So I’m slapping two reviews together again, which is something I reserve the right to do. This can be for a variety of reasons: compare and contrast as with Cage and Pale Little Spider, similarity, or because of some uniting character or theme. This time it’s to do with the latter, but also because neither of these stories are collected in any way that I’m aware of, and thus don’t form enough material for a lengthy review.
The link between Of Faith and Fable (from Marvel Comics Presents # 121) and In Deep (from X-Force Annual # 3) is that both focus on the same character: Danielle Moonstar, also known as Mirage.
So let’s talk about how we arrived here, or at least my biased opinion of how we arrived here. Because really, all writing is biased. If you disagree, please let me know in the comments. All post on this site are in a contrast state of re-thought and revision. 🙂
So towards the end of the New Mutants run, there were several big changes to make way for it’s continuation, X-Force. This meant, among other things, that the team shuffled a lot of its members. Members came, members left. One of the departing characters was, strangely, a character I considered the most deserving of ‘lead’ status in this ensemble: Moonstar.
But in some way it made sense with the progression of her character. See, Moonstar moved on to stay in Asgard to be with the rest of the Valkyries, a part of her ongoing mythos from early on. That’s one thing that works about the Marvel Universe being a functional Universe: characters can shift from one title to another.
Except, she didn’t shift. She went away into “never heard from again” territory. Even though this is years since it’s publication, I’m not familiar with every piece of X-Men lore, so I kind-of expected that Moonstar would have had some guest-appearances in the main Thor title… you know, seeing as she was on Asgard and all.
But Moonstar only had one appearance anywhere before returning, radically changed, in X-Force: Toy Soldiers (issue #27 to be exact). That appearance takes place in (we finally reach it) Of Faith and Fable, an 8-page story from Marvel Comics Presents # 121. And if eight pages seems like not a lot of material to be produced regarding a popular character for three years… you’d be right.
Of Faith and Fable features Moonstar sparring with Mist, a native Asgardian, when the two are attacked by a mysterious (and powerful) man who appears to be one of the Original Peoples of America. And, as it turns out, yes, this is a spirit-representation of Moonstar’s Native-American tribe.
He claims that Moonstar has “betrayed her spirituality by forsaking it for another,” namely that she has left her home-land of America to live on Asgard. Moonstar explains that this is not the case, that she can honor both paths, and they each go on their merry way. She then hugs Mist.
Well, what did you expect from eight pages? This was the principle flaw of Marvel Comics Presents, but at least it was something. And it’s notable for being some very early Joe Madureira X-Men art.
The next time we see Moonstar, she’s a member of the MLF and we aren’t even totally sure it’s her until a few issues later. It isn’t until X-Force Annual #3’s main story, a solo tale not featuring X-Force at all, but starring her, that we get some explanation of what’s going on: she has actually infiltrated the mutant terrorist group.
What follows is a delightfully tense story as Moonstar navigates the politics of the MLF organization and deals with their unstable and sometimes murderous members. This issue also introduces Reign-fire, who appears to be a ’90s-ified retooling of Sunspot. That hasn’t been revealed yet as of this writing, and I avoid online spoilers as much as I can, but that certainly seems to be what the issue is strongly suggesting. It’s doing all but stating it actually, to the point that I have to wonder if they really intended it to be a mystery at all, much like with Moonstar’s identity.
It’s actually a very good story, with a lot of wonderful character beats as we finally get a view ‘inside’ the MLF, an organization that hasn’t gotten a lot of character development since first appearing on the scene roughly around the same time Moonstar left the New Mutants. Actually, it may have been the exact same issue, now that I’m looking.
There are secondary stories in the Annual that aren’t that great, but I’m not going to let it detract from how well-conceived and thought out the main narrative is. Together, these two stories give us the most information we have yet on what Danielle Moonstar has been up to since she left the New Mutants, and I’m looking forward to seeing her more.