New Mutants (4th series) #23

Issue Date: 
February 2022
Story Title: 
The Truth Shall Set Them Free

Vita Ayala (writer), Rod Reis (artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Martin Simmonds (cover artist), David Lopez (variant cover), Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Anita Okoye (assistant editor), Sarah Brunstad (editor), Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The Lost Club form a mutant circuit to enter the astral plane, where Farouk has trapped the New Mutants. The two groups finally join. As they try to find a way out, Wolfsbane is being manipulated by Farouk. The mutants finally realize that, while the Shadow part was banished, Farouk still acts as he learned to act from the Shadow. They finally find Farouk’s inner child and help him stand up against his more cynical adult part. Farouk takes responsibility of his choices and sets them free.

Full Summary: 

The Lost Club have entered the Shadow King’s cave and have found both Farouk and the New Mutants seemingly unconscious on the ground.

They develop a plan to create a psychic circuit, which gets them onto the astral plane. The others marvel because No-Girl now has a body and Cosmar – while still lavender-skinned - is more human-looking.

In another part of Farouk’s mind, what is left of the original Farouk is fighting the Shadow King part and is trying to obscure the New Mutants from him. The Shadow King claims that Farouk is nothing without him and hints that he made Farouk do this to the New Mutants before disappearing again, leaving Farouk to cry.

The New Mutants find themselves in a facsimile of the Green Lagoon, about to be attacked by Brood. While their memories are fuzzy, they feel they have been through this many times.

Karma notices a small, reflective demiglobe on the counter. She and Dani are fascinated by it, realizing that what is happening around them is wrong.

Warpath and Wolfsbane attack the Brood, while Magik tries to get Karma and Mirage to join them. But the small globe sucks them in.

The Lost Club find themselves in a surreal kind of desert, sensing a feeling of depression and being trapped. They hear the names of the New Mutants coming from a giant statue of Farouk’s head, placed on a chessboard. Reluctantly, they enter the head though the mouth.

Inside, they find themselves in an Escher-like space of stairs, going everywhere and nowhere. Cosmar muses that this feels like her nightmare sphere and wonders if Shadow King was like them once. Before she can elaborate, they sense something.

For a moment, the New Mutants’ and the Lost Club’s thoughts and feelings touch, and then both groups are together.

No-Girl figures that their combined need to find the New Mutants, combined with Cosmar’s reality warping, cut through Shadow King’s astral plane. However, both Karma and Cosmar sensed another helpful presence coming from the Shadow King.

After arguing whether there could be something good left in Shadow King, they decide to combine powers.

Wolfsbane searches for a weak spot. They enter the Escher-like staircases and hear the voice of young Farouk shouting at the Shadow King.

Rahne leads the way. Karma warns Scout that the two of them have to be careful. They have been touched by the Shadow King in a way that cannot be undone. Scout tells her she knows, but suggests she open her mind a little. They don’t have to forgive him, but they both know sometimes things are more complicated than “He’s bad, we are good.” Karma looks surprised as Gabby continues, she just wants to make sure they don’t hurt whom they are meant to help.

Wolfsbane is sure she has found a way. Warpath protests they have been down this way already.

Illyana finally diplomatically points out that she spent a long time in a place where everything looks the same, and they are definitely going in circles. The others agree and Karma suggests they nudge things. Illyana announces that, as war captain and expert in navigating liminal spaces, she takes charge. She explains to the others they have to form a mutant circuit.

That won’t be happening! Wolfsbane shouts and splits into her five wolf forms. Controlled by Farouk, she attacks her friends, who are hesitant to fight back. A voice calls Rahne for help. A wall opens and she jumps through it, then the wall reforms.

Mirage is about to lose it, but Karma calms her down and suggests they use Dani’s soul connection with Rahne to track her. Sccut adds that she smelled weird. She was trying to break free. Magik states that Rahne flipped when they were about to form a circuit, so they are on the right track.

