In 1982, the first X-Men spin-off, New Mutants, debuted in Marvel Graphic Novel #4. Since then the characters introduced have become fan favorites, graduating to the X-Men, X-Force and Avengers. Naturally, a reunion story in the middle of the most ambitious reimagining in Marvel Comics’ history would be a big deal, but is it worth picking up?
Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brisson, Rod Reis, Travis Lanham and Tom Muller bring the New Mutants back together, with a twist.
The New Mutants stand reunited, some resurrected by the Five, others coming to the island nation of Krakoa to join mutantkind. There they have created a small community for the younger mutants – including members of their own team, Generation X, and the New X-Men. However, that’s not enough, as Dani Moonstar and Bobby da Costa decide to bring the news of mutantkind’s newfound prosperity to Sam Guthrie, the only member of the team and resident of the Shi’ar Empire, and blast into space. Naturally, things get complicated from there…
This story plays to the strengths of its writers; Hickman is an extremely strong plot guy while Brisson does incredible character work. Bringing them together in tandem here results in probably the strongest first issue of the Dawn of X relaunch. The Sextant, the young mutants’ community, feels distinct from the rest of Krakoa and immediately fully formed, and that draws the reader in immediately. They also establish these new and existing relationships quickly through that community; it’s very believable that Bobby, Dani and Illyana would become fast friends with Chamber, Monet and Glob.
When the book shifts gears into space adventure though, it really sings. Every character, both New Mutant and Starjammer, gets a solid moment to shine, both in plot and character based moments. Though most of the focus goes to Bobby da Costa, no one feels slighted in any way. And when the characters screw up and get themselves in trouble, it’s motivated by their purity and sense of heroism, not just that they’re a bunch of immature kids who don’t know any better (though, it’s kind of that too).
As great as the writing is, the art is even better. This is the book that Reis was born to draw. He is able to convey so much story with just the characters’ facial expressions, whether it’s Rahne’s quiet contemplation of the beauty of Krakoa, Bobby’s cocky overconfidence or Illyanna’s temper. He also does a fantastic job with fight choreography, especially in the mid-issue sparring session between Magik and the Starjammer Raza, using changes in point of view and layout to pace the fight.
Of the five Dawn of X books so far, this is the most conventional superhero story of the bunch. However, it’s also easily the best book. It puts the focus squarely on the characters, with the entire plot being driven by their personalities and actions. I am on board for the long term thanks to this double sized issue.
This issue delivers one of the best superhero stories of the year, and any Marvel fan needs to pick it up.
New Mutants #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.