NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3 by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Gorham, and Michael Garland
NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3 takes exciting steps in the right direction with its newfound focus on the characters and the team dynamic. This is a crew that can barely function as a unit, and that is finally brought to the forefront in this issue. However, whether due to unclear information or simply a lack of knowledge on my part, the plot of this story felt much more clunky than previous issues in the series.
80 %
A Step in the Right Direction
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The original New Mutants had their fair share of weird supernatural adventures. However, the greatest draw for fans came from the powerful and unique team dynamics. Those characters felt like legitimate human beings facing larger than life monsters, which appealed to multitudes of fans. The newest iteration of the team by Matthew Rosenberg, though, hasn’t quite hit its stride in this regard. The action has felt appropriately high-intensity, but the characters haven’t quite come into their own. As the team faces a falling plane in NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3, though, the focus seems to have finally shifted to the team’s characterization, and that is beautiful to see.

After a chilling battle with some subterranean monsters, the team is called by their colleague, Prodigy, to handle a new mission. Apparently, everyone on board Prodigy’s flight has it out for him. People are trying to kill the former Young Avenger and his New Mutants teammates. With the plane careening toward the ground, the team must discover the source of this murderous rage. But can they stop the threat before they turn on each other?

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Fury and Personality

NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3, Page 1. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3 sees some of the best characterization in the series thus far. For the first time, the characters interacted with each other on a very personal level. Before, the focus had been on the mission alone. No one would really talk outside of battle strategy. Considering the depth of history behind these characters, this was really a damn shame. The characters on this team represent some of the X-Men’s misfit personalities. They don’t fit in with the rest of that universe, and not to play into that would be a mistake on Rosenberg’s part. Thankfully, he does a lot of work in this issue to showcase that element. He especially lays into the checkered histories of each of these characters, playing into the fact that they’ve all done some very bad things.

I am a bit torn as to how this information is shared. On the one hand, I found it a bit too sudden. All of the information is simply thrown out there without any real consequence. I love hearing Wolfsbane tell Strong Guy off for their shared history, but there is almost no build up. Now, there is possibly a plot element at work that isn’t fully discussed that somewhat remedies this for me. For some reason, everyone aboard the falling plane wants to do nothing but kill the members of the New Mutants. The more time the team spends on the plane, the more they seem to catch that bad attitude. I don’t know whether this is the case, but for a group of characters unlikely to talk about themselves, this could be a good way to force their hand and explore their experiences in detail.

The Crash

NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3, Page 2. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Most of the plot of NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3 excites just as much as previous issues. The story contains the same level of high-intensity action, and it is nice to see a story with a possible continuation. Everything up to this point has been a series of one-shots. As such, I’m excited to delve deeper into this current plot line. More importantly, the plot felt very logical in a lot of ways. Certain characters, like Boom-Boom and Rictor, are crippled from the start due to the destructiveness of their powers. The team has to find new ways around certain situations, which adds a lot of tension to the proceedings.

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With that said, though, I feel that the plot in this issue is a lot weaker than previous issues, for two primary reasons. The first is that it happens way too fast. When the team first transitions to the plane from the opening action scene, almost nothing is explained about why they were there. Furthermore, the fight on the plane, fueled by some sort of powerful rage engine, doesn’t get explained. We are simply left to fill in the gaps ourselves, but we simply don’t get enough information to do so.

The other reason comes from the fact that, at the time of this reading, I am relatively new to the X-Men mythos. Rosenberg leans very heavily on former events in the X-Men canon without any real explanations or tags to these former events. I am fine with a little ambiguity as long as I know where to look for more information. For example, Wolfsbane simply blurts out that she hates Strong Guy for killing her parents, but there is no precedent for this or any reaction afterward. It seems like Rosenberg is simply expecting us to get his references without having to explain himself, which I feel is a mistake.

Into the Stratosphere

NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3, Page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Comics

NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3 is a rather silly story. Even though it deals with some rather intense moments, the overall character interactions lead to an air of humor rather than tension. Thankfully, Adam Gorham’s art manages to bring the events right back down to Earth (pun intended). His style is so gritty that it manages to lend the series a welcome tense atmosphere. Most of the really powerful moments of the issue would simply fade away without Gorham’s creative hand. I also really appreciated the way Gorham worked with character anatomy. This is a combat heavy series, meaning that the poses needed to be spot on. Gorham manages to pull it out every time, though,

Michael Garland continues to lend the series his personal touch of color. Where in previous issues his style provided stark contrasts between certain scenes, here he chooses a touch of subtlety. He stuck to a very realistic color scheme, never truly delving past what we would expect. For such a character-driven story, though, I feel like this is an important boom. Too much atmospheric and “artistic” coloring would steal too much attention to the cool work Rosenberg did in this issue. Sometimes, not stealing the show is the right decision, and Garland manages to amplify every scene without stealing away attention.

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Final Thoughts on NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3

NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS #3 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the plot feels a bit a too complex, with references to past work that never receive enough explanation. On the other hand, the character work has finally taken center stage. For someone like me who has started to feel a bit fatigued with this action-only storytelling, this issue was a fantastic change of pace. Rosenberg simply needs to strive for a bit more of a balanced experience in future issues, and I will be completely sold on this series’ future.

One Comment

  1. george

    June 2, 2018 at 6:28 am

    strong guy did not kill her parents. He killed her son


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