“New Mutants” is coming to a close, again, with #50. Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Felix Ruiz begin that process with “New Mutants” #47, with the first installment of the three-part “Fight the Future” a direct sequel to the last storyline, “Fear the Future.” And while it’s nice to see that last month’s slightly abrupt ending wasn’t really the end of this story about a possible future coming back to force its present on us, the big superstar this month isn’t the story at all.
That’s not to say that the story is bad. Abnett and Lanning are up to their usual strengths; nice banter between the different characters, and a mixture of real-world and superhero issues meshing. It’s nice to have Cannonball and Karma sticking around for “Fight the Future,” and by this point X-Man and Blink both fit in well as members of the New Mutants squad. While this isn’t the only comic this week to involve another reality slithering in around an unsuspecting character (“Supreme” #66 also plays with that theme), I like how Abnett and Lanning play with the idea. Having it start with very small and subtle changes and then start spiraling out of control into something much bigger feels like the right way to ease the reader into the story. The notion that something is wrong mirrors the feelings of the reader and with each new piece of the puzzle it’s harder to ignore.
But no, the big star is artist Ruiz, whose art here harkens back to Bill Sienkiewicz’s run on the original title (as well as his brief collaboration with artist Mary Wilshire). I love Ruiz’s blocky art style here, with sharp angles and a thin, distinctive line. The opening splash page is lovely; characters like Sam, Dani and Shan look instantly recognizable while still being in Ruiz’s own style. I’m especially fond of how Ruiz draws a character like Warlock; he’s at his most alien in terms of appearance here, that “what the hell is that?” mood that only Sienkiewicz ever truly mastered.
Ruiz’s art isn’t just flash, though. There’s good substance here, like Beast hanging from the rafters of his lab, or even a little moment like Doug pulling on a jacket. These moments feel energetic and real, never stiff or posed. When we get a fight scene, well, there aren’t many comics where I found myself thinking, “I wish they had to beat up more enemies.” That’s true in “New Mutants” #47, though; Ruiz’s art is wonderfully crazy and all over the place in a good way. It’s a strange montage of characters and images that works really well here.
My only complaint with the issue is the cliffhanger, which feels unbelievably faked. It might have to do with the jeopardy that they put one of the characters in; considering that this is not only an alternate-reality story but also uses a character that stars in another title, it feels a little fake and forced. It was a less-than-inspired choice from Abnett and Lanning, a slight misstep in an otherwise fun comic.
“New Mutants” #47 is the beginning of the end of this title, but right now it looks to head to that conclusion on a high note. I don’t know where exactly this is going, but I’m eager to find out.