I’ve begun a project (that I’m not quite ready to announce yet) that has me reading A LOT of the original run of New Mutants. As I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out where Annuals fit in the run of the book, I came across the 1990 Annual, continuing the less-than-stellar DAYS OF FUTURE PRESENT that ran through Fantastic Four and the three X-Books.
The main story was a near-incomprehensible mess featuring Ahab and the Franklin Richards of the future who was supposed to have been killed during the flashforwards in Days of Future Past. The backup strip features the ghost of Doug Ramsey who is complaining that no one cares about him anymore, but then realizes he’s being selfish and gives Wolfsbane his blessing to date Rictor (it doesn’t last). It’s pretty inconsequential stuff.
The interesting thing is a double page spread near the end, drawn by regular series artist Rob Liefeld. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. The picture is called “Glimpse into the Future”.
This is an interesting image, and not just because Liefeld only hid two character’s feet (though Rictor’s legs vanish when they get to Boom Boom), but I’m not here to make fun of the art (it’s not THAT bad, compared to some later stuff). Instead, this “glimpse into the future” features a lineup of the New Mutants that never came to be.
The entire roster of the time – Cable, Rictor, Boom Boom, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Cannonball and Warlock – are present. Behind Sunspot are Magik (holding her Soul Sword), and presumably Magma, both with new costumes matching the motif of the team. I’m not sure I ever saw Magma appear in a Liefeld issue at the time, but I think I have since, and to my recollection he never quite got her normally curly hair down. But blonde New Mutant? It’s either her or Skids, so based on the color scheme, I’m going with Magma. The sword-wielding guy on the right is an early design (lacking the head gear and ponytail mullet) for Shatterstar, who had not yet debuted by this time. A reader at the time probably would have made the connection to Longshot based on the star logo and shiny eye.
What’s interesting about this is that despite its title as a glimpse into the future, this lineup never came to be. At this point, New Mutants was less than a year away from relaunching as X-Force, and if this was the intended lineup of the new book, it didn’t even come close. Magma and Magik never rejoined the team, and three of the members – Wolfsbane, Warlock and Rictor – are gone from the book by the next storyline. That’s half of the roster right there. Sunspot also leaves by the end of the book, leaving Cable, Cannonball, Boom-Boom, and the yet-to-arrive Shatterstar to actually be in the new book. If you’re not familiar with it, the debuting X-Force roster also included longtime antagonist Thunderbird of the Hellions (renamed Warpath), and new characters Domino and Feral.
What’s particularly interesting to me is that maybe this was the eventual direction intended for New Mutants, with Louise Simonson still writing at that point. She was responsible for the departures of both Magma and Magik, though Magma had remained an occasional guest-star with the Hellions. But the crossover X-Tinction Agenda, which was her last story on the title before Rob Liefeld took over plotting, killed Warlock and forced Wolfsbane off the team. Once Liefeld took over, Rictor and Sunspot were gone, making room for his new cast to start X-Force, more of a Cable-centric story.
What could have been, I guess.