn’t. He steps towards her tube taunting her. He shall destroy his laboratory and spirit her away. He shall use her, or a part of her, to create a new breed of mutant / animate army and give them her power. A most attractive power hers is , he says laughing maniacally. He orders the Animates to take the Mutants to his ship, and handle them carefully, drop them at their peril. He will follow once the auto-destruct sequence has begun. In the arms of the Animates, Mirage develops a plan and tells it to Cypher quickly. He must tell the Animates in their language that the Animator will not let them live, he shall grow bored with them like Bird Brain and leave them to the maze. Doug knows he probably will do that, as he talks the Animates in their language. They do not believe him, but with the help of Danielle’s illusion of the maze, they are frightened. They run screaming, dropping the tubes to smash on the ground. Hearing the crash, the Animator screams out asking what his fools have done. He needs reinforcements, he calls the Animate Warriors top punish them. Punish them , but leave them alive as donors for the new race.

The New Mutants now free see the approaching horde of Animate warriors, and prepare for a fight. Magik is still groggy after her recent heavy gassing. They attack the horde, Cannonball blasts towards on of the biggest ones, and Wolfsbane leaps to the same one biting on his neck. Mirage throws a huge stick in the mouth of another, and Cypher picks up a log noticing there must be at least fifty of them. Illyana can feel her soul sword in her hand, it wants to come to come to her. Mirage orders her to leave it in Limbo, as long as it’s there Limbo is still partly under her control. They can’t chance it, teleporting is getting too dangerous, and they probably can win without the use of her soul sword. Magik knows she is right, but she decides to teleport home quickly and grab Magneto. He will help them as he had once before in Limbo. They have to think of the helpless Animates, even though Magneto is probably worried sick. She teleports throughout the mansion, but does not know he has left in search of them. She returns to the fight, but not empty handed, as she teleports behind an Animate with a baseball bat, smashing his head. She reports Magneto isn’t at the school, and Danielle figured as much. Not to be there when they really need him.

Mirage has another idea, and she orders for Illyana to call up some steeping discs to teleport these jerks to Limbo to feed the demons. Cypher notices in the midst of the battle, the Animator running towards a door. He runs and tackles him. The Animator tells him thee computer is on self destruct, if they don’t flee, they will be destroyed along with the island. Cypher tells him just to stop the sequence. While he is only a geneticist, not a programmer, he cannot stop it. Cypher runs towards the computer, telling the Animator he is some genius. When he reaches the computer, he has eight seconds unto destruction. Sweat pours from his face as he punches away at the keys. Finally he cracks the code, and overrides the self destruct sequence. He reaches his friends with the good news about the same time they are done defeating the Animator horde. They won without Magneto or the soul sword. Illyana cheers standing on an Animate, waving her bat. She thinks it’s odd that Magneto wasn’t there. Rahne knows that he’ll know soon enough when he discovers what they’ve done. Especially, Doug adds, when she teleports all of Bird Brain’s friends back to the school.

Danielle hearing Bird Brain’s name, had forgot about him, as they took him away in the elevator. They’d better hurry and grab him. Cannonball anticipates how fun it will be having a lot of little creatures running around the school. tell that to Magneto, Illyana jokes. Rahne tells them not to talk about them like animals, because they’re people. Cypher imagines a whole school of Bird Brains, as he announces how lucky they all are. He opens the elevator. A man stands in the elevator with a group of smiling robot men behind him. The New Mutants, he presumes, as they asks who he is. Cameron Hodge at your service, he informs as his army fires upon the Mutants. His men find the Animator and bring him to Hodge, reporting he had tried to escape. He demands to know why he is wearing that wardrobe, and why he can never follow orders. The Animator is upset, as Hodge promised to never come here, and lied to him. He is the one who lied remarks
Hodge, backhanding him. But he has done the Right a service. They will need these mutant subjects to replace the ones they recently lost. He orders his men to remove the tranquilizer darts from them, and place neutralizers on the mutants Cannonball and Magik. Their powers could provide an escape attempt.. He orders his army to sweep the complex and kill all of these monsters. The army reaches Bird Brain and two other Animates,( one reptile like another wolf like) and open fire hitting the them. Bird Brain escapes flying above them, grabs a rock with his lower claws, and tosses it on them. The weight of the rocks releases the ground beneath them leaving them to the maze. Bird Brain reaches the other animates, who offer him peace. They would do better against the soldiers together.

Soon outside the army starts to load the Mutants into the plane, as Bird Brain makes an attempt to save his friends. He slams into the soldier carrying Wolfsbane and Cypher. Rahne tells him he has done enough, that now they are free the Mutants should do the fighting as the Animates have suffered enough. Bird Brain squawks, as Cypher translates he thinks he was a coward before. Now he can’t run this time and he won’t. None of them do, as the Animates attack the Soldiers. Cypher orders them to bite through the straps on Cannonball and Magik’s neutralizers. They do, and the Mutants are back in action.

