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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – So Who is Magma After All?

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Paulo A., we take a look at the strange history of the New Mutant known as Magma…

Enjoy!

The New Mutant known as Magma was introduced early on by Chris Claremont in New Mutants (issue #8, to be precise). In #9, she gives her background, as the New Mutants come across what appears to be a Roman colony in the middle of South America!

That was her status quo for years as she became one of the New Mutants. She was from this weird Roman colony. Eventually, she was put into comic book limbo when she and the former Hellion named Empath went to go live in Nova Roma.

After the deaths of the rest of the Hellions in an issue of Uncanny X-Men, Cannonball, Warpath and Firestar went to Nova Roma to let Magma and Empath know (in a New Warriors/X-Force storyline by Fabian Nicieza). Once there, though, they discover that apparently Nova Roma wasn’t all it was cracked up to be…

This, again, was the status quo for Magma for a number of years (she did not appear very often, but when she did, that was it – she was Allison Crestmere).

Then Magma was one of a number of mutants who were captured and then crucified on the X-Men’s front lawn. Angel used his healing powers to try to save them all through a mass blood transfusion. It did not work for all of them, and in Magma’s case, it was just enough to keep her alive – just in a coma. She eventually woke from her coma, though, and then Chris Claremont brought her to the pages of X-Treme X-Men where he promptly just ignored the Alison Crestmore stuff…

Claremont ignored the Crestmere thing for most of Magma’s appearances in X-Treme X-Men until he finally addressed it in X-Treme X-Men #46…

WHY Empath made her think she was Allison Crestmere has never been explained.

36 Comments

I’ve always liked Magma/Amara/Allison. I’m just glad she’s still around after all these years, no matter what they call her.

I’m with nicieza on this one: Nova Roma was an idea that never quite worked. It wasn’t too silly, exactly — this is comics, after all — but it was introduced mainly as a McGuffin (there was some sort of mineral wealth that the Hellfire Club was after) that never entirely paid off. And it didn’t really add much to a Marvel Universe where every third alien or immortal seems to be imitating or originally from Imperial Rome.

Most aliens and even plenty of terrestrial villains do the gladiator thing, and Tyrannus and others had the Roman-in-the-modern-day bit sewn up. There’s nothing all that special or interesting about Nova Roma (other than Selene’s cult, and she left pretty quickly) that hadn’t been seen dozens of times before. There’s also the problem of writing a story set in Brazil that’s really about a strangely pale-looking bunch of ancient Romans. Something about Nova Roma always struck me as rather hackneyed and bland, frankly.

I love this thread, Brian…but totally ignoring the Allison Crestwood storyline isn’t exactly meeting the premise of overturning a precedent. Just sayin…..

I love this thread, Brian…but totally ignoring the Allison Crestwood storyline isn’t exactly meeting the premise of overturning a precedent. Just sayin…..

I think a purposeful ignoring is, in effect, overturning a previous story (especially when later stories all follow suit in ignoring the previous story). But fair enough, I added the bit from X-Treme X-Men #46 for ya!

I think the reason Empath did this…and this is using Claremont logic to justify it, not my own…is that Empath is pure evil. Way back when in the old New mutants series, they had a few issues with bio’s on certain characters, and the one for Empath presented as a commentary from Charles Xavier, and this may not be word for word I don’t have my issue in front of me, was that Empath was possibly the most evil person in the world. So taking Xavier’s words as claremont’s, Chris just believed that Empath was evil…and did things like this because of…evil.

Now on my opinion Fabian’s story I think was great because it gave a redeeming quality to Empath. It showed he did really care, those tears at the end were icing on a cake.

The way I read the later pages it looks like Claremont was probably unaware of the change in backstory and threw together a quick fix when someone pointed it out to him later. In his defense (and it is not often that I will leap to Chris Claremont’s defense), Magma had become such a minor character throughout the 90s that it was pretty easy to be unaware that she was in anything that decade if you weren’t actively following the secondary and tertiary X-books.

Given the choice, I’d take the Amara Aquila story over the Allison Crestmere one. While Nova Roma may have been a bit silly, the retcon didn’t add anything except maybe another dash of tragedy. And as far as I’m concerned these characters have had enough tragedy.

Besides, I hate when they retcon things from being more fantastical to less fantastical.

