New Mutants #7: FIGHT!

An all out brawl between Magik and other members of the new mutants

Roberto da Costa’s space race concludes in New Mutants #7, and the universe may never be the same. In the book’s final issue from Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis, the New Mutants reach the end of their interplanetary road trip to Chandilar.

New Mutants #7

Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Travis Lanham (Letterer), Tom Muller (Designer), Rod Reis (Artist).
February 19, 2020

The New Mutants celebrate on a parade float on Rod Reis's cover to New Mutants #7
Rod Reis’s cover to New Mutants #7 (Marvel, February 2020).

New Mutants #7 brings the team’s story in Shi’ar space to a close, even as it sets the stage for future stories featuring various New Mutants, both within and without Shi’ar space. This issue also feels like the culmination of the storytelling elements utilized so far. It features some of my favorite page layouts yet from Rod Reis. With every page, Reis’s characters are emotive and distinct, and his colors pop. The cover of the issue is a celebration and the interior feels just as jubilant to read, thanks to the brightness of Reis’s colors and the concentrated excitement present in the motion implied by his art.

Fight! Fight! Fight!, reads lettering, over three scenes of fighting between the New Mutants and Shi'ar Imperial Guard, beautifully illustrated by Rod Reis.

Bobby’s recap monologue, in particular, has developed over the four issues of this arc. From a fourth wall-breaking conversation with Dani Moonstar embedded in the ongoing issue into a multi-page feature of the story, it involves commentary from other characters on the recap and discussion of the alternating storylines in New Mutants itself. Bobby’s monologue is as fun as it’s ever been, charming in its self-indulgence and humorous in its slight bruising of Bobby’s ego.

There’s only one data page here. It takes the form of a set of rules to a dice game that determines the outcome in a fight between the New Mutants and Superguardians. The data page follows a page with three asymmetrical panels showing the throne room brawl, lettered only to say “Fight!” once each panel.

A data page from New Mutants #7 explains the rules to a dice game simulating a fight between the New Mutants and Shi'ar Imperial Guard

The data page cuts the entire fight down to two pages, but through the rules of the game, rolling dice against each other until every team member is eliminated, it’s communicated that any conflict between the New Mutants and Superguardians would be an evenly matched, long-winded affair with no way of reliably predicting an outcome. It’s a neat way to wrap up a fight scene, continuing the issue’s trend of breaking the fourth wall to call attention to the comic book form. This data page uses the potential that all of the Dawn of X data pages have had, pushing the story a step forward in an inventive way that creatively utilizes the qualities that differentiate data pages from traditional comic book interior pages.

Ostensibly, this has been a New Mutants story, a team reunion that brings everyone back together for a new adventure. But just as Roberto dismisses that idea — this was never about putting the team back together for him, this was always about reuniting with Sam — so too does this issue, as it ends this arc with the team just as separated. With Bobby remaining on Chandilar to stay close to Sam, the rest of the team returns to Krakoa, bringing the focus of the book back home with them. This arc has largely been a Bobby and Sam story, just as much an arc about their friendship as it was about Shi’ar succession, and now with their teammates leaving them behind, the rest of the New Mutants will hopefully all get chances in that same spotlight. In solicited upcoming issues, covers show Magma’s return to the fold, Armor and Boom Boom joining forces with the classic New Mutants back on Earth, and New Mutants stories that just don’t have Sunspot.

Dani Moonstar explains to Roberto da Costa that there are New Mutants comics he is not in, to his immediate shock, dismay, and horror.

This arc has been a genuine delight to read. Every panel has been beautiful, every cover has been gorgeous and energetic, and each issue was fun, heartfelt, and exciting. This arc was a Sunspot vehicle, centering a character Hickman has demonstrated a clear preference for but who doesn’t necessarily have a widespread fanbase. In a few issues, Hickman, Reis, and Lanham established Bobby as one of the most distinctive voices of the Dawn of X, fit an expansive story into four well-paced issues, and told an enjoyable story in the great tradition of X-Men in space comics. As the book continues without Roberto, Sam, and the Shi’ar Empire, and without Hickman and Reis, hopefully it retains the warmth that held the team together and the momentum that carried this arc along from start to heartfelt finish.

Emma Snape

Emma Snape

Emma is an Ohio native who has worked in film production and education, and writes about comics on the side. She loves thinking about the role of visuals in narrative storytelling, both in film and comics, reading comics set in cities she's lived in, and telling people to read X-Force (1991).