New Mutants (4th series) #16

Issue Date: 
April 2021
Story Title: 
One Step Behind

Vita Ayala (writer), Rod Reis (artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Christian Ward (cover artist), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Annalisa Bissa (editor), Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Three Krakoan teenagers sneak into Avalon on a dare to get a selfie on King Jamie’s throne. They get caught and two of them flee in panic. They go to find Mirage and report their problem and she promises to help. Karma offers to join her, as whatever happened in Otherworld seems connected to her nightmares. They confront a somewhat unhelpful Jamie who reveals the boy – Josh - wanted to stay in Otherworld and he gave him a horse and several spells. Finally, he offers them the same thing. The two women begin their journey and notice a strange rabbit following them. Deciding it might take them to Josh, they follow it – and end up prisoners in Merlyn’s dungeons. Wolfsbane, in the meantime, talks with Prodigy and Eye-Boy of X-Factor about her request to resurrect her son Tier. They tell her the problem is Cerebro is still making updates of Tier. Even though they are somehow wrong, it means he is alive. Having horrible fantasies of what might be wrong, she runs away. She looks for Dani, but finds she is gone. Anole, Rain Boy, No-Girl and Scout find the crying Cosmar and try to comfort her The Shadow King offers them a state of freedom. Combining his powers with some of theirs, he allows them to switch bodies for some time. However, when they return, it shows that this took quite a strain on their bodies. Scout criticizes that they don`t seem to care about their lives and leaves the group.

Full Summary: 

Three Krakoan teenagers, Monica, Liana and Josh, sneak into Excalibur’s HQ, Braddock Lighthouse, and from there take the gate to Otherworld. They made a bet with other kids to take a selfie of them on the throne of Avalon.

The girls sit down on the throne. Josh suddenly warns them, as behind them a very scary looking Jamie Braddock shows up. The girls run away screaming and return to Earth without Josh.

The Wild Hunt, Krakoa:
Cosmar’s friends and Scout find a sobbing Cosmar sitting in the cave at a fire. She sobs for them to go away. She could hurt them. Amahl Farouk tells her that her real friends are not afraid of her. It was cruel of Ms. Moonstar to dismiss her like that. If she allows him, he can give her what she needs for a short time, but he needs them all to trust him. He asks all five of them – Cosmar, Anole, Rain Boy, No Girl and Scout - to open their minds.

Working in tandem with No-Girl, Farouk switches their minds. Waking up in Rain Boy’s body, Scout feels pain for the first time. One of the others is amazed at Scout’s claws. Martha marvels at having a body again as Anole. The kids mess around with the bodies and powers but the one in Cosmar’s body cannot control the powers and begins to hurt. Fascinating, Farouk mutters, then tells them it is enough for now. There seem to be some side effects.

The kids are returned to their bodies. They feel weak and Cosmar breaks down, crying. She was free for a moment!

Scout angrily turns against the Shadow King. They could have died there! What the hell was that?! He explains that he combined his power with some of theirs to do something greater than they could alone. Uncomfortable, yes, but death no longer limits them. Scouts corrects him. That may not be true for her, but that is not the point. Just because you can be resurrected, doesn’t mean your body is worthless. And just because you won’t stay dead, doesn’t mean that dying doesn’t suck!

Farouk points out her body has already regenerated. A blessing that most of them don’t have. But perhaps this is something that could change. Each of them have abilities that could make this experience less distressing…

Scout isn’t interested and leaves over the protest of the others. Farouk chides them gently that they shouldn’t judge her harshly. Sometimes being selfish is the better path.

Magik teleports into the hangout of the teens that destroyed the Fort. She orders them to get up and make it right. The teens protest they didn’t break any of the stupid laws. They order her to leave and threaten her. She rolls her eyes, teleports out of the blow’s path. She teleports back inside. When they all want to attack her, she threatens them with the demons of Limbo.

A little later, she oversees them rebuilding the fort with Doug and Dani. Cypher remarks that Krakoa could simply regrow the habitat. She tells him that’s not the point. Just because they can be wasteful and cruel, doesn’t mean they have to be.

That moment, Monica and Liana arrive and tell them about Josh being stuck in Otherworld. Magik asks why they didn’t inform Excalibur. They were afraid of telling the X-Men they screwed up. Dani tells the others she’s got this and asks for the story from the beginning.

A little later in Dani’s room, Karma wonders if they were that foolish when they were that age. They were that foolish two weeks ago, Dani replies, but they asked for help, so… Karma points out that this is extra boneheaded. Dani doesn’t disagree. Karma announces she will come with her. Dani is doubtful and tells her she doesn’t need to prove herself. Karma explains, her nightmares are not because of Otherworld but because being there awakened something in her. She wants to face it. Wants to see why, so she can be free of it.

