New Mutants #4
After going in search of Beak and Angel, the X-kids get themselves into a hostage situation. A desperate gang of gunmen have been waiting for any stray Krakoan visitors and Beak’s family is used as a bartering tool to ensure they get a foothold in profiteering from the drug industry on offer. However, help is on hand, though they may all soon regret it as much as the gunmen.
Writing: After barely getting over the team switch last issue, Marvel then went and threw another curve ball of two issues in two weeks, which I’ll forgive purely on the basis it involves the ever irrepressible Tabitha Smith, a.k.a. Boom Boom. And though the scene shift was seen as controversial with some crying foul, I for one love this cliffhanger aspect. And I think with Ed Brisson smoothly taking the writing reins from Jonathan Hickman we are made to realise we aren’t simply being spoon-fed our mutant fix and also introduces the communal aspect of the title. As we see in the layout of the Akademos Habitat there is more going on than just the first wave of kids having their adventures… Is anyone else super curious about Omega House? And the perfect person to share this transition with was the hot mess that is Boomer (let’s just say “Tabitha” though, for fear of offending anyone by association). Just like the last volume of X-Force she gets left behind and so makes her own mark. From issue three when she jinxes things wishing for mutant haters, to making her entrance in typical Boom Boom style here I couldn’t ask for more from her. And I had total Nextwave vibes as soon as she turned up.
As for the plot, there is something topical in terms of both the Krakoan storyline and real world events. The plight of Costa Perdita at the hands of Kevin MacKinnon smacks heavily of Martin Shkreli and the Duraprim scandal of 2015. And the hostage situation is an intriguing dilemma in terms of how Krakoa is faced with new threats from the outside world and the reaction to their new world order. As the Marauders deal with Paragon in Brazil and X-Force are facing the Xeno situation it makes sense that there are also others who will have something to say about it. And though the men holding them hostage aren’t as well-organised; they certainly raise some compelling questions as to the ethics of what Xavier is doing and the backlash is entirely natural. Although I do find the ringleaders appearance a little…non-human? And even the name has several meanings from either a tomb, someone who keeps secrets or swelling. I wonder which will be appropriate? Hmmmm…
Characterisation: On the subject of names, I HAVE to make a comment about last issue and Beak’s mom calling him Beak and now his dad too this issue. It just rang a little hollow for me, surely it would at least be Barry? Aside from that the characterisation is spot-on. Maxime and Manon are suitably devious here and it’s nice to finally see them used properly, as they have been somewhat shelved since Extermination. And the sight of Manon showing her disgust at Angel and her method of digesting food speaks volumes of their bratty immaturity. This precocious belligerence will surely add a different dynamic to how things unfold and I wonder if Angel will either take them under her wing or scold them for their behaviour when the dust settles.
And Angel herself has so far (to me anyway) epitomised the perfect transition from scrappy fighter to doting mother. While her origins are that of a snarky and bristly character, I find this softer “mom” side is a revelation and humanises her in a way that is often overlooked in parents within the superhero genre. Which could also be why we don’t see much of it. There is a supposition that superheroes who become parents are somehow less interesting and in part I agree, but I think this could add to the fiercely protective and heroic nature of these characters and wonder if this will be the case here. I am intrigued to see how she reacts to her captors now they are free and personally want to see her give Tumulo some serious payback.
Art: Marco Failla manages to ensure the change in theme and ensemble is followed through wonderfully with the art style, so drastically different to that which we saw from Rod Reis in the first two issues. There is a more whimsical nature to it, despite the heavy subject matter, that I think is suitable to the voice of the younger kids and their antics, as opposed to the older mutant mob. I’d be intrigued to see the two separate story lines merge within one issue, just to see the two artists share a book at a later date. Speaking of Rod Reis, his depiction of Boom Boom in all her glory and tagging the cover with ‘NM’ was inspired and perfect for the theme of the book. Especially as next issue we are back in space and things take another heel turn. Though this was an interesting tale, I’m keen to see the follow up to the return of Deathbird.
As the story changes so soon after relaunch it proves once again that the New Mutants are always at the forefront when it comes to not letting the grass grow under our feet and manage to keep us guessing and not get complacent with a good old bait-and-switch.
New Mutants #4 Those Left Behind
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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