Cannonball blasts into action smashing into one of the soldiers, as Magik opens a stepping disk for the oncoming bullets fired at her. She opens on more, sending the smiling soldier into Limbo. Overhead Warlock and Sunspot finally arrive in time for battle. Warlock takes on the face of Popeye, ready to fight to the “finish”. Cypher asks about their recent plan to run away, but Sunspot only tells him it looks like they needed rescued. Happy to see Doug, Warlock is temporarily distracted as a soldier punches his face hard. Gunfire is opened on Cypher and he quickly dodges it. He looks on from behind the rock. It upsets him that all of his teammates are fighting the army, and while he tried to help, he only put Warlock in more danger.

The Animator looks on to the battle, and draws his gun. While Wolfsbane attacks one soldier the Animator points his gun at them. If he cannot have the wolf girl than no one will. Doug cries out to her, that he has a gun. Wolfsbane thinks he is talking about the soldier and carries on her struggle. Doug leaps out and knocks into Rahne and the soldier, just in time to catch the bullet fired from the Animator. Wolfsbane tells him to get back, he’s still armed his powers aren’t enough to save him in a fight. Bird Brian flies down and knocks the gun from the Animator’s hand. On the ground, unseen by his teammates, Doug looks up in pain. As blood pours from his mouth he assures Rahne he’ll never do it again. His words trail off as his lifeless head hits the ground.

Cameron Hodge cries out he’s had enough, this disaster is getting them nowhere. Mutants, apparently even mutant children are far too dangerous. He orders his army aboard the ship to ready a war of genocide. Flying away Hodge fires a few bombs on the island in attempt to leave it remaining in rubble. As they fly away, a creature form out of the water grabs the plane. An animate, apparently half man, half octopus tightens it’s grip on the plane and drags it into the water. Within seconds the plane is aflame and dragged underwater. Back on shore, the Animator lunges on top of Bird Brain, hitting him with a piece of wood. He screams insanely on how he had brought this disaster by bringing strangers onto his island. He was his best creation, and it was his best creation that destroyed him. Bird brain reaches with his legs and knocks him out. Bird Brain grabs the Animator’s skull head garb, raises it in the air. He squawks out loud they won, the Animates are free! Rahne runs towards him hugging him. She is overjoyed their battle is over, he is now leader of the Animates and they are free. She looks around and calls for Doug to come out and congratulate him, the battle is now over. Moonstar searches around and sees Doug’s body. Oh no, Rahne, she says trailing off. Seeing his body, she creams out his name, and runs toward his body.

Reaching him, with Bird Brain trailing behind her, she tells him to get up and stop teasing. Rolling him over, she sees the blood and knows he isn’t playing. She screams out no, and falls over in hysterics. Moonstar grabs her friend from behind, trying to comfort her, but still shocked by the horror herself. Rahne tried to warn him to stay out of harm’s way, she now hysterically wonders why he didn’t listen to her. Warlock grabs his friend, and wonders why his self-friend will not get up and rejoice in the happy occasion.
Danielle tells him he’s been shot, that he is dead. Cannonball was so proud they had ran away and helped out Bird Brain, but this is the reason why Magneto was trying to keep them nearby. Bird Brian huddles over Doug, squawking at his friend. Mirage knows if they would not have disobeyed Magneto, Hodge would still be alive to kill other mutants, and Bird Brain’s friends would still be captive. So he died doing what he wanted to, and at least they succeeded in that.

Behind them the Animator babbles on how he made him pay. Illyana picking up one of the guns, opens a stepping disc underneath him. She grabs him by his neck wondering why he is choosing to brag about their recent loss. He assures her it was not him he was trying to kill, but the wolf-girl. If he couldn’t have them as subjects, he was not going to allow anyone to have them. The boy, he continues was a fool, he threw himself in front of her. He must have wanted to die, he adds. Illyana grabs his neck tighter, and points the gun at his temple. With an enraged look in her eyes, she asks him exactly what he wants. Rahne still in tears, grabs her friend to stop her. While he may look human, he’s just an animal monster underneath, and they are not. They don’t kill, they have thoughts and conscience. She lets go of him, dropping him through the disc to Limbo. Feed the monsters, she tells him, and may his agony last an eternity.

A wolf animate grabs a small dead animate barking out they had a good fight, now they have good food. Bird Brains squawks out no, they are men. The wolf argues they are not men, men wear clothes and that is the law. Cannonball tells him he is wrong, clothes don’t make you anything. Making choices is what makes you a man, and animals just run on instinct, never thinking of their actions. A man sees what needs doin’ and thinks and decides to act like one, like Doug did. To heck with the consequences, he continues with a tear falling from his eye, sometimes you’ll make a wrong choice. The animates coming to their rescue makes them more human than most folks he knows. They’ve chosen what they want to be and they’ve earned a right to choose names for themselves. That is the way Doug would have wanted it.

Characters Involved: 

Cannonball, Cypher, Sunspot, Magik, Mirage, Warlock, Wolfsbane

Bird Brain, amongst various other Animates

Cameron Hodge, amongst various members of the Right

Story Notes: 

Hodge lost “his” mutants in X-Factor #23.

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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