New Mutants has been a breath of fresh air since the series was taken over by Vita Ayala and Rod Reis, embodying the classic series in many ways. New Mutants #17 veers away from that a bit, to varying degrees of success.
One of the highlights of New Mutants #17 is the continuation of the Dani and X’ian plot, two characters who, despite their longevity on the team, haven’t gotten much to do this era. Seeing the two longtime New Mutants on a mission to save another mutant is entertaining stuff, and it bodes well for fans that Ayala seems to have more plans for this duo in the future.
The adventure Dani and X’ian go on themselves is a bit of a mixed bag. It doesn’t totally feel like a plot that belongs in New Mutants with its intense high fantasy vibes (almost Excalibur-y in nature) and at times, their adventure drags a bit. But the chemistry between Dani and X’ian as longtime friends and coworkers is what keeps these scenes fresh. The idea that the mutant they are rescuing doesn’t want to live on Krakoa is also a pretty interesting thing to introduce, as it hasn’t happened too much in the X-line thus far.
Also, X’ian isn’t depowered…? So it’s a wonder how she’s eligible for Crucible anyway. Unless they’re making a special case for the plot related to her brother that Dead Souls had brought up, killing Karma to free her brother’s consciousness from her mind.
While New Mutants #17 ends with Dani and X’ian’s adventures seemingly about to continue, a really concerning plotline is brought up: X’ian wants Dani to be her partner in the Crucible. Karma being subjected to the Crucible is concerning due to the fact that X’ian is now one of the only prominent disabled heroes left on the island — through the resurrection protocols, Charles Xavier can now walk — and it creates a really concerning line of thought. The idea that resurrection makes you “your best self” but in doing so takes away disability is ableist rhetoric that is baked into the foundation of Krakoa — one that New Mutants can hopefully veer away from X’ian in future issues. As far as disabled heroes go, X’ian is actually really positive representation, one that would really sting to have taken away because she got a new body.
Outside of X’ian and Dani’s Otherworld adventures, the plot gets a bit darker for the series that (save for New Mutants volume 3) is usually lighter toned. Farouk’s influence is looming, and now Anole, Rain Boy, and Cosmar have meddled in their own little science experiments. Anole brings up a concept that X-Men #7 echoed, this idea that people want to use the resurrections to come back in new bodies. Cosmar’s own story in Ayala’s New Mutants has been setting this up for quite some time, and it seems to be building towards a climax in this issue.
Anole’s desire to look more “visually appealing” aka human is quite interesting in the context of Krakoa. With so many non-human-passing mutants, one would assume Krakoa celebrates these differences and, because they are separate from the world of man, they probably consider these outward mutations beautiful. But Anole’s plight (and by extension, Cosmar’s) reveals that that might not be the case — that even in a world of mutants living together in harmony, they are still frowned upon for being the “uglier” members of society, bound to human conceptions of beauty. It’s quite interesting food for thought.
Warpath’s journals continue to provide insight into his character, though it would be nice to finally see him do more in the series as these journals have been the extent of his appearances recently. It’d also be nice to see his X-Force past touched on a bit more, as these moments of reflection seem to hardly include such a prominent time of his life.
A weird thing about this issue is that, for some reason, the preview seems off? The summary for the issue speaks about Magik making a new enemy and Warlock making a new friend — two things that don’t at all happen in the title. It’s a weird occurrence — and hopefully, one Marvel fixes before readers show up looking for Magik or Warlock.
Rod Reis’ art makes every page come to life with a beautiful gloss, embodying that highly artistic style New Mutants was once known for while Sienkwicz was on the title back in the day. Ayala’s writing continues to shine, capturing the voices of all these characters quite well. Where New Mutants goes next has the potential to be quite concerning, but Ayala thus far has proved their hands are extremely trustworthy for these characters.
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