Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fall of the New Mutants TPB

Zeb Wells continues to churn out good, classic-feeling stories that acknowledge the rich history of the Marvel U without bogging them down in continuity. If you liked Inferno or the original New Mutants at all, you will dig this series. If you like super-heroes taking on mutant soldiers? Yeah, you'll like this a lot too.

Back during Inferno, Maddie Pryor used a bunch of mutant babies to bring about the end of the world. When it didn't happen, the US Government took those kids and set about turning them into weapons. In what is clearly a horrible choice, but logical in comic book-thinking, the government set up a base in Limbo to raise and train the kids. This gives Wells a chance to indulge in some classic sci-fi elements. The sped-up aging of Limbo; the horrific grafts of demonic transplants; and some absolutely killer designs for weird new limbo monsters. This is great stuff, and the design work of these bad guys is wonderful. Every one looks like they could star as the big bad on his or her own.

The "babies" as they're called have some sick personalities, but getting raised in Limbo would probably do that to you. Wells has examined the outlook of the New Mutants before, but seeing them contrasted against this other group makes a lot of sense. Sure, Cannonball used them poorly during Necrosha and Second Coming, but he never got close to using them as badly as the soldiers do the Inferno kids. Cannonball cares about his crew too much and takes his responsibility too seriously to ever think of his crew as resources. (Especially now that he and a teammate seem to be acting upon some long-theorized feelings for each other.)

Part of what makes the New Mutants work is how well the characters know each other (and we know them). Sunspot is going to be a cad, even when decked out with a sword and armor. Magma is noble. Magik is scheming and plotting. Wells keeps everyone in character so well. This is almost fan-fiction, except that it's handled so well.

Leonard Kirk is a fantastic artist and he's a great fit for this book. As I said, his design work on the Limbo demons is wonderful. There are some little frog-guys that just tickled me, and the vision-enhancing creatures that clamp their fists under their human host's jaw? Horrifying and cool at the same time.


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