Characters from left to right - Mirage, Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Sunspot and Karma (on the second plan). And Professor X's giant flying head.
The New Mutants
are three series featuring an eponymous group of teenaged mutant superheroes-in-training. The three series, two of which are now defunct, are spin-offs of the popular X-Men
franchise published by Marvel Comics.
The first team of "New Mutants" was created by Chris Claremont (long-time writer of Uncanny X-Men
) and artist Bob McLeod; they first appeared in 1982's Marvel Graphic Novel #4 and were subsequently featured in their own title from 1983 until 1991. Initially consisting of invulnerable flier Cannonball, fear-inducing Mirage (usually just called "Dani"), werewolf Wolfsbane, mind-possessing Karma (a character from a Claremont-written "Marvel Team-Up" story) and super-strong Sunspot, it was unusual in that the heroes were not only young (ranging from thirteen to nineteen), but absolute amateurs who could barely use their powers (Dani's Fear-powers often manifested without her desire, and Cannonball could barely control his flight). The book highlighted interpersonal and group conflict, as well as action and adventure, and featured a large ensemble cast.
Various plotlines include the team opposing Dani's fearsome foe The Demon Bear, a trip to Nova Roma — an offshoot of the last of the Roman Republicans in Brazil (where they picked up new member Magma and new enemy Selene, the life-stealing immortal sorceress), Colossus' younger sister-turned-demon-sorceress Magik
, a team-up with Doug Ramsey aka Cypher (a language-translating mutant), a rivalry with The Hellions (a Rival School
formed by X-adversary The White Queen), and a meeting with Warlock (a shape-changing techno-organic alien running from his evil father, The Magus, a creature capable of destroying stars in his rage), Karma's disappearance (and takeover by The Shadow King), and Magneto taking over as Headmaster of the school from Professor X. By issue #50, the team defeated The Magus, and Chris Claremont soon left, and Louise Simonson
Doug Ramsey was killed, four new team members were added (Rictor, Boom-Boom, Rusty & Skids, from Simonson's own "X-Terminators" team), and things soon fell apart for the team. The fabled (and notorious) Rob Liefeld
shot some new energy into the book, and a horde of new characters started showing up, as Liefeld's creative energies (there was nothing else like him at the time — his extreme linework, flashy cyborgs and armoured characters were very unique in the era before the Iron Age Of Comics
) would quickly overwhelm the pages. A new cyborg character named Cable showed up — preaching a more militaristic and extreme
approach to heroics, Moonstar left for Asgard, Rusty & Skids were brainwashed by the new villain team (The Mutant Liberation Front), and the team soon fell into the X-Tinction Agenda, which resulted in the loss of Warlock (to Cameron Hodge's energy-drain) and Wolfsbane (who became a mutate and left to join the new X-Factor).
Eventually, Louise Simonson was replaced by Fabian Nicieza as head writer, and the book was transformed into X-Force
, renewing the gutted team with Liefeld creations Domino (a gun-toting former ally of Cable), Shatterstar (a dual double-bladed sword-wielding arena gladiator from Mojoworld), Warpath (former Hellion member Thunderbird) and Feral (an Expy
of Wolfsbane). Various teams and backstories were introduced, as they brawled with Liefeld's never-ending cavalcade of new character designs (the MLF, Weapon: P.R.I.M.E., The Externals). Liefeld would leave a year later (in the Image Exodus), and Nicieza would take the helm, forming a much more stable book, though still firmly a 1990s-style book. It ran for over one-hundred issues, before quietly disappearing.
New Mutants Vol.2 and New X-Men: Academy X
Characters clockwise from the bottom: Wind Dancer, Elixir, Surge, Icarus, Prodigy, Wallflower
The second New Mutants
series, launched in 2003 and written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, featured another group of teenaged mutants - air-controlling Wind Dancer, skill-copying Prodigy, super-fast energetic Surge, healer Elixir, emotion-controlling Wallflower, and flying Icarus - but unlike the original New Mutants, they were only part of a huge cast of students
at the Xavier Institute. At first they were notable for their drive to become superheroes, but soon rival groups played a large role in the series. The main cast of original New Mutants had become teachers at Xavier's Institute and had problems coming to terms with the fact they were now the "old guard” in the eyes of the new generation.
