Review: ‘New Mutants’ #21 Confronts The Shadows

by Tony Thornley

For the better part of a year, the Shadow King has been influencing the youth of Krakoa. And in New Mutants #21, it finally comes to a head. 

This issue feels like the build up to something big, and with Marvel hinting at a line-wide relaunch, I wonder what that means for this title. Hopefully, good things as Vita Ayala, Rod Reis, Travis Lanham, and Joe Caramagna are doing great work here.

Gabby Kinney’s possible resurrection is on the line and Wolfsbane is determined to vouch for her young charge. However, she’s horrified to discover that she may have a role in her death thanks to a man they all trusted — Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King. It’s time for this generation of X-Men to confront him. Meanwhile, Proudstar encounters something very strange on the moon…

Ayala continues to write the best book of the X-Men line with this issue. The interpersonal conflicts and the sci-fi drama recall the best of the Chris Claremont era of X-Men while giving the story their own spin. They make it feel modern and uses all the toys of Krakoa, while blazing their own path. It makes for a hell of a read. The only downside, really, is that the Proudstar/Brood plotline feels like a single issue or annual story that got smushed into this issue. It’s interesting and worthwhile, but feels like it needs space to breathe on its own.

Reis’s return is more than welcome. His style is a little more subdued and a lot less wild here, but it fits because the story is quieter. He makes sure that each character gets to stand on their own as the large cast interacts with one another. His more inhuman characters — like Cosmar and Rahne in her wolf form — stand out because he’s able to infuse them with so much personality and warmth, despite the fact that they look so far from being human.

His colors convey specific moods perfectly as well. The yellows on Krakoa makes the space feel warm, which contrasts with what’s actually happening in an eerie way. The dark colors in space make the fight feel claustrophobic, even though the characters we’re watching are in a wide open plain on the moon. Best of all is his final page — a full-page close-up on Farouk — which surrounds him in a sinister red that makes me excited for next issue. 

This run has been a hell of a ride and no matter it goes next, I’m in.

New Mutants #21 is available now from Marvel Comics.


Ayala continues to tell one of the best superhero stories being published today. The action is tense and the characters feel real. Reis’s art jumps off the page. Their work combines to give readers a book unlike any other on the market right now.

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