A little later, they are in Excalibur’s HQ to use the Otherworld gate. Rictor asks if they really don’t want help. Dani points out that Excalibur have their own hands full. Rictor reminds them that in Otherworld things change, their clothes, bodies, even their powers may be different there. Dani thanks him and they are off.

Arbor Magna:
Wolfsbane waits to get the attention of X-Factor members Eye-Boy and Prodigy. She asks if they got her seed requests. She sent… a few. Eye-Boy replies he wants to take her over to the Boneyard to talk about their findings. She urges shim to tell her now. Eye-Boy stalls suggesting they sit down and have a hot cocoa. Rahne insists she waited long enough. When can she hold her son again?

Trevor sheepishly explains they looked into things and Cerebro is still making updates of Tier. Rahne protests that that’s impossible! She saw… Prodigy gently explains the last update was made three days ago. Rahne insists there must be a mistake. She knows what happened to him and who did it. Prodigy continues there is something else about the updates. They are not exactly like the Otherworld updates but… they are wrong. It might be connected to Tier being half god. They are not sure. Regardless, he is still being read as active by Cerebro, which takes it out of X-Factor’s hands.

Rahne stammers, then he is alone. Suffering and alone and she abandoned him. The boys suggest they don’t know that. He may be happy where he is. She runs away horrified.

Trevor mutters that he thought she’d be happy that he is alive. Prodigy points out there are worse things than death, and your own imagination is worse than the truth.

In Avalon, Dani and Karma, now dressed in medieval-style clothes, confront Avalon’s ruler Jamie Braddock. He did what? Dani shouts. Jamie sighs, noting the boy asked for his help, so he gave it. He thought her type would appreciate that kind of thing. Dani summarizes that he gave a child a vehicle, no way to contact him and set him free in the most dangerous place in the universe, and calls that help. Jamie announces that their lack of imagination is beginning to bore him, and they don’t want that. Do better. And what’s this little plant Karma is carrying – tribute or a boon? A gift to show him and his home honor. If he has any, Dani retorts.

Jamie is actually quite taken with the gift. Dani reminds him of the missing boy. He announces, she worries so much. He will be fine, as long as he sticks with their allies and steers clear of that Whitechapel woman. What was that about being helpful earlier? Dani asks. A king doesn’t mock his guests and ignore innocents. Jamie agrees, he has been quite the boor. He’ll give them what he gave the boy. A way of finding the truth of things. He snaps his fingers. A bag appears with gold, several parchments and a bottle with the ominous writing “drink me.” He shows them the way which the boy took some hours ago.

Soon, the girls ride on a horse. That went well, Karma remarks diplomatically while Dani grumbles.

Karma asks if they aren’t riding rather slowly. Dani retorts that Xi’an has no experience in riding. She observes that, given the nightmares she suffered since the last time she was here, she expected her to be more on edge. Instead, she seems almost bouncy. Karma muses that it seems easier to be here, like a weight has been removed from her chest and she can breathe again. Dani muses her powers seem more refined here. Karma states she can feel the minds out here, open and vulnerable. The urge to reach out and touch them was always intrusive. More so after being taken by the Shadow King and Tran. But here, whatever was compelling her, seems to be gone – for now.

She asks whether they should consult the map. She feels they have passed that rock eight times. Dani assures her it is a different rock, thank you very much, but agrees on the map. They realize the map is magic and tracking their progress. Dani points out a rabbit has been following them. Karma wonders if it is one of Dani’s psychic manifestations. It seems to want them to follow it. Dani describes Josh and asks if it can lead them to him.

The rabbit runs ahead. Follow the white rabbit, Karma jokes. It leads them to a castle and Dani fervently hopes the regent here is more helpful than king “Worst Braddock.

Not much later, they find themselves in the stocks, at the mercy of Merlyn, ruler of the Holy Republic oof Fae who is no big fan of Witchbreed as they call mutantkind. They are trespassing and he intends to make an example of them.

Dani angrily reminds him mutantkind fought to save all of Otherworld, and that is the way he repays that? Karma asks him to just listen to them. He gives the order to bring them to the dungeon.

A desperate Rahne looks for Dani. In her room, she finds a letter telling her there was an emergency. She curls up on herself and cries.

Riding a dino, Josh, in the meantime, has reached a city that seems to be populated by monsters. He considers this super promising.

Dani and Karma are brought to the dungeon. Karma offers to act but Dani worries about starting an interdimensional war. Again.

Characters Involved: 

Cypher, Karma, Magik, Mirage, Warpath, Wolfsbane (New Mutants)
Anole, Cosmar, No-Girl, Rain Boy, Scout (Lost Club)
Eye-Boy, Prodigy (X-Factor)
Rictor (Excalibur)
Monica, Liana, Josh

Shadow King

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