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New Mutants #8

Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writers: Nunzio Defilippis and Christian Weir
Artists: Carlo Barberi and Khary Randolph (p), Faucher, Perotta and Vlasco (i)

Publisher: Marvel

The Plot:
After we watch one of the students drive off a mutant who had come to Xavier's school for help dealing with her powers, we see the tensions among the students is building as Parent's Week is arriving, and many of the students are reminded that their parents have rejected them because they are mutants. After frayed nerves result in a fight between our young cast, we see the issue ends with the mutant who was turned away accidentally killing someone.

The Good:
There is a great little scene in this issue where Dani confronts Emma Frost, as frankly I've been waiting for a scene like this since Grant Morrison first inserted the character into the book's lineup, and perhaps it's for the best that this questioning of her comes from a member of the original New Mutants, as they had the most exposure to the true evils that Emma committed during her time as a villain. I also rather enjoyed the notion that the White Queen is sweeping in to recruit the trouble makers in the book's cast, as it evokes memories of those old New Mutant stories where members of the New Mutants found themselves being offered a place in Emma Frost's Hellions. There's also a cute little scene where Dani introduces Shan to the girl at the coffee shop that Dani discovered bats for the same team as Shan, as there's something rather endearing about the clumsy way this scene is handled. In fact almost all the material that deals with the characters that were in existence before this book's arrival work quite well, as Northstar's uncanny ability to offend is used to amusing effect, and I rather enjoyed the way that Shan dealt with the rebellious students. The cliffhanger is also interesting as we see a woman is accidentally killed by a dangerous mutant that can claim she was turned away from Xavier's school. Plus, I'm curious to see if this mutant becomes a member of this book's cast.

The Bad:
I hold fond memories of the original "New Mutants" series as I essentially grew up alongside Sam, Bobby, Dani, Rahne and the others. A complete run of the original series is a prized part of my ever growing collection, and it's this fondness that has me sticking it out with this book. However, I'm starting to get the sense that I should followed my gut instincts and left this book after the first arc as frankly this book has yet to deliver a single moment where I found myself engaged enough to have me willing to overlook the idea that precious little is actually occurring in these pages. I mean I realize that this looks to be a character driven series, but frankly none of the cast members have really set themselves apart as anything all that special. In fact if nothing else I find myself even more disappointed by the lack of imagination that is shown when they we're creating the powers and personalities of these characters as nothing about them really sparks the imagination. The characters are flat, and uninspired, which is even more surprising when one considers this is the same writing team that delivered the miniseries "Skinwalker", which would've been a rather conventions cops versus a serial killer plot if not for its solid character development of the two leads. I'll stick around until the end of this arc, but I have to say I'm becoming increasingly disappointed with this book's inability to shake itself free of its conventional trappings.

I suspect another problem I'm having with this book is that its art is wildly inconsistent. This issue in particular is a bit hard to take, as they actually switch artists in the middle of the issue, and the two artists have very different styles. Now I suspect Khary Randolph is responsible for the second half of the issue, as I'm somewhat familiar with Carlo Barberi's work and the wildly distorted, cartoonish look of the latter half of the book doesn't look like his work. Now I like Carlo Barberi's work, and I think his expressive work will be a good fit, but the work in the second half of this issue soured me on this book's interior art, especially since it was called upon to deliver the visually engaging elements of the issue, while Carlo Barberi was saddled with pages of talking heads. I will give the art credit for a visually striking final page though, as one has to believe this moment is sure to make a huge impact on the book. I'm also delighted by the prospect of Chris Bachalo being this book's cover artist, and this month's effort does nice work visually conveying Laurie's power.

His Blue-Eyed Illegitimate Child:
A bit of a mixed bag, as there are moments in this issue that I enjoyed quite a bit. Dani's confrontation with Emma Frost jumps to mind, as does the scene where Shan finds herself being introduced to the hostess at the coffee shop because Dani discovered the woman has something in common with her friend. The book also does a nice job of working the X-Men cast into the book as while the riot looks to be looming on the horizon, I enjoyed this calm before the storm, where Northstar can be his usual charming self, and Emma Frost can slink around the book sinking her claws into the disenfranchised members of this book's cast. However the material that centers around the younger cast members still struggles to grab and hold on to my attention, as frankly nothing about the characters has really caught my imagination, and it doesn't help that they behave in such a predictable fashion. Still, while the book is on the verge of being dropped from my list, I will concede the material that centers around the original New Mutants and the X-Men is engaging enough to leave me hesitant to drop the book.



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