One of my favorite eras in X-Men history happens to be the original New Mutants.Â Theyâ€™re the third generation of the X-Men, with the first being the Silver Age Stan Lee line-up and the second being the Giant Size X-Men line-up.Â When the New Mutants came along they managed to bring a great deal of change along with them.Â For the first time ever, Xavierâ€™s School for Gifted youngsters actually began to feel like a school.Â It always bugged me that Xavier had this humongous, sprawling complex yet only six students.Â Then, when Claremont came on board, all the X-Men were full grown adults.Â It still didnâ€™t feel like a school.Â The New Mutants really helped to fill up the empty, cavernous mansion and started a trend that would eventually lead into books like Generation X and the current state of the mansion in X-comics today.
The New Mutants: Classic vol. 1 collects the earliest appearances of the New Mutants team: Marvel Graphic Novel #4, the New Mutants #1-3, Uncanny X-Men #167 and the New Mutants #4-7 in that order.Â The New Mutants comic is possibly my favorite of Chris Claremontâ€™s work as it isnâ€™t quite as painfully cheesy as some of his more â€œclassicâ€ X-Men stories.Â He still writes with his patented Claremont â€œtreat the audience like theyâ€™re completely new to everythingâ€ approach, but he doesnâ€™t lay it on quite as thick as he did with his early X-Men stuff.Â The one thing that really stuck out to me about the New Mutants, and one of the reasons I continue to adore it, is the sense of humor.Â There are plenty of serious moments and dangerous challenges, but the characters, being so young, just have this humorous attitude about them.
Some of the characters introduced in these stories would prove to withstand the test of times, while others would regretfully vanish into the comic book ether.Â Karma, the original leader of the New Mutants, gets a healthy chunk of story devoted to her.Â She was the only New Mutant to have appearances in the Marvel Universe prior to Marvel Graphic Novel #4, showing up in Marvel Team-Up.Â Karma has the ability to possess people simply by looking at them and can control their body and mutant abilities as if they were her own.Â Keeping with Claremontâ€™s love of ethnic X-Men, most of the New Mutants are non-American.Â Karma is Vietnamese, though she has an inexplicable French accent.Â Thereâ€™s Pshyce, a Cheyenne Indian with the ability to conjure up the deepest fears or fantasies of the people around her and turn them into three-dimensional images.Â Her power isnâ€™t the best, though Claremont manages to work some good stories around it.Â Sunspot is from South America and can harness solar energy to morph his body into a powerhouse.Â Cannonball is the Midwestern hick of the group, though he has a heart of gold.Â He can channel powerful bursts of energy through his legs to propel himself at intense speeds like a cannonball.Â You might recognize Cannonball and Sunspot best for their roles in the original X-Force comic from the 90â€™s,Â which was a direct continuation of the New Mutants comic.Â And, last but not least, is my favorite New Mutant of the bunch: Wolfsbane.Â Sheâ€™s a naÃ¯ve Scottish girl who can transform herself into a wolf or a wolf/girl-hybrid.Â I always liked her the most because she was so cute and innocent and a source of much humor.Â Unfortunately, they eventually turned her into Havocâ€™s psychotic stalker in X-Factor, which was a character transition I was never very fond of.
The story arcs collected in this volume tie-in directly with the stories happening in the Uncanny X-Men comic.Â Thankfully, you donâ€™t really need to read those issues, save for Uncanny X-Men #167, which is included in this trade.Â The New Mutants, despite being rather wet behind the ears, take on some pretty heavy duty challenges so early on in their career.Â Their first battle is against a rogue member of the Hellfire Club (Pierce, the cyborg), returning villains from the X-Men comic.Â They also take on Henry Gyrickâ€™s Sentinels in one of the better issues.Â However, possibly the best arc included in this trade is their fight against the alien monstrosities known as the Brood.Â This is where the New Mutants comic directly ties-in with the X-Men book, as while the New Mutants were being formed, the X-Men were out on the Sleazeworld battling the Brood for the first time.Â A Brood Queen festering within Professor X makes some serious trouble for the New Mutants and really shows off their team-work and individual strengths.Â
Not all the stories are winners, though.Â In one of the weakest issues of the lot, the New Mutants track down a kid who has been leaving lewd phone messages to one of their teachers.Â Itâ€™s pretty stupid and all turns into a trite public service announcement about child abuse.Â Another arc features the terrifically obscure Marvel hero group called â€œTeam Americaâ€.Â Yeah, I had to look them up, too.Â They get quite a bit of time devoted to them and their struggle with lame-o villains Viper and the Silver Samurai.Â The final issue features the Hellfire Club once again, but this time with a Mr. T-wannabe kidnapping Sunspotâ€™s mother.Â Not really a good note to end on.
Save for a few weak issues, this is really one of the better trades to come out featuring classic X-Men stories.Â Iâ€™d highly recommend it to any X-Men fans.Â Regretfully, since this is the early portion of the New Mutants, more recognizable characters like Cypher, Warlock and Psylock donâ€™t make any appearances.Â Illyana is present as a background character, though she has yet to become a member (Magick, as sheâ€™ll eventually be called).Â Still, those stories will hopefully be collected in future volumes.Â As it stands, this is a fine collection of issues and a great piece of X-Men history.