New Mutants #18 picks off where the last story left off, giving a (mostly) Karma-centric story about saving her brother and the strong ties she’s forged with the New Mutants over the years.
A huge strength in Ayala’s New Mutants thus far has been the increased focus on Karma, a New Mutant who is often overlooked. Another strength in their writing lies within the bond they’ve written between her and Dani, a relationship which is the heart of Ayala’s New Mutants comic.
When Dani and Karma spar in Crucible, there are a lot of really neat bits to think about. This includes Karma talking about her brother and the horrible things he’s done to her while knowing she cannot control his life and that he deserves a chance on Krakoa to find out who he will be for himself. It speaks a lot to Karma’s character and what kind of person she is. She also has some interesting dialogue with Dani, which proves the strength of their friendship.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Karma in Crucible is that when she’s reborn, she is still shown with her prosthetic leg.
By allowing Karma to remain a disabled character, New Mutants sidestepped a major issue the X-Men series had when they resurrected Charles, making him an able-bodied mutant. There’s a bit of a missed opportunity here to explain why this happened, if Karma herself specified to The Five she wants her prosthetic leg back even if she gets a new body –making a larger statement that disabled people can love their bodies as they are. But the important part is that Karma remains as is, avoiding another instance of erasing disabled characters from the X-Men’s roster.
It’s quite heartwarming, really, to see Karma welcomed by all her New Mutants teammates who couldn’t be happier to see her. If Tran is the family she’s born into, the New Mutants are certainly the family she has chosen, and it’s hard not to smile at their joy while reading the panels of them greeting her once more after Crucible.
New Mutants #18’s other strength lies within Ayala’s use of Warpath, a character who hasn’t had a chance to shine this era yet. Seeing his interactions with Gaby Kinney in particular are quite sweet. A hallmark of New Mutants volume 2 was the old cast acting as mentors to the new, and its nice to see this idea in place this volume, particularly with Magik, Warpath, and Wolfsbane.
Magik also writes an interesting letter to the Council (particularly Charles), explaining that she and the other New Mutants won’t be raising these kids to be child soldiers like Charles raised her. Instead, they’re going to allow them to have a childhood, take them on field trips, and enjoy their life as it is. It’s a great sentiment, and Ayala makes the moment greater by having Illyana misspell a lot of her words, crossing them out and redoing them. It’s these little moments that prove how much character is in everything Ayala writes for them — they really are the perfect writer for this title.
New Mutants #18 is Karma’s story, and one she rightfully deserved. Ayala brings a voice to these characters that is both wholly charming and completely authentic while Rod Reis knocks every scene out of the park with his gorgeous pencil work.
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