New Mutants #21 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants #21New Mutants #21 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The kids fight Brood on the moon while the original team fight each other on Krakoa…sort of. I mean, they don’t come to blows, but they do deal with a lot of stuff that’s been brewing for a while.

Firstly, we finally confront the issue of resurrecting clones. Because, well, Gabby died, and nobody wants Gabby to be dead. But the problem is that Rahne killed her, and she’s quite understandably a bi annoyed about it. So we also confront the issue of the Shadow King’s increasing influence on the young mutants of the island…and also Rahne. It all feels very cathartic, and it was good to have the Five confirm that clones are individual, autonomous persons deserving of resurrection. But that still leaves the matter of Madelyn Pryor unresolved… (She’ll be back, we all know she’ll be back…I mean, the next big event is Inferno…)

The art is also simply outstanding. I love Rod Reis’s work and honestly feel that this is the best art New Mutants has seen since the days of Bill Sienkiewicz. I particularly love the way he makes Rahne look both like Rahne and Maisie Williams.

Seriously, though, I love this book, it’s brilliant, and I can’t wait for next month’s showdown with the Shadow King!

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New Mutants #20 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants #20New Mutants #20 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scout is dead, but Cosmar, No Girl and the rest of their little group of rebellions mutants are determined to bring her back…even if they don’t quite understand how the process works.

Meanwhile, Magik and Warpath lead a team of young mutants to perform disaster relief on Tristan da Cunha, as they suspect that the disaster might have something to do with a new mutant that Cerebro has detected. Now, Tristan de Cunha is basically a volcano is the South Atlantic with a population of 264 people. It’s pretty much half way between South America and Africa and the closest island to it is called Inaccessible Island. It’s a wee bit remote, and as such the locals aren’t too please when a group of mutants shows up, presumably to steal away one of their children. The mutants assume the locals will be hostile to the new mutants, but they’re wrong…and learn a valuable lesson about showing up unannounced on tiny South Atlantic islands.

Back at Krakoa, Karma confronts Rahne about her new friendship with Shadow King. Which is understandable given that he once possessed Karma and did some pretty horrible things to her. Rahne’s angry reaction would suggest that Xi’an’s right to be worried.

This is all great stuff from Ayala, although the book suffers a bit for the lack of Rod Reis. I do hope he’s coming back!

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New Mutants #19 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants #19New Mutants #19 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, oh no, oh no no no…

When someone dies in an X-book at the moment I just feel like, “Ah, they’ll be back, death has no meaning to mutants anymore…” But…clones of mutants…that’s another thing…and clones of mutants who happen to be among my favourite characters…clones of mutants who’ve raised the very point that they might not get resurrected… Oh no…

That aside, this issue was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Personally, the art wasn’t for me. I’ve been loving what Rod Reis has been doing on this book, and Lins’ work just isn’t as good. Also, the whole bit with Barry thee Artist just fell flat for me, and then went on too long. It kinda’ felt like an in joke I wasn’t in on, you know?

But, yeah, that ending hit and hit hard.

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New Mutants #18 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants #18New Mutants #18 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m loving what Ayala and Reis are doing in their New Mutants run. Exploring the ramifications of resurrection and what that means to the mutants of Krakoa both young and old.

The Crucible seems insane and a weirdly brutal way of solving problems and it can’t possibly be healthy, long term, to see people throw their lives away in this way, knowing that they’ll be resurrected with all their problems magically “fixed.” I think this is where we’re headed with this group of young mutants, whose mutations have taken a heavy toll on them, physically speaking. They’re heading towards self harm to an extreme degree, and I wonder what will happen when resurrection doesn’t magically solve all of their issues.

Of course, it goes without saying (or maybe doesn’t as I’m saying it) that you really need to be reading this alongside Way of X, which is also exploring the ways in which Krakoan society is very, very wrong. I feel like some people have mistaken the way that Krakoa has been presented within the narrative as a utopia for the creators behind these books saying that Krakoa is a utopia. It’s very clearly not, there’s very clearly something deeply wrong here.

As ever, Reis’s art is superb, and a huge part of what makes this book really special. I hope he sticks around for a long time!

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New Mutants (2019-) #17 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants (2019-) #17New Mutants (2019-) #17 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, this is what we like. New Mutants hasn’t looked this good since Sienkiewicz was on the book. While Reis isn’t a Sienkiewicz clone, his art is very much in that wheelhouse. It’s expressive rather than striving for “realism”…and in an industry that seems to value realism in art over storytelling, it’s good to see an artist like this on such a high profile book.

I almost don’t care what’s happening in the book while it’s being drawn like this. But things happening there are! And lots of them. The main plot follows Dani and Xi’an in Otherworld. Having been captured by Merlyn, they’re sent to steal back his favourite pot from Roma, who’s amused enough to send the pot back to Merlyn and send the girls where they need to go…to Joshua. Who’s found a sense of belonging in Otherworld that he couldn’t find on Krakoa.

Meanwhile, the young mutants are continuing to experiment with their powers, and want to use them to possess a corpse…which Gabby thinks is a no good, terribad, very awful idea…and she’s not wrong there. And the Shadow King continues to worm his way into people’s heads…or…is Farouk really the Shadow King…and is he honestly trying to help Rahne? I suspect not…

Overall, this really, really feels like the New Mutants, in all the ways that matter. Both artistically and tonally this is the book I know and love, and it’s well deserving of five stars.