In 2004 the comic was relaunched as New X-Men: Academy X
, after which the central group was formally dubbed "The New Mutants". They quickly found rivals in a team supervised by Emma Frost – new Hellions – that included arrogant telekinetic Hellion, made-of rocks Dumb Muscle
Rockslide, human sandstorm Dust, Walking Wasteland
Wither, fear-inspiring Tag and shape-changing "living metal" person Mercury.
The series focused strongly on relationships and personal issues instead of supervillain battles, which was a negative for some but a strength for others, who appreciated the deep characterization and optimistic feel.
Characters clockwise from the bottom: Anole, Elixir, Hellion, Prodigy, Rockslide, Dust, Gentle, Pixie, Mercury, Surge, X-23
In 2005 the series was taken over by X-Men: Evolution
writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, who changed to a new Darker and Edgier
status quo. In the wake of the House of M
event most of the mutants on Earth had lost their powers, including several students at Academy X, and the title quickly killed off a large number of characters in controversial C-List Fodder
style. All of the training squads were disbanded and the students with the most offensive capabilities – Helion, Surge, Dust, Mercury, Rockslide, Elixir and Canon Immigrant X-23
were formed into a New X-Men
team, whose purpose was protecting students in case the adult X-Men failed to do so. Later the reptilian Anole, flying illusionist Pixie, super-strong Gentle, and depowered Prodigy, who still retained all his copied knowledge and skills, were added to the team.
Despite being strongly criticized for the grim tone, Kyle and Yost managed to provide a lot of consistent stories, exploring the characters' lives, relationships and realisation that they may be not only the youngest generation of mutants, but the last.
After the Messiah Complex
event, New X-Men
was canceled and replaced with a new series, Young X-Men, written by Marc Guggenheim and drawing from all the previous titles, introducing a team roster featuring both Dani Moonstar and Sunspot from New Mutants
and Dust, Rockslide and Anole from New X-Men
, as well as two young mutants from other titles, Blindfold and Wolf Cub (the former originally was a minor character in Joss Whedon
's Astonishing X-Men
and the latter in Chuck Austen
's Uncanny X-Men
). Both had also hung around in New X-Men
but never officially joined them. Finally three new characters were introduced – Ink, Graymalkin and Cipher.
The story started with Donald Pierce impersonating Cyclops and gathering mutants left after the X-Men disbanded, convincing them that the original New Mutants had all pulled a Face-Heel Turn
and sending the new team to kill them. After his cover was blown, the real Cyclops accepted the team and Dani and Sunspot joined them as supervisors.
The series wasn't well-received and was canceled after twelve issues. The third X-Force
series by former New X-Men
creators Kyle and Yost tried a few times to boost Young X-Men
by including Cameos
and mentioning its plot points, incorporating the unresolved Donald Pierce plot-line. Guggenheim has said that he isn't fond of the direction he took the team
and today would do it differently, if he had a chance.
