New Mutants Vol. 1 Omnibus Review and Reading Order

New Mutants

In the 1960s, the X-Men were a team of teenagers who were under the tutelage of Professor Xavier at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. However, by 1982, the X-Men were a much older team who spent more time fighting evil and less time actually training in the school.

There were exceptions, of course. Kitty Pryde was 14 at the time, and Piotr Rasputin (AKA Colossus) was 18. But the series had strayed pretty far from the original concept of a group of teens training at a super-secret school for mutants. Gone was most of the homework and teenage drama, as well as the clumsy fumbling of kids who were still trying to figure out their powers.

But a solution would eventually present itself: Marvel kept the mainline X-Men doing their thing (fighting the Brood in space and taking on the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and all that), while creating a second team called the New Mutants. The New Mutants would basically take the role that the original X-Men had in the 1960s — their stories would still have some of the high-stakes superhero stuff, but they’d also have more of a high-school-drama feel to them than the mainline X-Men series.

Thus the New Mutants comic book series was created, penned by Chris Claremont, who was also writing Uncanny X-Men at the time.

If you’re interested in reading this material, it’s been collected in several different formats, but the one I’m most interested in is the omnibus format. So let’s take a look through the New Mutants Vol. 1 omnibus to see what it’s all about.

What is collected in this volume?

New Mutants Vol. 1 Omnibus

This book is a monster, with 1,272 pages of New Mutant madness. It collects Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (The New Mutants), New Mutants (1983) #1-34, New Mutants Annual #1, Marvel Team-Up (1972) #149, Marvel Team-Up Annual #6, Uncanny X-Men #160, 167, 180, 189, and 192, Magik #1-4, and material from Marvel Team-Up #100 and Secret Wars II #1.

That’s a lot of content, so let me show you how it all lays out in the book:

  • Marvel Team-Up #100 (Karma story)
  • Uncanny X-Men #160
  • Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (The New Mutants)
  • New Mutants #1-3
  • Uncanny X-Men #167
  • New Mutants #4
  • Marvel Team-Up Annual #6
  • New Mutants #5-13
  • Magik #1-4
  • New Mutants #14
  • Uncanny X-Men #180
  • New Mutants #15-21
  • New Mutants Annual #1
  • Marvel Team-Up #149
  • New Mutants #22
  • Uncanny X-Men #189
  • New Mutants #23-25
  • Uncanny X-Men #192
  • New Mutants #26-29
  • Excerpt from Secret Wars II #1
  • New Mutants #30-34

That’s 47 issues, plus a graphic novel and an excerpt from Secret Wars II. That alone is a ton of content. On top of that, you’ve also got a couple essays about these stories, some concept art, and a cover gallery. There are even some entries from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (1983), but only the character profiles of the founding members of the New Mutants (a much more robust collection of these entries can be found in the Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 omnibus). And then there’s an interview with Bill Sienkiewicz.

Unlike the Uncanny X-Men omnibuses, though, the letters columns aren’t included here. It’s a little bit of a shame, but it’s really hard to complain when this book already weighs more than seven pounds.

Some notes on reading order

New Mutants

This book is designed so it can be read independently from Uncanny X-Men, so it does include a few issues of Uncanny whenever the X-Men are doing things that will carry over into the pages of New Mutants. However, both series were written simultaneously, and they’re happening at the same time. If you really want a comprehensive reading experience, it’s best to read both series side-by-side.

So I’ve put together a reading order that incorporates Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 and Vol. 4, and even the X-Men Epic Collection Volume 12.

It’s also important to note that this run is interrupted by both Secret Wars and Secret Wars II. Secret Wars isn’t super important for those of you who aren’t also reading Uncanny X-Men, because it affects the main team way more than the New Mutants. Secret Wars II is a little more important for the New Mutants, which is why there is an excerpt of it in this book. Either way, I’ve also included both of those in this list so you can see exactly where they fit into this reading order.

  • Marvel Team-Up #100
  • Uncanny X-Men #154-159
  • The X-Men Annual #6
  • Uncanny X-Men #160-166
  • Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (The New Mutants)
  • New Mutants #1-3
  • Uncanny X-Men #167
  • Special Edition X-Men #1
  • Marvel Graphic Novel #5 (God Loves, Man Kills)
  • Uncanny X-Men #168-171
  • New Mutants #4
  • Marvel Team-Up Annual #6
  • Wolverine #1-4
  • New Mutants #5-7
  • Uncanny X-Men #172-175
  • The X-Men Annual #7 (optional)
  • New Mutants #8-12
  • Magik #1-4
  • Uncanny X-Men #176-179
  • New Mutants #13-14
  • Uncanny X-Men #180
  • Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars (1984) #1-12
  • New Mutants #15-16
  • Uncanny X-Men #181-182
  • New Mutants #17
  • Uncanny X-Men #183
  • New Mutants #18-20
  • Uncanny X-Men #184
  • New Mutants #21
  • New Mutants Annual #1
  • Uncanny X-Men #185
  • “Deal with the Devil” (story from Marvel Fanfare #40)
  • Uncanny X-Men #186-188
  • Marvel Team-Up #149 (you can read #150 as well, but it’s not included in any of the omnibuses I mentioned and it’s also not very good)
  • Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #1-6
  • New Mutants #22
  • Uncanny X-Men #189
  • New Mutants #23-25
  • Uncanny X-Men #190-192
  • The X-Men Annual #8
  • Uncanny X-Men #193
  • X-Men and Alpha Flight #1-2
  • Uncanny X-Men #194-195
  • New Mutants #26-29
  • Secret Wars II #1
  • New Mutants #30-31
  • Uncanny X-Men #196-197
  • Secret Wars II #2-5
  • Uncanny X-Men #198
  • Nightcrawler #1-4
  • New Mutants #32-34
  • Secret Wars II #6

One thing you might have noticed is that I bumped the Magik miniseries up by an issue (as opposed to where it was in my previous reading order). The reason for this is that there are some references to it in Uncanny X-Men #176-179. If you’re not reading Uncanny alongside this book, you can read Magik exactly where it is in this omnibus and you’ll be just fine.

