Don’t Make Me Cut You (New Mutants #1 Comic Review)

Writers: Ed Brisson & Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Rod Reis

Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanhams

Design: Tom Muller

The New Generation Claims the Dawn

The New Mutants have returned in this new entry in the Dawn of X!

BRIEF OVERVIEW:

This issue opens with Rahne Sinclair being resurrected after her…questionable…death in the murderfest that was Uncanny X-Men. (Chamber has been resurrected as well.)

– Wolfsbane and Karma share a moment that sets the tone for the book.

– Mirage and Sunspot reflect on the nature of family, Mutantkind, and Krakoa.

– Cypher and Mondo try to get in touch with Swamp Thi…oops…Krakoa

– Chamber and Magik set up Krakoa’s first coffee shop.

Then it’s off to space!

The New Mutants hitch a ride with the Starjammers to Shi’ar space to get missing teammate Cannonball and bring him to Krakoa.

Needless to say, things don’t go well for our team and they wind up in hot water but don’t worry. Sunspot has the number of a really good space lawyer.

I’m sorry, but all I see is Swamp Thing.

OK, HERE IS WHERE I READ WAY TOO MUCH INTO THIS

LET’S TALK:

If you know anything about me you know that while I’m not a huge Marvel fan, I’m a massive X-Men fan. This review took a long time for me to get out because I had to keep revising and cutting it down.

(Otherwise, this review would be longer than the comic itself.)

And while I’m an X-Men fan, my absolute favorites are the New Mutants.

Like any other X-Team, the New Mutants have had a handful of #1s, but this #1 is the strongest since New Mutants #1 in 1983. (That’s almost painful for me to say since Zeb Wells’ New Mutants #1  is bumped down to my #3 spot. I’m sorry, Zeb. I’m so sorry.)

Hickman and Brisson have a wonderful grasp of who these characters are and how they interact with each other. Since their inception, the relationship among the New Mutants has always been more familial compared to other X teams. They were a family from the being and, literally no matter what has happened, they stayed a family.

(Karma has been the problem child a few times, but that’s a topic for another article.)

After the events of New Mutants: Dead Souls and Uncanny X-Men, it’s wonderful to see the family dynamic (and core characters) brought back.

Before I dive too deep into speculation and interesting bits only I care about I want to be sure to talk about Rod Reis.

Reis’ artwork is always on his A-Game and this issue is no different. He draws facial expressions so well, and this is not a talent all comic artists have, and that serves the emotional range of the book very well. From Sunspot’s snark to Karma’s big sister smile to Illyana’s rage face, it’s all perfect.

His facial expressions are amazing

The way Hickman and Brisson craft this issue is pretty damn amazing. They’re able to take major problems and deftly move on instead of comic handwaving.

One part of the issue stood out to me…and the reason is Karma. (That was a weirdly specific and dumb reference.)

One tiny sidebar: Karma has a secondary mutation and that power is to be major parts of comics that aren’t really supposed to be about her. She’s almost always a major plot point or plays a major supporting role.

Allow me to list just a few:

  • The first half of Marvel Team-Up #100 is entirely her story. Yes, it is a team-up of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, but the story is hers.
  • 2 different story arcs in the 80s Wolverine book
  • Burning Man (It’s in X-Force)
  • The Beast mini-series from the 90s. (Seriously, this is a Karma mini. It’s hardly about Beast.)
  • Mekanix (Where she’s so close to hooking up with Kitty Pryde)
  • Astonishing X-Men
  • New Mutants: Dead Souls
  • Uncanny X-Men

But it’s the last two I’m focusing on. I mentioned during the summary that the scene between Karma and Wolfsbane sets the tone for the book and here’s why I think that.

Bear with me, I have a reason for this rambling.

SPOILERS FOR NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS AND UNCANNY X-MEN

At the end of Dead Souls, we see that Karma’s psyche fractured when her evil twin Tran found a way to escape her body. Karma sent Dani Moonstar, who she is strongly implied to be in love with, to track Tran’s soul but Dani becomes infected with the Warlock Virus.

Dani being harmed rips away any bits of sanity Karma has left and she, pardon my language, becomes bat-shit crazy. Illyana summons Tran’s soul but Crazy-Karma possesses Illyana and forces her to kill Tran so she can absorb his soul again.

We then discover that Karma has not only found Warlock-infected Dani, who helps infect Wolfsbane and Illyana. To add even more crazy to this scene we find out that Tran can now control Karma’s body. In a last attempt to save Karma from herself, and get some much-needed revenge, Illyana is able to infect Karma as well.

Fast forward to Uncanny X-Men where Dani, Wolfsbane, Ilyana, and Karma are still infected. An infected Karma (Karmalock? WarKarma?) mentions to Dark Beast that she believes the others hate her for what happened, but only stays because she knows that she can’t survive on her own.

Dark Beast cures the four of them, but Wolfsbane leaves the X-Men and is killed. Karma blames herself. She believes that if she had left the X-Men before Wolfsbane she might have stayed and avoided her death.

Dani doesn’t seem to harbor any resentment towards Karma, because her infection wasn’t Karma’s fault and Rosenberg was implying romantic feelings between the two. Illyana snarks at Karma, so that’s more or less means she’s forgiven.

But we never see a resolution between Karma and Wolfsbane and this is a massive problem.

How are we going to launch a New Mutants book and have all of this hanging over the team? Karma went bonkers and is responsible for so much of Wolfsbane’s suffering until her violent, questionable, death.

I just dumped a bunch of dark and gritty exposition on you and it’s overwhelming. It was overwhelming to type and I imagine it’s overwhelming (and annoying) to read.

But in just one page, Hickman and Brisson take all of this wash it clean while capitalizing on the core concepts of the Dawn of X: unity and rebirth.

(The unintentional irony here is that Karma and Wolfsbane are two of the most religiously inclined mutants in the X family and Krakoa can be read as a baptism of sorts.)

Any pain, grief, hurt, or other synonyms for bad stuff between these two are addressed and resolved. We are reminded of the darkness but, like these two, we’re enveloped in the beauty and peace of Krakoa. Like Wolfsbane, we let go of it too and move on because the dawn has arrived.

This is why I think New Mutants #1 is the strongest of all of the Dawn of X #1s.

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Mary Swangin

Mary Swangin

Senior Editor
A lesbian who spends too much time/money reading and overanalyzing comic books.
Mary Swangin

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Summary
New Mutants #1 is easily the strongest first issue in the entire Dawn of X lineup. A great blend of founding members, later additions, and new comers all perfectly on character.
Good
  • Everyone is perfectly in character
  • Strong team dynamic right out of the gate
  • Karma
  • New direction for the team
  • Unity and rebirth
Bad
  • Not enough Karma (Look, she's my favorite.)
  • Not a great introduction to the New Mutants as a whole
Written by
A lesbian who spends too much time/money reading and overanalyzing comic books.

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