newmutants1When I was in elementary school, I fell in love with The X-Men and religiously read the issues my friend would let me borrow. I soaked up the exotic-sounding names, powers and adventures they were having, and–luckily for me–convinced my mom to buy me a graphic novel collection of the Dark Phoenix saga, which I read and reread.

I was aware of the existence of The New Mutants at best, mostly because of Kitty Pryde’s eventual overlap with them. So this Christmas, I decided that I wanted to catch up on what I’d missed out on. Besides, as much fun as I had reading my then-boyfriend’s old ’80s copies of X-Men comics, I wanted to pick up something somewhat equivalent, timewise.

In the first section of the sprawling graphic novel, we’re introduced to the racially and geographically diverse New Mutants.

 They are:

  • Rahne Sinclair in An Morag, Scotland: A werewolf we first see jumping over the always-annoying Moira MacTaggert.
  • Roberto Da Costa in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: A soccer-playing teen with a pretty girlfriend and the ability to become a glowing silhouette.
  • Sam Guthrie in Cameron County, Kentucky: A coal miner’s son, starting work in the mines himself, before discovering his ability to transform into a human cannonball.
  • Danielle Moonstar in Sundance, Colorado: A young Native American woman with a wise grandfather, a friendly mountain lion named Ridge-Runner and the ability to project people’s worst fears.
  • Xi’An Coy Mahn at the X-Mansion: A young Vietnamese woman with younger siblings and the ability to possess others.

It’s an interesting mix of powers (personalities, not so much), and I find it very odd that, for the most part, these aren’t superpowers that can be used effectively to attack. For the purposes of a comic book, I can see the appeal: the emphasis remains more on the interpersonal relationships and also places the New Mutants as a type of junior X-Men–less powerful but (theoretically) more relatable and likable.

The first story, “Renewal,” sets everything up and ends with our lil’ muties at the X-Mansion in their spiffy yellow-and-black Kitty Pryde-wear (except for the rebellious Moonstar, who keeps her boots and bizarre (turquoise?) shell belt…you know, to honor her heritage).

Quirky, likable and with enough familiar touches from the original X-book (both annoying and endearing, including the tiresome dialects and presences of both Moira McT and Professor X), I found myself enjoying the read much more than I thought.

Oh, and the “phantom Wolverine” cameo? Genius.