With all the space stuff going on over in X-Men #8, Ed Brisson, Flaviano, and Carlos Lopez reunite the team in New Mutants #9 and send them on a more traditional mission that ends up evoking Bill Sienkiewicz’s work on the title back in the 1980s. Even with a larger cast of characters, Brisson and Flaviano handle the team nicely and give each of the New Mutants’ team members at least a couple of spotlight panels from Magik defending the team’s actions in Nebraska to basically her boss Cyclops to Mondo using his “unusual” powers to help Cypher interface with Krakoa and track a mutant named Tashi, who has some kind of reality warping/alternate universe creating abilities.
New Mutants #9 definitely seems to be an intriguing marriage of two key New Mutants storylines by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, namely, the “Demon Bear Saga” and “Legion”, which form the basis for the upcoming New Mutants film and the now-concluded Legion television show. Basically, Brisson and Flaviano combine the horror elements of the former with the reality warping of the latter for an interesting antagonist that happens to be a teenage girl that lives in the fictional country of Carnelia where mutants are despised and diplomatic relations with Krakoa aren’t a thing. Think Chechnya and LGBTQ rights although Brisson doesn’t delve into the politics beyond the Carnelians not caring if the New Mutants walk into a literal nightmare and giving them no backup or support.
Speaking of Carnelia, the tense interactions between the Carnelian military and the New Mutants is spiced up by Boom Boom knowing broken record thanks to her days as a thief. Coming off the Nebraska arc, Brisson seems to still be enjoying writing Boom Boom and her impetuous attitude as she drags the space-lagged New Mutants into yet another mission. The all action, sometimes drinking definitely betrays a void inside that hopefully he and Flaviano will explore in the future.
Flaviano jumping back on New Mutants gives the comic a real visual pizzazz, especially any time Tashi shows up. The first three pages are quite chilling with minimal dialogue/captions from Brisson and full page splash of how she has changed the landscape with an otherworldly palette from Carlos Lopez. Then, there’s a data and title page, and we’re back to Krakoa with a sunny color palette and more open compositions.
However, Flaviano doesn’t skimp on these important connective scenes choosing poses and facial expressions that are unique the characters like Boom Boom standing with her arms crossed away from the rest of the team to show her independence, and Chamber being frozen and unable to talk to his crush. Also, the aforementioned conversation between Cyclops and Magik is a study in power poses with some interesting backgrounds too that let the theme of precarious utopias and moral ambiguity sink without exposition-heavy dialogue. Cyclops is a supervisor talking to an unruly, yet talented employee; he shouldn’t have to explain everything to the readers.
As well as the tension within the team and the whole potentially causing yet another diplomatic incident after Nebraska, New Mutants #9 has cool and tense action scenes that make creative use of its characters’ powers. Karma and her mental possession abilities were created for sequences like these, and Flaviano and Carlos Lopez go full gonzo when she basically mind-melds with Tashi and is sucked into an alternative universe. And, of course, the sheer firepower of Magma and Chamber don’t work on a mutant with such complex abilities.
Brisson and Flaviano wrap up the story with some special guest stars, and I’m excited to see what these characters from later New Mutants era add to the storyline, especially they’re very much not in the hero camp. Their appearance (And check-in’s with members of Morlocks in Marauders and Cable) shows that Dawn of X is settling in comfortably and starting to show what other groups of mutants think about Krakoa and the roles they play in the new society.
Ed Brisson, Flaviano, and Carlos Lopez spin a typical team rescues a mutant whose powers are out of control from a society that hate and fears her story in New Mutants #9. But Flaviano and Lopez’s art is so breathtaking, and Brisson creates almost effortless chemistry/dysfunction between his large ensemble cast that I didn’t even notice that this is an X-story that has been told dozens of times before. Also, the ending creates even more opportunities for moral complexity and conflict between different mutant factions even though Krakoa is a “paradise”.
Story: Ed Brisson Art: Flaviano
Colors: Carlos Lopez Letters: Travis Lanham
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review