New Mutants

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New Mutants (vol. 1) #1. Clockwise from top: Cannonball, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Karma, Dani Moonstar, Professor X (blue in background). Art by Bob McLeod.

The New Mutants is the name of two defunct Marvel Comics superhero teams, as well as the title of two series featuring those teams. Both were offshoots of the popular X-Men franchise and both featured a team of teenaged, mutant superheroes.

The first New Mutants were a junior team of teenage X-Men. Created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod, they first appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (1982) and were featured in an eponymous title from 1983 until 1991, when they were reinvented as X-Force. Like its parent title, The New Mutants highlighted interpersonal and group conflict as well as action and adventure, and featured a large, ensemble cast.

The second New Mutants series, launched in 2003, featured another group of teenaged mutants, tutored by members of the first group. Unlike the original New Mutants, they were only one part of a huge cast of students at Xavier Institute. At first they were notable for their drive to become superheroes but soon rival groups played a large role in the series. In 2004 it was relaunched as New X-Men: Academy X, after which the central group was formally dubbed The New Mutants.

In late 2005, as part of the Decimation "event", the remaining students were merged into one group and formed a junior segment of X-Men.

New Mutants Vol. 1

By the early 1980s, Uncanny X-Men, under the authorship of Chris Claremont, had become one of the comic book industry's most successful titles, persuading Marvel to launch The New Mutants, the first of many spin-offs, nick-named "X-Books".

The New Mutants were teenaged students of the telepathic Professor X, much like the original X-Men, who debuted in 1963 and had since grown into adulthood. The New Mutants, however, more resembled the "All-New, All-Different X-Men", who debuted in 1975, in terms of ethnic diversity. The original team consisted of:

  • Cannonball (Samuel Guthrie), a mild-mannered Kentuckian who became nigh-invulnerable when rocketing through the air.
  • Psyche (Danielle Moonstar, also called Mirage and Moonstar; depowered), a Cheyenne who could create visual empathic three-dimensional illusions.
  • Karma (Xi'an Coy Manh), a Vietnamese girl who could mentally possess other people's bodies.
  • Sunspot (Roberto da Costa), a Brazilian who gained superhuman strength in the presence of sunlight

The team debuted in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (1982), which continued a plotline from Uncanny X-Men. The group was formed by Professor X when he was under the control of the menacing alien race the Brood. The youths were intended to be hosts for Brood embryos, but the X-Men returned and set matters straight.

The five youngsters remained at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters to learn to control their powers.

The series was originally written by Claremont and illustrated by McLeod, the team's co-creators, but McLeod soon passed artistic duties onto Sal Buscema and then Bill Sienkiewicz, who often painted covers for the series. Claremont gave the series an oddly dark tone. In addition to very serious depictions of teenage angst and growing pains, the series featured themes of mysticism and psychic boundaries. The New Mutants battled various demons, a secret society villain group called the Hellfire Club, and their young apprentices, the Hellions.

The New Mutants initially had a semi-antagonistic relationship with the youngest X-Man, Kitty Pryde, sparked by Professor X's decision to essentially "demote" Kitty to the training team once it was established. Though Kitty ultimately proved herself to Xavier and remained an X-Man, she held a grudge against the New Mutants nonetheless, dubbing them "X-Babies"; the Mutants, blameless in Xavier's decision and resenting Kitty's attitude (especially Psyche/Mirage and Cannonball, who are older than Kitty), responded in kind. The animosity softened after the New Mutants attempted to rescue Kitty from the Hellfire Club's White Queen, and after Kitty's friends Illyana Rasputin and Doug Ramsey joined the team (see below).

Although The New Mutants never reached the popularity of its parent title, the series gained a loyal following among many readers.

New Mutants #11, featuring Magma.

As typical with X-Books, new characters were frequently added to the team. Early new recruits included:

  • Magik (Illyana Rasputin), the sister of the Russian X-Man Colossus, who possessed the ability to travel between a demonic pocket dimension and the main fictional universe of the comic, among many other mystical powers.
  • Cypher (Douglas Ramsey), a shy boy who could understand any language. Killed by The Ani-mator, a scientist employed by Cameron Hodge.

