Marvel’s New Mutants have largely existed on the fringes of the Marvel Universe since the cancellation of their team book. With a new change to invigorate the franchise thanks to other media, the publisher is finally releasing a New Mutants book again (even though it is a mini-series.) We take a look at the limited series debut and catch up on the weekly epic, Avengers: No Surrender this week on The Marvel Rundown!
The New Mutants: Dead Souls #1
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Illustrated by Adam Gorham
Colored by Michael Garland
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Alexander Jones: AJ, The New Mutants are back at Marvel with a vengeance. What did you think of the debut of their new limited series putting the heroes back in the limelight?
AJ Frost: In a strange way, I thought this was a really endearing entry in The New Mutants canon. These characters have a lot of spark to them and the established rapport between the mutants feels natural rather than forced through circumstance. It’s nice that Matthew Rosenberg gives a brief MO for each character, thereby giving us readers all we need to know the right amount of snarky pith!
Jones: I liked the feel and look of the series but the execution here did not stick with me. The strange zombie plot thread did not catch any interest with me after closing the book and with a limited exposure to the characters outside of this debut, this entry left me feeling really cold. What is your familiarity with The New Mutants?
Frost: I’ve read a thing here and there. I’m not super into much of the X-Men stuff, but I have a general awareness. The zombie stuff did seem to come out of nowhere, but it just seemed to be all in the spirit of the book. However, the zombie thread wasn’t what struck me about after completing the comic. More so for me, the old tropes of anti-Mutant discrimination run more true to my sensibilities. It’s odd to think in the world of the X-Men, there’s still such bigotry. I get that might be a more meta-narrative, but it’s more of what I latched on to.
Jones: The premise with the mutants working for a corporation seemed particularly silly to me. This property has been dormant for a select period of time and I feel if The New Mutants were going to come back strong there should have been some sort of premise or direction tying them together. Not everyone in the original team has been as out of touch with the Marvel Universe, as Magik, Cannonball and Sunspot have all been prominent Avengers or X-Men in the last couple years but still, it is exceedingly difficult for me to identify a through line in the narrative allowing me to invest in the story.
Frost: This debut seemed like the first part of a nice excursion. As a standalone issue, I think it works pretty well in reintroducing the team and their dynamic.
Jones: I appreciated Adam Gorham’s art and how natural the series feel overall, but the comic is a little loose artistically. Lots of the lines and edges are rounded off and there are tons of strange angles which were difficult for me to look at. Some panels look great and Gorham should be commended for his body language and tone he lends to the characters, what did you think about his art?
Frost: I thought the art was good for a mainstream publication, ya know? Nothing was earth-shattering, but it was paired well with the story. The character design was a little funky in some spots (there’s a character that’s 75 percent torso), but overall, it’s fine. That may not read like a ringing endorsement, but I liked the art while I read the issue.
Jones: I’ll have to see where this one goes. I’m not sure I will be sticking around much farther than this debut issue but only time will tell. I’m going with a light BROWSE on this one, what say you?
Frost: This is a solid BROWSE. Rosenberg is a writer I’ve got my eye on, so I think this will turn out well in the end!
Jones: I would definitely be curious to hear some impressions from someone who is invested in the franchise.
Frost: They can leave their impressions in the comments below!
Final Verdict: Alexander says light BROWSE, AJ says BROWSE.
Written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub
Illustrated by Joe Bennett and Paco Medina
Inked by Juan Vlasco and Ruy Jose
Colored by Jesus Aburtov and Morry Hollowell
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Jones: AJ are you seeing green or is it just me? No Surrender pushes forward as The Avengers continue weekly publication. What did you think of this special elongated milestone issue?
Frost: Hi Alex! Well, my initial reaction is mixed. For whatever reason, the story really didn’t grab me at all. In fact, I thought it was a bit of a snooze fest. Who would have thought Bruce Banner’s existential pain could be so tedious? Coupled with the fact that I also thought a lot of the plot with the ancillary Avengers led nowhere, the actual story part of this issue didn’t thrill me in the least. On the other hand, from the first page of blackness led into a literal explosion of color, the art really resonated with me.
Jones: This is not the best issue of the series, let’s get all that out of the way up front. However, I was happy enough with the issue and some of the ancillary material. I think there are a couple plot threads in the story which were not very well conceived but I still found the power the Hulk poses actually did some genuinely scary. The stuff going on with Voyager has my attention and the whole thing culminated with an awesome final page. The series overall has some weak structure and has been spinning its wheels over the last couple installments but I thought there was a fair amount of progression here.
Frost: Really? It was probably just me, and I hate to disagree with ya, but the story just did not cut it for me. Although to be fair, there were some scenes which piqued my interest (like Bruce telling Hawkeye to kill him) and some of the stuff with the Grandmaster. But overall, man, there was just something in here which was not speaking to me.
Jones: I am more invested in the cast and characters because I have been closely following the story up to this point. I think there is some momentum between the Challenger and Grandmaster and definitely enjoy that some of the stories are finally starting to pay off here. The opening sequence and art from Joe Bennett really destroyed some of the momentum already established as the trio of writers are unearthing ideas which are well explored through other comics countless times as referenced in the back of the issue itself. Once the story got rolling with Paco Medina’s impressive pencils the issue started to fall into a nice groove with me, the Voyager storyline is even starting to get interesting.
Frost: Here is where we agree: the art in this book is drop-dead gorgeous. It’s vibrant, expressive, and thrilling. Medina did a fantastic job of keeping the art contemporary while also occasionally dipping into some vintage Avengers aesthetics. The Voyager scene, as you mentioned, was bolstered precisely because it was drawn so dynamically. The pages featuring the big HULK action were definitely highlights of the book.
Jones: I did not like the work Bennett turned in, The coloring on his sequences was really muddy as well. However, when Medina took charge after the intro the book retained the incredibly high production value the weekly series has been known for up to this point. Medina draws lots of different characters and blends quite a few genres here as well. His fight scenes are thrilling and dynamic and the issue’s colors and inks came together nicely. I hope the industry will start to appreciate the work Medina is doing here once the series draws to a close. I am blown away by the publishing schedule week after week in regards to the quality of the art.
Frost: We are definitely in agreement about Medina’s art! To me, the highlight was the dip and nod and into classic Avengers art. While we lavish praise on Medina, I can’t help but lament that more comics don’t keep an older style. I’m not trying to be reactionary here. More like, there was something so clean about the older aesthetic.
Jones: I do not share the sentiment but it would be boring if we just agreed every single week. Medina’s work is great and I think I am putting this book a little more grace because it is a weekly comic. The overall vision and aesthetic of the story is definitely what I want to see and there are enough hints the title is going somewhere I am willing to give the issue some leeway for now. What are your final thoughts? Also, do you like these kinds of stories? Are you an Avengers fan per se?
Frost: This is a SKIP from me. While I enjoyed the art, the issue itself didn’t pull me in. I guess my enthusiasm for the Avengers is the same as my enthusiasm for Arizona sports teams: I like them when they’re good.
Jones: I think this issue is coming from the right place. I think it does the right things and I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and a light BUY mainly because the ending was executed perfectly.
Frost: Fair enough!
Final Verdict: AJ says SKIP, Alexander says light BUY.
Next week we’re covering Weapon H #1 and Thor #705, see you then!
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics