After reading this week’s batch of X-Men titles, it should be said that you’ll enjoy yourself best if you read Hellions #5 first, New Mutants #13 second, and Cable #5 third. Each issue plays into the next in a clever and, frankly, rare way. So often with events, the books are connected, but so loosely you may even be able to skip an issue and still understand what is going on. With New Mutants, there’s a tether to both books out this week which helps bring attention to the event and the singular stories in each issue too.
Written by Ed Brisson with art by Rod Reis, New Mutants #13 heavily focuses its attention on Cypher and the training he goes through with Magik. Cypher is not skilled at fighting, but when it’s time for the heroes to go to Otherworld and fight to the death he’ll be there by his side. This issue weighs what’s head on Cypher’s shoulders, but Brisson smartly makes this not about his fear of fighting or even death, but about not letting his team down. When you’re part of a group of mutants and half of them can kill you 50 ways to Sunday it’s a hard pill to swallow knowing you’re one of the ten to save your nation and have very limited fighting skills.
This issue is organized well as Cypher trains with Magik with moments of doubt and conversation interspersed in between. Another element this issue juggles well is the idea that Cypher is more important to Krakoans because he’s the only person who can communicate with the island of Krakoa. If you lose Cypher you lose your main way of communicating with your land. That’s another interesting idea used in the story and Brisson uses a great scene with Xavier to explore the situation.
These introspective moments are visualized well by Rod Reis, who already offers a dreamlike quality to the art. His use of color continues to make Krakoa itself a heavenly place and one that you wouldn’t want to leave. Cypher looks quite cool in his getup — as well as Warlock, who will serve as his sword — always sticking out from the surroundings. There’s a certain atmosphere to each scene too, like a sickly green when Krakoa speaks through Mondo, or reds and oranges when fight scenes kick things up a notch, that distinguishes each scene from each other. Special effects like Cyclops and Cable speaking to Magik with holograms look otherworldly and keen too.
This issue also offers some important data pages on two of the ten swords in X of Swords. Fans of Wikipedia entries are going to need to read these to maximize the importance of the swords in this issue.
While other chapters in this event have focused on major players like Storm, this issue does the necessary work to remind us of a lesser-known character like Cypher matters in many ways more than other characters in the event. New Mutants #13 does the work to establish Cypher’s unique situation as well as the sword he’ll carry to battle. He also offers a different perspective in this battle as he isn’t a highly trained and seasoned warrior, but a good dude who doesn’t want to let his people down.