"New Direction!" It's a claim comics readers see all the time, so it's easy to be a bit skeptical. And while I'd enjoyed Zeb Wells' take on "New Mutants," there were times where aside from "eight of the nine original teammates together again" it was hard to see just what direction the series had taken.
With "New Mutants" #25, though, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are taking their cover blurb seriously, with the remnants of the team getting clean-up duty, so to speak. A cynical person might call the book's new direction as "dangling thread patrol," although in-story referred to as, "clearing up the X-Men's unfinished business." Same difference, really, but no matter what the name it's a smart move, both in-story and real-world.
Of course, first Abnett and Lanning are on clean-up detail, both from Wells' "New Mutants" run as well as (to a much lesser degree) the "Age of X" crossover that appeared in the last three issues. The team is quickly trimmed down from eight to five members, and I welcome the change. Not because I don't like the characters (I like all three of the departing teammates) but because with a smaller core cast, the chance of everyone getting more page-time and character development is stronger. Abnett and Lanning also give us, even before the direction is announced, a teaser for the new thrust of the series as they (along with a few other specially selected characters) go up against some Nimrod technology left over from the "Second Coming" crossover. It gives us a little action, and helps show that they have a good handle of the characters, that they're not ignoring developments from Wells' run. I'm looking forward to seeing just what the writing duo do with a smaller, less cumbersome cast in the issues to come. (Could it be that Magma or Sunspot will finally get a storyline?)
Leandro Fernandez takes over as the title's new artist this month, and he's a good fit. From the quiet moments like Magik and Cyclops seated across a large conference room table (I love the "sweet little innocent Illyana" look that Fernandez draws, which is simultaneously non-threatening and also a tad bit creepy) to the large, powerful, Thing-crashing-through-doors moment. Based solely on the final scene of the comic, I'd want to see Fernandez tackle some more Thor comics, but I'm happy he's here. And while Fernandez doesn't get to create any new character designs yet, even the little touches like the bandages plastered on Cannonball's face end up looking sharp and memorable; I can't wait to see him tackle some other old familiar faces.
"New Mutants" #25 feels like a shot in the arm for this comic. It's got a strong direction, the changes in the roster feel organic (and just as easily temporary changes if Abnett and Lanning wish), and the opening story addresses a problem that I figured would be abandoned for years to come. I'm on board the Abnett, Lanning, and Fernandez "New Mutants" train.