I seem to remember that during the brief run of Marc Guggenheim’s “Young X-Men,” readers complained that they wanted to see the original New Mutants back in action. “Give me my Sunspot! My Cannonball! My Magik!” they may well have shouted from the message board rafters. I wasn’t really paying attention, because I thought Guggenheim’s series was pretty good, especially when it was drawn by Yanick Paquette.
But if readers did, indeed, clamor for the return of the original New Mutants, they get what they asked for here. But it’s not a very good comic.
First of all, Diogenes Neves is a cut below the likes of Yanick Paquette, or Ben Oliver, or Rafa Sandoval — all of whom contributed to the “Young X-Men” series. And let me be perfectly clear, I don’t particularly miss “Young X-Men.” It was fine while it lasted, but I’m just baffled by the release of this series so soon after the cancellation of that one, when this series is just so much more poorly drawn. Neves has one good page in “New Mutants” #4, one where Magik is in close-up against a hyper-detailed mindscape backdrop. Other than that, it looks like a bland comic from mid-1990s Marvel, something that you could have picked up between a pair of garish foil covers.
And, second, it’s written in a ham-handed, obvious style. Zeb Wells has shown himself capable of wit, but he doesn’t use that corner of his skill set here as he gives us a showdown between the New Mutants and Legion, the high-haired guy with the million personalities. Bill Sienkiewicz is the only artist who’s ever been able to make Legion look interesting, and Wells, as a writer, does little to make the character seem interesting in this issue. He’s just a maniac who can use different powers when he accesses different sides of his personality — personalities he’s consumed from outside over the years of his existence. But it’s all lunging and whining and yelling here, little more than that.
Even the structure of the conflict is tired. Cannonball can’t get the whole team to listen to him, and Dani Moonstar unsurprisingly shows that even though she’s lost her powers, she’s still got the heart of a hero. Yup.
It’s not that this is a terrible issue, it’s just that this kind of story has been told better before. And these characters have been better written and better drawn before. “New Mutants” #4 is just a bottom-of-the-barrel 21st century Marvel comic, no matter how much the fans of the Claremont days might be glad to see their old favorites back in action.