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New Mutants (2019-) #16 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants (2019-) #16New Mutants (2019-) #16 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ayala/Reis run on this book is a real revelation, with both creators clearly being inspired by the other to do even better work with each passing issue. It just keeps getting better and better.

I’m loving the plotline with the Shadow King. What’s he up to? Is Professor X aware that he’s on the island? Have those children never been warned about him? Clearly Gabby knows that something’s up, but I think that’s a result of her own anxieties regarding Krakoan resurrection.

Then we have the plotline with Rahne’s son, Tier. Is he dead or alive? And why does nobody care about finding out the answer except Rahne herself?

And, finally, we have the main plot this issue…the mutant child who’s lost in Otherworld and the story of Karma and Moonster going after them.

Oh, but don’t forget Warpath completely misunderstanding the questions that Dani set for him! The adorable idiot.

This book is full of characters I love in interesting situations exploring fascinating ideas and it’s all wrapped up in gorgeous art that evokes the work of Bill Sienkiewicz without directly aping him. I love it!

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New Mutants (2019-) #15 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants (2019-) #15New Mutants (2019-) #15 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two issues into Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’s run and I’m definitely sold on this book.

The struggle with any modern New Mutants book is whether it should focus on the original team, who are far from “new” at this point, or a group of young mutants who aren’t the New Mutants but are both new and mutants. What this book has done is strike the perfect balance, casting the original New Mutants in the role of mentors and teachers of a new generation of mutants on Krakoa.

However, all is not well in this mutant Garden of Eden, as the Council is refusing to resurrect Rahne Sinclair’s deceased son, the child she had with the Asgardian wolf god, Hrimhari. Of course this begs the question: Why? They cite a lack of evidence that he’s actually dead. Might he still be alive somewhere? After all, he is half immortal god, so…it’s a definite possibility.

But, more worrying than that is the presence of Amahl Farouk, aka The Shadow King, on Krakoa. Are the Council aware of his presence? Or is he there secretly? Either way, he seems to have taken upon himself to provide additional mentorship to a small group of young mutants, encouraging them to sue the Crucible not to restore powers lost on M Day, but to restore their physical appearance to what it was before they lost control of their powers when they manifested and irreversibly “disfigured” themselves.

I love how Ayala is thinking about how the processes developed in Krakoan society would affect these young mutants and present them with both opportunities and challenges, and to also expose some of the inherent weaknesses in those systems. It’s interesting and creative work and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where it’s all heading.

Rod Reis’s artwork compliments the story perfectly, evoking Bill Sienkiewicz’s ground breaking work on the title during the eighties without outright aping it. At times it’s highly impressionistic, which may be jarring to some who are more used to overly detailed and crosshatched artwork, but I personally find it very refreshing.

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New Mutants #14 by Vita Ayala

New Mutants #14New Mutants #14 by Vita Ayala
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

New Mutants has kinda’ been up and down since it started, but this new creative team (although Reis has already illustrated several issues) really hits the spot.

For one, as much as I dearly love the classic New Mutants team, it’s good to have this book now feature some actual new mutants. Sure, many of them have been around for a while, but they’re still the new generation of mutants, and this is where they really belong. Of course, the original team is still here, but now they’re offering guidance and training.

Gabby is one of my favourite characters, I loved her in the All New Wolverine run, and it’s great to not only see her here, but to have her asking awkward questions about clones and resurrection. These are questions that can’t continue to be fudged for much longer, and if Gabby actually dies there are going to have to be some hard decisions made.

And then we have the Shadow King…and just what might he be up to? And how might it relate to Karma’s nightmares, considering that she was possessed by him for a time?

Only time will tell, but I’m looking forward to getting some answers!

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New Mutants #13 by Ed Brisson

New Mutants #13New Mutants #13 by Ed Brisson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ed Brisson delivers his best issue of New Mutants yet…and it’s his last. Vita Ayala takes over in two months, as the book takes a break next month. Should we read anything into the fact that Warlock is on the cover to #14 but Doug isn’t? This issue certainly seems to be foreshadowing his impending death…but that alone makes me doubt that Doug’s going to die. He might be…changed…though. We shall see.

Anyway, this issue is great, and while Brisson certainly writes it well, the real stand out aspect is the art, by Rob Reis, which is simply stunning, and certainly reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz’s work on the first run of New Mutants. Magik and Doug spar as she helps train him for the upcoming tournament, and both he and she are concerned that Doug will die. Krakoa and Exodus are also concerned about the same thing, with Exodus proposing they kill Doug now and resurrect him after the tournament and Krakoa suggesting that it hides Doug. But Doug points out that this could quite possibly lead to another mutant dying in his place and he couldn’t live with that. Because Doug is a good person.

Brisson and Reis ably convey Doug’s fear and uncertainty, coupled with his determination to do the right thing. Also, Illyana’s protectiveness of Doug, after all, she’s lost him before. In fact, being dead has been what Doug has been best known for for most of his existence in the Marvel universe…which is why I doubt that he’s going to die again now.

Only time will tell, but, you know…I really don’t want Doug to die.

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