NEW MUTANTS #19
It’s party tiiiiime!!!! As the old New Mutants let their hair down and get boozy the new New Mutants make a grim discovery. Confrontations abound and revelations astound.
STORY: Okay so as for Gabby’s fate, let’s put that aside for now. All I can say is there will be consequences. First Mystique and now this. Well done Vita for once again proving he is one of the heavy hitters in terms of pacing and plotting, making New Mutants a major lynchpin title in all things X. With the loss of X-Factor this month this title is going to be the vanguard of what we see coming for the mutants on Krakoa. Judging by Cosmar’s response the kids will feel utter guilt and this may sidestep the hypocrisy issue she might have with Dani. But will it mean they wake up from their blind faith? And Laura’s discovery of the letter at the same time was totally on point, the last lines of the letter in the text page driving home the tragedy all the more. And it’s even more clear that the writing is on form as we segue into Amahl Farouks dialogue, while visualising Warlock dealing with similar feelings of abandonment.
This was skilfully done and informed the motives of the interlinked narratives perfectly. And yet it didn’t detract from the struggles Warlock was dealing with. For the first time in a long time I actually felt we were getting inside his head and empathising with how he copes with his attachments, before it dawns on us we are actually hearing Farouk, not Warlock or James. And Warlock going to James for advice was also genius in terms of both allowing interaction with a team mate we don’t normally see him communicate with and also allowing us to touch base with James and his own past abandonment and loss of his brother, who he also idolised. In just a few panels there is an intimate linking thread between James, Warlock and even Amahl. And this almost puts the possible nefarious former villain on a level playing field in terms of motive.
CHARACTERS: As such, everyone played their part to perfection this issue. Not only the ‘lost’ boys, but also the girls. Rahne’s deflection in her chat with Dani was equal parts heartbreaking as it was spellbinding to watch. The way she stayed in wolf form for me showed she was masking something. But surely in that form Dani is more in tune with her? Whatever the reason it did show she is dealing with things below the surface. First scoffing at the grandeur of the Gala (a slight regression to her early incarnation when she felt scandalised by opulence and frivolity) to then brushing off Dani’s request for a chat by telling her to stay at the party and have fun. But whatever happens Dani won’t be fooled for long. And when the truth comes out will Dani figure her part in it? For me the crown has to go to Karma though. For her moves alone (on Barry the artist and Illyana) I truly loved how she shot him down and on a dime switched to flirting with both Magik and then Mirage. I think also it’s safe to assume the leg criticism can end now, or at least I hope so. I said last issue it was deliberate and it definitively is. And the way she made it clear Barry was lucky to escape unscathed, simply because he wasn’t important enough was glorious.
ART: So we had a major change in art this issue and I have to say, though I usually love the way Rod carries the style of Sienkiewicz to perfection, it was a refreshing change to see the characters depicted in a clear departure from that style, especially in a landmark issue. Alex Lins and Matt Milla team up to fill in well here and make the story their own. Not only in the bold pencils and defined features, but also the distinctive look of Karma and Warpath in full Gala regalia. And not to mention the change in appearance of characters like Rahne. I don’t think I’ve seen her looking so cutesified in such a long time. In wolf form she can be seen as either fierce or just transitioning. So this (forgive me) Cockapoo/Terrier visual disarmed me to the point where I felt it was being done on purpose, to maybe give an innocent “who me?” feel to her conversation with Dani. Another tool she uses to distract Dani from what is actually going on. The art team also give some major dynamism to the party, with a who’s who of guests, without overdoing the interactions. And I do always love a wide angle visual of a party scene. With Dani and Warlock working the room, interspaced with a bit of Nightcrawler teleporting, the energy of the scene was playful and meant your eyes naturally flowed in the direction the action and dialogue was going.
All topped off with a cover by Martin Simmonds that still allows us the luxury of the Sienkiewicz school. Utilising it to perfection and giving nothing of the story away, but still making it clear this is a Gala-centric tale. Because let’s face it there was a lot to squeeze in this issue. My one tiny problem? Lettering! When Warlock has a heart to heart with Warpath we see his iconic speech pattern, talking about himself in the third person. But at one critical juncture he breaks from his usual seflfriend description and says “Doug has not had time for me”. This is a cardinal sin as regards the Technarch. It could be down to scripting though and not his mistake, but it is at a critical juncture of the story and so it jarred me from the flow a little. I have to say I am a little ashamed of myself for even picking on Travis here, as usually his work is stellar. Not only in basic scripting, but in the way he skilfully fits in with the style Rod Reis normally works toward, and helps keep the unique identity of the book, as both blended together perfectly to inject the Bill Sienkiewicz flavor. Paradoxically it’s sheer testament to a letterer if his work goes unremarked. If it doesn’t overpower the efforts of the artist and writer it means he’s doing his job perfectly. So I feel the job must actually be a hard and thankless task. And so this one little error is easy to forgive, as so often he manages to add some touch that adds zing to the thing. For instance this issue he again visualises Warlocks emotions with Emojis, which was both playful and informative.
The more things change the more they stay the same. Different artist and colorist make the change smooth and not at all painful. They make the book feel exactly as it should, like I’m meeting very old friends that I’ve known for many years for a get together. And they all made it effortless to follow and gave me everything I needed.
New Mutants #19: KARMA IS A B….!
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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