NEW MUTANTS #6
Boomer takes on the might of the Costa Perdita Cartel, and goes all ‘Breaking Badguys’. As the hostage situation reaches a climax and the survivors count the cost, they must also come to terms with the realisation there is only one place left to go. But as the dust settles and the twins do some meddling it is revealed Beak has lost more than his parents.
Bait and Switch: Okay it has to be said that while the back and forth between stories was at first keeping things fresh and the challenge of running two distinctly different threats was interesting, it has become a bit disjointed. Aside from the fact the old school have been left hanging in a vacuum (literally) I do think that to have completed this story uninterrupted may have been better. There is no doubt that it avoided the risk of letting the grass grow under our feet, but the switching back and forth does nothing for those of us who like a cohesive and detailed narrative structure. I was more than okay with the two issue turnaround, but now one issue a piece is getting too worrisome and I hope it stops now the Nebraska affair is done. That being said I was happy with the result, despite the tragic way it occurred.
Changing scenery: This back and forth also had an overall knock on effect on the way the art was perceived in each story, as it inevitably cause comparisons to be drawn between the two styles. Which I feel was unfortunate and a little unfair, as personally I loved each in it’s own way. And Rod Reis at least had a hand in the proceedings with the dramatis personae on the cover exchanging meaningful looks on the porch as the house behind them goes up in flames. Speaking of flames the stunning Dark Phoenix 40th Anniversary variant by Adi Granov is truly on fire. With regards the story even while the Sienkiwiztyle of the space opera was dynamically rocketing its way ahead, Flaviano and Carlos Lopez ensured that the quaint small time American Gothic style farm quietly exploded into a noisy hostage affair. Which managed to ensure a lot of action for such a confined space, with great use of angles for dramatic effect. Especially in the tense standoff scene.
And this issue in particular held some pretty dramatic content in terms of emotional resonance and the fine pencil lines conveyed the drawn out peril perfectly in every expression. From Tabby looking longingly at her bottle of rye glugging its way into the dirt, to Angel’s realisation that they will never escape the bigotry in the outside world, as her father in law is held at gunpoint. And every single explosive sound effect had it’s own character and made a dramatic impact thanks to the lettering of Travis Lanham. I even noted on occasion how the wording was used as a panel itself, adding impact. And generally it also didn’t block out the art behind it but instead allowed it to show through, making it feel organic and not overwritten. Something rarely seen.
Thorny issues: I did think initially Maxime and Manon were showing hints of a disturbing dark side and a closed loop belief system is never good. It now seems they have just been a little more than miseducated, and they look to be taking on board what they are being told to do. So the fact they are now acting on what they are being taught and not just relying on each other shows promise and I thank Ed Brisson for this. And another positive is that even though there is a lot of conflicting emotional content this issue the balance was well measured, as the humour never sinks to minimising or sanitising the effect of the tragedy. In fact the finale of the whole affair is punctuated by consequence of actions. The loss of not only Beak’s parents but also the memory of what actually happened being removed from the Bohusk family does ask some pertinent questions. The whole resurrection scenario has been leaving some fans edgy and mistrustful of their favourite heroes, so the actions of the twins highlights the conundrum of memories and how they are an intrinsic part of a persons makeup. It asks some timely questions about control and what happens when certain facts are withheld, as well as raising a foreboding question mark at the decision to keep them in the dark. On the bright side it does ensure we have Barnell and the family back in the fold. This is a good thing, tinged as it is with sadness.
Explosition: But the standout character this issue for me is once again Boom Boom. As with Kate the drinking thing is a little offputting, especially with Tabitha’s family history regarding Marty Smith’s drinking and abuse. If it’s to be a serious issue it needs addressing. Are we talking alcoholism here or just an implied anecdotal crutch? But despite this there is something wonderfully positive being done with her. Not only is she striking out as an individual away from her New Mutant and X-Force buddies, but she is making new allies just as she did in Nextwave. As well as reminding us all what makes her great, as she revels in the truly tenacious and wilful personality that won over the likes of the Beyonder. Not to mention the scrapping. We used to have it spelt out ad infinitum that the point of the Danger Room was to test fighting skill and what happens when a mutant has to protect themselves without powers, but those days are thankfully behind us. And as one of the more reckless characters in the x-stable Tabitha has proven that since her early days and growth into paramilitary soldier she should never be underestimated.
The payoff of bringing the stray mutants back to Krakoa does several things. Firstly it sets up a conundrum to be raised later as regards what happens when the lost memories return and this is heavily implied by Armor as an inevitability. Not to mention should every mutant out there be brought into the secure foundation of Krakoa anyway. Secondly it also sets up a new potential threat of the Bohem Cartel, to be explored in the future. And to top it all off there is the press coverage of the whole incident. Of course it’s clear the press are keen to exploit any opportunity to cause a scare, not only naming and shaming the mutants involved but completely omitting any mention of Túmulo and his Costa Purdito friends. Since the formation of the Krakoan mutant collective there was always the question of who do you fight when your enemies are now friends. In all of the Dawn of X titles this is being explored fully, as the newly formed nation is facing the consequences of striking out on its own and challenging the authority of the outside world.
Consequences abound with some interesting questions raised. Not only the thorny issue of the mutant memory, but also the unforgiving perception of the wider world. Welcome back to the X-Men Beak....oh you know the rest.
New Mutants #6: I Am The One Who Rocks
Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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