It’s a little sad to see Zeb Wells almost gone from “New Mutants,” since it feels like he spent the bulk of his first year on the book assembling his cast and setting up what was to come. Now that we’re finally there, the sets are being struck (so to speak) and things are winding down at an accelerated pace.
As such, we’re getting “The Rise of the New Mutants” this month and next, picking up the pieces from “The Fall of the New Mutants” and bringing the book full circle. It’s a little frustrating with so little left that half the cast has absolutely nothing to do this issue, to the point that it makes you wonder if they ever had much of a purpose besides having reunited with the rest of the team throughout this incarnation of the comic. Maybe if we’d had more time, we’d have seen bigger stories for each team member, but instead for now those characters look to be leaving with a whimper, not a bang.
On the plus side, the characters that do get a bit of a focus all get their strong moments. It’s nice to see Karma-easily the most overlooked member of the original nine-get some big scenes for the past few issues, and Wells’s attention to her will be missed. And while Wells looks to be going for a literal deus ex machina ending next month, it is nice to see it not come entirely out of the blue, instead going back to an earlier story to have set it all up.
Leonard Kirk and Andrew Currie are on board for the art, and it’s solid, unassuming pages for the most part. Some of the Project Purgatory mutants still look indistinguishable from other characters, unfortunately (the tattooed member and Danielle have the exact same face, for example, something that’s hard to miss when they keep having scenes together), but the bad guys ripping through Portal Epsilon is an awesome moment, and the final page of the issue channels an earlier “New Mutants” artist in an effective homage to that character’s creator.
“New Mutants” has had its ups and downs, but throughout it all Wells has had a real affection for the cast shown in every issue, and with it an enthusiasm. I’ll definitely miss both of those qualities on the book, and whomever replaces Wells this spring once the “Age of X” crossover has concluded will have a big set of shoes to try and fill.