During "Fear Itself," Amara made a deal with Mephisto that saved her, and her teammates, from the clutches of Hell. Mephisto showed them the way out in exchange for a favor from Amara…the promise of a date. Amara agreed, and now the devil has come calling, in his Ferrari Diablo (how fitting). As her teammates and friends fret and worry, Amara calmly gets ready. Mephisto surprisingly turns out to be quite the unexpected gentleman though. He is the devil, but sometimes the devil is simply looking for a sympathetic ear as well…
In what is easily the best single issue of any of the X-titles, and perhaps any of Marvel Comics’ single superhero issues, yet this year, writers Abnett and Lanning take us on a hilarious and intelligently written hell of a ride (no pun intended) with the devil and his mutant hero date Amara/Magma. Abnett and Lanning out Jason Aaron Jason Aaron himself with the biting satire, humor, and heart they pour into this filler issue of New Mutants meant to bridge the gap between self-contained story arcs. Mephisto really just wants to be a normal guy for a night, but, as Amara remarks, he’s “shockingly bad” at first dates. A consummate businessman (“Hell is…It’s like the biggest multinational corporation you can imagine.”), Mephisto is often too much work and no play. Mephisto has to work overtime to get souls. Recently he’s been working hard to invest in life prolonging and quality raising activities since the longer a person lives the more of a chance he has of claiming them. There’s simply more time for a person to mortally sin if they live longer. It’s the type of black humor and satire that we’ve come to expect from Jason Aaron, as mentioned, especially during his Ghost Rider run, but Abnett and Lanning take the irony a brilliant step further by presenting all of this heavy philosophizing as simple dinner date conversation between the devil and a hot mutant chick.
The hilarity begins when Mephisto attempts to wow Amara by “going all out” and overdoing it in Hell by assembling an incredible band of damned souls to perform some dinner background music (since “the correlation between musical genius and going to hell” is apparently pretty strong) and way overdoing the pyrotechnics. Amara gets Mephisto to lighten up a bit though and they end up heading back to ‘Frisco for some hot wings and a little “get to know you” conversation. It all ends up with the possibility of a second date, and Amara not really having much to tell her worried friends afterwards.
The artistic team of David and Alvaro Lopez bring this awesome affair to life quite ably by capturing Mephisto and Amara’s telling facial expressions and body language masterfully. The story, despite being packed with some great dialogue, wouldn’t have nearly half the heft it does without the Lopez’s smart artwork. They really are masters of their craft as far as personification goes. You really can read Mephisto and Amara’s thoughts by simply glancing at their faces. They are two of the most realistically expressive characters to grace a comic book story yet this year, and it’s all due to the Lopez’s quality art.
New Mutants was getting really good again just before the mandated “Fear Itself” crossover almost derailed the book for me permanently. I’m glad I stuck it out. All of the X-books are once again near the top of the quality heap at Marvel Comics, and New Mutants is moving its way up to the top of that pile.