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The New Mutants are three series featuring an eponymous group of teenaged mutant superheroes-in-training. The three series, two of which are now defunct, are spin-offs of the popular X-Men franchise published by Marvel Comics.
The first team of "New Mutants" was created by Chris Claremont (long-time writer of Uncanny X-Men) and artist Bob McLeod; they first appeared in 1982's Marvel Graphic Novel #4 and were subsequently featured in their own title from 1983 until 1991. Initially consisting of invulnerable flier Cannonball, fear-inducing Mirage (usually just called "Dani"), werewolf Wolfsbane, mind-possessing Karma (a character from a Claremont-written "Marvel Team-Up" story) and super-strong Sunspot, it was unusual in that the heroes were not only very young (around thirteen or fourteen years old), but absolute amateurs who could barely use their powers (Dani's Fear-powers often manifested without her desire, and Cannonball could barely control his flight). The book highlighted interperson and group conflict, as well as action and adventure, and featured a large ensemble cast.
Various plotlines include the team opposing Dani's fearsome foe The Demon Bear, a trip to Nova Roma — an offshoot of the last of the Roman Republicans in Brazil (where they picked up new member Magma and new enemy Selene, the life-stealing immortal sorceress), Colossus' younger sister-turned-demon-sorceress Magik, a team-up with Doug Ramsey aka Cypher (a language-translating mutant), a rivalry with The Hellions (a Rival School formed by X-adversary The White Queen), and a meeting with Warlock (a shape-changing techno-organic alien running from his evil father, The Magus, a creature capable of destroying stars in his rage), Karma's disappearance (and takeover by The Shadow King), and Magneto taking over as Headmaster of the school from Professor X. By issue #50, the team defeated The Magus, and Chris Claremont soon left, and Louise Simonson took over.
Doug Ramsey was killed, four new team members were added (Rictor, Boom-Boom, Rusty & Skids, from Simonson's own "X-Terminators" team), and things soon fell apart for the team. The fabled (and notorious) Rob Liefeld shot some new energy into the book, and a horde of new characters started showing up, as Liefeld's creative energies (there was nothing else like him at the time- his extreme linework, flashy cyborgs and armoured characters were very unique in the era before the Iron Age Of Comics) would quickly overwhelm the pages. A new cyborg character named Cable showed up — preaching a more militaristic and extreme approach to heroics, Moonstar left for Asgard, Rusty & Skids were brainwashed by the new villain team (The Mutant Liberation Front), and the team soon fell into the X-Tinction Agenda, which resulted in the loss of Warlock (to Cameron Hodge's energy-drain) and Wolfsbane (who became a mutate and left to join the new X-Factor).
Eventually, Louise Simonson was replaced by Fabian Nicieza as head writer, and the book was transformed into X-Force, renewing the gutted team with Liefeld creations Domino (a gun-toting former ally of Cable), Shatterstar (a dual double-bladed sword-wielding arena gladiator from Mojoworld), Warpath (former Hellion member Thunderbird) and Feral (an Expy of Wolfsbane. Various teams and backstories were introduced, as they brawled with Liefeld's never-ending cavalcade of new character designs (the MLF, Weapon: P.R.I.M.E., The Externals). Liefeld would leave a year later (in the Image Exodus), and Nicieza would take the helm, forming a much more stable book, though still firmly a 1990s-style book. It ran for over one-hundred issues, before quietly disappearing.
New Mutants Vol.2 and New X-Men: Academy X
The second New Mutants series, launched in 2003 and written by Nunzio De Filippis and Christina Weir, featured another group of teenaged mutants - air-controlling Wind Dancer, skill-copying Prodigy, super-fast energetic Surge, healer Elixir, emotion-controlling Wallflower, and flying Icarus - but unlike the original New Mutants, they were only part of a huge cast of students at the Xavier Institute. At first they were notable for their drive to become superheroes, but soon rival groups played a large role in the series. Main cast of original New Mutants had become teachers at Xavier's Institute and has problems coming in terms with the fact they are now „old guard” for the new generation.
In 2004 it was relaunched as New X-Men: Academy X, after which the central group was formally dubbed "The New Mutants". They quickly found rivals in team supervised by Emma Frost – new Hellions – that considered arrogant telekinetic Hellion, made-of rocks Dumb Muscle Rockslide, capable of turning her body into sand Dust, bestowed with decaying touch Wither, fear-inspiring Tag and Mercury, whose body was made from metal similar to mercury, she could manipulate at will.
Series focused strongly on character's relationships and personal issues instead of supervillain battles which was a downfall for some but a strength for others, who appreciated good characterization and an optimistic feel.
