Thursday, 3 November 2011

REGENERATION X: New Mutants


One of the things we learned from the side-material at the back of 'Wolverine & The X-Men' was that the two most invariably interesting and charismatic members of the team - Cannonball and Karma - had left Utopia to join Wolverine's school. And interestingly enough, they just to happen to be the two characters who'd been dropped from the New Mutants title only a few months ago, when Abnett & Lanning first took over the series. Lucky! That means we don't have to waste pages on them, when we could instead be developing Sunspot, Magma, or Warlock.

No, no that's exactly what this does not mean, because New Mutants #33 kicks off with a discussion of why Karma has left Utopia, followed shortly afterwards by a scene of Cannonball leaving. And then Nate Grey eats up a few pages. By the time this exceptionally short-feeling issue reaches a climax, only Moonstar has left any kind of impression on the reader. Magma hardly features, Magik is absent, Sunspot kicks a football around and Warlock/Cypher speak binary to each other. Before anything else, this book is a Dani Moonstar book with the New Mutants as supporting players.

New Mutants has recently been suffering from the same problem which plagues X-Men and Astonishing X-Men: it has no purpose. It exists because people buy it, but it offers nothing new to readers. Whilst X-Men Legacy was about Rogue failing to look after the kids; or X-Force was the black-ops team; New Mutants was simply a different group of mutants who just happened to have once been drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. They have no motive or goal - they're happy to be where they are, and they laze about all day doing very little of note. At least X-Factor has a vague detective noir tone to the stories. All New Mutants has is one interesting female character and her bunch of dullard friends.

You may be able to tell that New Mutants didn't make a very favourable impression upon me. Good work. Although the artwork by David Lopez (and inked by his brother) is excellent, dynamic in a Chris Bachalo sort of way but comprehensible in a Diogenes Neves sort of way... this book doesn't do anything. Abnett and Lanning's pitch is that the New Mutants solve 'loose ends', which means their purpose is basically to wrap up plots that other writers didn't want to finish. There's nothing particuarly dynamic about that, especially after a few years of Matt Fraction 'collecting' mutantkind on Utopia. The promise of a new guest-star every few months isn't a solid premise for a book. Just look at Adjectiveless.

This issue takes the old idea of hiring in a psychiatrist who talks to the New Mutants, and establishing what they think about their lives. This means the writers can literally state what each character is thinking, because they're being open to the therapist. Peter David did this to memorable effect on X-Factor, years ago, where he managed to reveal a lot about the characters that we didn't know before. And having only read the first two arcs of this series before giving up, I can confidentally state that there was not one surprising thing revealed in this issue. Only three characters talk to the therapist over the course of this issue, and of those three? Only ONE of them is actually going to remain a cast member. Ugh.

New Mutants is a massive problem for the X-Office. There's a tremendous amount of nostalgic love for these characters, but there simply isn't a reason for the book to exist. Not even the presence of Val Staples (whose colours here are, duh, utterly tremendous) is enough to make me want to pick up the next issue. The cover is so dynamic! The story inside is so dull!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I completely agree with your assessment. This entire New Mutants run played second string to Marvel events. I've been planning on dropping the title for months now. I'll give Abbott & Lanning one last chance with the upcoming Blink Hunt storyline.

In all honesty, why do the original New Mutants need to be forced into a group? I'd much rather see the original members integrated into the greater Marvel U. Regenesis seemed a perfect opportunity to fold in the younger generation staying on Utopia.

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