But while I adored the former, I didn't love the latter.
The idea of lava lass Magma going on a date with Mephisto, Marvel's most dangerous demon, is so out there, it has real potential. The embodiment of all evil courting a young mutant? Whatever could he want, really?
It's a question asked throughout this issue; the other New Mutants, not actually being stupid, tell her to weigh every word he says and every response she gives. After all, Mephisto is the Lord of Lies, always out to trick people into becoming trapped in his fiery realm. She's only going out with him because she made a deal to win the team's freedom from Hell. Teammate Sunspot is especially antsy as he has a crush on Magma.
Mephisto turns up at the kids' home in San Francisco's Mission, flowers in hand, flash car at the ready. He's clad in a nice suit and is ... wearing glasses? This doesn't merit so much as a blink from the assembled teens, though the sight is deemed so exciting for readers that it gets a whole page. Another entire page is devoted to a remarkably unremarkable visual of Mephisto showing Magma his table setting, with a nice view of Hell and famous dead musicians standing by. Trust me, it's a lot less exciting than it sounds. The splash page, earlier, is Magma looking in the mirror. It's a tad more eye-catching, as she apparently fixes her hair with a flaming hand, framed by a heart, little burning skulls at the bottom of the shot.
Really, though, pleasant as the art by David and Alvaro Lopez is, there's no money shot, nothing especially memorable. Flicking back through the issue, the best moments are the mildly comic: Magma's 'tech-tag' bouncing down the street; an enthusiastic Asgardian pup; Mephisto, in his human form, 'enjoying' his first taste of chipotle after the pair remove themselves to an SF diner.
It's not all the fault of the Lopez brothers. Usually reliable writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have given us a change of pace issue, but not an especially intriguing one. The biggest moment of drama comes as an understandably sceptical Magma tells Mephisto to stop messing about, she's willing to sacrifice whatever he wants for the longterm safety of her friends. But he assures her that he's simply after some human contact.
Abnett and Lanning's radically different presentation of Mephisto as a gauche teen can work only if the guy has an angle, and so far as I can see, he doesn't. The evening ends with Magma being safely delivered home and half-smitten by Mephisteen.
Now, I may have missed something. Perhaps at some point in the story Mephisto does get one over on Magma, trapping her into something or other to be revealed at a later date. She does come home with a rose, she's pecked him on the cheek ... a sequel may be coming. If it follows the lead of this tale, though, the biggest thrill that would offer would be Magma and Mephisteen going to the soda shop.
Please, if you've read this story and caught the big twist I've missed, let me know. As it is, this seems to be an OK issue featuring an exceedingly unlikely encounter. The script is readable, though unambitious, while the title, 'Hot Date' is cute. The art is splendidly coloured by Val Staples. Joe Caramagna's lettering is as good as ever. And Kris Anka's cover is lovely.
But overall, this is entirely skippable if you're not a New Mutants completist. Don't worry, there'll be another issue along in a minute ... this is one of several books Marvel is double-shipping for our delectation this month. How lucky are we?