Magik is forced into Limbo by a spell cast by their enemies. Cannonball assembles a team to retrieve her. It includes Pixie, who hates Magik for making a weapon from a piece of her soul. Upon entering Limbo, the team is attacked by demonic monsters under the rule of a feral, cloven-hoofed creature.
The disadvantage of not reading a monthly series before a crossover is not knowing character specific details that could impact the plot. If these details don’t impact the plot, it makes it easier to read, but it also means it’s a bad comic. I haven’t read any issues of the current New Mutants series. I don’t know anything about Magik or Pixie or their soul weapons. But I was able to learn enough from this comic to understand the conflict and the tension. And that’s what matters.
Pixie is the main character here. Her emotional conflict over rescuing Magik drives this plot. Half the comic is other characters trying to convince her to help. Also of interest is Cannonball, who’s still learning to be a tougher leader. His style changes from polite to hard-ass immediately after talking to Northstar. By the way, when did Northstar and Dazzler join the X-Family? Are they appearing in other comics? Colossus delivers the temper tantrum we expect then steps aside when the rescue team is formed. The only choice I question is Gambit. It wasn’t long ago he was working for the Marauders and he has no personal history with Magik or the realm of Limbo. Cannonball’s reason that he needs a thief to “keep his eyes on the prize” doesn’t fully justify Gambit’s recruitment. There must be other mutants with similar skills who are easier to trust or have more experience with magic realms. Or why not ask a non-mutant sorcerer? I know the X-Men have isolated themselves, but they’re still living in the Marvel universe.
The artwork looks and feels dark, which fits the mood of the story and the X-Men comics in general. There’s nice use of panel division when the team is first attacked in limbo that conveys the tension and chaos of battle. Characters are expressive and emotive. You get the sense of inner turmoil many of these children are experiencing. The subtlety and detail really comes out when you compare it to the partial reprint of Magik #4 included at the end of this comic. You can see how far coloring has advanced in the last 30 years. And while Sal Buscema is a great comics artist, his work is closer to cartooning that the art of Tolibao and Florea.
It seems odd to only include 14 pages of Magik #4. It seems like the editors wanted us to know more about Magik’s soulsword. What about her fight with Belasco, former lord of Limbo? Will the next issue reprint more about Magik and Limbo? Why not use pages from the handbook like other specials?
This comic is more like a spin-off from New Mutants than the “Second Coming” crossover. The focus is looking for a fellow X-Man, not Hope. Relationships and events from New Mutants play important roles in this story. Even those of us who don’t read that comic learn enough here to follow the story and enjoy it. The last page reveal of a villain who’s unknown, yet familiar and imposing, is enough to bring me back next month.
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