New Mutants #1

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Penciled by Keron Grant
Inked by Rob Stull
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

It’s hard to believe that it was just over 20 years ago that Marvel first decided to create an X-Men spin-off in the form of The New Mutants. Starring five younger characters to be a second wave of mutants, the book originally starring Cannonball, Psyche, Karma, Sunspot, and Wolfsbane lasted for 100 issues (plus a handful of annuals and specials) before ending to make room for X-Force. With X-Force ending recently to make room for X-Statix, it’s almost fitting that we once more have a New Mutants ongoing series.

When Sofia Mantega’s mother suddenly died, her relatives sent her to live with her father. If moving suddenly from Venezuela to Boulder, Colorado wasn’t enough of a shock already, discovering that her father was a rich local businessman who couldn’t care less about her existence probably was. Feeling completely alone and abandoned by almost everyone around her, Sofia’s life looked like it couldn’t get any worse… until on Sofia’s 16th birthday, when a young woman named Danielle Moonstar walked into her life.

WIth a book promising to feature a larger group of characters, it’s refreshing that Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir have chosen to start with just one or two. Sofia Mantega’s introduction isn’t remarkable because of the basic story—it’s pretty standard for Marvel’s mutant books—but because of the way that the writers tackle it. It’s an extremely focused story, one that really gets inside the head of Sofia and shows both sides of her life before and after the move. At the same time, it’s also got a lot of nice little touches that come across really well; Sofia’s using her wind powers to hear people talking, for instance, or how her inexperience shows up with her stumbling on the other side of the wall. It’s a nice, quiet sort of story that ultimately comes across really well to the reader and makes them want to see more.

Keron Grant’s pencils on New Mutants are, over all, a nice-looking package. His pencils have a nice slick edge to them, ably brought forward with Rob Stull’s inks. He’s ironically best at the quieter scenes of the book (a rarity for most superhero artists); things like Sofia flying a kite with her cousin in Venezuela, for instance, or her ride in the limousine with her father. So much of those scenes depend on the things that aren’t said, and Grant does a really nice job with bringing emotions and thoughts to the surface in the characters’s faces. My one big complaint is that Grant seems to be drawing character from the Planet of the Giraffe People; as the book progresses, necks get longer and longer until Danielle Moonstar’s arrival, which actually had me putting down the book to start laughing. It’s a minor quibble, certainly, but it’s pretty disconcerting in what is otherwise a nicely drawn book.

Now, it’s hard to say how such the ongoing New Mutants series will be after just one deliberately-narrow opening issue, but if I had to wager some money, it would be that it’s a sign of good things to come. DeFilippis, Weir, Grant, and Stull have bought a lot of goodwill from me based on their premiere issue (and with a lovely Joshua Middleton cover to boot), so I’m definitely going to be sticking around. New Mutants #1 goes on sale this week at better comic book stores everywhere.

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