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‘New Mutants by Zeb Wells: The Complete Collection’ is an excellent read — if you’re already familiar with the characters

If you want to read more about this team without any prior knowledge, this isn’t the place to start.

With the upcoming movie on the horizon, Marvel did new printings for two New Mutants series from the last 20 years. This is the collection of the New Mutants comic that ran for 50 issues from 2009-2012. A defining feature of this run was that it was a ‘New Mutants reunion tour’ of sorts, as the team lineup is almost exactly that of the original 80s run. When Magik returns from limbo to warn the original New Mutants team that Legion is coming to kill Mirage and Karma, they get the band back together and fight one of their most formidable foes. The first arc revolving around the return of David Haller Legion is probably my favorite of all the arcs contained in this volume. It’s almost all action from beginning to end, and all of it is both emotional and exhilarating. The fight that takes place both on the earthly plane and inside Legion’s mind is well paced and exciting without feeling overwhelming.

All the heroes are well written and really tap into the nostalgia for these characters. A lot of the dialogue is funny but doesn’t distract from the emotion or action going on behind it. The excessive cursing sort of bothered me; not because I have anything against cursing or think these characters who have grown up and become adults since their introduction wouldn’t curse, but because it’s Marvel and they’ll never put ‘f--k’ in a comic book, so there was at least one #?!%$ per page. It was distracting and sort of halted the flow of the comic as you took a moment to think about what curse word the symbols stood for. Of course this is a nitpick, but it bothered me enough to be mentioned.

The art is rather inconsistent. There’s a new artist every few issues and some of them aren’t great. Diogenes Neves does most of the first half and some of the back half of the volume, and his art’s really great. It fits the book, has a lot of emotion behind it, and he portrays the characters well. I especially like the way he draws Illyana — she has a very stern Russian look with a hint of what might be evil behind her eyes. There’s an issue towards the beginning, illustrated by Zachary Baldus, that is just plain weird and really throws off the flow and feeling of the story. I wasn’t a huge fan of Paul Davidson’s art in the issues he illustrated either. It looks very flat and sort of airbrushed which only works in very specific art styles.

One problem that’s not entirely limited to just this series, but to all recent appearances of Roberto/Sunspot, is that he’s really whitewashed in the coloring. In the New Mutants graphic novel that was his first appearance, he’s shown to be very dark skinned as he’s half black and half Brazilian. In this series he could be Hispanic or even just super tan, which is really not what you want with a character who was illustrated with such dark skin in most of his appearances before this. It depends on what colorist is doing him and varies in this volume, but there were only a couple of issues where I felt he was accurately colored to portray his canon heritage and skin color.

Another problem I had with this collection (that isn’t actually a problem with any of the contents of the series itself) is that this is obviously being released for the movie. However, this is tied to a very specific time in X-Men history and constantly references Dark Reign, Second Coming, Necrosha, Siege, the previous New X-Men series, and many other things. If you were picking this up because you saw the movie and wanted to read about these characters, it would probably be overwhelming and annoying due to the amount of things that are referenced without any context. The era in X-Men history where they’re living on Asteroid M is one of my favorites, and Second Coming is probably my favorite modern X-Men event. However, without any context for when this series takes place, this could be a tough read for non-comic fans, which is exactly who I think Marvel wanted to attract with a new printing.

This collection is huge and has a lot of good writing and moments in it, but without an intimate knowledge of modern X-Men events, you might as well not read it. If you want to read more about this team without any prior knowledge, this isn’t the place to start. That being said, if you know the New Mutants history and want to read a modern take on their characters and relationships, this collection is A+++.

New Mutants by Zeb Wells: The Complete Collection
Is it good?
New Mutants by Zeb Wells is great superhero storytelling held back by inconsistent art and lack of context.
Diogenes Neves' art fits very well.
True to these characters.
Great superhero storytelling.
Lacks context for new readers.
Sunspot's skin is lightened a lot.
Inconsistent art styles.

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