Written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Bob McLeod, New Mutants #1 further fleshed out a brand new team of mutants that Xavier had brought together to replace the X-Men, who were thought dead. It’s still hard to believe this was the first appearance of what are now X-Men mainstays such as Cannonball, Mirage (who went by Psyche for the first few issues), Sunspot and Wolfsbane.
The first issue (and all the later ones that he also wrote) have Claremont’s signature style all over them. That was probably why the book was such a hit; it read and felt much like the regular X-Men book. The only difference between the two being that these characters were younger and still learning how to use their powers. It offered a different side of the X-Men universe and of Professor Xavier; the “School” part of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters was on full display.
There aren’t really that many adjectives I could use to describe the brilliance of Bob McLeod that hasn’t already been used. The man just knows how to tell a story and is a master of the craft. He only stayed on the book for the first year or so, but he set the look and the tone of the characters that is still being used today.
Issue #1 was mostly an introductory issue that set up the situation, established the characters and showed what they could do. But there were definitely glimpses of the potential this team had and showed why it was so cool that there was finally a second monthly X-Men book.
Recently the New Mutants name has been brought back and is now firmly a part of the larger X-Men family of books. But back in 1982, New Mutants #1 was something new and fresh and really exciting. It’s available in the first New Mutants Classic trade paperback or is well worth looking through a longbox or two to find.
Writer Joe Keatinge is taking what I call a “pick and choose” approach to the character of Glory. He is including elements of the previous series that he likes, getting rid of what he doesn’t and forging ahead with a completely new take on the concept. Before, Glory was a poor man’s Wonder Woman, just with much bigger breasts. Now, Keatinge has turned her into a warrior, a weapon that was created by her parents to bring an end to conflict. In issue #24, he goes into a lot more detail about what happened to Glory when that job was done and where she goes from here. The dialogue is sharp and the plot constantly moving, all good things in this world of decompressed storytelling.
When you think of a Rob Liefeld Extreme book, you think of a certain artistic style that all the titles he published had. They had a uniform approach to the art and, honestly, most of the time it sucked. For this relaunch, it’s like they went out, found the most un-Liefeld like artists they could find and said “Go crazy.” No one will mistake Ross Campbell for Liefled, or any other artist who worked on the book, and to that I say “Thank God!”
Campbell’s Glory is strong and fierce, yet is also soft and feminine. The contrast is just amazing and makes for a unique look for a comic book with a female lead. Add in strong storytelling skills and a knack for knowing where to place the camera and you have a book with some of the best art I’ve seen in a while.
Keatinge and Campbell have something really good going here and I’ll be reading for as long as they are on the book. It reminds me of the relaunch of Avengelyne a few months back; a book that is about as far from what came before as possible and much the better for it.
Is that cool or what?
Remember, the Special is only going to be available at the two Brave New Worlds locations in the Philadelphia area. However, if you feel that you can’t live without one, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @DGoodman_NBD and I’ll see what I can do.
The Special will be available May 5th.
While SiP was a slice of life, love story type of book, Rachel Rising is straight up horror, and horror done really, really well. The book follows Rachel as she has somehow returned from the dead after being strangled to death and left in a shallow grave. While her friends try to deal with this, a mystery woman no one can see is making a little girl do all kinds of horrible things. And it only gets creepier from there. Issue 6 begins to bring some of the various plot threads together but then has a last page that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
I know, disturbing, right? Who knew Terry Moore was so good at writing horror comics? The plot of Rachel Rising is a multi-layered masterpiece that will have you guessing from page to page, issue to issue.
Then you have Moore’s artwork, which is simply gorgeous. It seems like his storytelling ability has been taken up a notch as the art has a different feeling here than on his other two books. The pacing is much more deliberate and the panels seem to have more room to breathe, almost like he is really taking his time and letting the plot build at it’s own pace.
There is literally nothing on the stands like Rachel Rising. And when you think that Terry Moore still self-published all his work, it really makes you appreciate what he has been able to accomplish. So support creator owned work and go read this book; you will be amazed how good it is.
Part of what I love about it is the old school (pardon the pun) X-Men vibe it has running through it. By returning to the school setting and brining on board a number of younger mutants, the book feels like a fusion of the best of the Chris Claremont and Grant Morrison eras. The person who gets the most credit for making this work is writer Jason Aaron. Wolverine and the X-Men has some of the best dialogue I have read this side of a Brian Michael Bendis comic, combined with stories that would feel right at home during the height of the Chris Claremont period. Plus he has thrown in just enough of the absurd, widescreen feeling of the Morrison comics that the whole thing feels like comfort comics for the soul.
In issue #5 we are given the return of The Brood, a villain very familiar to longtime readers of the X-Men and the most original biology lesson you will ever see. And while the script and story work really well and hit all the right beats, it is the phenomenal art of Nick Bradshaw that really brings it all together. While I enjoyed Chris Bachalo’s work on the first three issues, it at times seemed frantic and a bit unfocused. With Bradshaw, you get page after page of detailed artwork with full backgrounds and solid line work. While his work does remind you a whole lot of Arthur Adams, he definitely has his own style and way of telling a story. I really hope him and Bachalo take alternating arcs on the book. I would hate to not be able to see his version of the X-Men on some kind of a regular basis.
With the coming of the monster Avengers vs. X-Men series this spring/summer, it will almost be impossible to avoid any book with Avengers or X-Men in the title. If they were all as good as Wolverine and the X-Men, I really wouldn’t mind nearly as much.