There are some strong similarities between New Mutants and the present iteration of Detective Comics, with some slightly average writing buoyed by an artistic tour-de-force. Unfortunately for Marvel, however, their eighties revival comes across as the weaker book. While I wasn’t as impressed as Seb by the first part of Kate Kane’s origin story, there was little actually wrong with it, while the first part of Zeb Wells’ Necrosha tie-in suffers from trying to implement a storytelling gimmick which goes against the grain of much of the medium’s recent development.
Continuing on from his short story in the Necrosha one-shot, Wells shows his team’s downtime bring rudely interrupted by the return of an extremely old friend. Much of the issue is narrated from the point of view of Doug Ramsey, and it’s here that the main problem lies. In an attempt to may Cipher a significant threat to his core cast, Wells has expanded his mutant translation ability to encompass body language, giving him an unassailable combat advantage. It’s a bit of a stretch to see the unarmed zombie bringing down Sunspot and Cannonball, but the greater difficulty is the box-out summaries of the subtext of each conversation which Ramsey witnesses. These captions are slightly overwrought on their own terms, and derail the storytelling more generally, breaking up the exchanges. It’s a nice idea, but not even the likes of Chris Claremont have asked readers to continually jump between third person narration and dialogue, and it leaves the book stiff and unnatural. This may be a deliberate attempt to mimic the semi-digital mindset of the resurrected Cipher, but it hardly makes for an enjoyable read.
It’s returning artist Diogenes Neves who saves the day, although after his solid work in drawing each of the cast in civilian outfits in the previous arc, it’s a shame to find the cast in their rather generic uniforms for what is supposed to be their time off. Otherwise, it’s a superb showing, despite the penciller being rather hampered by the generic Utopia interiors in which the story is set- hopefully Matt Fraction will soon find a way of furnishing the new X-base with a more distinctive atmosphere. Despite having grown during its first arc, new Mutants still suffers a variety of niggles which mute its charm.