New Mutants #14

I was looking at a Marvel sales chart analysis and was mystified that the orders for "New Mutants" were much lower than some other titles also containing "Second Coming" chapters. With the story running directly from one title to the next, does this mean there are readers out there who are picking up just 11 of the 14 parts of this crossover? It's a little bizarre, especially since I'm not convinced that any one title is skippable.

For example, this issue of "New Mutants" follows on directly from last week's "Uncanny X-Men," with the Nimrod Sentinels still pouring into present-day San Francisco while the X-Men start to rally some of their last-resort choices into action. So while Zeb Wells is following up on what previous chapters did, there's still a lot of forward movement. One extremely powerful mutant is brought onto the front lines, while several of the major characters are hurt or taken down for the count.

It's nice that Wells gets to write the issue that uses Legion as a central character, since the first storyline of this volume of "New Mutants" focused on him and his increasingly fragmented personalities and connected powers. It's a smart tactic in the execution of the character, and it's that paying attention to detail and all of the options available that has made the plotting of "Second Coming" work so well; you get the impression that Wells, Matt Fraction, Mike Carey, Christopher Yost, and Craig Kyle thought through every possibility before creating the master outline. That's rare in a storyline of this magnitude, let alone a crossover running between four different titles.

This issue is drawn by three different artists, but cleverly each artist gets a different realm to illustrate. Nathan Fox's art is a perfect choice for the mindscape of Legion, hinting at the crazy nature of a character whose definitive storyline was drawn by master of madness Bill Sienkiewicz himself. I love the large grid of possible personalities, and the jagged lines that make up the mental images of the characters. Ibraim Roberson and Lan Medina tackle the present day and the future, and their styles look much more unified. This not only lets Fox's art stand out as the unreal, but it provides a visual throughway from present to future and back. Their art is smooth and almost airbrushed in its rendering, but every now and then we get an image like Hope gearing up for war in such a way that works perfectly.

It's all the little touches in this issue of "New Mutants" that make it stand out, even as the storyline stretches towards its conclusion. "Second Coming" is proving to be one of the strongest X-Men crossovers to date, and if it can keep its momentum through the final three chapters, I think most readers are going to be quite happy that all of the X-books came together for three months to tell this story. Good stuff.

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