New Mutants #24

This issue of New Mutants doubles up as the final part of the Age Of X event that has been running for the last few months. In fact, this is one of only two regular books affected by the crossover, which by Big Two standards is quite restrained, but it’s still a huge disruption to the regular run of a book already damaged by being so often used as a chapter in a larger part-work, instead of being allowed to go it’s own way.

I’m sure Marvel already have someone tracking these numbers, but it’s worth noting that this issue marks the tenth issue in a twenty four issue run that requires the purchase of the rest of the parts in a crossover to understand it. These aren’t just partial tie-ins to broader events, either – Marvel’s Mutant crossovers over the last couple of years have taken the unusual step of co-opting a book entirely to the longer narrative.

This is literally “Chapter 6″ in the Age Of X storyline, continuing a linear thread through the series, which means we don’t just see the roles and experiences of the book’s starring characters, the New Mutants, here – they share and submit whole sections of the book with only tangentially related characters. Which would be almost acceptable in this arc, because it’s an “alternate version of reality” story which might allow for team-rosters to change a little, except that it’s what has happened with every other one of those crossovers, too, most confusingly in Second Coming.

It sounds pedantic to whinge about this, but there is an issue with buying a book called New Mutants, and not even getting to see the themes you’re expecting.

This is even more problematic because that run of two dozen issues has, when left to it’s own devices, included one six-part story that was beautifully told, but required a twenty year old continuity knowledge to fully appreciate.

Mike Carey does a decent job writing this issue – with only a couple of exceptions he’s written most of Age Of X, and it is, after all, an interesting arc, and Steve Kurth and Allan Martinez do nice work on the art, with moments of beauty reminiscent of Phil Jimenez’s post Perez hyper-detail.

But this is a book that Zeb Wells, when he gets the chance, does such a great job on, managing to capture the mix of superheroics and awkward interpersonal relationships that make it a perfect companion to the classic Claremont/Simonson run in the 80s, and the choice of artists, when not tied to the signature look of these wider arcs, has made for a beautiful and idiosyncratic experience.

I’m hoping that’ll be it for a while, and Marvel will let this book develop its own identity properly. It isn’t a good business tactic, pushing people to buy so many issues of a series grudgingly.