In 1986, Professor X was written out of the series. Before he left he made the X-Men's one-time nemesis, Magneto, headmaster of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Not trusted by his students, Magneto struggled in his new role and eventually joined the Hellfire Club.

In 1987, the series was turned over to writer Louise Simonson and illustrator Bret Blevins. Simonson's run was controversial, to say the least, as she wrote Magma out of the book, killed off Cypher, temporarily added new characters like Bird-Brain and Gosamyr as team members (both of whom were extremely unpopular and reviled by fans), and shortly thereafter returned Magik to childhood. She also folded the X-Terminators, a group of young wards of X-Factor into The New Mutants. The X-Terminators were much more popular additions, and the ones added to the team were:

  • Skids (Sally Blevins), who could project a force field around her body.
  • Boom Boom (Tabitha Smith), who could create “plasma bombs.”

While they were invited to be New Mutants by the then current team, they were not officially recognised by the Xavier Institute as students (as the actual New Mutants had dropped out of the school due to a faculty conflict) and were most commonly referred to as X factor trainees.

In 1989, Simonson crafted a saga in which the team journeyed to Asgard, the home of the gods of Norse mythology. The storyline wrote Dani Moonstar out of the series and was essentially the last gasp of the high-flying, mystic-minded version of the team.

New Mutants#100 drawn by Rob Liefeld. From left to right : Boom-Boom, Cable and Cannonball, Domino, Feral, Warpath and Shatterstar

Sales of the series had slumped for several years, but took a sharp upturn after Rob Liefeld took over the pencilling and co-plotting chores at the end of 1989. A new mentor for the group, the mysterious mercenary Cable was introduced, further helping sales. Over the next year, several longtime team members were written out, or, in Warlock's case, killed off. When Rob Liefeld (plots) and Fabian Nicieza (scripts) took over as writers of the final three issues of the series, they replaced them with harder-edged characters:

  • Domino, Cable's pale-skinned, black-garbed mercenary lover.
  • Shatterstar, a swashbuckling warrior from an alien dimension.
  • Warpath (James Proudstar), an Apache who possessed super strength and speed who was also the younger brother to deceased X-men Thunderbird.
  • Feral (Maria Callasantos), (Deceased), who possessed a beast-like temperament and appearance.

Though these characters and others joined Cable's team in the final issue of The Original New Mutants comic, they were never considered New Mutants. In 1991, with key characters and plot elements from the series gone, The New Mutants became the platoon-like X-Force, a series that would last until 2002 and incorporate many members of the New Mutants; Liefeld plotted the first issues (with Fabian Nicieza supplying dialogue), as well as pencilling the title. X-Force became a huge success with approximately one-million copies sold.

In 1997, a three-issue reunion series, New Mutants: Truth or Death, written by Ben Raab and illustrated by Bernard Chang, featured the younger New Mutants, traveling forward in time to meet their older selves (the contemporary team).

New Mutants, Vol. 2

New Mutants
Art from New X-Men: Academy X #2.
Art by Randy Green.

In 2003, Marvel launched a second ongoing New Mutants series with writers Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. The series featured a handful of the dozens of teenagers attending the Xavier Institute. The kids were instructed by the X-Men, Dani Moonstar, Karma, and Northstar, while Wolfsbane and Magma also appeared in several issues.

After thirteen issues, this series was relaunched as New X-Men: Academy X in 2004. Ironically, it was only after the name change that the main group of characters was formally dubbed the New Mutants and received code names.

