Tuesday, 6 February 2018

New Mutants, Volume 1: Back to School Review (Nunzio DiFilippis, Christina Weir)

Dani Moonstar is sent out into the world to recruit troubled young mutants, whose powers are just emerging, for Xavier’s school.

If you’re familiar with the X-Men in any medium, you’ll know that’s the classic X-Men setup. In fact, Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir’s New Mutants is an ironically old-school X-Men comic! And yet, despite its unoriginality, I thought this was the best X-Men book I’ve read in years because it’s written so well. 

Part of that is the back-to-basics approach of the story which reminded me what I liked so much about the X-Men to start with – the persecuted outcasts overcoming adversity and finding acceptance among others different like them – though mostly it’s because DeFilippis/Weir’s writing is quality. While Xavier appears throughout and Wolverine cameos once, New Mutants predominantly features a cast of unknowns which I didn’t mind at all as their stories of hardship and conflict were so compelling.

The focus on building strong characters totally distracts from the archetypal, somewhat repetitive narrative structure to make for a solid, entertaining read. I’ll be honest and say that while I don’t remember the New Mutants’ individual names, I do recall their individual stories clearly and I definitely cared about them far more than their more famous counterparts in better-known titles. The only part of the story where the writers lost me was when it descended into clichĂ©d mindless superhero fighting and even then it was mostly because the art was muddled and made it unnecessarily tricky to follow.

Which brings me to the only real let-down of this book: Keron Grant and Mark A. Robinson’s artwork. It’s very basic by superhero comics standards with plain backgrounds and unappealingly blocky, generic character designs. The visuals as a whole are unimpressive, boring and largely indistinguishable from one page to the next.

Otherwise, New Mutants, Volume 1: Back to School was a highly enjoyable X-book – a hidden gem well-worth seeking out for any X-Men fan!

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