As much as I enjoyed Hickman’s New Mutants, he couldn’t commit to doing that book on top of X-Men. And that’s okay, I don’t blame him. What we got instead was Ed Brisson alternating issues with Hickman before taking over the book full time. And while I honestly don’t like Brisson nearly as much as Hickman, he does good work here. This trade collects all of Brisson’s New Mutants before the X of Swords crossover, and while I wasn’t super impressed reading the book weekly, it lands a lot better as a cohesive story.
The first short arc of this trade is made up of the three issues Brisson and Flaviano did while alternating with Hickman’s run. The premise is essentially about Armor, Glob Herman, Boom Boom, and the twins from Extermination going to bring their friends Beak and Angel to Krakoa. While it’s pretty obvious from the jump that this is just a group of Brisson’s favorite mutants based on the books he’d written prior, he still does a good job making all of their inclusions feel natural. After all, everyone’s on Krakoa.
The story does get a lot darker than one would expect going in, though. There’s a hostage situation that ends really messily, there’s mind wiping and erasure of trauma, and there’s a lot of seeding for future conflicts. Flaviano’s art does a good job highlighting the difference between the characters’ expectations of their little adventure and the actual results — things look cutesy and fun until suddenly there are dead bodies on the floor. While reading this arc interspersed with Hickman’s story, it didn’t really land well — the pacing was all over the place and cutting between this story and the one of the original New Mutants in space did neither story any favors — but by itself this arc is honestly really well done.
The next issue is a one-shot that serves as a kind of epilogue to the arc — the twins get Shaw to handle the greater conflict and tie up some loose ends, while the majority of the issue is focused on Magma trying to take Boom-Boom out of the funk she’s been in since the traumatic events of the previous arc. The majority of the issue takes place in Nova Roma, which is honestly pretty dull. But there are some highlights — the portions of the issue with Shaw are really enjoyable, even if they wrap up this plot thread a bit too cleanly. It felt like there was more potential for stories with this cartel, but this issue pretty much ended that storyline. The best part is a single data page towards the end of the issue, a journal entry from Boom Boom after the previous arc. It’s really raw and a really good encapsulation of both her character and the horrors she faced, and it’s by far the best page in the issue. That’s not to insult Marco Failla, who does a fantastic job as the artist on the issue, but Brisson’s writing shines when he gets to write Boom Boom and really lay her feelings out.
There’s another three-issue arc after this that’s… fine? There’s a mutant with uncontrollable powers going off in an Eastern European nation that’s anti-mutant. This arc serves really well as a showcase of Flaviano’s art, because there are a bunch of really great-looking dream sequences that are laid out and drawn incredibly well. Unfortunately, it feels like an overall step down for the book, and there isn’t too much to say about it. It’s followed up by a final one-shot with the cast of the book confronting a group that we’ve only seen through data pages and mentions on the side, and while it’s not as strong as the earlier arcs, it’s a satisfying way for Brisson’s run to end.
The run as a whole feels like it’s a self-contained story with only a few references to external continuity, and ends in a satisfying enough way for the trade to feel satisfying as a standalone purchase. While it’s ultimately not as strong as Hickman’s run on New Mutants, Brisson brings a more down to earth and character-focused feeling to the book that makes his love of the characters clear. Flaviano and Failla can’t really follow up on Reis, but they bring their own styles to the book to make it visually distinct. This isn’t the book I’d recommend most out of the Dawn of X, but it’s certainly not a bad choice, especially for fans of the characters.
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