New Mutants Vol.3
Old school is back to kick some butts
The third New Mutants
series written by Zeb Wells, reuniting most of the original team, launched in May of 2009. This new series incorporated a few elements from both New X-Men
and the limited series X-Infernus
, beginning with the return of Illiyana and the New Mutants being reassigned to help her blend back into mutant community. This was problematic, considering that, after their last two encounters, the youngest generation of X-Men hated her guts
. The team roster quickly expanded with addition of Warlock and return of Doug. After his defeat at their hand, Legion became their supporting character and unofficial member of the team. The series has been focusing on a larger Myth Arc
about upcoming threat from Limbo, with occasional tie-ins to various X-overs
and one guest-written tie in to Siege
After Wells' departure, this series was taken first by Mike Carey
, as a part of his Age Of X
storyline, during which he introduced an alternate reality with a much darker history which was later revealed to be a Lotus-Eater Machine all present had been dragged into by one of Legion's personalities
, and later by Dan Abnett
and Andy Lanning. In face of all their accomplishments Cyclops decided to not disband the team (despite three members leaving as Karma lost a leg, Cannonball was traumatized by events from Wells and Carey's runs and Magik had to be restrained after she manipulated her friends and almost got them killed for personal vendetta
) and to make their new mission taking care of all the loose ends that remained unresolved after the threats the X-Men faced and making sure they won't come to haunt them again (in other words, he made them a less lethal and more moral version of the third X-Force
). This volume lasted until issue 50 where it was cancelled. In the Marvel Now
relaunch, Sunspot and Cannonball are confirmed to be new members of The Avengers
, Magik is on the new roster of Uncanny X-Men
and Dani is part of the cast for the Fearless Defenders
The series contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Towards the end of the 1980s, Louise Simonson was building up a plotline involving Selene and the Hellfire Club having dark plans for Magma, plans that ultimately got dropped after the "Inferno" arc.
- The Externals was another famous aborted arc that got shut down once the thread ran too long and the writers wanted to go in a different direction (this was done so quickly and clumsily that many to this day believe it was due to a threat of lawsuits from the Highlander people for ripping them off) — most Externals were quickly killed off, and Cannonball was Retconned into not being onenote .
- Action Girl: Mirage, Domino, Surge and X-23.
- Aesop Enforcer: Emma Frost and Dani Moonstar teamed up to show Prodigy a possible future where the mental blocks on his powers are removed, allowing him to keep all the knowledge his powers absorb from others. In this future, he becomes a genocidal dictator, creating a utopia at the cost of thousands of lives, including all the X-Men. After seeing this telepathic illusion, Prodigy decides to keep his mental blocks in place. Considering that neither Dani nor Emma have any ability to predict the future, one has to wonder where the hell they were pulling this Wonderful Plot from.
- Aliens Made Them Do It: Empath on Tom and Sharon.
- An Arm and a Leg: Anole loses an arm in Limbo. It's quickly replaced by a larger, stronger arm. After everything's over, X-23 suggests seeing if his other limbs will grow back.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Wolfsbane and Catseye.
- Anyone Can Die: New X-Men, which under Christopher Yost, slaughtered countless characters left and right. The kick off of this trend began with blowing up a bus full of depowered former cast-members. Later, Icarus and Wallflower, two of the central characters, died on different circumstances.
- Apocalypse Maiden: Magik
- Arc Words: The "Highlord Ascension" got tossed around a lot in the early years of X-Force.
- Bad Future: Illyanna could teleport in time as well in space. When she botched it, she often visited one of these by accident. The latest series even begins by her coming to save Dani and Shan from a Bad Future we never see.
- Becoming the Mask: Copycat was sent into the team while impersonating Domino so that she could help Deadpool and Toliver kill the team. But they didn't count on Copycat losing herself in the "role" she was playing, leading to her turning against Deadpool and Toliver and rescuing the real Domino.
- Berserk Button: As Emma Frost admits, she may not like X-23, but mess with her, and you'll wish you were dead, as Kimura finds out the hard way.
- Big Bad: Selene and Emma Frost
- Black Magician Girl: Magik
- The Blank: Zero
- Body Horror: The first time Mercury's powers activated, she collapsed into a pile of goo on her bathroom floor.
- Break the Cutie: Illyana in original series with all Belasco did to her, Inferno and Legacy Virus. Most of the characters from New X-Men got it in one way or another after Kyle and Yost took over but the crown goes to Pixie, who got part of her soul stolen. TWICE.
