New Mutants has been an incredibly well-written character drama with an ensemble that captures the youth of Krakoa well. Vita Ayala and Rod Reis carry forward a few different threads in the latest issue, bring home great action, and continue to explore the idea of clones not being allowed resurrection. It’s an issue that blends superhero with character study well.
This issue opens with the New Mutants on the moon. They’re tasked with doing some clean-up, or as Warpath calls it, a “community betterment project.” Soon though, Leo is wandering off and an alien is trying to kill her. Cut to Krakoa where Wolfsbane is conversing with other mutants about Scout and getting her resurrected. These two stories, between the moon and Krakoa, help break up the action and build tension in each scene.
This issue also has excellent data pages that help inform and build on the narratives in the two main sequences. One is a letter from The Five, which connects with the “problem” of resurrecting a mutant who has been cloned. Ayala makes you believe what these characters truly care and think about this issue, which further complicates things when they do decide on what to do about Scout. In another, we get to see Warpath’s journal, which helps connect his very real care of the young mutants on the moon. Sure, they can come back to life, but he takes it very seriously when they’re put in danger in this issue.
Ayala also pulls no punches here, delivering definitive conclusions and progression in both stories. The moon fight might seem like a vapid sort of action fest you see in superhero comics, but it’s tethered to a key character’s role and how the actions of this issue could affect them later. Plus it ties into a key moment from Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men run.
Rod Reis crushes on art, but you probably already knew that. From the all-out action on the moon, which looks great and is artistic in a variety of ways, to a hilarious two-panel moment where Magik says she’s a war captain, Reis shows how versatile his art can be. Krakoa continues to be this wash of greenery as if it’s all living around them — because it is — and it suits the location. Meanwhile, the alien attacking the mutant kids on the moon has its own organic look that comes alive in a new way due to Reis’ painterly style.
New Mutants #21 is one of the strongest issues of the series. It balances the emotional impact of a choice while delivering plenty of action. That blend keeps both A and B stories moving forward while satiating the action fan’s desire and the strong character writing we need to care about these characters. For those reasons, New Mutants is exciting, impactful, and sincere.
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