Stop us if you’ve heard this one before (a scheduling error on our part saw James taking a quick look at this issue in The Sunday Pages), but the ongoing saga of the “Junior” X-Men book continues with a strongly back-to-basics approach. The last few years have been a rude awakening for Marvel, after both the original New Mutants and its successor Generation X effortlessly lasted for over seventy issues apiece. This success appears to have lured the company into a false sense of security, overlooking the A-list creatives that fashioned the dawn of those titles. The last few years haven’t been as kind to the concept, with the crushingly dull New Mutants Vol. 2 needing a rebuilt from the foundations up at the hands of Kyle & Yost before it became interesting. Its follow-up Young X-Men was pretty much dead on arrival- it’s all very well having an interesting twist up your sleeve for the end of the first arc, but only if the superficial situation is enough to sustain interest on its own. This first instalment of New Mutants 3 is a much stronger effort, but there’s not much sign of a hook apart from the cast presented.
Following on from the recent Illyana-based limited series, the plot presents the demonic mutant roping in her former classmates for a rescue mission, but is worryingly vague about the menace in question. While it all sounds like a fairly conventional plot, Zeb Wells does find a source of interest in his unconventional presentation of the characters. The writer takes Cannonball’s loyalty to his friends and uses it to create an unexpectedly unlikeable figure, too wrapped up in his own status to concede the validity of the younger mutants’ hostility to Illyana. As for the sorceress herself, Wells abandons the schizophrenic presentation of the character in favour of a far more subtly insidious side, as she plays with Magma’s weaknesses.
Artist Diogenes Neyes makes a reasonably strong contribution, although John Raunch’s pastel colours probably aren’t presenting the pencils in their best light. Unfortunately, Neyes appears to be struggling with the ‘homage’ uniforms that his heroes find themselves wearing, as his work is noticeably more confident when presenting the New Mutants in their street clothes. There’s potential here, but the book feels somewhat hollow, with a lot riding on Wells’ introducing a more plot-driven direction over the next couple of issues.download american swing free free before the devil knows you re dead