3 out of 5
I don’t really understand the sequencing of this issue. Zeb started setting up a lot of really intriguing concepts in the previous issue, and then they essentially get no mention here. Instead, the current version of the New Mutants gets tasked with a mid-sea rescue mission, which they handle kinda-sorta successfully – some things go wrong, but it ultimately goes right. Meanwhile, we keep cutting to Cyclops and Emma discussing how this is a good test for competency of leadership, and while there’s a good final page zinger that puts a slight twist on that, this still seems like a strange place for such a break – after we’ve already had a couple of arcs to establish the team. True, Zeb hasn’t avoided this concept in bits and pieces throughout his run thus far – New Mutants trying to understand their role/s amongst the larger X crews – but its been casual, and dedicating a whole issue to a random mission feels sorta kinda like filler. A one-off artist – David Lopez – adds to that vibe, and since the next several issues are (ugh) crossover fare, it further suggests this was rotated in so timelines would sync up.
It’s not a bad issue by any means, and Lopez’s art is quality – I’ve long admired David’s solid and streamlined style – it just stalls whatever momentum was building up in the previous issue, and doesn’t feel like it really moves the needle anywhere for our characters. We’re between arcs, so it’s not the worst place for a filler, and on its own it definitely works fine. Still a questionable inclusion from an overall sequencing perspective, though.