In 2005 the series was taken over by X-Men Evolution writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost who introduced it to new, Darker and Edgier, status quo. In the wake of House of M event most of mutants on Earth has lost their powers, including several students at Academy X, from which lots has quickly suffered C-List Fodder-style deaths. All of the training squads were disbanded and the students with the most offensive capabilities – Helion, Surge, Dust, Mercury, Rockslide, Elixir and Canon Immigrant X-23 were formed into New X-Men team, whose purpose was protecting students in case adult X-Men failed to do so. Later the reptilian Anole, flying illusionist Pixie, super-strong Gentle, and depowered Prodigy, who still retained all his copied knowledge and skills, were added to the team.
Despite being strongly criticized for much Darker and Edgier approach than previous writing team, Kyle and Yost managed to provide a lot of consistent stories, exploring character's lives, relationships and how they cope with the fact that they may be not only the youngest generation of mutants, but the last.
After Messiah Complex event, New X-Men was canceled and replaced with new series, Young X-Men, written by Marc Guggehneim and being Spiritual Successor to all previous incarnations, introducing a team roster featuring both Dani Moonstar and Sunspot from New Mutants and Dust, Rockslide and Anole from New X-Men, as well as young mutants from other titles – Blindfold and Wolf Cub (the former originally was supporting character in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men and latter in Chuck Austen's Uncanny X-Men. Both were also hanging around in New X-Men but never officially joined them) and new characters – Ink, Graymalkin and Cipher.
The story starts with Donald Pierce impersonating Cyclops and gathering mutants left after the X-Men disbanded, convincing them that the original New Mutants have all pulled out Face Heel Turn and sending new team to kill them. After his cover was blown off, the real Cyclops accepted the team and Dani and Sunspot joined them as supervisors.
The series wasn't well-received and was canceled after twelve issues. A third X-Force series tried a few times to boost Young X-Men's popularity with use of Cameos and mentioning its plot points, incorporating the later unresolved Donald Pierce plot-line. Guggenheim has said that he isn't fond of the direction he took the team and today would do it differently, if he had a chance.
New Mutants Vol.3
The third New Mutants series written by Zeb Wells, reuniting most of the original team, launched in May of 2009. This new series incorporated few elements from both New X-Men and limited series X-Infernus via the return of Illiyana and the New Mutants being reassigned to help her blend back into mutant community, which may be problematic, considering that, after their last two encounters, the youngest generation of X-Men hates her guts. The team roster has quickly expanded with addition of Warlock and return of Doug. After his defeat at their hand, Legion has become their supporting character and unofficial member of the team. The series has been focusing on a larger Myth Arc about upcoming threat from Limbo, with occasional tie-ins to various X-overs and one guest-written tie in to Siege.
After Wells' departure, this series was taken first by Mike Carey, as a part of his Age Of X storyline, during which he introduced alternate reality with much darker history which was later revealed to be Lotus Eater Machine all present mutants has been dragged into by one of Legion's personalities, and later by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In face of all their accomplishments Cyclops decided to not disband the team (despite that three members has to leave Karma lost a leg, Cannonball has been traumatized by events from Wells and Carey's runs and Magik has to be restrained after she manipulated her friends and almost got them killed for personal vendetta) and to make their new mission taking care of all loose ends that remain unresolved after each new threat the X-Men face and making sure they won't come to haunt them again (in other words, he made them a non-lethal version of third X-Force)
The series contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Towards the end of the 1980s, Louise Simonson was building up a plotline involving Selene and the Hellfire Club having dark plans for Magma, plans that ultimately got dropped after the "Inferno" arc.
- The Externals was another famous aborted arc that got shut down once the thread ran too long and the writers wanted to go in a different direction (this was done so quickly and clumsily that many to this day believe it was due to a threat of lawsuits from the Highlander people for ripping them off) — most Externals were quickly killed off, and Cannonball was Ret Conned into not being one.
- Action Girl: Mirage and Domino.
- Aliens Made Them Do It: Empath on Tom and Sharon.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Wolfsbane and Catseye.
- Anyone Can Die: New X-Men, which under Christopher Yost, slaughtered countless characters left and right. The kick off of this trend began with blowing up a bus full of depowered former cast-members. Later, Icarus and Wallflower, two of the central characters, died on different circumstances.
- Apocalypse Maiden: Magik
- Arc Words: The "Highlord Ascension" got tossed around a lot in the early years of X-Force.
- Bad Future: Illyanna could teleport in time as well in space. When she botched it, she often visited one of these by accident. The latest series even begins by her coming to save Dani and Shan from a Bad Future we never see.
