New Mutants #1

May 11th, 2009 by | Tags: , , ,

newmutv3001_dc11-1I don’t have history with the New Mutants. I never read their original book, and by the time I’d tried the satellite X-books, they were X-Force. I know a lot of X-Men fans hold the New Mutants in high esteem, but for my money, X-Force was way more interesting. I reread that old X-Force stuff a few months back and didn’t regret it, exactly, but it wasn’t very good, either. The idea of a second generation of X-Men who decided that Xavier’s way wasn’t perfect is a good one, and one that Grant Morrison revisited to great success in New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s.

That was years ago at this point, though, and those times are long gone. The members of X-Force have given up, regressed, grown up again, and joined the actual X-Men. New Mutants #1 was written by Zeb Wells, pencilled by Diogenes Neves, inked by Cam Smith and Ed Tadeo, and colored by John Rauch. I checked it out mainly off the strength of Zeb Wells. He wrote the awesome New Warriors: Reality Check, starring Marvel’s other second generation of heroes, which was quickly thrown under the bus by Mark Millar’s Civil War. After reading it, the name New Mutants is basically a nostalgia grab. It stars Sam Guthrie, Roberto Da Costa, Amara Aquilla, Illyana Rasputin, Xi’an Coy Manh, and Dani Moonstar, and I found it a pretty solid first issue.

I’m really only familiar with Sam and Bobby as far as the cast goes, in addition to the surprise villain at the end. Even still, Wells does a pretty good job of selling me on the characters I don’t know, two of whom are blonde females of about the same height. I like that Illyana, who I’d previously seen when she died and maybe in some old X-Men reprints, is back and not exactly a good guy. She’s actually pretty sinister, and not in a “rough edge on a smooth team”-Wolverine sort of way.

The fact that the young students hate her is also a good touch, and a good example of something Wells does that I enjoy. He references a lot of backstory pretty seamlessly, but I never felt like I needed to know exactly what went down in, say, X-Infernus, which was a worthless story with solid art. The references are just used to build history, and to give Wells a bit of short-hand when sketching out the characters for new readers. I feel like Wells gets these characters. Sam and Bobby come across as best friends from jump, and Sam’s loyalty to his friends in particular is very clear. I also didn’t mind the suiting up scene, which usually comes across as corny.

I’m not as keen on the art. John Rauch’s coloring is working in that same style Pete Pantazis has been doing over on JLA– where each character is so brightly light that they look washed out and lightened. To be frank, it’s offputting and ugly. There’s not really any mood to the coloring, other than Outside, In A Basement, and Red Because She Might Be Evil. The color should enhance the art, rather than detract from it. It also sucks that Bobby Da Costa looks about as Brazilian as Bobby Drake.

At the same time, Neves’s art is solid, but unspectacular. He’s pretty solid at drawing kids, though his adults tend to skew a little too much toward the overmuscled superhero stereotype, rather than the early 20s mutants they should be, but that’s just comics as usual. Neves pulls some great facial expressions out of his hat, and though the issue doesn’t have a traditional fight scene, it seems like he’d be perfectly fine at choreographing and staging a solid fight scene.

New Mutants #1 was a solid, if a little unimpressive, read. I’ll give it another issue or so based on my past enjoyment of Zeb Wells and the fact that I like Bobby, Sam, and the surprise villain at the end. For it to be truly good, though, it’s going to need better coloring to even up the art. As-is, it’s a good start, enough to keep me interested, and a pretty decent mid-tier Marvel book. I like seeing these old characters turned into adults, and hopefully it’ll stick this time.

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2 comments to “New Mutants #1”

  1. I wanted to pick up New Mutants, but X-Infernus convinced me to give it a pass, as that was a scattershot, incomplete tale told over more issues than was needed, and by the end a character being used by other writers in ongoing and higher-profile titles fell by the wayside not because they were trapped by demons in the tenth level of Hell, but because X-Infernus’ writer forgot they were on the cast and instead clarified their fate during fan Q and A sessions rather than in the actual story. It didn’t really inspire confidence for the NM series proper if Marvel felt something of X-Infernus’ quality was a necessary prelude.

    I’m on the fence about about aging comics characters – if you have a good story to tell about their middle-age, then by all means let’s read it, but otherwise I wonder what the point is of making Mickey Mouse have a bum hip and poor eyesight just so he can age appropriate to his original fans from the 1930s.
    On the other hand, there aren’t really any NEW comic-book readers anymore, are there?

  2. […] and old. « Everybody Knows Aya Hola, Bobbito! June 17th, 2009 by david brothers I dug the first issue of New Mutants, but #2 hit one of my few nitpicky pet peeves. This bit right […]