Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Karma Conundrum Part II: Mind Controling Madripoor

When we last left the New Mutants, they had just discovered their former teammate Xi'an Coy Manh, better known as the mind controlling mutant Karma, was still alive. But more importantly: they also learned she had gained at least 300 pounds and was now an evil, shadowy crimelord involved in overeating and arena blood sports to the death.

...No really...

Bill Sienkiewicz managed to... flesh out... the new Karma quite well...

Vowing to stop Xi'an all by themselves out of a misplaced sense of teenage pride and honor, # 32 opened with Cypher telling the team he had hacked enough high level data networks to track Karma's whereabouts  she was on the pacific island nation known as Madripoor.

En route, the New Mutants had a big discussion about just how trustworthy their mentor Charles Xavier had been all this time. After all, considering he's the world's most powerful telepath, shouldn't he have been able to pick up Karma's mental patterns, even after she went missing in the aftermath of New Mutants # 6?

Sunspot is especially pissed off at the professor and he does have a point. Charles *did* sense Karma had survived ánd that she'd been contacted by a powerful, malevolent presence... and he did everything to withold that information from his students. Because, well... The boss'll tell you himself.

"I am convinced Shan is alive... I would have 'felt' her death... but the entity that attacked her may strike again. If that happens, I want the New Mutants far away, out of danger."

In fact, that's why the professor sent the New Mutants on a 'holiday' to Brasil where they'd meet future New Mutant Magma and run into the ancient, mind controlling mutant sorceress Selene in Nova Roma... So, yeah Charles... Sending them to Brasil kept them safe alright. 

Also: as the world's premiere telepathic mind, shouldn't Charles know that psychic attacks aren't necessarily limited by geographical distance? The astral plane connects everyone everywhere, all the time... With that in mind, wouldn't it make more sense to have your youngest, most vulnerable pupils near you so yo could immediately protect them from harm?

You'd think... But hey, sometimes professor Xavier can be a real jerk. Just ask Kitty Pryde.

And, most damning of all... Charles just sorta forgot about Karma. Sure, he would soon be struggling to learn how to walk again, the first Secret Wars were right around the corner, then he was scheduled for a mugging that left him near death, and right before he handed the school over to Magneto and moved to space, he was more than a little busy bonding with his long lost son Legion.

Still, was even a little memo in a file somewhere too much to ask? Karma was hired as Charles' secretary, so without her the paperwork would probably pile up, but there wasn't so much as a post it on the refrigerator. "Out of milk... Investigate who corrupted Karma.... Tape Star Search, love Charles".

Anyhoo, the New Mutants used their time in Madripoor well. It was the first time they, or anyone else in comics, had been there, so Claremont took his time setting up the statu quo of the island.

Skipping that bit of exposition, suffice to say the team learned where Karma was holed up: a palace like compound guarded by technology ánd a contingent of gladiators from her arenas. The team made short work of both threats and entered the main villa, ready to take down and bring in their former teammate.

"A moment is all Karma needs... to possess her. Or any of us."

More than profetic words, Dani... because as the panel already revealed... Wolfsbane wasn't quite herself any more. And that was just the beginning...

'Guys... grab her, stop her... Oh... NO!"

Oh... Yes! In the old days, Karma could barely control a single person... but the new and improved evil incarnation was capable of doing so much more to so many people at the same time.

"Karma's nailed them too"

Using Wolfsbane as a conduit for her mind control powers, Karma snatched Cannonball, Sunspot and Magma. Only Dani Moonstar remained, but the real Karma showed up for that special moment, cursing professor Xavier along the way... And again, who could blame her? Not óne rescue mission?

But just as you feel ready to side with her... she says stuff like this.

"You and your friends are to be the instruments of my vengeance. Isn't that nice?
(...) once I've broken you to my will. I hope you resist. I want this to hurt."

Yet, right before Karma used her powers to bend Dani to her will, Magik popped in and teleported Moonstar to Limbo out of reach of Karma's possession powers. Ignoring for a second the question why Illyana didn't teleport the entire team to safety, the two girls planned their next move.

It was a surprisingly easy one: invade Karma's villa with Limbo demons, take her prisoner and let professor Xavier figure out what's wrong with her. Unfortunately, the second they returned to Madripoor, they discovered Karma hadn't only vanished with the New Mutants, she'd also used her mental control over them to force the kids to murder the gladiators guarding the compound. 

"Karma framed us!"

Cleverly placing the blame for the massacre on the New Mutants, Karma literally got away with murder. But Magik and an increasingly erratic, ticked off Moonstar retreated to Limbo once again, now deciding to scout Cairo, where Karma maintained a secondary base of operations according to Cypher's intelligence.

Magik's powers were still far from reliable... She got the where right, the when was an entirely different matter... They landed in ancient Egypt and were met by a remarkably familiar face. 

"Like you, Illyana, I walk the shadow path. When I sensed your kindred soul tumbling along the timerace, I drew you to me."

No, that's not Storm... It's actually Ashake, one of Ororo's forefathers and a powerful sorceress. All that magic must have some effect on DNA, because even over a millennium down the road all her female ancestors resemble her. Anyway, this was all part of one of Claremont's aborted plans.

He wanted Storm to discover and develop her latent magical skills, which would helped compensate the loss of her weather control powers in Uncanny X-men at the time.

It was a plan years in the works... After all, the elderly Ororo seen in 1982's Uncanny X-men # 160 was a powerful mage as well. So all this was little more than build up and place setting... that went nowhere.

After catching their breath in the Egypt of old, the girls continued their trek, but now they ended up at least a decade in, from their perspective, the future. They also met their old teammates...

"So young an' fresh... an' innocent. But we can soon change that... one way or the other.
Ya'll going to join us, cuties..."

Illyana teleported Dani and herself away, claiming upon arrival that she was sure she at last got the time right... Wow, I suppose even a broken clock is right at least once a day. Still, the two girls were getting desperate when it dawned on them they had no idea or means how to stop Karma. Luckily, help was on the way...

"I know something of your foe."

I'll say.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. When Karma was busy taking over the New Mutants, Warlock realised he was immune to her mind control powers and fled. The frantic, young techno organic alien was able to find Storm, who upon losing her mutant gifts, was in Africa on a journey of self discovery. The two of them travelled to Cairo because Warlock's sensors picked up the fact Dani and Illyana would be there...

That's all well and good, if you ignore the fact that Magik's teleportation powers work instantaneously. So Warlock would have had seconds to pick up her light circle ánd transport himself and Storm to the exact spot Illyana'd arrive at. Pretty neat trick... Ah well, let's rely on the suspension of disbelief some more and wrap this post up...

"The creature is a match for the best of heroes, far deadlier than you could ever be."

Talk about a rousing pep talk... Still, Storm wasn't too wrong as we'll see in part III of The Karma Conundrum: Wouldn't It Be Easier To Simply List Who Doesn't Get Mind Controlled?

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