The former line-up of the New Mutants, advised by Dani Moonstar, include:

  • Prodigy (David Alleyne), (Depowered), the team's co-leader, who can utilize the skills and knowledge (but not powers) of those near him. Currently aids the New X-Men powerless.
  • Wind Dancer (Sofia Mantega), (Depowered), the other co-leader, who can create winds, fly via said winds and eavesdrop over distances by conducting air vibrations. Has since left the mansion and is currently featured in the fourth volume of New Warriors.
  • Wallflower (Laurie Collins), (Deceased), a shy girl who generates pheromones that usually cause people near her to match her moods, although she has learned to control this. Killed by Purifiers.
  • Elixir (Josh Foley), who can heal himself and others as well as inflict damage.
  • Surge (Noriko Ashida), who absorbs electricity which she can release as blasts, or use for super-speed, but requires mechanical gauntlets to prevent overcharge. Currently team leader of the New X-Men.
  • Icarus (Joshua "Jay" Guthrie), (Deceased), who flies on red, angel-like wings, heals rapidly and possesses a very beautiful singing voice. Killed by Purifiers.

Former Hellions, advised by Emma Frost and rivals of the New Mutants, include:

  • Hellion (Julian Keller), has telekinetic abilities, Can move objects and create barriers. Powers recently boosted by Emma Frost to new levels.
  • Dust (Sooarya Quadir), can change completely into sand and create sandstorms with her sand form.
  • Mercury (Cessily Kincaid), body is made of mercury, can form various shapes such as blades and blunt objects.
  • Rockslide (Santo Vaccaro) rock-like form with increased strength, able to de/re-attach body parts. Recently altered form after being incinerated.
  • Tag (Brian Cruz), (Depowered, Deceased) telepathically repels people from a person he touches. Killed by Purifiers.
  • Wither (Kevin Ford), disintegrates organic matter with a touch. Left after M-Day and joined up with Selene, the Black Queen.

Supporting characters in New X-Men have included fellow students Anole, X-23 and the Stepford Cuckoos as well as several veteran X-Men.

Main articles: Decimation, New X-Men

As a result of the Decimation event, in which the Scarlet Witch's magic de-powered most of the mutant population, only 27 of the 182 students enrolled at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning still retain their powers. The New Mutants and other squads disbanded and a trainee team of X-Men was made, including four Hellions and two (later, a third) New Mutants.

Alternate versions

In Ultimate X-Men, the Academy of Tomorrow (previously called New Mutants) is founded by Emma Frost. They are loosely linked to the X-Men via Emma Frost's professional relationship with her former lover and teacher Charles Xavier. This Academy accepts any talented students, regardless of their genetic status.

The team is headed by a non-telepathic and more pacifistic version of Emma Frost and headed by field leader Havok. Members include Havok's girlfriend Polaris, Cannonball, Cypher (a human genius), Northstar (the current boyfriend of this universe's Colossus), Sunspot and Shinobi Shaw (Emma Frost's current boyfriend and secretly part of the Hellfire Club. Former members include Karma, Angel, Colossus, and Beast.

Rahne of Terra

The graphic novel Rahne of Terra, by Peter David, is set in a heroic fantasy universe in which Wolfsbane's counterpart is Princess Rain of Geshem. Members of the royal household include her lady-in-waiting Tabby (Boom Boom), the knights Robert (Sunspot), Samuel (Cannonball) and Richard (Riktor), and her Prince Consort, Douglas (Cypher). None of them have the powers of their counterparts, although the knights have magical items that duplicate their effects.

Appearances in other media

  • New Mutants is the name given to the 'race' of Mutants on the television show Mutant X.
  • It has been rumored by Zak Penn, screenwriter of X-Men: The Last Stand, that if that film is a success he will direct a fourth installment of the film series. While no details have been released, it is believed that it may be an adaptation of New Mutants, featuring the younger mutants from the films, such as Iceman, Rogue, Colossus and Kitty Pryde.
  • New Mutants Vol. 1 #1-100 (March 1983 - April 1991, Marvel Comics)
  • New Mutants Annual #1-7 (1984 - 1991, Marvel Comics)
  • New Mutants Special EDITION #1 (1985)
  • New Mutants Summer Special #1 (1990)
  • New Mutants #1-3 (1997)
  • New Mutants Vol. 2 #1-13 (July 2003 - June 2004, Marvel Comics)

See also