Why Doug Ramsey Was Awesome Pt 2
Since proteus_lives is planning to post NM Annual #2 as part of his Cypher posts before too long, I'd better pre-emptively post NM Annual #1, because of it's particular relevance to Doug! :)
When last we left Doug Ramsey, he'd just been woken up in the middle of the night by Cannonball flying in through his bedroom window to be told that he was a mutant, and taken to the X-Mansion to help the New Mutants establish meaningful dialogue with a disoriented and dangerous Warlock, which he did, which is impressive.
And yet, though Warlock was immediately inducted, Doug was not. Note that in this story he has no codename, and wears no costume. He's "merely" a friend of the team, who hangs out with them for fun. Something it would have been nice to see them do more of with other kids in Salem Centre, but didn't happen often.
This story, from New Mutants Annual #1, story from Claremot, art from Bob McLeod, is much more of a Sam story than a Doug story, as it's the introduction of Lila Cheney to the Marvel Universe, but it's our cute little linguists first real chance to shine so there are a few choice moments (It's also Warlock's first real story as a member of the team, but he's more a catalyst than a major player)
I'm cutting out the early part, which has Sam being taken down a peg by Xavier who feels Sam is getting overconfident in using his powers (and so has Dani pull a fear image from Sam's mind, in this case a Brood Queen, to cause him to lose his concentration). Sam feels depressed, and a bit inadequate, at losing focus so quickly.
Roberto meanwhile has obtained backstage passes for the gang to attend the first major concert in the US of THE Lila Cheney!
Note that none of the team dress up for this (Apart from Berto's rather desperately trendy but somwhat dated disco look! Which does work rather well with his personality) :) Oh, and the tall dark haired guy on to the right of Doug in the first panel is a human form that Warlock wore when amongst humans. He rarely assumes the same appearance twice, of course, but this is him.
Having seen a few concerts in my day, that's probably quite close to what you're about to see Amara! :)
She makes quite an impression on just about everyone. But, of course, this is a superhero comic, and during the sound check, Lila is the near-victim of an accident, a heavy amp falling on her, but Sam is able to Cannonball her to safety without drawing too much attention to how he did it. As a thank you, the vaguely English accented chanteuse invites them to a party after the show (Oh, the irony) Warlock is the one to spot that the chain holding the amp didn't break, it was cut with an energy beam... DUM-dum-DUMMMMM!
As a result of this, the team decide to keep an eye on things (in costume of course, though WHY they're all wearing their costumes is one of those things) aside from two of them; A fair, but rather... tactless, assessment follows;
The concert goes without a hitch, until a large green alien appears and tries to kill Lila from the wings. The team defeat him (Though considering how quickly he takes some of them out, you have to wonder how much more useful they wind up being that Doug would have been), but as the creature is consumed by a mysterious fireball, Lila does something a little odd, she starts to glow, and so does the stage, and the energy all around them starts to increase in intensity, culminating in she and her band vanishing in a blinding flash, Sam who was still hanging from the rafters after the fight, also vanishes (The crowd just think it's one of her legendary stage-FX routines). However all the exotic energies flowing about the place have done a number on Warlock...
So Lila is using amps that can literally lay waste to a planet? New York Health and Safety are clearly a lax bunch. (As things turn out, I assume that Lila got them second hand from an old Disaster Area gig!)
I'd like to think that the NM's went to help DOUG as well as Kitty, but as it's Magik saying that, I'll forgive the bias...
Cut some bits with Sam and Lila (who is charmed that Sam, being the sci-fi geek that he was back then, knows what a Dyson Sphere is). An alien (of the same species as the thing which tried to kill her) contacts her warning her about a bounty hunter on her case, which she points out has already been dealt with. The alien asks if they can dispense with the auction, and just make a private deal. Lila says no way. She's clearly more than a little smitten with Sam, and when he changes clothes into something she has lying around, she's REALLY impressed. I'll save what he looks like for later, but you can see quite a bit of Claremont's... interests emerging!
This next panel is, I think, the first of the many, many, MANY pop culture references that Warlock's video obsession resulted in. It's also one of my favourites! :)
And so the New Mutants wind up within an abandoned Dyson Sphere. This is one of those throwaway references which one has to wonder if anyone realised the implications of it.
Put it this way, if a Dyson Sphere were to be created with the shell being the same distance from our sun as the Earth's orbit, it would mean the Sphere would have a surface area of 108,686,539,443,592,487 square miles (Earth's surface area, in comparison, is roughly 197,359,487. So the Sphere is just under 551 MILLION times larger than the whole planet Earth). How would you ever be able to check that it was devoid of life? But it's rarely used as a plot device, so c'est la vie.
But I digress. there's a short scene with one of Lila's band being revealed to be a traitor working for alien guy.
The other New Mutants meanwhile, are trying to find Sam, and it's taking quite a while....
This next page is really the reason I wanted to post this issue, as it's one of my favourite Doug moments. Caught up in the excitement of the New Mutants lives, confident he can cope, but every so often finding himself so utterly out of his depth, but even then trying to cope, you just want to hug him.
Yeah, that would be my reaction too... either that or he's just coming up with an excuse to get Illyana to hold his hand, in which case, kudos kid, smooth move, though you might want to lose the manbag.
The team are ambushed by the alien guys gang, who overpower Dani, Rahne and Warlock (and leave Sunpsot to crash in a sky scooter thingie, but as he has ten miles to fall, they can't be bothered to wait around) and, as the cliche goes, takes them too their leader. Again, Dani has a seemingly accurate assessment of their situation, but it's not a flattering one for Doug.
I love Sam here too. Up until now he's always been the straight arrow of the team, loyal, dependable, but fairly conservative in this outlooks and values (not in a close minded way, but he's a small town guy from a poor family with little resources for luxuries) and now he's in latex and leather... TIGHT leather in front of his team. He may wear spandex most of the time, but it's not quite in the same league as this. One thing to ponder though, are the earrings. Lila provided the outfit, but I can't see ANY reason he'd wear earrings like that, unless at some level he's really always wanted to!
Yeah, you sweet talk that boy Lila, nothing says "I think you're cute" more than "I'm selling the planet you live on to the highest bidder".
Oh, and another terrific little Doug moment here. I'd like to think I'd act the same way, but who can say until the situation arises. (It's one of the reasons I decided I wanted to be like Doug Ramsey when I grow up... except, in retrospect, less dead of course)
And Illyana was not known to be overly generous in her compliments to other people. Doug impressed her!
I'll bet he never heard the end of this for MONTHS!
Now this finale may be a little contrived to make Doug look good, but I don't care. The logic in having someone on your team who actually CAN read alien scripts when you have to deal with as many of them as the X-teams do is impeccable.
Sam Guthrie, master of understatement. And yeah, I'd definitely say saving the planet at T-Minus microseconds to catastrophe qualifies as "earning your spurs"!
And with that Lila reveals she's a teleporter in her own right. Well, she sort of manages it, but whilst she can telport stellar distances, she can ONLY teleport stellar distances, and between places she's really familiar with (like her homes), and she hasn't established any points of contact in America yet, and the closest home she has to there is in London...
So, he's trashed Sentinels, romanced Kitty Pryde, and saved the whole damn planet Earth on a Dyson sphere in another part of the Galaxy, and he hasn't even got a CODENAME yet!
Next time, Doug get's his costume... sort of... as he joins his first proper mission as a New Mutant.