Yeah, Nova Roma hasn’t worked and yeah, it seems awfully peculiar that they remained so culturally, linguistically unchanged after two millenia. But Nicieza replaced it with something boring and no follow up. It didn’t seem to make good comic book sense (there’s an oxymoron) that before Empath’s revelation, that three top notch telepaths, Prof X, Emma Frost, and Rachel Summers, had been deep into her psyche and none of them detected a problem. (Rachel and Magma telepathically took on Selene in Uncanny X-Men #189; White Queen helped the New Mutants rebuild their psyches after the Beyonder killed and resurrected them).

Probably pretty simple to explain why Empath lied: he likes to mess with people. His fetishistic manipulation of Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander’s flirtation into sordid fetishism for the entertainment was unsettling to me as a kid… I can see him getting off on testing the limits of his power by messing with an entire city. It makes him more vile knowing that, retroactively, those are crocodile tears and his whole speech about loving that place and wanting to keep it that way was also subtle emotional manipulation. Due to their histories with him, Cannonball, Warpath, and Firestar would be three superheroes who would especially be on the lookout for the overt use of his mutant powers. He got to mess with them in a more human way, playing off their ideals and hopes for his reform and redemption.

Man! I loved Chris Claremont’s New Mutants… I HATED that New Warriors story because it felt like the nail in the coffin: the breadth of New Mutant adventures across space, time and other dimensions was definitely over and replaced by just angry paramilitary X-Force fighting with other angry paramilitary mutants.

Who’s the woman with the mask & flame gloves?

I never liked Noma Roma. I don’t “get it”. If Claremont wanted a Roman character, why not do a time travel story. Why set up a Roman colony in South America of all places?

Thanks for accepting the suggestion, Brian!

@Omar – In fact, there are some suspicions of Ancient Romans and Phenicians having visited South America millennia ago. I think that there are even suspicion of Ancient Chinese being here (I’m in Brazil). All these similarly to Vikings visiting North America centuries before Spanish and Portuguese explorers doing the same.
The issue here is that all these suspicions are still in speculation area, not scientifically proved (at least that I have known).
There is some archeological evidence about some vases and amphors being found in Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon basin (that are thousands of miles away each other). But the veracity of these historical liaisons is not proven yet.
So, I don’t know if Claremont knew about that when he created Nova Roma in New Mutants series. I think he knew it. Regardless of this being true or not, I never felt Nova Roma idea as being so weird. An ancient unknown civilization hidden in equatorial rainforest is more plausible than other hidden cities or people in the Marvel Universe; of course, considering the fantastic nature of super-hero comics.

Comic book story lines have been growing for decades now – some for circa 70 years. This is unique as far as I know. As this series of articles points out, maintaining continuity for characters who have been around for ages, controlled by many different authors and editorial viewpoints is incredibly difficult.
This longevity also offers tremendous opportunities for extreme longitudinal plotting. What if a character was introduced in the 60s, with the express plan of having his/her story develop through the next 50 years, and it were just reaching fruition now? How much of that could have been planned, and how much would have had to have been left to the fates?

@Anonymous: The woman with the mask & flame gloves is Firestar, I guess. I abandoned X-titles in the early 90s, but I’m sure it is she.

[…] The Abandoned An' Forsaked – So Who is Magma After All? After the deaths of the rest of the Hellions in an issue of Uncanny X-Men, Cannonball, Warpath and Firestar went to Nova Roma to let Magma and Empath know (in a New Warriors/X-Force storyline by Fabian Nicieza). Once there, though, they discover that … Read more on Comic Book Resources […]

Thank you, Brian!!!

Thanks Pete, that was my guess, but I only know her Avengers costume, as I wasn’t reading X-titles then either. Or now, for that matter.

@Anonymous/Pete: That is Firestar, but you wouldn’t find her in the X-books at that time. She was one of the founding members of the New Warriors. You missed out on some great stories by not checking that book out. The first 50 issues are, in my opinion, some of the best stuff of the 90s. The first 25 issues were drawn by Mark Bagley, and the next 25 were drawn by Darick Robertson, with all the stories written by Fabian.

What X-Men issues had the kidnapping/crucifixions? Was that the Reavers around 250?

@MBloom: Claremont was actually aware of the Alison Crestmere plot as far back as his interview with Tue Sorenson in the 90s.

