“New Mutants” #10 is a bit of a mixed blessing. On the bright side, we’re finally getting a purpose for “New Mutants” existing as a team (and by association, its own comic). As even the solicitation admitted, there aren’t “squads” any more in the X-Men, so why do the New Mutants exist as their own unit? On the down side, what does it say that it took all the way to issue #10 for us to finally get to this point?
If you look at “New Mutants” #10 on its own, devoid of the rest of the series, it’s not a bad issue. Six of the members head to the coast of Japan to stop several mutants who hadn’t joined Utopia, while Cyclops and Emma Frost observe from afar and we learn why Cyclops is keeping a close eye on this group and the purpose for them being a smaller team within the umbrella of the X-Men. It’s a legitimate enough reason, and watching the New Mutants (sans Magma and Magik) get used to operating as a team again is entertaining. It’s nice to see Zeb Wells remember Karma and Dani’s past experience as leaders, giving both of them level heads and strategic chops. So much attention is normally placed on Cannonball that seeing a writer look to the other characters on the team is a pleasant change.
As part of the new series to date, though, “New Mutants” #10 is part of a larger problem. As I’d stated earlier, taking all the way until #10 to provide a reason for the team to exist is frustrating; it’s a sign that the series is moving at the speed of molasses. Magik’s absence from this issue is another flashing warning about the speed of the series. After the previous issue finally gave us some forward motion on what Magik’s up to, this issue? Nothing. There’s a one-sentence mention about her whereabouts this issue. It’s akin to advancing two steps forward, then one step back. With next month’s issue by a guest creative team (and finally dealing with Dani’s deal with Hela from “Utopia” and if she still has her Valkyrie abilities, something that should have been addressed by Wells, himself), followed by several months of “Second Coming” tie-ins, it’s feeling even more like we’re getting a lot of polish on a series that is moving impossibly slow.
Paul Davidson, David Lopez, and Alvaro Lopez provide guest art for this issue. Davidson’s is rough and bumpy; I can’t remember the last time Cannonball has looked so gangly, and Sauron looks the most dinosaur-like that he has in quite a while. Best of all, Warlock continues to look strange, and for that alone I’m happy with Davidson being around this issue. It’s too easy for artists to make the character of Warlock appear relatively normal, and while he’s not as off the wall as those early Bill Sienkiewicz issues, it’s still a good look for the character. David and Alvaro Lopez tackle the scenes set back on Utopia, with an overly smooth and soft look that completely contrasts with Davidson’s. It’s a strange match for Davidson’s art. The Lopezes do seem determined to draw the least backgrounds as possible, though, and while some of their figures look good, others are slightly off-kilter. (Cyclops in particular seems to have misplaced his waist in the last couple of pages. And the less said about the black hole that’s eaten his crotch, the better. Shadows don’t naturally fall like that.)
I want to like Wells’ “New Mutants,” for if nothing else than the fact that I think he understands the voices and purposes of the characters and is handling them better than just about anyone post-Louise Simonson. But this is a series that needs a serious kick in the rear in terms of the overall speed of the book. This quiet inching forward is a bad long-term game plan. Once “Second Coming” is over, Wells had better pick up the pace.