I suppose it was inevitable that someday the Generation X name would become dated and could no longer be used as an X-Men title. I mention this because New Mutants #1 features a number of young Mutants first introduced in a comic called Generation X, which came out when I was a tween. This was a time when everything about the Generation X name was young and hip and Marvel was eager to adopt the brand, with the same enthusiasm that led to the introduction of the disco diva Dazzler. But I digress.
New Mutants focuses upon several members of what we are informed is the sixth generation of Homo Superior. (For those playing along at home, Apocalypse and the other ancient Mutants are Gen 1, Professor X and Magneto are Gen 2.) Presumably this designation is to explain why the teenagers of the original New Mutants comics from the 1980s are now the same age as the teenagers of the Generation X comic from the 1990s. Suffice it to say, as noted on the title page of this issue, “They’re young, sure, but they’ve been around the block a few times.”
The script by Ed Brisson and Jonathan Hickman assumes a certain degree of familiarity with these characters, with an intro page only offering the characters’ code names and a small, monochromatic, yearbook-style portrait to identify the players. This wouldn’t be too bad, except the characters address each other by their real names. So it takes a while to match Doug to Cypher and Roberto to Sunspot.
It also doesn’t help that the central plot of the book involves this group of New Mutants deciding to take a trip into Shi’iar space, so they can track down an old friend named Sam and bring them back to Earth to show them how amazing things are in the new mutant homeland of Krakoa. It is never explained, however, just who Sam is. (It’s probably Samuel Zachary “Sam” Guthrie, a.k.a. Cannonball, but don’t quote me on that.)
This might be insufferable for new readers if it weren’t for one thing; the story does a great job introducing these characters as people, even if we don’t get a full roster of real names, code names and powers. We get to know who these New Mutants are, even if there isn’t much in the way of a formal introduction.
For instance, an early scene between Doug and Mondo where the two mutants try and commune with the intelligence of Krakoa shows us that Doug is obsessed with understanding things and knowing how they work, as befits his power of understanding any language. This does much to encourage the newbies to look these characters up on-line and fill in the blanks left by the writers.
The art by Rod Reis is unusual but good. Reis doesn’t appear to use any inks at all in his work, using sharp contrasts in his colors to separate the characters from the backgrounds, which appear to have been painted in watercolor. Yet the control displayed in bringing those colors out is far more intense than any watercolor I’ve seen. However he does it, the final product is visually striking.
Apart from some accessibility issues for new readers, New Mutants #1 is a solid introduction to Marvel Comics’ new X-Men line. With a funny script that truly distinguishes the main characters as individuals and unique artwork, this is one to watch. Just be prepared to spend some time on Wikipedia researching the characters as you read it.
New Mutants #1 releases on November 6th, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.