By now you're probably familiar with the "Forever" line of books at Marvel, where creators associated with books get to write what would've happened next had they not left. "New Mutants Forever," the latest addition to this group, uses Chris Claremont's final issue of "New Mutants" (#54) and jumps in directly where that comic left off. And you know what? It's startling how well it fits into place.
Claremont picks up with situations unchanged; Sunspot and Warlock are still guest-starring in the horrible "Fallen Angels" mini-series, Karma had just quit the team to try and find her missing siblings, and the rest of the New Mutants and Magneto are guests of the Hellfire Club in New York City. And from there, it's a typical "New Mutants" story. Claremont plays some more with the connection between Magma and Selene that the previous two issues had brought up, and in general it's fun to see the team happy and working well with one another. For now at least, Claremont resists the urge to take the characters to well-known points; Magik isn't turning into the Darkchilde, and we're getting a new take on Mirage's Valkyrie powers. The story moves at a fairly quick clip, Claremont not wasting a minute of his five issues to try and get us to where he wants to go.
On the other hand, some of Claremont's writing seems to be trying a little too hard to jump back to earlier times. Narration disasters result, an early one telling the reader, "How totally New York, don't'cha know, to have heroes and villains living within blocks of one another." I'm sure it was meant to sound younger and innocent, but it just comes across as forced. The typos on the first page of this comic are slightly unfortunate, too; I can understand accidentally tacking on an extra E to the end of Rahne Sinclair's name. But writing Mirage as "Mirrage" is slightly painful.
I hadn't looked at the credit box before I started reading "New Mutants Forever" #1, and while I'd remembered that Al Rio was penciling the comic, I found myself surprised at how crisp and clean the art looked. I'd actually found myself thinking that Rio had found a way to channel original "New Mutants" artist Bob McLeod. Upon flipping back to the start of the comic, the reality was more simple: it's McLeod providing inks. I think this is actually the nicest Rio's pencils have looked in a while, though; McLeod provides a stability and smooth final product with Rio, and I'm pleasantly surprised. There are still the occasional glitches in the art too, mind you; there's one scene in particular where M.C. Escher seems to have drawn the panel, with what initially looks like Cypher and Magma walking down a set of stairs in fact being them going up one instead.
The one thing "New Mutants Forever" #1 doesn't seem to even try to do is ease in new readers, but I suppose they're not the target audience in the slightest. Don't remember what happened to the other members? Too bad. (I do like to think the Hellfire Club wouldn't have drawn big red Xs over their faces, though.) Not entirely sure why they're all upset? No time for more than the briefest of answers. This is a mini-series aimed squarely at people who remember reading "New Mutants" #54, after all. And for that audience? I think it's doing just fine.