An Underrated X-Men Leader Returns in Gritty New Cover Art

A gorgeous, gritty new variant cover by Maria Wolf for New Mutants #26 depicts the underappreciated yet still iconic X-Men leader Dani Moonstar in all of her warrior glory. Dani, who also goes by her codename Mirage, is a beloved 1980s X-Men character, longtime leader of the New Mutants, and part-time Asgardian Valkyrie, who deserves a lot more attention and love than she receives.

Moonstar, who is a Native American Cheyenne woman, was first introduced by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod in 1982's New Mutants #1, where she became a valued member of the New Mutants squad, the first group of young mutants trained by Charles Xavier after the original five X-Men. Dani earned the name Mirage because of telepathic psychic abilities that allow her to sense and then manifest three-dimensional constructs of a person's thoughts, typically their deepest fears or desires. The New Mutants' first major villain the Demon Bear was centered on Dani's familial history and her powerful abilities.

Related: Jane Foster's Valkyrie Powers Make Her Thor Abilities Look Boring

Throughout the '80s Moonstar slowly and surely emerged as the leader of the New Mutants squad alongside Cannonball, and was a major player in events like InfernoOperation: Zero Tolerance and the aftermath of the Scarlet Witch's Decimation. Specifically, Dani was one of the most recognizable mutants to lose their abilities after M-Day, and while she taught at the school for a while as a "human," she was eventually asked to leave and did not re-emerge as a major force in X-Men comics until Zeb Wells' beloved 2012 run of New Mutants. Additionally, Moonstar is known for accidentally becoming a Valkyrie in the 1980s after rescuing the winged horse Brightwind when transported to Asgard, and has maintained her Valkyrie death sense and heightened abilities since this event, calling on it and the goddess Hela when she is in dire need. Now, in a new cover by Maria Wolf for New Mutants #26, Dani Moonstar is finally back in the spotlight. Wolf's unique style highlights the fierce warrior nature Dani has always inhabited while showing her determination and the awesome psychic bow and arrow she is famous for.

Maria Wolf is an indigenous Mexican artist, specifically Pur├ępechan, whose work has graced the covers of Spider-ManX-ForceMarvel's Voices: Comunidades, and dozens of other comics. Wolf often uses indigenous Mexican visuals in her gritty art, and with Dani Moonstar's Cheyenne identity playing a central role in her character development over the past four decades, Wolf is the perfect Native artist to portray Dani Moonstar's Mirage in all her glory. In the current run of New Mutants - written by Vita Ayala with art by Rod Reis - Dani is once again in a leadership role, acting as a teacher for a team of young new mutants on Krakoa, while also supporting her old New Mutants friends and teammates through their own journeys. Recently Dani has travelled to Limbo with Illyana Rasputina, Wolfsbane, and Madelyne Pryor to help Magik transfer control of Limbo over to Pryor and rid herself of her traumatizing connection to the demonic plane. Dani has been an invaluable resource to Illyana throughout the experience. Ayala's New Mutants is one of the most beloved comics currently being published at Marvel, and it is wonderful to see not only their stories featuring Dani Moonstar more centrally, but also to see this iconic Native character featured in a stunning piece of cover art by a Native artist.

Dani Moonstar, the X-Men and New Mutants leader known as Mirage, has always deserved more recognition and spotlighting in the comics, so it is such a blessing to have this truly gorgeous tribute variant cover by Maria Wolf available for fans of the iconic Cheyenne mutant.

More: X-Men Fan Art Project Recreates Your Favorite Mutant (Among 449 Others)

New Mutants #26 by Viya Ayala and Rod Reis debuted on June 23rd, 2022.

Source: Maria Wolf

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