New Mutants has been a standout title ever since the dynamic duo of Vita Ayala and Rod Reis took over. Issue #16 is another strong showing for the title, though it is a bit slower than the last two entries in the series.
One of the more interesting things about how Ayala structures is the title is how they give time to both the new generation of X-kids and the old, making this feel like a truly wholistic title of New Mutants characters. It has that New Mutants volume 2 feel by incorporating characters like Anole, while still focusing on the New Mutants volume 1 characters. The opening pages are about the X-kids and their dealings with the Shadow King. It’s creepy and once again, Gabby Kinney’s resurrection status is brought up. The Gabby Kinney clone dilemma is by far one of the most interesting questions of this era and it’s nice to see some hints dropped in that plot’s direction.
Illyana reining in the X-kids is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the title. As the core troublemaker of the original New Mutants series, it’s incredibly fun to see Illyana now be the adult dealing with rambunctious kids. The way she handles them is so amusing and Ayala might just have secured their place as one of the best Illyana writers in years.
The rest of the issue is a bit more serious, involving the plots of Dani, Xian, and Rahne. Rahne’s dilemma is one of the most exciting ideas posited in the new X-Men line, dealing with the resurrection of Tier Sinclair. Ayala continues to slowly unweave this web, now bringing up the question of whether Tier can or can’t be resurrected because of his half-god status. It’s incredibly fascinating and it’s clear this story isn’t done yet.
As Rahne suffers over the state of her son’s resurrection, Karma and Dani take a trip to Otherworld. The years of friendship between these two girls is a treat to read, and it’s clear Ayala respects their long history. The core friendship of the original New Mutants is one of the most special things about that title overall, and this issue continues that tradition through Karma and Dani.
The way New Mutants #16 does character work is so important, relying on relationships and the inner workings of the characters’ minds. From the opening pages, Ayala gets inside Jimmy’s head and gives us a great Warpath moment in the form of the data page. From Rahne’s pain to Karma and Dani’s introspection in Otherworld, there are tons of character moments packed into this issue. Ayala and Reis go together like peanut butter and jelly, and New Mutants continues to be one of the most promising titles of the new era.
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