New Mutants: Tinderbox (#9) – Zeb Wells

5 out of 5

As he did after the previous arc, Zeb Wells take a one-shot to regroup. This helps to further solidify the crossover-tained inclusion of Necrosha within Wells’ New Mutants run, and once more highlights his skill with dialogue, and pacing, circling around many complex relationships without getting heavy-handed. And actually, it’s beyond even that: moments with Cypher are touching, pushing past X-Men soap opera into a more nuanced expression of bonding between two characters. Elsewhere, there’re dashes of comedy to balance out the stresses of recouping from a violent battle, and lots of fascinating foreshadowing involving Illyana. To top it off, there’s the nail-biting intrigue of a visit from Hell: some soldier types are seen to emerge from a government-monitored portal, promising some serious business to come. Paul Davidson’s thick, weighty art and Chris Sotomayor’s emotive colors – all the scenes land, whether funny or serious or mysterious, in great part due to Chris’ tones – are an excellent match to the dialogue heavy issue, guiding the eye through conversations and plot setting-up aplenty with ease, somehow matching the excitement level of any given action-focused sequence from previous issues.

A perfect blend of semi-recap and setup. It’s unfortunate that we’d get hijacked by two other crossovers before Wells could get back to that Hell portal.