Cosmar uses her power to fuse hem. Magik is amazed at the sensation and they can sense Rahne, confused but strong-willed.

In a grey corner of the astral plane, a boy is surprised that Rahne in wolfform came back. She licks his face and young Amahl laughs. Then he sees the fused form of the mutants arrive and marvels it is beautiful.

The form breaks apart and, led by Magik, the others get ready to attack the boy, but Warpath and Anole get in front of him and ask the others to stop. Anole points out that Cosmar said this was a prison, but it is too old to be meant for any of them. It is meant for him!

The boy begins to laugh, as black tears run from his eyes. The children understand what he does. And they will inherit the earth long after their weak bones are dust. He turns into the monstrous, giant shape of the Shadow King.

When Karma points out that their powers are more powerful here on the astral plane, Magik tells her and Mirage to power up her soulsword. Mirage warns that simply killing him may cause a psychic backlash. Magik retorts that dealing with magical nightmare monsters is what she does!

She slices the shadow apart with her sword but he just laughs, pointing out he is master of this place. Shadow tentacles reach for them, each manifesting as their individual nightmares: For Dani the Demon Bear, for Warpath his older brother, for Magik her Darkchild persona. Nonetheless, they refuse to be cowed by their fears. They announce they are beyond this and dispatch of their foes.

The Lost Club form a circuit and ask the New Mutants to listen. The little boy is still in there. They have to save him. They are always telling them that things aren’t black and white, that being part of a community means to try and understand each other. They know he has done evil things, but they can’t pretend Amahl Farouk is just evil. The kid is as trapped in this horror as they are. The Shadow proclaims that this softness, this empathy in them, is the weakness he will forge out of them. When their enemies are lost to history, when mutants truly rule, they will thank him. He orders Rahne to attack.

While the kids wrestle the wolves and No-Girl tries to stop the mind control, the New Mutants consider if they are right. They saw the child, Mirage points out. The Shadow entity was destroyed ages ago. This is just Farouk doing this. Karma likens him to an animal. A hundred years ago, circuses kept elephants captive with just a rope around their ankle. They’d been tied with metal since they were babies and had learned they couldn’t escape, even when the metal was later replaced with rope.

Reluctantly, the other mutants, even Magik, agree with Karma. They ask Cosmar to use her warping to reach inside past Amahl to the heart of the entity. Cosmar imbues them with the power to get past the veil it has created.

In the meantime, Wolfsbane’s dominant self attacks her other selves, who are biting Anole. She won’t let anyone hurt the kids, not even herself!

Suddenly, the child Amahl begs her for help. He is surrounded by scary monster or at least makes Rahne perceive her teammates as such. The others ask her to recognize them. Mirage tells her to sense her through their soullink. He is manipulating her!

The boy shouts at Rahne, this is a trick so they can take him! Don’t let them take him like they took Tier!

Dani asks her to trust her feelings and assures Rahne she loves her. Rahne turns back to her human form.

Farouk helplessly shouts they cannot! Flanked by the other mutants, Rahne replies they can and most certainly will!

Adult Farouk turns to the child, berating him for reaching out to them. They will kill the boy and he will once again have proper mastery of the body. The boy replies, it’s not true. They have come to destroy the Shadow King, not Amahl Farouk! The Shadow King is Amahl Farouk! the adult insists angrily. The boy accuses him of fear. They are coming and he will help them banish the Shadow!

As the New Mutants close in, the boy turns into an adult and confronts the Shadow King part of himself. He finally understands the truth. He is finished hiding behind fear and pain. The truth is that he is master of his choices, not the shadow but he, Amahl, and this truth will finally free him!

He wrestles the shadow and gets some help from the mutants as they banish him.

Amahl Farouk awakes, surrounded by the suspicious mutants. Magik holds her sword, ready to attack him. She asks if he wants the sword or will he come peacefully. Seeing his tears, Scout suspects he is done fighting, and Amahl Farouk begs their forgiveness.

Characters Involved: 

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

Shadow King

Written By: