New Mutants (4th series) #17

Issue Date: 
May 2021
Story Title: 
Follow the White Rabbit

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: 

In Otherworld, Merlyn releases Mirage and Karma, provided they return to him a certain vessel his daughter Roma stole from him. Karma and Mirage steal into Roma Regina’s castle, only to get caught red-handed. Fortunately, Roma is more amused than anything. She stole the pot to mess with her father. She returns the pot and sends the two women to where they need to go, but they now owe her a favor. She sends them to Sevalith, where they see Josh talking with a local vampire. However, the vampire is a friend and that is what Josh has been doing, exploring and making friends. He wishes to continue to do so, though they compromise on him calling in home regularly. The Shadow King help Wolfsbane in her despair and asks her to support him in helping the youngsters. Anole asks Scout about the Body Farm, letting slip that they want to experiment with the bodies. Scout is against it and they argue as he tells her she can pass for normal, unlike the rest of the group.

Full Summary: 

Wolfsbane is lying on a rug on the ground of her quarters, grieving.

Amahl Farouk enters her room, reminiscing that, when he was a boy, too many years ago, he lay alone in the dark, begging for salvation. What answered his prayers shaped his life – him – for centuries to come. The look on her face? The pain in her heart? He knows it well. His father was his entire world and he lost him when he needed him the most. He was left all alone in the dark and the shadows had teeth.

She gets up and demands why he is here. Why is he telling her this? He explains that, when they came to Krakoa, they were told this was a land of change. By submitting to the laws of this land, they would be remade and reborn into their truth. They would be unified. Whole and together, they would march into the future. Krakoa is for all mutants, regardless of who they have been and what they have done. He has taken the mission of their new home to heart. He believes that they must now live to fully realize themselves, and that must be achieved together. They must help each other.

He is a psychic creature. The anguish she is experiencing is sending sharp ripples through the island. He offers his hand, adding she is not the only one. Taking the hand, she asks what he means. He continues that there are others here – children who cry out with their minds, much like he did once. He is doing his best to help them but he senses in her an understanding for what they need in a way he does not. He was the child… never the parent. And what came for him… he would rather it be her.

Rahne wonders aloud if he thinks she can help them, damaged as she is. Leading her outside, Farouk assures her that her experience makes her the most fit to help. And he hopes, by doing so, her own wounds begin to heal. Will she try… for them? She tells him to lead the way.

The Floating Kingdom of Roma Regina:
Mirage and Karma enter on a flying horse, their release from Merlyn’s dungeon being provisional on this mission to steal a vessel from Roma that belongs to Merlyn.

How did this get so complicated? Dani complains. Jamie Braddock, Karma replies curtly.

The Lady’s temple is defended by a huge monster. Thanks to Merlyn’s glamour, they make their way into the palace, where they see the white rabbit again. They follow it, wondering what it is that is so important to Merlyn. Dani worries that, the last time they followed the rabbit, they ended up in chains. Xi’an points out it is one of Dani’s psychic manifestations, so if she wants to point finger… Dani admits it doesn’t feel like it comes from her. It feels like someone desperate to be heard.

When the rabbit leads them right to a group of armed guards, Dani swears she is going to disperse it.

The two young women use their psychic abilities to fight. Dani shows the guards their fears, while Karma possesses their foes. While successfully making their foes flee, they try out one of the potions Jamie gave them. It turns them invisible, leaving Roma’s soldiers to puzzle what just happened.

The Crow’s Nest, at the Wild Hunt, Krakoa:
Cosmar, Rain Boy, No Girl and Anole are testing the synergy of their powers, in this case putting Rain Boy’s consciousness into a Krakoan plant, thanks to Kosmar and No-Girl. The flower suddenly turns hot, then wilts, and Rainboy is back in his body. Anole considers this a waste of time, while Rainboy thinks aloud what would happen if they tried this with an inanimate body. The others look at each other. Nervously, he asks if he said something stupid. The opposite, Anole assures him.

Dani and Xi’an have made their way to Roma’s treasury, thanks to the invisibility potion. Dani announces that every fairy tale adaptation has prepared her for this. Don’t touch anything but what they came for. Karma muses she can see why people get cursed. Her fingers are itching to play with everything in this room.

Dani notices she is glowing and tells her to put the light out. Another voice announces there is no escaping the light of truth. Guessing correctly that Roma is onto them, Dani asks if she will hear their appeal. Amused, Roma replies she loves chatty guests. She orders her to speak. Her candle will reveal any lies.

Dani summarizes that they are in Otherworld to save a young mutant. They didn’t want to get involved in the hostilities between Roma and her father Merlyn.

Roma hands the candle to one of her guards and agrees her father can be quite a tyrant. It is why they parted ways. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are in her kingdom with their sticky finer all over her treasures. She is generally known for her good humor and mercy, but she doesn’t take kindly to such a violation. So, what to do with them? She glamours Karma, who replies, whatever she pleases.

Creating images of her fellow New Mutants, Dani snaps at Roma to back off. Like she told her musty old man, the mutants just risked everything to save Otherworld. She didn’t want to come here and take this busted-looking old pot, okay? But it was that or be stuck in Merlyn’s dungeon, while Joshua is out there facing who knows what! Merlyn says it is his anyway, so Roma is gonna let them take it, so they can find the kid and go home, or she will have to face the same witchbreed who faced that invading force that had all of Otherworld cowed!

Amused at Dani’s passion, Roma tosses her the pot as a gift for the entertainment she provided.

Roma strokes the bunny, impressed at what Dani has created here. To manifest the truth of anther being who is caged is impressive. She has always thought that the contempt shown to witchbreed is unjust. They impress her. Belatedly, she asks for their names. Karma introduces them. Dani asks her not to use the word witchbreed. It sounds like vermin. They are mutants.

Suspicious, she holds up the pot. Roma has had a centuries-long spat with her father and suddenly she is happy to give this away? She doesn’t trust her. Does this not have some power she wanted? What kind of game is Roma playing?

Roma and her guards burst out laughing. Did Merlyn tell her this had magic? It’s just a piece of old crockery she took on her way out because she knew he had a fondness for it. If he had asked her for it like an adult, she would have given it back. But Dani is right. Nothing is without its price. She casts a spell that will return the vessel where she took it from and will send the two mutants where they need to be. Th price for this is a favor to be called in whenever Roma desires. They will come when she has need of them. No questions asked.

Krakaoa, the Kinney residence:
A nervous Anole is about to knock at the door. Gabby opens the door before he can and greets him.  Gabby asks what is up. She thought they wouldn’t meet until later.

Anole wanted to ask her something first. He is momentarily irritated by the mess of the place. Is that his question? Gabby asks. She explains her sister Laura is gone and she hasn’t found the will to clean. But she’s gonna. What’s up?

Anole asks if she knew anything about the Body Farm. They only know it was up and running at the Boneyard. Gabby thinks it’s off-limits. Why?

Anole summarizes they have been experimenting with body-trading some more. They put someone’s consciousness into a flower but it was kinda weak, because they don’t move, but they think if they used a formerly mobile vessel, they could really do things.

And they want to use other people’s bodies without asking them, Gabby ventures. Why not just use a husk? Anole explains husks are for resurrection. And she saw what happened to Cosmar at the party. Their needs aren’t any priority.

Gabby decides this is a really bad idea. It feels wrong to take the bodies and it could also go wrong. Anole snaps, so it’s fine for X-Factor to let the bodies rot, but not for them to include them trying to be better? He shouts at her that she doesn’t get it what it’s like to have others recoil from your body or show pity – even here! Gabby tries to interject but he tells her no “but.” Not when she can pass as a human girl. Not that he wants to be human, but maybe they want to be beautiful! And that isn’t immoral!

Gabby retorts just because she can hide her claws, doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what it means not to have control over her body. He turns away and tells her it isn’t the same.

Gabby shouts after him, the people who made them feel they aren’t beautiful are idiots! She loves the way they all look! She knows that isn’t comforting now, but that is what they are here for, to be themselves. To not have to care what others think. Yeah, okay, he replies dismissively and leaves.

Otherworld: the vampire kingdom Sevalith:
Josh has struck a deal with a vampire, giving him something in return for a tour of the historical archives. They are interrupted by the two women. Dani points her arrow at the vampire and orders him to step back. He asks if all witchbreed women are that intense. “Mutant,” Josh corrects. He asks Dani to drop the weapon. This is all a misunderstanding. Dani replies they need to make sure he hasn’t been turned into a Renfield. He shows his neck, which hasn’ t been bitten.

They ask what he gave the vampire. Not blood, he clarifies. A potion he got from Jamie Braddock that gives you what you need the moment you drink it. Karma uses the light of truth to ascertain that is true. Dani apologizes but they are here to take him home. His friends are worried.

The Sevalithian sniffs at their prejudice towards him. Josh apologizes to him. They are used to being hunted where they come from. Monstrous, his new friend opines and asks if he needs him to stay. Josh declines but promises to see him later.

Dani corrects him. There won’t be a later, he is coming with them. Josh tells them thanks, but no thanks. He is happy here. Dani and Xi’an warn him it’s too risky. If he dies here, his backup gets corrupted. So what? He asks. Dani asks if Krakoa is so boring he’d risk ceasing to exist for a thrill.

Josh explains how he comes from Jersey, how when his mutation manifested his father threw him out. He lived in the woods. He is the reason the Jersey Devil rumor started again. Even in Krakoa, he didn’t feel right. They are all so used to being persecuted, they push in the opposite direction of being special. He isn’t special, he is just Josh. And here no one looks twice at him. Plus, this place is fantastic! Furies and dragons and stuff - he always wanted to have high fantasy adventures.

Dani asks if it doesn’t scare him. That he is alone. That he could die. That’s just it, he replies. He isn’t alone. He makes friends everywhere he goes instead of scaring people, and being functionally immortal is new. He knew he could die any time since he manifested, but for the first time he is living.

Dani and Shan decide not to force him but they are not happy. Josh promises to check in every few months, if that helps. He will even bring gifts. He decided to map Otherworld for Krakoa. He throws down a small object that grows into a gate. He explains he has more of them. They are connected to Avalon.

Dani hugs him and orders him to check in every month. No skipping, or she will find him and embarrass him in front of his new friends.

They leave for the gate and Josh thanks them.

Later Dani and Shan sit outside the Sextant. They talk about Dani being able to manifest the psychic entity that appeared to them as a rabbit and that Shan figures is her brother. Dani finally asks why she thinks it is him. Shan explains that, when they were kids, she and Tran were obsessed with fairy tales. His favorite was about the rabbit on the moon.

As if on cue, the rabbit appears. Shan lights the light of truth and the rabbit image turns into Tran. She explains that, even when they were enemies, she sensed a desire for peace within him. She doesn’t regret protecting herself but she regrets not being able to protect him. She blows out the flame and the image disappears. She knows what she has to do. Dani asks what she needs. Smiling, Karma tells her she needs Dani to be her partner in the Crucible…

Characters Involved: 

Karma, Mirage, Wolfsbane (New Mutants)
Anole, Cosmar, No-Girl, Rain Boy, Scout (Lost Club)

Shadow King
Roma Regina

Story Notes: 

một, hai, ba, dô: Vietnamese for “one two three go.” Basically, used when drinking.

Tran’s life essence was absorbed by Karma in Marvel team-up #100 and again in New Mutants: Dead Souls #6.

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