For all that I waffle about comics, I don’t talk about comic art much, which is a habit I am trying to break. So, let's talk about the art of this final arc of New Mutants. As I have been reading more of this era I am starting to appreciate what artists like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld (who is the guilty party for New Mutants #98-#100) were trying to do.
Before you start up the flamethrowers, let me clarify. Yes, they did not have the anatomy and often ended up drawing ridiculous contorted poses, but the generation of artists before that were not trying those poses at all. They are doing stuff with perspective and angles and dynamism and action and composition and people coming at you from the weird directions and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but whatever happens it’s always new and different. If we treat panels as shots in a film, they are an exciting wave of cinematographers. (And that’s precisely how they were treating the panels.) They were very raw but I can see why people got so into them. They (well, most of them) got better at it, too, and them and the next wave, of people who have refined their techniques are responsible for lots of great comics art today.
What else do we have here? Well, the cover for New Mutants #98 promises us three new characters! Excite! These are a rather more heavily built Spider-Man lookalike called Deadpool, someone with a domino pattern on her face called... Domino. And some chap called Gideon, who, with a name like that, is clearly going to be a major player in the future.
Deadpool has been sent by a Mr. Tolliver to assassinate Cable (who I will note he addresses as Nathan - I don't know whether that is a new thing or not though, due to not having been bothered to read the intermediate issues of New Mutants). Deadpool is immediately a mercenary with a mouth on him, something that I think it's worth pointing out was a novelty at a time given the prevalence of the taciturn grim villain/anti-hero. The fight is truncated by the arrival of Domino, an old friend of Cable, who has the pouches to prove it. They send Deadpool back to Tolliver by mail.
Domino sticks around to help Cable recruit: the team has lost Warlock and Wolsfbane due to the recent crossover. All previous New Mutants (Rusty, Skids, Xi'an, Amara, and Dani) are ruled out due to alignment or in some cases their faint hint of rubbishness. While he's off headhunting John Proudstar from the Mass Acad, other students are evaporating (not literally - it's good to clarify that in a superhero comic), as Rictor goes off back to Genosha and Sunspot inherits his father's business, due to Gideon's machinations. (Gideon, by the way, turns out to be an old family friend of the da Costas.) He just lets them fuck off, which annoys some of his team but not enough for them to fuck off too.
#100 introduces another couple of characters: Feral, an escaped Morlock who I am forever confusing with Wolfsbane, and Shatterstar from the Mojoverse. Cable and the New Mutants protect these folks from their respective enemies and accepts their assistance in return for same. At the end we get a few pages of cutaway to Stryfe, leader of the Mutant Liberation Front, who is on the last page dramatically revealed (I presume, it's oddly structured otherwise) to look quite a lot like Cable, What a mystery!
Although clearly these issues are going to be important, they're also quite shit, The plot is paper-thin, the characterisation subtle (in the sense, barely there, rather than that it's clever), and coming back to this series after a few issues doesn't make me worry about having missed anything good. The end of the New Mutants is effectively arbitrary: it's already been X-Force for a while, but it's at this issue - apparently for no other reason than that they've finally got to issue #100, that they make a symbolic break, by leaving the basement of the mansion, and taking on the new name.
Incidentally Cannonball and Boom Boom clearly have a quick one in the woods between pages 33 and 34. And by that I don't mean a pint.