This week’s Marvel Rundown checks in on the younger residents of Krakoa. Vita Ayala and Rod Reis have in a short time redefined the New Mutants series with an expanded cast of young mutants taking on a classic X-Men foe in The Shadow King. How does the latest issue of the series compare to previous installments?

We’ve got a review of New Mutants #16, along with a Rapid Rundown of other new Marvel titles for the week, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!

New Mutants #16 Cover
New Mutants #16

New Mutants #16

Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Rod Reis
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Designer: Tom Muller
Cover Artist: Christian Ward
Reviewed by Zoe Tunnell

The first two issues of Vita Ayala and Rod Reis’ New Mutants were a revelation. Dense, rewarding and absolutely gorgeous. The only real question I had after finishing them was whether it was just a fluke or if it was the start of a potential classic. Thankfully, New Mutants #16 answers that question with a resounding vote of confidence and delivers an absolutely fantastic follow-up to the stellar debut issues.

Rather than directly pick-up on the Shadow King threads that drove last issue, New Mutants #16 proves Ayala is more than up to the task of juggling Claremont-ian levels of subplots and opens with an introduction of Otherworld plot beats from Excalibur and X of Swords, to great success. Reis, who continues to solidify himself as one of the most inventive, exciting talents in the industry, runs wild with the shifting, chaotic realm of Otherworld. In particular, his rendition of Jamie Braddock is an immediate iconic take on the character.

Page From New Mutants #16
From New Mutants #16

When the issue does return to some of the story threads left off from the last two issues, it further enriches both the story and characters while exploring parts of the new Krakoan society that few other books have touched. The collection of young X-Kids, including Cosmar, Scout, Anole, and others, who are hanging out with Shadow King on the sly, once again dive into the messy questions of resurrection, the meaning of death in a world where mutants can’t die, and the nature of body self-image and mutant powers that don’t feel right. It is maybe the most poignant use of the mutant metaphor in years, echoing everything from body dysmorphia in teens to dysphoria in trans and non-binary folks. Throw in Gabby’s concerns over her fate after death, as a clone, and you have a shockingly effective suite of character work in just a handful of pages.

The other stories on display focus on the older mentors of the book, with Ilyana getting a stunning and hilarious confrontation with a bunch of surly teenagers, Rahne continuing her search into her dead son, and the duo of Mirage and Karma traveling into Otherworld to track down a wayward Krakoan teen. All three succeed, but Dani and Xi’an steal the show. Karma getting a rare chance in the spotlight, and spending it growing closer (and…potentially romantic?????) with her old friend is delightful and a great use of an underserved member of New Mutants history. Reis once again flexes on just about every artist in the business with their Otherworld journey, messing with the idea of what a Marvel Superhero Comic can get away with in 2021.

Page From New Mutants #16
From New Mutants #16

Really, even after just two issues it is hard to think that New Mutants is anything but one of the best books in the, largely fantastic, X-Line of titles. Ayala is thriving, delivering pitch-perfect character work and rewardingly intricate plots, while Reis is bringing down the house and cementing himself as the successor to Bill Sienkiewicz‘s legendary career. Every issue feels like a feast, one that takes time to consume and is a satisfying experience once you’re done. It’s hard to get more bang for your 4 dollars in superhero books, and hopefully that doesn’t change anytime soon.

Final Verdict: Buy.

Page from New Mutants #16
From New Mutants #16

Rapid Rundown!

  • Amazing Spider-Man #60
    • Weeks later, Spider-Man is still dealing with the fallout from the whole Kindred thing. If this issue had come out right after the “Last Remains” arc ended, I’d probably enjoy it a bit more. Having said that, we’re still retreading the same ground here with seemingly no exit from this hellish continuum we’ve found ourselves in. Mary Jane decides to do things her way, and gives Peter a chance to let out some of his troubles with an acting exercise that she herself uses. It’s not a bad conceit, and does lead to some interesting moments with an emotional core, but Mark Bagley’s work is uninspired and frankly pretty dull. I guess Ryan Ottley’s exit really threw a wrench in the artistic team that editorial had access to. —HW
  • Marvels Snapshots: Captain Marvel #1
    • The creative team of Mark WaidClaire Roe, and Mike Spicer team for a one-shot that’s as much about Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan as it is about Carol Danvers’s Captain Marvel. This issue feels like a natural continuation of the themes that Waid was exploring during his run on Champions, with a young protagonist trying to make a difference in the world and facing opposition from the older generation. It’s somewhat predictable, but no less entertaining, and an effective intro to both Carol and Kamala for new readers. —JG
  • X-Men #18
    • At first glance, you would think this is just another ancillary story on a possible threat to the young Krakoan Nation, but Jonathan Hickman as the Master X-architect that he is finds a way to send characters Wolverine, Synch, and Darwin on a classified reconnaissance mission to gather intelligence on the Vault and its children and make it another piece to the greater Krakoan mosaic. Told mainly through the voice of Synch this issue is a fast-moving action piece as the team goes from recon mission to full-on slugfest. And this is what I hate/love the most about the X-Books, you could probably skip this issue, but in the end, you’d deprive yourself of the whole picture. —GC

Next week, America Chavez returns in an all-new solo miniseries, and the King in Black event races towards its conclusion!