For all the abuse I heap on “90s comics”, there are still quite a few books of that particular vintage that hold up to regular reading, even standing in quality alongside the classic comics of yore…
And if you’re looking for that, this ain’t your lucky day, Faithful Spoilerite. Your Major Spoilers (retro) review awaits!
The seeds of future Deadpool.
Domino seems pretty cool, too.
The worst of Liefeld in art and in story.
Weird pacing, self-mocking dialogue.
THE NEW MUTANTS #98
Writer: Rob Liefeld/Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Bob Harras
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $1.00
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $140.00
Previously in New Mutants: The X-Men were considered dead, thought destroyed by the murderous aliens known as The Brood, leading Professor Xavier to recruit a new class of students. This time, though, he tried to avoid the problems of taking half a dozen teenagers into battle against case-hardened super-powered madmen, instead trying to teach his New Mutants how to survive WITHOUT become combatants. By this point in their history, though, it has become clear that the New Mutants must fight to survive, taking on a new mentor in the battle-scarred veteran mutant known as Cable, who wants to meld them into an army that he will use in order to…
…something. To be honest, it was never particularly clear. As this issue opens, we meet the madman known as Gideon, who puts a mysterious plan into motion, a plan that will soon transform the erstwhile New Mutants into a fighting (X) force to be reckoned with, but right now, our heroes are training in their Danger Room…
Oh, the cross-hatching! Oh, the dialogue! And it’s particularly wonderful how they can say two minutes worth of back-and-forth while Sam hovers in mid-air, utterly in defiance of that stupid “force of gravity” nonsense. I know I shouldn’t be so surly about this particular issue, what with it being nearly the only issue of New Mutants to hold any value in the back-issue market, but it’s difficult to be fair or balanced when the story is as choppy as this one. After a couple pages of Cable ordering Cannonball to “nut up and start bein’ a soldier”, we get a nearly background-free double-page spread of Sunspot’s father being murdered, two pages of angry angsting from Rictor and Boom-Boom (which is admittedly the best written conversation in the book.) Meanwhile, Cable suddenly gets shot…
Mister Wilson, in the library, with…
…What is that, anyway? A universal remote? The master cylinder of a Toyota Camry? I s’pose we’ll have to agree to call it a gun, if I’m going to keep my promise not to be snarky about this comic book. The attack itself is abrupt, and the return of Cannonball more so, but the real cherry on top of the sundae comes in the dialogue…
The irreverence that Deadpool shows in this battle against the New Mutants and Cable would eventually lead to the zany, split-personality antics that define the character in his modern incarnation, but all of that is still a couple of years away at this point, so all we get is a couple of pages of Jim Carrey schtick before D.P. is brutally murdered by ANOTHER debuting character…
Having read this issue off the stands in college, I recall being somewhat interested in the backstory of the mysterious Domino character, but it sadly turned out to be a maze of twists and unnecessary chicanery, with three fake-outs too many leading to her current status as “X-Man #3 in crowd scene.” As the issue closes, with the impending end of the New Mutants, Cable and his new lieutenant take time to review candidates for their new battalion of teen soldiers.
Those… are some unfortunate hairdos. Things end with Rictor running away (to save Wolfsbane from her enslavement in Genosha) and Sunspot awakening to the sight of Gideon standing at the foot of his bed, announcing that his father “had a heart attack.” How’d he get past Cable’s security systems? Dunno, and the issue actually hangs a big lampshade on it, with Sunspot’s dialogue wondering aloud how he got in…
All in all, the entire issue comes across as a “POW! BANG! ATTACK! MURDER! NEW GUY! NEW GIRL! BANG! BANG! RATATTATT! BOOM!” onslaught (not THAT Onslaught) of sound and fury, signifying nothing but a first appearance bonanza for anyone looking to sell some back issues. Sadly, though, Deadpool’s part in the issue is pretty minor, with less than 1/4 of the book devoted to him, ending with a serious punking out for the Merc who would soon get a Mouth, which makes me wonder how his modern-day fans actually feel about the meat of this comic book. Liefeld’s plotting is scattershot, his art is amateurish and incomplete (even by Rob’s standards) and the playfulness of the dialogue can’t overcome the flaws in story-telling. The New Mutants #98 is a just plain bad comic, even for Deadpool completists, and I’m still haunted by the elongated monstrous fingers on display, page after page, earning 1 out of 5 stars overall.