New Mutants: Curse of the Valykries is a Marvel Epic Collection, and whoa, is it epic in size and story! The Marvel Epic Collections contain longer runs than usual of previously out-of-print comics that make up large story arcs. This book comes in at 494 pages, combining the four-issue X-Terminators mini series with 15 issues of New Mutants. Almost all of it is penned by Louise Simonson except one fill-in issue of New Mutants by Chris Claremont. Several different artists’ work is showcased, but the standouts are Jon Bogdanove and Brett Blevins. This collection features two story arcs, Inferno and Curse of the Valkyries, published between late 1988 to early 1990 and starring the X-Men’s young adult team. The New Mutants are teenagers who attend and live at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where they are learning to control their mutant powers.

The Inferno story arc is one of the best X-Men crossover events, but this book only contains the X-Terminators and New Mutants parts of the story. The parts of the Inferno crossover in X-Factor and Uncanny X-Men are not reprinted in this volume, which is fine because the crossover had two stories woven together. This book represents one half and can be read on its own. It’s a complicated story about Illyana “Magik” Rasputin sacrificing herself to save New York City/Earth from a demon invasion. Illyana is the younger sister of the X-Man Colossus. She was kidnapped as a child by the demon lord Belasco who raised her in the hell dimension Limbo. Illyana was able to kill Belasco and get back to her dimension, but she had aged to a teenager and was now the ruler of Limbo. She isn’t comfortable ruling Limbo or using magic, because every time she does, the darkness within her grows. There are two demons, S’ym and N’astirh, vying for control over Limbo. N’astirh goes to New York City and dispatches his demon minions to bring him thirteen babies for a ritual sacrifice that will open Limbo. His minions aren’t very smart, and they kidnap the pre-teen mutants Artie and Leech, mistaking them for babies. This is where the X-Terminators, teens adopted by X-Factor (the original X-Men), come into play. Jon Bogdanove’s very cartoonish style is perfect or the X-Terminators book, and it plays really well with Brett Blevin’s also cartoonish style in New Mutants. The way Bogdanove draws snooty boarding school teens with their stuck out chins is so great! The comedy really comes through his art with the bumbling demons. What could be horrific is played for comedy, as N’astirh’s minions keep screwing up their instructions.

The New Mutants get trapped in Limbo and N’astirh shows up to make a deal with Illyana. He tells her she can get back to Earth if she reclaims the darkest part of her soul, which is the soul sword. She wrests it back from S’ym, completing her transformation into the Darkchilde, which is what N’astirh wanted; now Limbo is wide open and demons are pouring through the ritual pentagram he created with the babies. This is where the X-Terminators and New Mutants converge, trying to rescue the babies forming the pentagram in the sky. Also, Colossus, who is supposed to be dead (he’s not. The X-Men were pretending to be dead…it’s a long story), shows up and inspires Illyana to sacrifice herself for the greater good, which sends all the demons back to Limbo. She is reborn as the small child she was before falling into Limbo. This is a super dark story, but Brett Blevin’s pencils create a duality between levity and horror that is superb. When the New Mutants get back to NYC they find inanimate objects like pay phones and mailboxes suddenly possessed and trying to kill everything. Blevins draws this in a way reminiscent of Chuck Jones cartoons.

In The Curse of the Valkyries Hela is up to her old tricks trying to kill Odin and rule Asgard. Her strategy is to corrupt the Valkyries and make them her slaves. Danielle Moonstar is susceptible to this, as she was granted the power of the Valkyries in an earlier comic. She tries to fight it, but succumbs to Hela’s corruption. The gang end up in Asgard, where Danielle goes full evil Valkyrie. Hela needs the dwarf king Eitri’s crafting skills to make a sword that can kill Odin. She plans to give the sword to the corrupted Danielle, who will sneak into Odin’s chambers and kill him while he is in his Odinsleep coma. The plot is thwarted by Eitri, who sacrifices himself to stop Danielle. He crafted a flaw in the Odin-killing Sword and Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie fires up his rocket power, aims himself at the flaw in the sword, and destroys it. Once the sword is destroyed, the Valkyries including Danielle are freed from the curse, and Hela flees back to her realm.

This volume is A LOT OF STORY, and it’s great look into the bonkers world of late 1980s Marvel comics. Louise Simonson makes all these confusing things come together seamlessly with her writing. The Inferno storyline is a great story looking at the darkness within, while The Curse of the Valkyries is a fun Asgardian romp. In between the two larger stories there are some super fun shorter stories that move the story along and clean up subplots. The collection is best for libraries that are interested in collecting X-Men stories. I advise buying New Mutants Epic Collection, vol. 1: Renewal, which includes New Mutants 1-12, as well as Illyana’s miniseries Magik that explains how she fell into Limbo and what happened to her there. Interest might go up for this teen series once the New Mutants movie is released in August of 2019. It is weird that the two Epic Collections for this title are not sequential. There is a 59 issue gap  and a lot happens in between. [Editor’s note: Marvel’s Epic Collections are not published chronologically and currently only volumes 1 and 6 of New Mutants exist. Check this Wikipedia page for a list of all current Epic Collections.] If a reader not versed in X-Men history picks up this book, though, they can muddle through it with only slight confusion. During this time period at Marvel, writers would introduce characters, their power sets, and brief backstories so someone who never read the title before could get up to speed and not feel completely lost. It’s best suited for teens and up.

New Mutants Epic Collection, vol. 6: Curse of the Valkyrie
By Louise Simonson and Chris Claremont
Art by Bret Blevins and Jon Bogdanove
ISBN: 9781302910174
Marvel. 2018
Publisher Age Range: Teen

  • Mary N.S. Richardson

    Past Reviewer

    Mary N.S. Richardson is the Adult Services Librarian at the Cragin Memorial Library in Connecticut where she is building an awesome graphic novel collection! She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Georgia and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University. Mary is the chair of the Graphic Novel Roundtable for the Connecticut Library Consortium. She has been reading comics since she was a kid and is a huge X-Men and Batfamily fan.

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