Chris Claremont & Al Rio
I love a lot of Chris Claremont's classic runs on Marvel titles, especially when it comes to the mutants of X-Men, Excalibur and New Mutants, but in recent years, he's left a tad to be desired. I've actually kind of tortured myself over the past decade, trying out new Claremont-penned X-titles, only to be disappointed over and over again. X-Treme X-Men, New Excalibur, and even as recent as X-Men Forever...it's been a series of letdowns. I kept looking for some glimmer of the writer he used to be, and I hadn't found it until recently with X-Women #1, illustrated beautifully by the legendary Milo Manara. I was hoping it wasn't a fluke, and thankfully, New Mutants Forever confirms that Claremont still has it in him to put out good material.
New Mutants Forever, more than any of the other "Forever" titles really seems to capture the energy and feel of the original series (which I happen to have in New Mutant Classic editions). The title features the classic cast of Cannonball, Mirage, Magma, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Magik, Karma, Cypher and Warlock (although Sunspot, Karma and Warlock are on leave) with Magneto leading them as current headmaster. In this first issue of the continuation of this series, Magneto brings the students to The Hellfire Club, where they meet Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw and Selene, The Black Queen, who happens to also be Magma's aunt. Magma's father attempts to reach The Hellfire Club during their visit, his people attacked by mercenaries with guns, whom the New Mutants try to stop. And then The Hellfire Club itself is under siege before some of them are whisked away by the attackers...to the stronghold of a familiar classic villain. New Mutants Forever is just a fun little "what if" book, featuring a deliciously dark Selene (whom Magik admires), and plenty of action and intrigue. Claremont isn't bogged down by as much exposition as he tends to drown in nowadays. Rio does a nice job of illustrating the book. The storytelling is crystal clear with nice pacing and cool moments. The wardrobe choices of the students are pretty neutral, so that the story could take place just as easily back in the eighties as presently (although there is a little modern flare to the costumes and a pair of Magma's jeans), a very smart choice by the artist. And it's all very new reader friendly. You don't have to be a fan of the old series to enjoy this book. It makes a point of reintroducing the characters and their powers, and in case readers have interest in the stories that led them to this point in time, there's a nice recap at the back of the book. Overall, this is a very successful superhero comic. Now I'm just hoping to see a "Forever" version of the Claremont-written or Alan Davis-written Excalibur.