I’ve never understood the idea of a “house style” for a comic book company, because there’s nothing more refreshing as a comic reader than opening up a brilliantly drawn book that looks new and exciting instead of like the same thing you’ve seen a million times before. Such is the case with David Lafuente’s take on the New Mutants in this book.
In this issue of “New Mutants,” Dani Moonstar, imbued with the power of a Valkyrie by Hela, has returned to Hela’s dimension (Hel) for aid, only to find Hel overrun and in need of assistance. In an attempt to come to Dani’s aid, her teammates try to follow her to Hel but somehow end up in Hell, instead, and find themselves bargaining with Mephisto to get out, despite Bobby DaCosta’s frequent and vocal demand that they not engage with Mephisto. What Mephisto wants is intriguing and has me incredibly curious for more; hopefully, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will get to tell that story in the future.
Abnett and Lanning have a great handle on these characters’ voices and they’ve set up a plot that feels freewheeling and exuberant, even in the midst of the overwhelming "Fear Itself" event. It’s a tone that well fits the characters they have at their disposal, and I found myself thoroughly entranced with the whole thing. Dani’s solo story is great and she really pops from the page as a powerful and compelling female lead that carries her own story easily. She’s convincing and wonderful as a Valkyrie, and I yearn to see more of her, Valkyrie or otherwise. Her teammates, in their own side story, have great chemistry together and deliver some comedy that balances the book out nicely.
Lafuente’s art simply sings in this book and it’s the easily star of the show, though the whole book is good. The art skitters and jumps across the page, loose and kinetic but never confusing. It's full of life and expression and epic heroic moments contrasted perfectly with more quiet personal ones. None of Lafuente’s characters look the same. They all have distinctive body types, faces, hairstyles, expressions, and body language. Lafuente is incredibly consistent in those variations. He knows how to push his cartoony extremes just far enough to make everything exciting and vibrant, without losing the reality needed to ground the story. He’s the perfect artist for a book like this, one not afraid to push on boundaries and live on the edge a little bit. Every comic should look this good. The colors by David Lafuente, Val Staples, and Chris Sotomayor are gorgeously considered, a perfect match for the characters and settings of the book. They’re also flawlessly integrated, so it’s hard to distinguish where the change in colorists occur.
All in all, this was a great little comic book that manages to feel like its own book despite having a “Fear Itself” banner stamped onto it. A single issue like this ensures I’ll be picking up the next issue, and you should too.