New Mutants #1-6 (July-December 2003)
by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, Keron Grant, Mark Robinson, & various artists

New Mutants appears to be the "Beverly Hills 90210" of the X-Men universe – I'd say "The OC" but it's not that clever; just dependable, disposable teen drama to help us understand the teen mutants inside us all.

So far, I prefer NYX, which doesn't seem much like an X-Men book at all, though it is. With its cast of raver kids, sweet-hearted whores, clueless parents, and malicious drug dealers, that one is the mutant comic equivalent of Thirteen. I guess I'm just a thirteen-year old mutant raver girl at heart.

New Mutants was once a Teen Titans-style "teen superhero" spinoff, fodder for youngsters and X-Men diehards. The relaunched version takes the concept of teen mutants to a less purely unrealistic place, establishing its setting in Dr. Charles Xavier's high school for mutants. This way, it's not so much about teen mutants taking on nefarious supervillains and saving the world, but more about teen mutants coming to terms with their powers (and their differences) and training to control and use them later in life. Meanwhile, coping with the things all teenagers do: distant parents who don't understand them, bigoted bullies, body image issues, and adolescent hormones.

I like it. The covers, by Joshua Middleton (who also did the enticing cover art for NYX), are pure soul-porn, triggering every fantasy you might harbor for impossibly beautiful, eternally misunderstood, fragile-yet-strong waif girls. Inside, the art is considerably more amateurish and sometimes downright bad, but the characters are great and the writing is strong enough.

The first six issues follow former New Mutant Dani Moonstar recruiting teen mutants for the school on Xavier's behalf, thereby allowing a smooth introduction to the various new characters without much contrivance. So far, the kids are otherwise normal teens who can: 1) harvest the power of the wind; 2) release emotion-altering pheromones; 3) cause the decay of death at the slightest touch; 4) assimilate knowledge from the mind of anyone proximate; and 5) heal like Jesus.

OK, so they must be running out of mutant powers to write about at the Marvel offices, but it works pretty well. For the old-schoolers, there are some returning characters from the old New Mutants (i.e. Wolverine shows up as a martial arts instructor), though the special spark of recognition was lost on me, since I have always resisted anything X-Men. It reminded me of "Degrassi: The New Generation," wherein the old Degrassi kids have returned as older, fatter, balder, and less interesting shadows of their former selves, to remind us all that this is where we all are, too.

The setup was pretty good, though I'm not sure I'll actively follow New Mutants, though if they keep putting attractive, cool, nonexistent Asian chicks on the covers, I'll probably be helpless. Hm, seems like Marvel wields the power of emotion-altering pheromones as well.

Review by Larry Darling