- Age of X crossover has broken both Pixie and Cannonball. To explain, in that story we see alternate reality, that is terrible Crapsack World and all mutants are fighting for their survival until it's revealed that it's actually pocket reality created by one of Legion's personalities and all those people are members of 616 X-Men dragged into it. Everybody have now different history and Sam and Megan have ones of the most depressing ones and once everything goes back to normal they are devastated and demands their memories about whole thing erased. Oh, and Pixie counterpart from that world, Nightmare, apparently survived as Superpowered Evil Side inside her mind.
- Mercury came pre-broken, what with the traumatic way her X-gene activated, her parents basically abandoning her, and then what the Institute did to her.
- Came Back Strong: Amara's powers as Magma don't manifest until Selene throws her into lava as a sacrifice. (Strangely enough this is never tied in to the Externals, even though it appears to be a textbook case, and would provide a decade-old precedent to justify the storyline.)
- Chekhov's Gun: The last panel of the original Marvel Graphic Novel has an oddity in it; Professor Xavier is looking on as the New Mutants team is assembled for the first time. The narration boxes say how proud he is, but Chuck has got an awful evil grin on his face. We find out why a few issues later, when it's revealed that the Brood that was living inside/controlling Professor Xavier at the time had assembled the New Mutants to provide her (it was a queen, after all) with a new set of host bodies.
- Chick Magnet: Doug Ramsey, who has had a grand total of five love interests even though he was only around for about 50 issues in the original run. Information about the upcoming Age of X crossover suggest he's one even in an alternate reality.
- Hellion is always being described as good looking, and before his Jerk Ass personality comes out, he is genuinely charming and charismatic.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Averted; Xi'an and Roberto are Catholic, but Rahne and Sam are Presbyterian and Baptist respectively.
- Country Mouse: Sam Guthrie a.k.a Cannonball.
- Darker and Edgier: The entire transformation into X-Force.
- Dating Catwoman: Pretty much all the female Hellions wanted Doug.
- Demoted to Extra: The ultimate fate of anyone who's ever been in any of the various incarnations of the New Mutants; even Cannonball, who seemed to have escaped it by joining the X-Men, ended up being cast off into limbo.
- Does This Remind You of Anything? : Doug and Warlock fusions could be sexual metaphors.
- '80s Hair: Lila Cheney and Gosamyr...dear God, Gosamyr...
- Empty Shell: The New Mutants become this at one point during Claremont's run. The Beyonder murders every single member of the team (for once, not hyperbole, the members are each killed as they are trying to escape). He then brings them back to life, complete with memories of their death. The resulting characters are incapable of feeling and only barely interact with the world. The storyline makes the sixth season of Buffy look like Sesame Street, and is considered by many to be the most evil thing Claremont ever did to his characters (which is saying something, considering the Mutant Massacre).
- Evil Counterpart: The Hellions to the original New Mutants had this going on, though some were more clear than others: Jetstream=Cannonball, Catseye=Wolfsbane, Tarot=Moonstar (illusion-casting), Empath=Karma (mind control), Roulette=Magik (kinda), Thunderbird=Sunspot (super-strength). The trend wasn't continued with the New Mutants' later members, however.
- Evil Mentor: Cable started out this way, but he got better with character development/retooling.
- Face-Heel Turn: Sunspot, Mirage (though neither stayed evil for long, and Dani's heel turn was retconned as being undercover), Feral.
- Fanservice: The original book loved to show the team in their skivvies, particularly during Bret Blevins' run as artist; on top of that, he also seemed very fond of showing the effect of cold weather on girls wearing skintight suits, even when they were surrounded by lava.
- Pretty much the whole purpose of the Gosamyr character, both in-universe and out.
- Sometimes Surge and X-23 would be this, depending on the artist.
