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.

Overall Rating: ★☆☆☆☆



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…NM981

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.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Yup. That pretty much says it. And yet this comic (and its ilk) became the backbone of entire comic publishing companies, some of which exist to this day (well… at least a few do).

    Much like books from previous ages, this has to be seen a product of the time. Outrageous anatomy and flash page fight scenes were what all we fanboys were eating up back then. Why? I guess the mass public just had kinda bad taste or something (me included).

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending this as good literature, but like much of the golden and silver age… it is really hard to seriously consume today, but should still get appreciated as an influential products of a certain time.

    • Well, you bring up a good point, actually. Is the madness of this issue any less important than the kinetic 40s whiz-bang comics, or some of the dregs of the 70s “relevance” craze, wherein Captain America mourns Nixon’s suicide by changing his superhero identity? I’d have to say no, it’s not. But for some reason, it seems that the enthusiasm and madness that artists of 90s comics brought in (Jim Lee, McFarlane, and even Liefeld, though his origins as a pretty blatant Jim Lee-tracer are evident here) turned into something different than those earlier trends.

      This isn’t the lowest of the low, by any means. It’s still better than “Civil War: The Return”, and there’s charms to be had, but this issue finds them quickly overwhelmed by flaws. Mileage, as always, may vary…

    That was the 90’s right there.
    I still kind of liked the era thou. There was a lot of plain fun to be had. It wasn’t all dark and griddy.
    – and thank you for another great retro.

  3. I had forgotten how much effort Rob Liefeld put into avoiding drawing pupils. I think he put it to good use in a way. Between some squinting and some other characters mysteriously not having any at all, it really makes Domino stand out with her one big blue eye.

  4. Ill never figure out how a comic book artist who likes to create characters that use guns cant draw a decent looking gun to save his like. oh man the hands! the hands! Call me crazy but I think the beginning of this issue was inked by someone else (Austin?,Kessel?)besides rob. Theres a marked difference between the quality of art in that first page shown and the following pages in the article. As if an inker was fixing his art a little. I always thought rob was trying to do draw like Art Adams and was just getting it very wrong, especially early in his career like this example.

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