After the events of X of Swords the X-Men have entered into a new era that has been called “Reign Of X.” This new direction looks to be taking the X-Men franchise to its next stage after Krakoa was firmly established as a nation post-House of X and Powers of X. Given how Magik was directly involved as one of Krakoa’s Champions during X of Swords it’ll be interesting to see how she will be impacted by her experience in New Mutants. That experience could harden how she views how the next generation of X-Men she has been working with should be trained. Let’s see what happens in New Mutants #14.
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Rod Reis
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: During the sixteenth century we see a young Amahl Farouk grow up helping his father and using his powers to protect others. That was until Amahl’s father died due to the plague. After this Amahl felt his last tether to his hometown gone and went on to become the Shadow King.
In the present, inside Akademos Habitat in Krakoa, Karma talks with Dani Moonstar about the nightmares she has been having since her experience in Cosmar’s nightmare sphere. Dani Moonstar uses her powers to see what Karma’s nightmare is about. Dani Moonstar is shocked to see the X-Men fighting off an invasion being led by who looks to be Tran Coy Manh (Karma’s twin brother).
The vision breaks before Dani Moonstar can learn everything. Karma thanks Dani Moonstar for her help.
Magik walks with Warlock to get her morning coffee. Magik’s attitude immediately drives Dani Moonstar and Karma out to go get ready for what they are doing later.
Wolfsbane tells Magik about how Karma has been having trouble sleeping due to nightmares and Dani Moonstar was trying to help her. Magik says that is nothing to be ashamed of. Wolfsbane reminds Magik that not everyone deals with personal demons the same.
Warpath then walks in to let Magik and Wolfsbane know that the groups are ready.
Later the young New Mutants are split up into two teams, one named Ferals made up of Fauna, Anole, Nature Girl and Scout and a second team named Elementals comprised of Petra Dust, Sprite, and Rain Boy, for some combat training. The Elementals team is able to beat the Ferals team with different long distance attacks.
Magik and Dani Moonstar compliment both teams on how far they have come. They then decide to show the kids the next thing they need to learn: Synergy. They do this by splitting the veteran New Mutants into two teams, one made up of Magik, Wolfsbane, and Dani Moonstar and the second made up of Warpath, Karma, and Warlock.
The two New Mutant teams have a back-and-forth match as they use different combination moves to counter one another’s powers. As the match intensifies all the kids become more impressed as time passes.
After the match Magik, Dani Moonstar, and Wolfsbane tell the kids that they will be restructuring the teams so that they can discover combinations with different powers from their own. Scout questions if this makes things more dangerous for them. Wolfsbane compliments Scout on the question and says that the resurrection protocols give them an opportunity to do things like this. Scout the questions why Evan Sabahnur (Kid Apocalypse) and Madelyne Pryor been brough back.
Magik hesitates to say anything but eventually says that Madelyne Pryor was an active threat and Evan may still be in the queue for resurrection. Magik then dismisses the class for the day.
Rain, Anole, Cosmar, and No-Girl head off into the woods together until they make it into a mysterious looking tunnel. They go inside to meet the person who called for them.
Once inside Shadow King is there waiting. The four kids all want to tell Shadow King what they learned. Shadow King says they has all the time in the world for their stories. End of issue.
The Good: Vita Ayala does not waste any time in getting right into a big storyline as we see Shadow King brought back into play. Immediately when we have New Mutants #14 open with Shadow King’s origins be told you immediately get the sense something big is going to happen. With such a young cast that creates concern for the X-Men in this series as Shadow King is not to be messed with.
Ayala uses that opening for New Mutants to carry several sub-plots that all appear to be important. The one long-term story that could be tied to Shadow King is the one involving Karma’s nightmares. Given Shadow King’s powers he could be the one that is manipulating Karma through her dreams. Though given that this nightmare involves her twin brother, Tran Coy Manh, this could just be a tease for a bigger story down the line.
Given the ramifications of such a nightmare that Karma is having it was good that she wasn’t just keeping this to herself. Seeing her seek Dani Moonstar’s help further pushes the idea that she is part of the veteran X-Men who is teaching the New Mutants. This type of decision is not easy for anyone to make and you could not blame Karma for not asking for help. But since she does we see how this storyline involving Karma, while dark, can provide some interesting character development that doesn’t just involve a traumatic future experience.
Ayala also did a great job in setting up Magik, Dani Moonstar, and Wolfsbane to be the three leaders of this team that involves training the next generation of New Mutants. Each of these have clashing characteristics that we see pop up. Which leads to Ayala showing how they each balance each other out in terms of their personalities. At the same time, their differences do not get in the way of their goal in training the New Mutants. They all understand that it is their job as veteran X-Men to be positive influences in how the New Mutants need to grow through experience.
Having stages to the training for the New Mutants was also a good way to build the chemistry with all the kids. First splitting them up into teams that most compliment their powers was a good way to show the progress they have all made. While Petra Dust, Sprite, and Rain Boy had the clear advantage over Fauna, Anole, Nature Girl and Scout there was enough shown that gives us an idea of all of the kids skill level.
Which lead well into how Magik and the other veteran X-Men next lesson for the kids is for them to understand how to understand they need to be ready to do different combo attacks, even with those that they may not have a clear affinity for. The decision to have this lesson in synergy with the veteran X-Men splitting into unique three person teams was a great way to show the kids this. The two veteran X-Men teams showed a wide variety of attacks that are possible even with those that on the surface you would not expect to work well together. The kids going from bored to completely amazed by the practice match between the veteran X-Men is a strong example of how you do show rather than tell storytelling.
Seeing how this training session went it will be interesting what Shadow King’s intentions are when it comes to hearing about what Rain, Anole, Cosmar, and No-Girl. There is a clear motivation for Shadow King to hear the four kids stories about their training. What he is planning on learning and how it could impact Krakoa in the future will be interesting to see.
Another sub-plot that does catch your eye is Scout bringing up why Evan Sabahnur and Madelyne Pryor resurrected. This is not a conversation that is easy to have given all the factors involved. Magik and the others carefully choosing their words about why those two haven’t been brought back is a reminder that these are kids. They just cannot be told everything right now. Especially with some of the questionable decisions Quiet Council have been making since Dawn of X started its best to keep the kids in the dark for now. Though given Scout’s questioning it will be interesting if Magik or anyone else will tell her the truth about clones not being brought back by the resurrection protocols.
I know that Rod Reis’ art style will not be for everyone but it completely works for the type of story that Ayala is telling starting with New Mutants #14. Especially with this story involving Shadow King, Reis gets over how there is a weird vibe throughout this issue because of the villain’s involvement. Reis also does a great job in showcasing all the different powers and how each of the New Mutants combine their powers to create different attacks. It made each practice matches we get have their own pacing as we see how a fight between kids and a fight involving veterans differs.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Vita Ayala and Rod Reis kick off their run on New Mutants with a strong opening issue. They show a clear understanding of the voices and powers of this rather large cast of mutants. The unique dynamic that different cast members share is well worked into the story in New Mutants #14. Adding in Shadow King to the story does creates interest in what will happen in this series in the immediate future along with the long-term sub-plots introduced in this issue.
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