New Mutants #1
Written by Ed Brisson and Jonathan Hickman
Art by Rod Reis
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Dawn of X takes a stab at ensemble comedy in the latest reboot of the New Mutants. Starring a classic New Mutants lineup with a few modern additions, writers Ed Brisson and "Dawn of X" architect Jonathan Hickman aim the team toward a true reunion. After finding each other again on Krakoa, Sunspot supposes a cosmic road trip for the whole team, hitching a ride with the Starjammers to bring their wayward teammate Cannonball home from Shi’ar space.
Though we don’t get much more plot than that, Brisson and Hickman nail the voices and off-beat charm of the team, gathering them all again in intimately funny dialogue sessions and then flinging them into space with nothing more than their wits and the uniforms on their backs. Artist Rod Reis also leans into the singular look of the title, providing this reboot a Bill Sienkiewicz-style sketchiness. It could certainly stand to be odder, perhaps even more experimental, but New Mutants #1 is a welcome, consistently funny return for the team.
It has been a hard road for the members of the New Mutants, from deaths to Phalanx possessions to resurrections all over again. But on Krakoa, these burned-out former gifted youngsters have all found some measure of peace. So why can’t Roberto Da Costa just leave it be? While the rest of the team have settled into their new, peaceful existence, Roberto longs for the company of his longtime BFF, Samuel “Cannonball” Guthrie. So he does what any restless X-Man would do — he proposes to bring the band back together to bring him home.
While it’s not the most substantial of opening plots, Brisson and Hickman are more concerned with the characterizations than they are plottiness. And in that regard, this opening issue really shines. Nailing the voices and tone of everyone from the jump, the writing pair get everyone bouncing off each other instantly, starting in pairings and then growing to full ensemble scenes. From there they deliver not only classic takes on the team, but genuinely funny one-liners and character beats, like Magik threatening to stab someone if they go after her new Krakoan coffee and Roberto nearly breaking the fourth wall to look directly at us to assure that it's time for him to save the day.
The fun increases when they are put in the charge of the Starjammers, who serve as their “ride” to make contact with Sam. It is here where Brisson and Hickman mine some funny friction from the travel, mixing up the teams in neatly entertaining ways. Readers might bemoan that much of New Mutants doesn’t further out the world-building of Krakoa or add anything new to the mythos of Dawn of X. And that’s a fair critique. But I will say, it’s kind of nice to know that "Dawn of X" is capable of more low-key, character-focused fare like New Mutants #1 amid the larger scale, idea-heavy titles.
But while it doesn’t add anything to overall lore of "Dawn of X," New Mutants #1 certainly makes the case for being the most visually experimental thanks to artist Rod Reis. Taking his cues from iconic New Mutants runs, Reis delivers sketchy, immensely eye-grabbing artwork throughout this debut. Starting with the warm flora of Kraoka and ending in the cold, prog-rock-inspired vistas of space, Reis sets this series apart from the more conventional superhero artwork of the other X-titles. While he could stand to get a little more out of the box with the layouts and page construction for sure, the strength of his character modeling and the warmth, lived in quality of the pages do make up for it.
Space road trips are quickly becoming their own subgenre in comic books, but New Mutants #1 breathes a compelling air of X-nostalgia into the "Dawn of X," thanks to its user-friendly characterizations, droll comedy, and fantastic artwork. While I’m not sure they can comfortably called “New” at this point, New Mutants #1 is a breezy reboot of a cult favorite X-title.