Brian, way after #250. Uncanny #423. The Chuck Austin era.

Nova Roma falls somewhere between the Cassidy Keep Leprechauns and Kitty’s Fairy Tale on the list of cringe-inducing Claremont concepts, but Nicieza’s retcon was such a blatant FU to Claremont and old readers that I’m glad to see it got reversed.

I’m not the least bit bothered by Nova Roma, probably because I’ve read a lot of pulp SF/fantasy and lost races/civilizations turns up a lot (Tarzan ran into lost Romans, lost Atlanteans and lost Crusaders in some of his later novels). As for being in the Amazon, there aren’t that many places left you can put one these days, unless you go Skartaris.

I kind of liked Nova Roma. It did not have much of a pay-off, but Claremont was throwing down lots of concepts that didn’t go anywhere in those days. The Nicieza “fix” is pretty damn absurd in its own right.

I’m not familiar with the whole story or appearances after this, but it reads to me like someone choosing to go with their delusion instead of a more boring reality. Would you rather be a random person or an important member of a mysterious lost tribe…

always thought the magma being daughter of a diplomat of a lost tribe interesting till it was revealed as empath messing with her head then that really made me dislike the alison bit. glad chris tried to keep magma from winding up so messed up ala dc dona troy with her origin

I never really liked Nova Roma, but Nicieza’s retcon was worse. It didn’t really benefit anything, it just removed Nova Roma. In this case, I’ll side with Claremont stubbornly ignoring it and reestablishing his own version.

I love Magma, as created and developed by Chris Claremont. She was shunted to Limbo almost immediately after he left NEW MUTANTS, and her later “Alison Crestmere” identity never sat right with me. (If for no other reason than that the New Warriors story that created it also flew in the face of Empath BEING MURDERED ON PANEL.)

While X-Treme X-Men had its ups and downs (getting Sal Larrocca yanked to draw Jemas’ vanity Namor project was pretty rough— just at the time when XX was thumping Uncanny in the sales department and making strides towards the NXM numbers), I was so gratified to see Claremont putting characters like Sam, Bobby, and Amara back in order after decades of abuse and neglect.

Thanks for posting this, Brian. Now I’ve gotta dig out that X-TREME X-MEN trade for a re-read.

I always thought the Nova Roma concept was a crappy idea, but putting it back at least allowed Igor Kordey to draw Amara in a classic art style. Man, how can people not like the guy?

High five to Kurt Onstad. Loved the early New Warriors and then get so little respect by fans these days. Still proudly own every issue of Vol 1.

I never had any problems with Nova Roma. It was weird, but not so much it ruined my suspension of disbelief. Fabian Nicieza, apparently, disagreed, which is why he did his half-assed retcon.

In a world that has the Savage Land, I have no trouble believing in Nova Roma. Wasn’t there a similar society in FF #241 by Byrne, as well?

The real problem with Nova Roma is that, as described in the comics, it is simply preposterous that it has survived as a Roman colony significantly unchanged in roughly 2000 years. The language remained so static that a kid who studied Latin in high school could converse with the locals easily. More importantly, they were all lily-white! Hell, the actual Romans had olive complexions. The descendants of Roman colonists who had lived for 2000 years in the Amazon should have had skin tones indistinguishable from the indigenous peoples. Instead, most of them looked Nordic or Irish.

I think the reason given for Nova Roma staying relatively unchanged was Selene’s influence. She loved that time period and kept it that way on purpose. Maybe she also had a thing for lily-white people as a food/energy source as well.

I loved the Nova Roma concept when it was introduced and was always disappointed that more wasn’t done with it.

This is a minor one. Nova Roma didn’t set the world on fire but the other explanation is worse. Just leave it alone and move on, this is apparently too hard for writers.

Let’s say you have an issue with the “unchanged culture” notion of Nova Roma. The “fix” would be to reveal that it existed in a time bubble/sphere or something. Fabian’s explanation made it a bit more confusing…. kidnapped mind-wiped people and a whole-cloth fake city created to perpetuate a lie for no good reason?

When it comes to comics, I’ll take “implausible” over “convoluted” any day of the week and twice on Wednesdays!

Wasn’t Nova Roma more or less a way for Selene to live eternally in her glory days? In which case, it does make sense? But the question is, is Selene Magma’s Grandmother, and how many cousins does Magma have via Selene?

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