When the collected edition of The New Mutants: Dead Souls came across my figurative desk for 31 Days of Horror I was a bit perplexed. How do the New Mutants, which I had always viewed as “the JV X-Men” or “that book that became X-Force”, relate to horror? Well, after I was a few pages I was convinced I was reading the right book.
Also, seeing Rosenberg’s name attached to the title didn’t hurt things for me. After reading his work on Multiple Man he’s earned what I’d like to think of as an X-pass from me. If he’s writing it, I’ll show up for it (like the forthcoming Uncanny X-Men relaunch in November). Adam Gorham turns in some solid monster work for this book which is essential considering the creeps and creatures the team is going up against.
That brings me to the team…THE TEAM! I’ve written previously about how my involvement with the X-books has been mostly confined to the fringe titles in recent years and, man, is this ever a book for me! A sizeable portion of the team is made up of Peter David’s X-Factor characters (not created by, just popularized by) and the book does feel like a continuation of some of the established character arcs. Filling the role of team leader is Illyana Rasputin (aka Magik) who feels like the most fully-formed version of the character I’ve ever read.
The book feels a lot like comic geek wish fulfillment for anyone who has ever wanted to see mutants versus zombies or what would happen if you were to blow up a frost giant from the inside. It also make a powerful case for this type of horror-themed X-book existing. Who doesn’t want to see the misadventures of team of mutants dealing with supernatural threats on a monthly basis? The books in the collection all have a very episodic feel which is great for casual readers. But then there’s the ending…
The book ends (no spoilers) on an EPIC cliffhanger that Rosenberg caps off with a “The End?” that sent me straight to Google to find out what happens next, only to be left with MORE questions and that uncertainty may be the most terrifying aspect of the book. What happens next?
Finally, I’m not sure how this horror-tinged take on The New Mutants will jive with the currently in limbo (no, not that Limbo) film version that will allegedly be released next year. But if that movie is in anyway similar to the horror aspects of this book, I think we’ll be okay.