NEW MUTANTS #29
Gabby is missing…and it's up to Daken and Warpath to track her down! Akihiro overcompensates - due to guilt over not being able to protect Gabby from the Shadow King. James stresses - due to his hesitance in reuniting with his newly resurrected brother. So the two must overcome their own insecurities in order to find the young New Mutant, last seen heading for an Orchis station. Or for pizza, depending on who you believe.
Knowing these two characters are both pretty similarly acerbic and as such interchangeable, I went in not thinking I’d warm to the pairing at all. But I soon found a great character analysis issue from Danny Lore, masquerading as a Buddy Team-Up. In fact I personally think they have given more thought to the two protagonists than most bother to do in the past. I expected very little in the way of characterisation, with not much to differentiate them from each other to make it an interesting story. As such I didn’t expect much banter between them and wasn’t surprised at the opening to see the tried and tested grumpy snapping. So it was a pleasant surprise to see it quickly get so much better once they are discovered by the Orchis guards. And what followed was a huge departure from how these two are usually (under)written. And James giving Daken and the Wolverine family some kudos raised an eyebrow in surprise and a smile.
Added onto this was the kitchen sink diagnosis James delivers, as he even manages to psyche evaluate Daken perfectly. All topped off with the way they effortlessly back each other up and go into henchmen-disposing mode. And as much of a change as the writing has taken, it follows the art is also a stark contrast, albeit just for this one issue. Guillermo Sanna is a noticeable departure from previous issues, but still a welcome one nonetheless. As well as the muted pastel colors of Dan Brown, again fitting the theme and mood well. I also loved the way the dialogue fed itself through the entire book. Keeping it short and punchy in the fighting scenes, with the talking heads character analysis taking center stage only during the non action stage of the story.
As such the pacing was spot on. In terms of art and writing style this whole issue shows a thought out and well placed shuffle in artistic team for the change in direction, despite one tiny dialog snafu. Less of the typical superhero action and panel layout, this book lent itself to a more grown up indie style. With limited use of antagonist, but more of the character dynamic it put me in mind of the Wolverine: Saudade issue from years ago. Not too dissimilar in theme and plot, it also had a more gritty feel. And even in the more reflective moments as the two unpack their baggage and realise their grudging respect for one another the writing, panel layout and character positioning was well paced and thoughtfully depicted. Group hugs all round folks.
And the text pages by Travis Lanham also did some of the gruntwork, with the letter from Gabby to Akihiro. Aside from it being pure GOLD, it made me realise I’d barely even noticed she wasn’t a huge part of the story. I especially loved her making a joke about him and Johnny Storm being secret pen-pals – we all know there is history there!! Also liking the business-like Risk Assessment of the Orchis text page. Very AIM and the End of World Scenario Modules/Sunsetting thing DEFINITELY has my interest piqued. And for anyone missing Rod Reis’ more fluid work (which to a certain extent includes me) we can be satisfied with a cool Design Variant Goblin Queen cover. And the main cover by Rafael De Latorre & David Curiel is nothing to be sneezed at either, with Warpath and Daken in fight mode.
A surprisingly deep character analysis of what can sometimes be two very difficult characters to relate to. So much so I barely noticed the lack of Honey B...Scout. All of which makes me see this was the team up I never asked for and didn’t expect to love as much as I did.
New Mutants #29: Room to Swing a Wolverine
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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