- Five-Man Band:
- Original team (After the original five, it gets complicated.):
- Second Incarnation, pre House of M:
- Hellions in Academy X, pre House of M (doubles as Five-Bad Band when their rivalry with New Mutants came into play):
- Post House of M New X-Men:
- Post Schism New Mutants:
- Five-Token Band: With Dani Moonstar the Native American, Rahne Sinclair the Scot, Sam Guthrie the Southern coal-miner's boy, Xi'an Coy Manh the Vietnamese immigrant raising her younger siblings, and Roberto da Costa the Brazilian rich boy, it's fairly diverse.
- The original Hellions also qualify: Thunderbird is Apache; Empath is a Spanish nobleman; Tarot is French; Jetstream is from Morocco; Roulette is American, and Catseye's precise origins are never specified.
- For Want of a Nail: Stryker attempts to invoke this: Taking advantage of knowledge of the future provided by Nimrod, he specifically targets Wallflower and Dust for assassination because, in what he was shown, first Laurie and then, after she is murdered Sooraya single-handedly defeated his attack on the school. It might have worked if not for Comic Book/X-23 taking Dust's place.
- Future Me Scares Me: Cypher after discovering due to interfacing with a sentient alien computer he will eventually conquer the world and have everyone with techno organic armor that allows him to control them.
- Genre Blindness: The O*N*E staff who set up camp on the Xavier Institute after M-Day. Bad enough they're using Sentinels to protect Mutants, but when the students go missing they interrogate Anole, who lists all the possible ways they could've gone missing, and promptly refuse to believe him.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of the most ludicrous examples. The New Mutants go to Hell in one issue and fight demons. Some of the demon language is translated. If you followed each letter precisely, you can make out them saying words like "Hey dick-breath" and "Fuck nuts". Dead Serious.
- Idiot Ball: Wallflower's death is largely dependent on both Wolverine and Elixir grabbing hold of this hard. Yes, Logan, when someone's been shot on your watch, the sensible thing to do is obviously to restrain the healer for no apparent reason. And Josh, when your girlfriend is bleeding out, it's probably best to actually use your nigh-omnipotent healing powers instead of just doing the Pietà Plagiarism thing. Also, the adults catch it frequently, most notably by denying Nimrod could have possibly returned (in a comic book), in order to allow the kids to save the day.
- Internalized Categorism: In Marvel Universe, it is a social stigma to be a mutant. That is, to have superpowers. One issue of New Mutants had a boy hanging himself in shame of being able to create beautiful sculptures of light.
- Well, those anonymous threats to sic mutant-hunters on him that some other kids kept sending his way as a prank — while blissfully unaware that he actually was a mutant themselves — might have had a little something to do with it, too.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Julian Keller lives this trope - he will act like a horrible person to everybody, but can be really sweet to people he cares about and is willing to go to insane lengths to protect them.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Legion has the habit of absorbing people into his mindscape. Which is... crowded.
- The Juggernaut: Nimrod, whom the New X-Men hold their own against, without so much as a single casualty (barely).
- Legacy Character: Right after Thunderbird died, he passed the mantle to his brother Warpath. Since then, Warpath has grown from this trope into a character all his own.
- Likes Older Women: Cannonball towards Lila Cheney. Also briefly, Cypher and Psylocke.
- Recently there were some subtle hints about Cannonball having possible crush on Rogue.
- And in the Academy X incarnation, gender flipped with Pixie towards Cyclops. A minor running gag, that is kept in later comics including her, is she has a, mostly innocent, sometimes not, crush on Cyclops.
- Messianic Archetype: Sam Guthrie a.k.a Cannonball was destined to lead the Mutant race by combining Magneto, Xavier and Cable's dreams into something better. It didn't take once the "External/High Lord" thing ran its course and got tired during a change in the creative team.
- Metamorphosis Monster: Gosamyr's race. At first, they're cute, delicate, winged creatures (although with the annoying ability to empathically — and involuntarily — cause conflicts among male humans), but then they enter the cocoon phase (which lasts centuries) which turns them into their adult form: gargantuan abominations.
