Or – “Everything Old Is… Still Old, Actually,  But May Have A Few Tricks Left…”


I have made many parallels lately between the age of Marvel’s editorial staff and the fact that the properties of THEIR (and by extension, my) youth have been recieiving much more play in the 21st Century Marvel Universe.  Characters like Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, and Ghost Rider hearken back to the second big renaissance of Marvel in the 70’s.  Now, we’re seeing a turn towards those characters of the early 80’s, and the point in time where the X-Men were presumed dead in outer space.  Having killed all of his students, a stricken Charles Xavier gathered a new group of super-teens who, rather than being trained as superheroes, were to be trained to be normal kids.  Wanna guess how well that worked?

Previously, on New Mutants:  With his first class of X-Men graduated into the Champions, the Defenders, and backups stories in Amazing Adventures, and his second group of graduates NM1.jpgapparently eaten by an alien race, Professor X gathered his newest group of mutant children carefully.  From Kentucky, a young lad named Sam Guthrie, with an uncontrollable (but high-level) flight power.  From Rio came Roberto DaCosta, the excitable solar dynamo called Sunspot.  From the southwest, Danielle Moonstar, the psychic young Cheyenne known as Mirage.  From Vietnam came the telepathic brain-controller Xi’an Coy Manh, called Karma.  From Russia came Illyana Rasputin, younger sister of Colossus, who became known as Magik.  From Scotland came a girl who is busy in another X-book.  And from the hidden city of Nova Roma, Amara Aquilla, known as Magma due to her tectonic powers.  They walked the Earth and had adventures.  One became immortal; one became a Norse Valkyrie; one became a demon, died, came back, and died again; one had her backstory retconned, unretconned, and re-retconned to the point where even I don’t know what it all means; and nearly all of them at one point or another became villains.  But what sort of menace would it take to reunite the Class of ’82?  The greatest threat of them all:  one of their own.

Our story opens in a ramshackle home somewhere in Colorado.  A young girl sits on her bedroom floor, playing with her dollie quietly.  An older girl enters, and tries to engage her in a conversation.  “Don’t be scared, all right?  My name is Shan.  My friend, Dani and I have been looking for you.”  The girl doesn’t respond at first, and Xi’an again tries to communicate with her.  “You’re new.  They LIKE the new ones,” says the frightened child, and suddenly there comes a pounding at the door.  The wood gives way, and monstrous limbs reach through to grab them, as the little girl tells Xi’an, “We should run now.”   Well, that’s ominous…  An equally portentious even occurs half a continent away in San Francisco, as a teleportal opens and spits out it’s cargo: Illyana Rasputin, the former New Mutant known as Magik, as well as repeat offender in the demonic possession category.  Magick tries to find someone to help her, but gets immediately attacked by the New X-Men (who are rightfully angry that she tried to kill them some months ago.)  Illyana is nearly beaten and/or run out of town on a rail before a mysterious stranger gets involved.  “Is there a problem here, kids?” drawls Sam Guthrie.  When he’s told that he better not get involved, Sam tells them all that Illyana is his friend, and nobody messes with his friend.  “I don’t have to show you what they means, do I?” he says through his best Cable-taught poker-face, and the underblassmen back off…

A quick trip to the infirmary later, and Illyana has convinced Sam and Roberto DaCosta that it’s time to get the band back together, that Xi’an and Dani need help that only “The New Mutants” can provide.  When asked what he thinks, Sam says, “I don’t.  If you, Illyana…  ANY of the New Mutants ask for help, I don’t need to think about it.”  They rope in Amara Aquilla (currently only playing nursemaid for the blinded super-villain Empath) and Sam goes to Cyclops for approval of a rescue team.  Scott immediately agrees, to Sam’s surprise, and advises Cannonball of something Xavier told him once.  “The most important part of leading wasn’t personality, tactics or training.  It was doing whatever it takes to get your team back alive.  Bring them back, Sam…”  They’re issued uniforms (and, yes, Sam’s has aviator goggles) and an official Blackbird jet and the fearsome foursome sets off to find their teammates.  On the flight, Illyana taunts Magma about her secret love of Empath (a disturbingly creepy and nicely written scene) and Sunspot and Cannonball reunite their awesome unlikely buddy-movie chemistry.  When they arrive in Colorado, Illyana nearly flips out at the sight of a missing child poster, and she and Magma set out to find the lost girl, while Cannoball and Sunspot investigate the old fashioned way: with a bar fight.  The girls find the lost Xi’an Coy Manh, while the guys find… the lost Xi’an Coy Manh???  Somebody’s lying, but whom?  The answer is revealed when Amara and Illyana open the tiny locked box where Xi’an’s voice emanates and find… LEGION, the son of Professor X!

I gotta be straight with you here:  I liked this book.  Zeb Wells obviously knows the character history of the New Mutants as well as I do, and penciller Diogenes Neves has a pleasant vaguely retro-style throughout that I enjoyed.  (He even nailed the now-customary superhero team “Bad Ass Power Walk” sequence…)  Maybe my history with the New Mutants is showing, or maybe I’m biased towards Marvel (inside joke, sorry) but New Mutants #1 really pleased me in a surprising way.  It’s good to see the characters fall into familiar old interactions, the way old friends do, and seeing Cannonball finally comfortable in his own skin made me kind of proud.  I remember him as the gangly, awkward, square-headed kid, but he’s now an experienced member of the X-Men, and an impressive leader as well.  Illyana’s time-twisting powers have given us some tantalizing hints of something brewing, and I’m even interested to see where Dani Moonstar fits on the team now that she has no mutant powers to speak of.  Nostalgia alone won’t sell a comic book, but if you can give me an interesting story and good art, I’m on board, and this comic delivers both.  New Mutants #1 earns a nicely unexpected 4 out of 5 stars overall, with good character work, a nice story hook, and some B-plots to take us past the first five issues.  That’s more than many comics EVER get…



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. This book rocked! Ilyana was never this creepy back in the day but I kinda liked it. Maybe she has always needed a Dani or a Kitty to keep her mouth in check and we just never noticed…

  2. Eddie Ginsburg on

    I am shocked to hear all the good talk concerning this magazine. I have read a couple of Zeb Wells spidey comics and they were almost unreadable.

    Has anyone read anything else good by Zeb?



  3. I recently found a copy of the original ” The new Mutants ” issue #1 March 1983 in pretty good condition, does anyone know if it is worth anything and if it is how to go about selling it, cheers

    • I recently found a copy of the original ” The new Mutants ” issue #1 March 1983 in pretty good condition, does anyone know if it is worth anything and if it is how to go about selling it, cheers

      Depending on the condition of the issue, New Mutants #1 will probably be worth between one and six dollars. An absolute pristine mint untouched issue could go higher, but generally speaking, it’s a relatively common issue in good condition. The best way to sell it is probably an online auction site, though you can figure that you will have a lot of competition there. A search of a popular unnamed auction site shows about a dozen of those issues, none priced more than two bucks… You might check with your local comics store, if you have one, but odds are that they won’t be paying much for an individual comic book. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

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