SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “All-New X-Men Annual” #1, which is on sale now.
Following in the footsteps of last week’s “Uncanny X-Men Annual,” the “All-New X-Men Annual” contains a couple of in-continuity extra stories starring Marvel’s mutants. While the lead story follows teen X-Man Idie Okonkwo as she embarks on a date, it’s the backup story that will be of particular interest to fans of seemingly forgotten X-characters.
As was revealed back in the solicitation text for the issue, the annual’s second story — written by Rex Ogle with art by Andrea Broccardo — stars ex-New Mutants member and Fearless Defender Dani Moonstar. This is a big appearance for Dani, as she hasn’t had a role in a comic since the end of “Fearless Defenders” in February 2014. As Dani has not yet regained her mutant powers after losing them 10 years ago as part of the fallout from “House of M,” the superhero now relies on the powers she possesses thanks to her role as an Asgardian Valkyrie. Among her gifts is the ability to see death and anticipate where it will rear its head. As the story demonstrates, this gift has proven useful to Storm’s team of X-Men.
They use Dani’s death-tracking abilities to track down mutants dying of the X-Pox. Then Dani teleports in (courtesy of her old New Mutants teammate Magik), tracks down the afflicted mutant and gets them to Storm’s X-Haven located in the Limbo dimension.
Magik teleports Dani to a nightclub in Los Angeles where the specter of death looms large. It looms so large, Dani learns, because a lot of people are about to die — way more than just the mutant suffering from the Terrigen mist-induced M-Pox. It turns out the densely populated club is actually in the thrall of the sick mutant, a powerful psychic that’s forcing all of the club-goers to party as if nothing’s wrong. And then Dani Moonstar meets her target: Regan Wyngarde, a.k.a. Lady Mastermind
The daughter of the long dead villain Mastermind, Lady Mastermind possess his same perception-altering and mind control powers. She last played a major part in a storyline back in Brian Michael Bendis’ “All-New X-Men” run in 2013. Like Dani, she’s been M.I.A. for the last few years. Now that she’s afflicted with the terminal disease, she’s determined to make her last moments fun — and take as many people with her as possible.
Dani and Regan engage in a psychic battle as they both realize they have similar issues with fear and anxiety. Dani gets through to Lady Mastermind, who finally relents and lets her guard down, thus breaking her control over the club-goers and letting her own facade down.
Lady Mastermind is noticeably afflicted with M-Pox, and she even asks Dani to put her out of her misery. But that’s not what Dani’s there to do. Instead, Magik and Dani whisk Lady Mastermind back to the X-Haven headquarters in Limbo. There, away from the dangerous atmosphere of Earth, Regan gets treatment for her M-Pox fever and her symptoms start to go away. The X-Men’s healers even say that she’s going to be okay.
The issue ends with Lady Mastermind recuperating in Limbo’s X-Haven as Magik and Dani exit, talking about the Valkyrie’s own sense of anxiety. Having learned to embrace her fear in order to cope with it, it’s presumed that Dani will head back out into the field to rescue more sick mutants. Dani has been missing from the X-Books for almost three years, and this story fills in at least one major gap as to where she’s been and what she’s been up to. It remains to be seen if, when or where Dani Moonstar will appear again.
“All-New X-Men” #16 arrives in stores on December 14.
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