The new issue of “New Mutants” has hit the dreaded “middle chapter” syndrome. That’s the stretch where all of the cool new ideas from the early chapters have died down, but the big climax at the end is still around the bend. “New Mutants” #35 definitely fits that bill; fortunately, it’s not bad, but it’s not quite as fun as the first part of this new story was.
With the New Mutants team tracking down the missing mutant Blink, it’s a little surprising how little actually happens now that Blink and the New Mutants are in the same location. We get a fun usage of Blink’s powers to solve a cliffhanger, sure, and there’s a fun scene as Blink meets the various members of the team and begins to think twice about associating with them. But the bulk of the issue feels rather limp. Blink’s “I was finally in there and you ruined it” complaint makes no sense when you think about it (after all, Blink can teleport), and the attempt to stop the natural disasters spawning around the band Diskhord’s performances is remarkably uninteresting. (It just goes to show, mutants versus tornado is not a match-up anyone was dying to read.)
It’s also a little remarkable how even with the team pared down to just six members, there still isn’t enough for all of the characters to do something in each issue. It’s really the Blink show here, although Dani at least gets some snappy dialogue, and Cypher has a nice subplot. But the rest of the cast doesn’t fare at all well; Warlock’s getting knocked out twice in one issue is hard to swallow, and Magma, Sunspot, and X-Man’s contributions to the issue are forgettable at best, and bordering on non-existent. (Aside from promising to go on a date with Mephisto, Magma’s had so little to do in this entire series of “New Mutants” that it’s a little surprising Abnett and Lanning kept her around when they removed a third of the cast.)
The big saving grace here is the art from David and Alvaro Lopez. The looks on Dani’s face as Blink meets the team are so funny that I kept flipping back to those pages and laughing my head off again and again; they’ve got a nice comedic sense of timing here, and those wide-eyed “what the heck?” looks slay me every time. Even then, though, I’m pretty sure that Cypher isn’t supposed to be a celebrity-look-alike for actor/director Mike White, and why non-superhero Blink has a boob and belly-button window in her outfit is currently escaping me. Still, the art is overall entertaining, and if they stick around beyond this story arc I’d be good with that.
“New Mutants” #35 isn’t bad, but this story has already lost a great deal of momentum from the first issue. Hopefully it’s just middle chapter syndrome and we’ve still got a strong finale around the corner. For a story designed to bring back a long-missed character, the lack of steam on the second chapter is a little surprising.