- Becoming the Mask: Copycat was sent into the team while impersonating Domino so that she could help Deadpool and Toliver kill the team. But they didn't count on Copycat losing herself in the "role" she was playing, leading to her turning against Deadpool and Toliver and rescuing the real Domino.
- Big Bad: Selene and Emma Frost
- Black Magician Girl: Magik
- The Blank: Zero
- Break the Cutie: Illyana in original series with all Belasco did to her, Inferno and Legacy Virus. Most of the characters from New X-Men got it in one way or another after Ky;e and Yost took over but the crown goes to Pixie, who got part of her soul stolen. TWICE.
- Age of X crossover has broken both Pixie and Cannonball. To explain, in that story we see alternate reality, that is terrible Crapsack World and all mutants are fighting for their survival until it's revealed that it's actually pocket reality created by one of Legion's personalities and all those people are members of 616 X-Men dragged into it. Everybody have now different history and Sam and Megan have ones of the most depressing ones and once everything goes back to normal they are devastated and demands their memories about whole thing erased. Oh, and Pixie counterpart from that world, Nightmare, apparently survived as Super-Powered Evil Side inside her mind.
- Chekhov's Gun: The last panel of the original Marvel Graphic Novel has an oddity in it; Professor Xavier is looking on as the New Mutants team is assembled for the first time. The narration boxes say how proud he is, but Chuck has got an awful evil grin on his face. We find out why a few issues later, when it's revealed that the Brood that was living inside/controlling Professor Xavier at the time had assembled the New Mutants to provide her (it was a queen, after all) with a new set of host bodies.
- Chick Magnet: Doug Ramsey, who has had a grand total of five love interests even though he was only around for about 50 issues in the original run. Information about the upcoming Age of X crossover suggest he's one even in an alternate reality.
- Country Mouse: Sam Guthrie a.k.a Cannonball.
- Darker and Edgier: The entire transformation into X-Force.
- Post House of M New X-Men.
- Dating Catwoman: Pretty much all the female Hellions wanted Doug.
- Demoted to Extra: The ultimate fate of anyone who's ever been in any of the various incarnations of the New Mutants; even Cannonball, who seemed to have escaped it by joining the X-Men, ended up being cast off into limbo.
- Eighties Hair: Lila Cheney and Gossamyr...dear God, Gossamyr...
- Empty Shell: The New Mutants become this at one point during Claremont's run. The Beyonder murders every single member of team (for once, not hyperbole, the members are each killed as they are trying to escape). He then brings them back to life, complete with memories of their death. The resulting characters are incapable of feeling and only barely interact with the world. The storyline makes the sixth season of Buffy look like Sesame Street, and is considered by many to be the most evil thing Claremont ever did to his characters (which is saying something, considering the Mutant Massacre).
- Evil Counterpart: The Hellions to the original New Mutants had this going on, though some were more clear than others: Jetstream=Cannonball, Catseye=Wolfsbane, Tarot=Moonstar (illusion-casting), Empath=Karma (mind control), Roulette=Magik (kinda), Thunderbird=Sunspot (super-strength). The trend wasn't continued with the New Mutants' later members, however.
- Evil Mentor: Cable started out this way, but he got better with character development/retooling.
- Face Heel Turn: Sunspot, Mirage (though neither stayed evil for long, and Dani's heel turn was retconned as being undercover), Feral.
- Fan Service: The original book loved to show the team in their skivvies, particularly during Brett Blevins run as artist; on top of that, he also seemed very fond of showing the effect of cold weather on girls wearing skintight suits, even when they were surrounded by lava.
- Pretty much the whole purpose of the Gossamyr character, both in-universe and out.
- Sometimes Surge and X-23 would be this, depending on the artist.
- Pretty much the whole purpose of the Gossamyr character, both in-universe and out.
- Five-Man Band:
- Original team (After the original five, it gets complicated.):
- Second Incarnation, pre House of M:
- Post House of M New X-Men:
- Post Schism New Mutants:
- Five-Token Band: With Dani Moonstar the Native American, Rahne Sinclair the Scot, Sam Guthrie the Southern coal-miner's boy, Xi'an Coy Manh the Vietnamese immigrant raising her younger siblings, and Roberto da Costa the Brazilian rich boy, it's fairly diverse.
- The original Hellions also qualify: Thunderbird is Apache; Empath is a Spanish nobleman; Tarot is French; Jetstream is from Morocco; Roulette is American, and Catseye's precise origins are never specified.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of the most ludicrous examples. The New Mutants go to Hell in one issue and fight demons. Some of the demon language is translated. If you followed each letter precisely, you can make out them saying words like "Hey dick-breath" and "Fuck nuts". Dead Serious.
- Hot Amazon: Dani Moonstar becomes this when she regains her Valkyrie powers.
