REVIEW: New Mutants #21 Picks Up the Pace

Three comic panels. The first panel is an arrow hitting a yellow bullseye in a target, hitting the same spot as the arrow already embedded in the target. A word ballown creeps in from the left with "What do you want to do?" The sound effect is "SHUNK!" The second panel is a close up of Dani Moonstar's brown eyes, her brows furrowed. Her word balloon says, "What we should have done to begin with --" The third panel is identical to the first but has an orange background rathter than yellow. A third arrow joins the center with another "SHUNK!" A word balloon to the left reads "--make sure she's safe."

Reading this issue had me saying, “Finally!!!” out loud. The slow-burning Shadow King plotline is moving to its final act, its different strands finally weaving together — though not explosively (yet!). But still, it is a relief to get the gears in motion especially fast in New Mutants #21.

New Mutants #21

Vita Ayala (writer), Alex Lins (artist), Matt Milla (color artist), VC’s Travis Lanham (letterer), Tom Muller (design), Martin Simmonds (cover)
September 1, 2021

 The cover of New Mutants #21, with the title in a stylish logo on the top. The team of Magik with her sword drawn, Dani with her bow drawn, and Karma with her powers activated all face off against the silouhette of Rahne as a wolf.

The quartet of mutant kids who have been doing extracurriculars with the Shadow King – No-Girl, Anole, Cosmar, and Rain Boy — have their worst fears realized. They’re caught by an adult!!! while lurking in the Corpse Garden to find a body for Gabby’s resurrection. Rahne nabs them, and, predictably, nothing outrageous happens beyond the Five deciding they’re sick of hearing Alex Summers complain. They’re ready to resurrect “duplicates” — a polite word for clones. Even Cerebro thinks of Gabby Kinney and Madelyne Pryor as individual people, so how can the Council protest!

Tempus even says, “D’ya really think we wouldn’t [resurrect Gabby]?” and I think it means these kids hadn’t asked around about the Crucible beyond what we’ve seen on the page, and I’m not sure if that’s what I’m supposed to be thinking about in this story moment. Are they being oppressed by the power structure of Krakoa, or by their assumptions of how power works on Krakoa? It seems like an honest conversation would have gotten this outcome more easily and faster. Either way, at least they aren’t in trouble, and I’m very excited to get to Madelyne’s new life.

It’s so nice to have Rod Reis back on art. The characters pop, and their emotions crackle across the page. I love his pointy, wolfy Rahne, and I especially love this panel, where her transformation happens from right to left in time but is imminently legible. It perfectly captures the reasons why Rahne would identify so strongly with this group of kids, and also why they were wary enough to distrust her.

The whole scene is awash in a mistrustful and sour yellow. Violence throughout the book is a passionate red.

The resolution of the kids sneaking around, Gabby’s death, and the Shadow King’s sway over Rahne, is satisfying enough that it almost makes up for the slow pacing that got us here. So what’s better? The conversation between Dani and Karma that follows — Karma brings her concerns about Rahne’s relationship with the Shadow King up, and they agree it’s a problem. People talking about things? Deciding to act? They’re surrounded by greens and blues — sure, the sky and some trees — but blue fills the panels of teamwork on the Moon as well.

Hearing Magik say, “Your biggest nemesis is probably causing it” was another “finally!!!” moment for me. Everyone has been acting so supremely chill about the Shadow King up until now, but thank god Magik has no time for bullshit or the benefit of the doubt. She is the War Captain, after all.

It then turns out Gabby doesn’t remember much after Rahne brought her to the Shadow King, though they’re both in agreement that’s when she was killed. I am actually annoyed that Rahne and the kids have decided to keep Gabby’s murder a secret — it feels like the same kind of secret that led to this problem in the first place! If lessons aren’t learned here, then why drag it out this long?

On the text page side of things, I love the insight into Warpath’s teaching and thoughts. I’m curious to see where the new Brood storyline takes us. But mostly, I am praying that the Shadow King’s true motivations will finally be revealed in New Mutants #22.

Kat Overland

Kat Overland

Small press editor Kat Overland is a displaced Texan now living in Washington, DC, where she is perpetually behind on reading her pull list. She's a millennial, Latina, exhausted, and can often be spotted casually cosplaying America Chavez and complaining.

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