- Mind Rape: Used by Empath on Magma and pretty much anyone who comes across him.
- What happened to Wolfsbane in Genosha.
- Mushroom Samba: Pixie's other superpower, spraying hallucinogenic dust on people that makes them see cutsey things (teddy bears, unicorns, the like). It even works on demons. And Wolverine.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: X-Force was the signature team for this before Youngblood. Somehow, X-Force actually managed to survive.
- Not So Different: While some of the Hellions were right bastards, most of the team were generally nice people who just so happened to be working for the bad guys.
- Opposing Sports Team: The original Hellions came across as very much this trope — a bunch of prep school kids whose fights with the New Mutants were usually fueled by school rivalry more than anything else. In their first appearance, Sam even compares the New Mutants (and their opponents by extension) to "high school varsity".
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Rahne.
- Playing with Fire: Benjamin Hamill, or Match, has a less powerful version of Johnny Storm's powers. Apparently when they first started up he torched an entire park.
- Psycho Rangers: The Hellions
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Shatterstar from Mojoworld
- Sapient Ship: The shapeshifting Warlock often turned "him"self into a starship to transport the New Mutants around.
- Shout-Out: On one very memorable occasion, Warlock turned into the starship Enterprise.
- Mephisto is drawn suspiciously like David Tennant when he goes on a date with Magma, complete with the Tenth Doctor's outfit.
- Magik's main henchdemon in Limbo is named S'ym, and shares many qualities with Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: In a less-antagonistic sense, in Academy X both Icarus and Wither were latest additions to Hellions and New Mutants, but after incident with FBI Jay found his teammates idiots and Kevin realized Emma's students showed him more friendship than Danni and her pupils, so they switched teams.
- Spanner in the Works: X-23 becomes this for Stryker's plans to attack the school by taking Dust's place when Jay unwittingly lures her into an ambush, and it's ultimately Laura's arrival at the school during the attack and not Wallflower and Dust that foils him.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Feral, replacing Wolfsbane (later, her older sister Thornn briefly served as this for her) and Douglock for Warlock and Cypher.
- Taking the Bullet: Doug died doing this for Rahne (who didn't even realize what had happened until the fight was over).
- The Mole: Copycat pretending to be Domino
- Token Minority Couple: Danielle Moonstar and James Proudstar, had bits of romantic tension for no other reason but one...
- One wonders whether this trope counts, considering both teams were made up entirely of token minorities. Sure, Dani and James were both Native Americans, but they also both happened to be the leaders of their respective teams, both were fiercely competitive, and both displayed a lot of respect for the other team.
- Took a Level in Badass: Most of the New X-Men cast, after Decimation. Just not by choice.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Surge, due to Anger Born of Worry.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Boom Boom and Siryn. Rahne and Danielle Moonstar.
- Kitty Pryde and Magik were a subversion. Both were kick butt girly girls.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway??: Poor Cypher had the mutant power to understand languages. This made him useless in battle, forcing Chris Claremont to have to come up with the plot point of Cypher being able to safely merge with Warlock to get him involved in fight scenes.
- Not so much now in the new run of New Mutants since he seems to have had a decent boost in the scope of his powers.
- Subverted with Domino. Originally a generic gun-carrying Action Girl, she had the uber-generic "luck" power that no one ever mentioned until 1996's Amalgam Universe comic X-Patrol, which used Domino's luck powers alongside Elasti-Girl and The Wasp to reinvent her as an uber-lucky super-heroine. Years passed again and it took Matt Fraction coming up with the idea of her being an UBER-lucky Action Girl, capable of always showing up by chance when evil is going down, let alone always able to make her shots no matter how hard they are, to make her powers useful.
- Actually, she was always implied to have it by her "ability to make things fall in her favor" (hence the name "Domino," get it?), Fraction just turned it up to "11."
- Shatterstar's energy blast power, used once and required so much power-up time he may as well have been a Super-Saiyan.