- Ho Yay: Arguably Warlock towards Cypher before the latter's killing-off.
- Still present after Cypher came back. "I love you and you are breaking my heart." Well...
- Between Shatterstar and Rictor as well
- Internalized Categorism: In Marvel Universe, it is a social stigma to be a mutant. That is, to have superpowers. One issue of New Mutants had a boy hanging himself in shame of being able to create beautiful sculptures of light.
- Well, those anonymous threats to sic mutant-hunters on him that some other kids kept sending his way as a prank — while blissfully unaware that he actually was a mutant themselves — might have had a little something to do with it, too.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: Legion has the habit of absorbing people into his mindscape. Which is... crowded.
- Legacy Character: Right after Thunderbird died, he passed the mantle to his brother Warpath. Since then, Warpath has grown from this trope into a character all his own.
- Les Yay: Danielle and Rahne, due to their psychic-link when Rahne's in wolf-form.
- -and a good deal of obvious subtext, calling each other 'soul-mate', a revealing event in the Inferno-alternate Manhattan, and Dani saying as much as 'I love y-' on a cliff in Scotland.
- Sometimes, Illyanna towards Kitty, too.
- Likes Older Women: Cannonball towards Lila Cheney. Also briefly, Cypher and Psylocke.
- Recently there were some subtle hints about Cannonball having possible crush on Rogue.
- Messianic Archetype: Sam Guthrie a.k.a Cannonball was destined to lead the Mutant race by combining Magneto, Xavier and Cable's dreams into something better. It didn't take once the "External/High Lord" thing ran it's course and got tired during a change in the creative team.
- Metamorphosis Monster: Gosamyr's race. At first, they're cute, delicate, winged creatures (although with the annoying ability to empathically — and involuntarily — cause conflicts among male humans), but then they enter the cocoon phase (which lasts centuries) which turns them into their adult form: gargantuan abominations.
- Mind Rape: Used by Empath on Magma and pretty much anyone who comes across him.
- What happened to Wolfsbane in Genosha.
- Nineties Anti-Hero: X-Force was the signature team for this before Youngblood. Somehow, X-Force actually managed to survive.
- Not So Different: While some of the Hellions were right bastards, most of the team were generally nice people who just so happened to be working for the bad guys.
- Opposing Sports Team: The original Hellions came across as very much this trope- a bunch of prep school kids whose fights with the New Mutants were usually fueled by school rivalry more than anything else. In their first appearance, Sam even compares the New Mutants (and their opponents by extension) to "high school varsity".
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Rahne.
- Psycho Rangers: The Hellions
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Shatterstar from Mojoworld
- Sapient Ship: The shapeshifting Warlock often turned "him"self into a starship to transport the New Mutants around.
- Shout-Out: On one very memorable occasion, Warlock turned into the starship Enterprise.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Feral, replacing Wolfsbane (later, her older sister Thornn briefly served as this for her) and Douglock for Warlock and Cypher.
- Taking the Bullet: Doug died doing this for Rahne (who didn't even realize what had happened until the fight was over).
- The Mole: Copycat pretending to be Domino
- Token Minority Couple: Danielle Moonstar and James Proudstar, had bits of romantic tension for no other reason but one...
- One wonders whether this trope counts, considering both teams were made up entirely of token minorities. Sure, Dani and James were both Native Americans, but they also both happened to be the leaders of their respective teams, both were fiercely competitive, and both displayed a lot of respect for the other team.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Boom Boom and Siryn. Rahne and Danielle Moonstar.
- Kitty Pryde and Magik were a subversion. Both were kick butt girly girls.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway??: Poor Cypher had the mutant power to understand languages. This made him useless in battle, forcing Chris Claremont to have to come up with the plot point of Cypher being able to safely merge with Warlock to get him involved in fight scenes.
- Not so much now in the new run of New Mutants since he seems to have had a decent boost in the scope of his powers.
- Subverted with Domino. Originally a generic gun-carrying Action Girl, she had the uber-generic "luck" power that no one ever mentioned until 1996's Amalgam Universe comic X-Patrol, which used Domino's luck powers alongside Elasti-Girl and The Wasp to reinvent her as an uber-lucky super-heroine. Years passed again and it took Matt Fraction coming up with the idea of her being an UBER-lucky Action Girl, capable of always showing up by chance when evil is going down, let alone always able to make her shots no matter how hard they are, to make her powers useful.
- Actually, she was always implied to have it by her "ability to make things fall in her favor" (hence the name "Domino," get it?), Fraction just turned it up to "11."
- Shatterstar's energy blast power, used once and required so much power-up time he may as well have been a Super-Saiyan.