Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

The rest is still unwritten

This week I finished rereading the small number of New Mutants issues I still have (I gave a lot of stuff away some years back to a now-defunct program auctioning comics to support kids’ hospice services). IIRC, after #21 things got too dark and grim to entertain me, plus I don’t like Bill Sienkiewicz’ art. Today, though, I’m speaking about #20 and a loose end I don’t believe ever got resolved.

“Badlands” wraps up the kids’ battle with the demon bear that once killed Danielle Moonstar’s parents and in #19 put her in the hospital. Now the bear has teleported the other New Mutants, E/R nurse Sharon Friedlander and hospital guard Frank Corsi to a mystic pre-Columbian realm where it enslaves Tom and Sharon, planning next to kill the team, then finish Dani off. Instead, Ilyana has the brilliant insight that if you stab demon bears through the heart with a magic sword, they die!

Snark aside, it’s an entertaining battle but it ends weird. Tom and Sharon have become Native Americans and the bear turns out to be Dani’s supposedly dead parents, captured and corrupted by the dark power behind the bear. Who or what is behind it? Her folks don’t know (Them, maybe?). But it’s out there and it’s still coming for Dani …

Only it never did. There’s one more appearance of the demon bear, or a demon bear, several years later, but as far as I’m aware we never did learn what force of evil captured the Moonstars. That’s surprising because the demon bear story involves tropes of mind control and spiritual corruption that Claremont used over and over again in his writing. He was also big on internal continuity and seeding future plotlines well in advance. On first reading I probably assumed that even if the book went in different directions for a while, he’d come back to the bear. But nope.

So my question of the day: what hanging plotlines or unresolved mysteries bug you years later? Are there any? Share in comments!

#SFWApro. Cover by Sienkiewicz


  1. Le Messor

    after #21 things got too dark and grim to entertain me, plus I don’t like Bill Sienkiewicz’ art”
    Hah! I left it the same spot for basically the same reason. (I don’t mind Sienkiewicz’ art, depending on the art. He can be good, he often isn’t.)

    One frustrating plotline for me was from Alpha Flight, because it’s me. There was a character called Nemesis who I love, but she only appeared in one Byrne issue. Her origin was very mysterious – and I always wondered what it was.
    Unfortunately, that got answered by Mantlo; and I’ve never been satisfied with his answer, nor did I think it was what Byrne had in mind.

  2. DarkKnight

    I’m sure there is plenty more but the one that comes to my mind is the mystery puppeteer in Doug Moench and Kelley Jones mid 90s Batman run. He would show up in the background or foreground in random panels but they never got the chance to reveal who he was because the entire franchise was uprooted for Cataclysm/ No Man’s Land.

  3. Edo Bosnar

    Re: “what hanging plotlines or unresolved mysteries bug you years later?”
    Prof. X creepily thinking how he loves Jean in X-men #3. 😛
    (If the emoji isn’t clear, I’m kidding, obviously. I’m glad everyone involved just decided to forget that ever happened.)

    And man, I remember dropping New Mutants so fast once Sienkiewicz came on as the artist. I think I lasted two issues (and in my case, it’s not so much that I don’t like his art, but because I thought, and still do, that it’s so ill-suited to that series).

    1. Le Messor

      Apparently, Xavier was supposed to be a lot younger originally. I’ve read that somewhere.

      Good point about the difference between art being bad and art being ill-suited to a series.

    2. X-Men 1 credits his mutant brain to his parents working on the Manhattan Project. That would put him at 21 years old max when X-Men #1 takes place. If we assume Jean to be 17 or 18, that wouldn’t be out of line for a 1950s wedding — it was the peak for young marriage in the last century.
      But even assuming he was a Doogie Howser-class genius with scads of cash, they must have realized setting up the school that young would be a neat trick. Or they simply forgot and started assuming he was older.

  4. Darthratzinger

    If New Mutants got too dark for You at the time be glad You didn´t stick around for the Mutant Massacre/Fall Of The Mutants/Inferno x-overs. Talk about bleak.
    I loved it but both Louise Simonsons titles were really depressing.

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