As we've seen, the New Mutants (and for that matter Magneto, as "Michael Xavier") are establishing relations in the local community as an actual school, which is something that never took place in the 1960s. In this issue, they attend Salem Center High's spring mixer.
One of the young lads there is Larry Bodine, who is the subject of random bullying (using anti-mutant rhetoric, although in a way detached from any actual evidence that he's a mutant... like say, homophobic bullying that can occur for no reason) from his classmates, which he takes very badly, especially when they threaten to call X-Factor on him. Watching Dani leave (on a pegasus), he realises she might be a mutant, but a subsequent attempt at socialising with the children from Xavier's are thwarted when he starts telling mutophobic jokes, apparently to fit in. I still find the word "mutie" stilted, but I suppose that's the problem with made up slurs (and ones that don't even have an actor saying them with the full force of emotion they can bring). And real pejorative language tends to be more varied: we gladly welcome Si Spurrier's new (to me, at any rate) word "genequeer", which punningly spices things up.
Our Larry goes back home, thinks about drinking, and then (off-panel) commits suicide, information which is relayed by Magneto to the New Mutants the next morning. The reaction to this is not what I was expecting. Bobby thinks him a coward. Illyana takes the line that it was his choice to make. Warlock is confused. Amara notes that it would have been acceptable back home in Nova Roma, but differs, reckoning that yielding to despair is the "worst crime imaginable".
Kitty and Rahne scope out his room, where he kept the light-sculptures he made (for that was his mutant power). Kitty accidentally the last surviving one: "I acted without thinking", she thinks, "and destroyed it. Just like Larry". Knowing that he was a mutant, they have a better idea of what happened than the others did, perhaps, and mourn him.
They think about taking revenge (Rahne wants to) but decide not to. And in the end Kitty delivers a rousing speech, telling people that words really can hurt, and maybe they should actually think for a change before they dole out abuse. She's right, of course, but the cynic in me (which is a big chunk, possibly even as much as half or over) wonders whether there's any point - are the people who do this type of thing the type to listen to and take to heart moralising lectures? As someone who had similar experiences myself, I wonder whether the problem might not be very creation of artificial but mandatory cohort groups. In adult life, there's a better chance of being able to walk away from bullying (practically, mind, this might be difficult, due to the need to work), but at school this is practically impossible. This is what the "it gets better" message seems to imply, that if you just stick it out through your teenage years, things will be fine in adult life. Even if it's not wrong, it's unhelpful fatalistic bullshit. If we are to stop this, we need to do something real. We need to do better than create a generation of survivors.