Monday, September 10, 2012

Marvel Graphic Novel #4: The Coming of the New Mutants and the Beginning of the End of the Bronze Age

While the Bronze Age is generally considered to have ended  with the publication of Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1985, certain avatars of the new age began to appear as soon as the early 1980's.  One such was Frank Miller's initial run on Daredevil, which presaged the darker tone of the so called "Modern Age" of comics.  Another was Marvel Graphic Novel #4, introducing the New Mutants and heralding the transformation of the X-Men from a single comic into a "franchise". 
It strikes me that the cover price of $4.95 was a bit much for a 48 page comic in 1982, even if that comic was bigger than the standard monthly periodical and printed on nicer paper.  The contents don't really seem to merit this "deluxe" treatment and price tag.  "Renewal" is a fairly standared and somewhat formulaic super-team origin.  We are introduced to each of the five future members of the team that would come to be known as the New Mutants as they discover their mutant gifts, as well as their mutual foe, a rogue member of the Hellfire Club named Donald Pierce who seeks to destroy them.  Then the scene shifts to the Xavier Academy, where Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, believing the X-Men to be dead, is reluctant to expose any more young mutants to that kind of danger.  Convinced by his old friend Moira McTaggert of the continuing relevance of his vision of peace and friendship between mutants and humans, Chuck overcomes his doubts and sets about uniting these aforementioned young mutants to defeat Pierce.  He then convinces them to stay on at his school so that he can teach them to control their newfound mutant abilities and use them for the benefit of all mankind.
Chris Claremont's typically dialogue and caption heavy script is fairly routine and by the numbers while the art by Bob McCleod is pretty representative of the Marvel house style at the time under editor-in-chief Jim Shooter.  In short, other than the format,  this is a fairly typical Marvel comic of the era, and while it might not have been quite worth five bucks thirty years ago, the two dollars I paid for it at Half Price Books a couple of months ago seems like a pretty good deal.


  1. Thanks for the review, Ray. This is not one of the Marvel Graphic Novels that I ever owned (or have read for that matter). You are spot on as to whether or not some of those GN's contained stories that deserved the large format/Baxter paper treatment. Many of them were no different than what ran in the Annuals of the day -- and the 1980's in general saw a decline in overall quality before DC pumped new life into the medium in 1985-on.


  2. Bob McLeod says the story was begun as New Mutants #1 before it was decided by Marvel to turn it into a Graphic Novel. The unfortunate result was Bob being suddenly behind on the artwork, which eventually led to his early departure.

  3. As capable a draftsman as Bob McLeod was, the only New Mutants comics run I ever read was the string of issues drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz (issues 18-31), which I collected exclusively for the artwork. As you say, Ray, New Mutants was not a bad series, but was exceedingly standard.