New Mutants was one of those titles that I found as a result of Rob Liefeld. I know, I know. Rob Liefeld is one of the worst things to happen to comics and responsible for a lot of the problems the 90’s had, but he definitely drew people in, myself included. So for that, I have to thank him. Initially, one of my favorite characters was Cannonball. I absolutely loved how Liefeld drew him. Initially, I picked up the Cable TPB which had a lot of the early Cable issues (in the early 90’s, Cable’s first appearance went for something like $50 – when I finally picked it up, I got it for $10 – now it’s back up there). So by reading those back stories, I gradually came to love Cannonball even more, but even more than him, I really started to enjoy Warlock. The innocence of this character and the playfulness without being completely silly (i.e. Jar Jar Binks) made him one of my favorite (along with his constant “selfriends”).
So you can imagine how upset I was at his death in X-Tinction Agenda, even though by the time I had discovered the character the event had already occurred.
New Mutants 95 continues the events depicted in Uncanny X-Men #270. It’s almost immediately when Storm and most of the New Mutants are in Genosha, naked (the teleportation sequence leaves them that way…I guess Pipeline is a bit of a perv since we’ve seen him teleport people with their clothes on before). Storm tries to lead the mutants in a battle against the magistrates, but then we learn that an old X-Factor villain is behind this new attack: Cameron Hodge. The mutants are quickly defeated and stripped of their powers (courtesy of wipeout). We then find out that the Genoshans intend on turning the mutants into their mindless mutates, but as Warlock isn’t a “human” mutant so Hodge has other plans for him. See, thanks to a demon deal and a battle with Archangel a couple years ago, Hodge was left without a body. Warlock’s techno-organic virus would enable Hodge to change his shape.
The mutants are held captive while Hodge and the Genegineer (the guy responsible for the mutates – at least until a retcon in the mid 90’s) discuss Warlock. Of course as is typical, the bad guys can’t get along which allows the good guys to escape (seriously, it’s that simple). Warlock uses his body to short out the electric bars and that allows Boom-Boom, Wolfsbane, Storm, and Rictor to escape. Warlock, though, is too weak from the energy drain (supposedly there’s no time to drain just a little lifeforce from his friends, but honestly, how long could it take) to follow them and stays behind. The mutants head their separate ways, trying to escape the citadel. Rahne, of course, decides to go back and rescue Warlock. Her rescue doesn’t go as planned, but in the confusion, she rips something (it makes as little sense in the scene as it does here) which causes the machine to completely vaporize Warlock instead of allowing his power to transfer to Hodge. So Warlock is dead in one of the crappiest, meaningless death scenes ever, and Rahne is now prisoner of the Genoshans. Way to go. The issue leaves off with the Genoshans announcing the death of one of the “terrorists” during an escape attempt. The mutants back at home receive a phone call announcing that Valerie Cooper and the federal government would like to discuss the options for freeing the other captives.
So I’m not the biggest Liefeld fan. As I grew older, I recognized just how horrible his art truly was. But even with that understanding, his artwork up until this issue was decent. Not great, but reasonable. But this issue marked a massive decline and is bad even by Liefeld standards. As it turns out, he was rushed to produce this issue. I don’t know if X-Tinction Agenda was created somewhat last minute or what. But nonetheless, this issue is really just bad and is one of the reasons why as much as I enjoy the X-Tinction Agenda cross-over, it ranks pretty low on the x-overs because of the severely inconsistent art.
On top of that, Warlock’s death is completely meaningless. He didn’t need to die. He didn’t make some noble sacrifice. And for him to just vanish on a lab table just seems…tacky. I disliked this issue back then (it’s one of my least favorite X-Tinction Agenda issues) and my view hasn’t changed over the years.
I also wish I could figure out the reason behind the death of Warlock. Did the editors want him to die? Was it similar to Cypher where readers kept asking for his death? Louise Simonson left the book a few issues later and maybe she wanted to kill off a major character before she left. I’m actually really curious.
Overall, if this story wasn’t necessary as part of the X-Tinction Agenda x-over, I would have skipped it. There are several plot holes, the art is horrible, and a loveable character dies for no %$^&ing reason!