"New Mutants" #45 offers up what is either a cliché among X-Men comics or a primary ingredient for the recipe for good X-Men stories: time travel.
As I read the second chapter of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's "Fear the Future" storyline, I was feeling somewhere between annoyed and of a sentiment to match Sunspot's memorable quote from this issue: "Time travel stuff freaks me the hell out." I continued on and discovered by the time I reached the final page that I actually enjoyed the camaraderie, levity and confidence the characters of "New Mutants" share with each other. Abnett and Lanning have captured the heart of the old "New Mutants" series from when Chris Claremont and even Louise Simonson wrote the title. That is the biggest takeaway from this story. Yes, it does involve time travel and yes, the time travel scenario could go either way, but the team at the heart of the time travel crisis is a team I'd love to be part of.
That said, it seems as those this series has been spinning its wheels a bit. They started off Abnett and Lanning's run looking for refugees from other dimensions and have since dealt with the schism between Cyclops and Wolverine as well as the grounding of Asgardians. Through it all, though, I'd be hard pressed to tell you what this team's true purpose is, other than to have some fun.
Leandro Fernandez continues this attitude in his art; from the opening scene set in Tuscola County, Michigan to the "Lockware" designs Cannonball and Karma sport on the cover and throughout the story. While his art is fun, it also strikes me as being overly soft. There's nothing wrong with these characters not having hard edges or bulging muscles on every limb, but they all just look rather ordinary. Sure, the New Mutants probably should be somewhat ordinary, but I'd like to see them be more individualized in appearance beyond the caricature-like drawings Fernandez delivers. The artist also leaves quite a few backgrounds open for Val Staples to fill (which he does quite nicely) leaving this book looking average at best. Fernandez definitely has the artistic chops, he just needs to do some more chopping.
"New Mutants" is a book I check in with every so often for no real reason other than to see what's going on. None of these characters are especially dear to me, but the stories Abnett and Lanning write for this team sure makes them entertaining to check in with. All the same, this book seems to need a more definitive direction to make it worthy of more than an occasional check-in.