Author(s): Charlie Jane Anders
Artist(s): Alberto Alburquerque, Guest strips: Ro Stein & Ted Brandt
Colorist(s): Carlos Lopez, Guest strips: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Genre: Comedy, Drama, LGBTQ, Mystery, Psychological, Superhero
Published Date: 12/28/2022
The U-Men have the New Mutants surrounded! Will the mutant youngsters gather the strength and courage to fight the good fight and power their way through a seemingly unstoppable force? Or give into their fears and insecurities? And Sublime has his sights set on Escapade, determined to procure her powers by any means possible. With the clock close to running out before Morgan’s foretold doom, the pressure is on Shela to save her best friend while avoiding Sublime’s clutches. Find out the fate of these young heroes in Charlie Jane Anders and Alberto Alburquerque’s explosive conclusion to this three-issue arc!
This has to be a bad joke. Two months ago, after the 40th anniversary spectacular issue, and with the realms of New Mutants taken by a vibrant new creative team who put the new Marvel trans mutant on the spotlight it deserved and engaged with the history of the series and some of the characters created by Grant Morrison for New X-Men in new, enriching ways, this series looked like the new batch of mutants and the hope for a new, young, queer and trans team, with a bright future for representation and wonderful character work ahead. And now, its main thread is solved in the last issue of the run that undoes a lot of its character work (turns out Emma and Destiny were simply manipulating this young trans mutant to teach her a lesson?), after a ridiculously short arc with the new creative team and characters, and the run is softly canceled. With a miniseries announced by writer Charlie Jane Anders and artist Enid Balám; and, don’t get me wrong, I’m excited by the announcement and by the miniseries, I absolutely adore Anders’ arc here (minus the way the conclusion feels so forced and fast-paced) and Balám is a fantastic artist… But it feels like so little so late. We should be having a main flagship book with a trans mutant and the next generation of X-Men forging itself within the queer lens and classic New Mutants-style storylines… Not a silent cancellation and a miniseries, just to release more #1s and avoid giving the clear, central representation that was promised in that Marvel Voices: Pride issue. Disappointed is an understatement.
And, the thing is, the issue itself is not bad by any means. Except for that rushed and kind of out-of-character ending (but I mean, Destiny and Emma have been needlessly cruel before… it’s just especially weird having all the context of the cancellation and with the hype and big stakes this arc had for Escapade and Morgan), the high notes of this arc are all here. Cerebella is one of the most fleshed-out characters (those data pages make me cry, and they’re just data pages!), and the team, from Leo to Shela to Morgan, has so much chemistry and is so well-characterized and drawn. The action scenes feel vital and tense, and Sublime is such a fitting villain (especially when he abducts Shela) and so honestly terrifying, that it’s chilling to read. Chilling to see Alburquerque’s obtuse lines and expressive faces light up on Anders’ mastering of the characters she’s writing, and how the plot serves that writing perfectly. The guest strips are so adorable as they are chilling and relatable for trans readers. This issue, outside of the context in which Marvel puts it, would make me mildly disappointed in the narrative end of the arc while touching every other emotional beat of my heart and making me want for this team to tackle another arc in a more calm, continued manner. But, in the context in which it is placed, it just makes me sad. Trans and queer characters are worth only three issues and a mini, while other books continue for more arcs after creative changes before considering cancelation (based or not on sales), and we get the seventh Wolverine series in whatever time it has been.
New Mutants #33 is an emotional, impactful, but also clumsy and abrupt ending, to a run that should have continued and made its trans and queer characters a main part of X-Comics.
I’m a writer, musician, collagist, and more generally a very nerd grrrl. Some of my favorite comics are New Mutants, Jem and the Holograms, Snotgirl and Monstress. I have also been published in different poetry books, anthologies and zines, and with a short story in ‘99% Chance of Magic: Stories of Strength and Hope for Transgender Kids’. You can follow and contact me at @dunahaller on Instagram and Facebook.
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