The series originally began life as the second volume of the New Mutants series. This volume, 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.
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 Hellion, 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 realization 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. The short-lived series featured a random collection of characters from New X-Men, along with other young mutant characters like Blindfold and Wolfcub, from Astonishing X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. Finally, three new characters were introduced Ink, Graymalkin and Cipher, though only Graymalkin had any staying power.
The series was widely reviled and largely ignored by other writers, due to plot points such as the New Mutants beating and crippling/maiming the New X-Men mutants, as well as ignoring other writers usage of characters. The later of which led to Guggenheim openly declaring Creator Apathy for the continuity snarls he was creating, sealing the book's doom in the process. The series ended after 12 issues.
Despite a short run, being overshadowed by the main X-Men team, and going through a complete tonal shift, the New X-Men series remains something of a Cult Classic. Despite the fandom demand, most of the characters found themselves in Comic-Book Limbo after the series ended in 2008. After the X-Men: Schism event, most of the kids ended up as background extras for Wolverine and the X-Men while both authors mainly developed original characters or their pets. Prodigy fared a bit better, ending up on the roster for the Young Avengers, and Gentle has joined the cast of X-Men: Red alongside fellow New X-Men alum X-23, who is the Breakout Character and most successful of the group.
Definitely not to be confused for Grant Morrison's New X-Men.
Tropes in this series include:
- Aborted Arc: M-Day and a change of creative team in New X-Men led to the dropping of a number of arcs in that series. Most notably, Wither was attending counseling sessions with Wallflower's father, Sean Garrison (unknowingly), who was planning to take advantage of this connection to gain access to the school and take his daughter back. Although Garrison played a key role during House of M, once the normal universe was restored (and Kyle and Yost took over writing duties) he was never so much as mentioned again, Kevin went through his FaceHeel Turn, and Laurie had a bridge dropped on her.
- 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.
- 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. (He decides he'd rather not try it.)
- 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.
- 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: Sean Garrison, though due to DeFilippis and Weir being fired he didn't really get to do much. The follow-up Kyle/Yost run had William Stryker, Doctor Zander Rice, and Belasco as the main villains of individual arcs.
- Body Horror: The first time Mercury's powers activated, she collapsed into a pile of goo on her bathroom floor.
- Break the Cutie: 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.
- C-List Fodder: Craig Kyle and Chris Yost kicked off their run with an arc where a whole bunch of classmates of the protagonists whom it would probably be generous to call C-list get blown up by the Purifiers. The least obscure character to die in this scene was Tag, who was The Generic Guy in the Jerkass posse. Another character, DJ, got Famous Last Words that were the only thing he has ever said in any comic ever. Kyle and Yost would go on to kill two main characters (main for this title, anyway) and were responsible for the aforementioned Necrosha, so at least that's something.
- Chick Magnet: Hellion is always being described as good looking, and before his Jerkass personality comes out, he is genuinely charming and charismatic.
- Cure for Cancer: Prodigy is shown a vision of what would happen if he has the mental block preventing him from permanently gaining the knowledge he absorbs removed. The first thing he does after he leaves the school is work with his old roommate, Elixir, and he creates a cure for both cancer and AIDS (with the promise of curing every major disease on the planet) that he distributes around the world for free... at the cost of Elixir's life, since Prodigy created the cure by cutting his friend up too much.
- Darker and Edgier: Post House of M New X-Men.
- Defeat by Modesty: When the New Mutants and the Hellions were rival squads, Wind Dancer of the New Mutants dispatched Dust of the Hellions during a melee by using wind to scatter her sand form, and accidentally blew her Muslim niqab to who-knows-where, leaving Dust unable to find where it went. She was forced to hide in a bush lest she accidentally run into any of the boys. Icarus suggested for Surge to get another one from the girls' shared room; once Surge located her, it raised a bit of a conversation about their contrasting views of decency; Surge notes she wouldn't mind being a Shameless Fanservice Girl if the occasion arose.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: A telekinesis version in the case of Hellion. After the battle against Nimrod when he asks Emma Frost to unlock his powers' full potential so he can get X-23 back to Elixir to save her life, he suddenly loses all fine control of his powers. When Beast asks him to move a paperclip he instead blows out an entire wall.
- Five-Man Band:
- First Incarnation, pre House of M:
- Hellions in Academy X, pre House of M:
- Post House of M New X-Men:
- 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 X-23 taking Dust's place.
- 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.
- I'm Having Soul Pains: Pixie received one of these injuries during their trip to Limbo. It acts up specifically around demons and beings with darkness in them.
- 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.
- The Juggernaut: Nimrod, whom the New X-Men hold their own against, without so much as a single casualty (barely).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Mercury is made of up non-organic liquid metal and Dust turns into a sandstorm. While their powers render them nude when they retake human form, Dust can reform in her clothes, although if she can't find them it's even more awkward as she wears a niqab in public as part of her Muslim faith.
- 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.
- 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.