NM 97 cover

I never thought I’d say this.  I mean, this was Liefeld we were talking about.  This is the guy who has no sense of depth perception, can’t draw proper female anatomy to save his life, forgets to add little details like feet into his artwork, draws every speaking person like they’ve got a crooked mouth, and has an unhealthy obsession with large shoulder pads and pockets.  When I was 13 and reading this issue, I loved Liefeld.  I’ve since learned otherwise.  But my opinion of this issue hasn’t changed.  I actually miss Liefeld for this issue.  If nothing else, act least his action scenes are exciting.

But Guang Yap was just…boring.  Worse than boring.  Every single scene was just wasted.  This issue definitely ranks among my least favorite issues of the crossover.  And once again we’re forced to switch artists.  it’s bad enough going from Lee to Liefeld to Bogdanove.  This was just worse.  Trust me.

Wolfsbane back to...normal?
Wolfsbane back to…normal?

Of course we pick up as Hodge gets to his feet.  Storm quickly rushes to free Jean but then both are needed to keep Hodge from attacking and Storm doesn’t have any time to restore the rest of the mutants.  Until a bomb that Forge set loose blows up near Hodge’s lab, forcing Hodge to retreat to assess damages.  Meanwhile, Rictor, Boom-Boom, and Jubilee catch up with the Genegineer just as the bomb explodes.  Back up top, Storm restores the powers to each of the X-Men, one after another (Forge first, of course).

The blast also frees Havok, although I don’t know how a blast powerful enough to do that much damage throughout would not collapse some floors.  In Hodge’s lab, Rahne shows up, still fairly docile.  The rest of the New Mutants arrive with Storm.  Storm quickly restores their powers and for some reason that allows Rahne to instantly transform into Wolfsbane where she has her old memories back.  Of course, considering that the transformation is voluntary, Rahne, who was still a mutate up to that point, should have required a command to transform.  But hey, what’s life without a little plot hole?

Hodge, traveling through floors, because he can phase, of course, finds several X-Men wandering the halls with their powers restored.  Hodge takes them down one after another:  Iceman, Banshee, Psylocke, Gambit and Forge (both taken down off panel).  Beast is the only one left fighting.  Back in Hodge’s lab, the New Mutants decide to wreck it.  Hodge, before he can take down Beast, must retreat to defend his lab.

Hodge attacks

Hodge shows up.  He nails Jubilee and Sunspot to the wall, followed by Boom-Boom.  Then he electrocutes Cannonball (somehow his tentacles manage to stop Cannonball from blasting which can’t happen so I must assume that Cannonball voluntarily stopped blasting because he just wanted to feel what electricity felt like).  Of course the majority of damage comes from the Genegineer who shoots Hodge with…  a nuke?  a ray that completely separates the bonds between atoms, thus disintegrating Hodge?  Nope.  He shoots him with two rockets.  seriously.  TWO.  Hodge pays for it with a broken neck which we need Cable to tell us (“Hodge snapped his neck”…seriously…that’s what Cable says).  Oh, by the way, Liefeld isn’t the only one with depth perception problems as Hodge’s body is flung into Cable’s and at that moment looks no bigger than a child, even compared to Storm (who is standing next to Cable). Hodge then retreats because those rockets were like Kryptonite.  Really.  Of course everybody else is too injured to fight.  Never mind that Gambit was ready to go moments after taking a spike in the leg.  These New Mutants are pansies.

Cannonball

It’s not that I hate the New Mutants.  I actually love them.  They’re what got me into reading these comics.  But this issue is just bad.  Artwork aside, I get the feeling Louise Simonson was just tired.  This was her last issue and as we would find out later, she left the title (and would soon leave X-Factor) because of friction with Liefeld and Bob Harras (the editor of the X-Men titles).  The storytelling in this issue is just sloppy.  Hodge picks off several X-Men and almost every New Mutant one at a time, almost as if to ensure that Simonson doesn’t have to deal with a lot of characters in the cross-over finale.

Worst issue of the cross-over?  It may just be.  After all, this is the issue that had me saying “Bring back Liefeld!”

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