By: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Leandro Fernandez (art), Andres Mossa (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters), Sebastian Girner (editor) & Nick Lowe (senior editor)

The Story: The New Mutants continue their first mission now that they’re on official mop-up duty for the X-Men: The search for Nate Grey.

What’s Good: As with X-Men Legacy this week, it is great that this X-comics has a unique cast of characters.  We have plenty of opportunities to see the exploits of the main mutants and some of those characters like Wolverine are so larger-than-life than they suck the air out of the room; it’s hard for a character like Magma to shine or develop much when Emma Frost is in the room.  I also really love that Abnett & Lanning have given these junior mutants a coherent mission: clean up the loose ends that the X-Men leave behind.  The mission the New Mutants are tasked with here is: Find Nate Grey.   And in finding Nate Grey, they’ll run across a leftover from Age of Apocalypse.  Funny how that story line keeps swirling around this summer, huh?

So, the basic set-up for the mission and series are solid.

The art is a positive from a storytelling standpoint.  There’s never much doubt about what is going on and the issue is nicely colored.

What’s Not So Good: Two problems with the issue.  First, just as I’m lauding the fact that the New Mutants doesn’t feature any of the over-exposed members of the X-Men… Steve Rogers shows up in a way that is totally unnecessary.  You could be a cynic and say, “Yeah, well, Captain America sells comics.”  And I could accept that except for the fact that there’s no big tease on the cover that Steve will be in this issue.  So, how would any Cap fans know to buy the issue?   The New Mutants just kinda stumble across him in an old warehouse.  If they proceeded to team-up, it would be easier to accept his presence, but as it is, he’s just kinda a throw away.

The other problem is that the issue has way too many shaky panels from an artistic standpoint: funny looking faces, incomplete linework on the faces, shadows that don’t make any sense (Cypher having a bigger shadows under his pecs than Dani Moonstar has under her breasts) and the odd disembodied head floating in the middle of a panel.  It’s kinda a rough issue if you’re really staring at the art, but if you’re just breezing through, it’s serviceable enough.

Conclusion: Not the strongest second issue to a run for Abnett and Lanning.  This title has a lot of potential to be something more than a comic that X-fans just buy out of a sense of “buy everything”, but it needs to ramp up the pacing, ramp up the crazy and have slightly stronger art that is more willing to experiment.  One of my biggest frustrations with Big 2 superhero comics is when 3rd tier titles (which is what New Mutants is) seem willing to settle for being mediocre.  Abnett and Lanning gave us a cosmic bromance between an anthropomorphic raccoon and an ambulatory tree in Guardians of the Galaxy.  C’mon guy!  Go for it!  This standard story pacing and predictable story isn’t going to boost New Mutants to “must read” status.

Grade: D+

-Dean Stell

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