Synopsis: Marvel Graphic Novel 4: The New Mutants was written by Chris Claremont with art by Bob McLeod and letters by Tom Orzechowski and opens with occasional X-Men supporting character Dr Moira (Charles Xavier’s original eX-person) McTaggart walking in rural scotland before being knocked over by a fleeing wolf, where turns into a teenage girl before her eyes. Moira notices that she’s hurt, most likely shot and that it’s a girl she delivered years earlier, Rahne Sinclair. They are soon set upon by local preacher Reverend Craig and a mob (torches and all) and Moira stands between them, declaring that it’s her land the girl is on and she will protect her. We get some ‘she’s a demon rhetoric from Mr Craig, but ultimately he folds and Moira leaves, realising that this girl is most likely a mutant.
We now go to Brazil and watch a football match, where Roberto DaCosta is having the game of his life, before some racists a$$e$ on the other team foul and then beat on him for the crime of being black. Roberto fights back, but undergoes a strange metamorphosis, his skin starts glowing, then is as black as night and he is strong enough to throw his attacker across the pitch. Everyone in the crowd runs away, while Roberto collapses into the arms of his girlfriend Juliana Sandoval. Now to Kentucky, where Sam Guthrie is starting work at a coal mine rather than go to college due to the sudden death of his father, leaving him the sole breadwinner. After a mine collapse, the foreman is trapped under rocks with Sam, who blasts out of the mine like a cannonball.
Colorado and we meet Danielle Moonstar is met by her grandfather Black Eagle, who tells her that she needs to go to Charles Xavier to help with the strange powers she is manifesting. She is angry with him, but ultimately agrees, that night she is woken by a bad feeling and finds Black Eagle, beaten to death, something he feared was going to happen, and something Danielle was able to project from inside his mind. All of these things are being watched by Donald Pierce, the cyborg member of the Hellfire Club, who is plotting against it’s leader Sebastian Shaw and the rest of the mutants there, even to the extent of capturing Tessa, Shaw’s aide.
At the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester New York, Professor Charles Xavier is performing medical tests on Xian Coy Manh, a young Vietnamese woman. Also present is Moira and Rahne. (Ok, taking a 14 year old girl from home and shipping her off to the states, with what appears to be no official involvement whatsoever, that does strike me as kidnapping) and Xavier is asking for Xian to demonstrate her mutant power of mind possession/body control. She takes over Moira, Rahne is scared and wolfs out. As every one talks about what’s going on, a letter comes for Charles and this fledgling group heads to Colorado to meet Moonstar, but are attacked by Hellfire Club troops in their fantastically pink armour. The teens deal with the troops and a very angry Moonstar agrees to join Xavier at least until the man who ordered her granfather’s death is dealt with.
The group, after learning that there are two more targets, (Xavier once again being morally flexible about his use of telepathy). Xian, Moira and Dani head to Brazil to find Roberto, whilst Xavier and Rahne head to Kentucky. In Brazil the police arrest the girls for phoning Roberto’s father (yup, that’s what they did) Dani and Xian escape and find Roberto trying to rescue Juliana from the Hellfire club guards. These guards (the ones that were gutted by Wolverine during the Dark Phoenix saga) are attached by Moonstar and Xian and during the resultant shoot-out kill Juliana. Wanting vengeance as much as Moonstar does, Roberto joins them, while in Kentucky, Xavier’s jeep is totalled by the Hellfire club’s newest employee, Sam Guthrie, who takes Xavier to the rest of the regular Hellfire guards as Rahne escapes in her wolf-form. Roberto, Xian and Moonstar arrive and they sneak into the Hellfire guards’ base and during an exciting fight scene, help free Xavier, who then disables Pierce, who has arrived to kill all the mutants there.
Xavier, once free hands over Pierce to the released Tessa, rather than a: the police, b: the Cheyenna, c: the Brazilian authorities and then take the teens home, save for the now unemployed Sam.
At the end of the story, Xavier has assembled these teens to be the next class of his students, including Sam, who arrives to a prickly reception, but is accepted into the team and even without the X-Men, the dream survives.
Notes: Well this was an interesting comic, the art is great, the faces and body language a clear improvement for pencillers of the time and many from here and now, the teenagers look like teenagers and each is visually distinct and easily identifiable. There’s a decent mix of races and the mix between boys and girls is better than it once was. The writing though, is very Claremont. The reason I say that, is that it showcases the best parts of Claremont’s writing, individual voices, characterisation that makes sense and everyone having different motivations and ideologies, this is not the same age, same race, same background of the original team and is a better variation on the international team from the 70’s. This is Xavier’s school take 3 and the good is better as a result. Unfortunately it also showcases Claremont’s lesser qualities, he is overly verbose, the language is stilted and over descriptive and his pointing out they’re foreign with spattering of appropriate catchphrases is very much here. But there’s are minor quibbles and the story as a whole works for it’s purpose, launching the first of many (so very very many) X-Men spin-offs.
Overall it’s a decent story and led into the first run of New Mutants and is worth reading just for that and I liked it, although it left me with one question, how exactly, did Moira have herself named as Rahne’s guardian?
Next Time: Things are not going well for Tony Stark.