Also, it’s really hard to place The X-Men Annual #8, because Wolverine and Kitty are back from Japan, but Storm hasn’t left for Africa yet. That makes its place between Uncanny X-Men #192 and #193 make sense, but Xavier’s appearance at the campfire means it doesn’t fit perfectly. It’s maybe safe to say it takes place after most of the events of issue #192, but before the Xavier scene in the final pages of that issue.

How is the quality of the physical book?

New Mutants Vol. 1 Omnibus

My copy of this book was manufactured between July 17 and September 28, 2020 by R.R. Donnelley Asia Printing Solutions in China. I believe that makes this the first edition.

You might notice in these images that the corners are a little dinged up, and this is because I ordered this particular volume from Amazon. Seriously, if you don’t want your omnibuses to get beat up in the mail, order them from CheapGraphicNovels. CGN doesn’t even sponsor us; I’ve just come to really appreciate their sturdy packing since I started collecting Marvel omnibuses.

The cover is by Bill Sienkiewicz, and it shows Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane), Illyana Rasputin (Magik), Amara Juliana Olivians Aquilla (Magma), Samuel Guthrie (Cannonball), and Roberto Da Costa (Sunspot). It’s a great cover, but I feel like Dani Moonstar probably deserved to be here as well.

The back of the dust jacket shows off all the covers for the issues that are collected here.

New Mutants Vol. 1 Omnibus

I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like this format for the backs of these books. It’s really fun to scan through all of these covers, and it gives you a pretty good idea of how jam-packed this book is with content.

If you pull off the dust jacket, the front of the book is the same, only with the text removed, and the back shows this really neat image:

New Mutants Vol. 1 Omnibus

This shows all five of the original New Mutants, with Charles Xavier’s ghostlike psychic projection watching over them.

The binding is sewn, with black and yellow edging that matches the New Mutants color scheme quite well.

New Mutants Vol. 1 Omnibus

This is a hefty, hefty book, so the binding really needed to be durable. So far, mine is holding up really well, though I am a little worried that the spine is going to fold at some point — that’s something that tends to happen with these bigger omnibuses if you don’t take care to properly stretch the spine before reading. And even if you do take proper care, sometimes the sheer weight of the book causes the binding to crease in odd ways. As an omnibus collector who believes these books deserve to be read (rather than just sitting on a shelf), I’ve definitely had some issues with the spines wearing out.

As for this particular book, however, it seems to be holding up just fine.

Are these stories any good?

New Mutants

The original X-Men were four white dudes and a white girl, all from the United States. The “Second Genesis” X-Men were a bit more diverse, hailing from all around the world, but even they were mostly white — I should point out that giving Storm, a Black woman, a leadership role was a refreshingly forward-thinking creative choice, but the rest of the team was mostly Caucasian (with the exception of Thunderbird, who was killed off just a few issues into the run).

So the New Mutants gave Marvel a chance to broaden the diversity of the mutants, and Claremont really took advantage of this. The original New Mutants team is made up of Xi’an Coy Manh (from Vietnam), Dani Moonstar (who is Native American), Roberto Da Santa (from Brazil), Rahne Sinclair (from Scotland), and Samuel Guthrie (from Kentucky). That means three are female, and three are people of color. This is definitely a more accurate representation of the American population than the heavily white-male distribution of previous X-teams. As members shuffle in and out, the team does get less diverse over time, but this first lineup is really great.

The first story in this book comes from Marvel Team-Up #100, and it introduces the character of Xi’an Coy Manh, AKA Karma. That makes Karma the first of the New Mutants, and she’ll have something of a leadership role in the early issues.

Next up you have Marvel Graphic Novel #4, which is when the first iteration of the team is assembled. The beginning part of this book feels a lot like the opening pages of Giant-Size X-Men, which introduces the “Second Genesis” team. You see the members recruited one at a time as their mutant powers manifest themselves, usually under awkward circumstances.

With the introductions out of the way, the New Mutants monthly series officially begins. It does take a little bit of time to find itself, with the team fumbling around for a bit before ending up in Nova Roma, which I would say is the New Mutants equivalent of the Savage Land. It’s a hidden location that’s trapped in time, though instead of having dinosaurs and sabretooth tigers, this one is perpetually stuck in the Roman Empire. It’s an okay story, I suppose, but it does go on a bit too long for my taste. It does, however, introduce Amara (AKA Magma) to the team.

But then, when you hit issue #18, Bill Sienkiewicz takes over on art the entire tone of the book changes.

New Mutants - Demon Bear Saga

Sienkiewicz draws with a slightly abstract style that feels very disorienting and experimental, and the general feel of the book almost veers into the horror genre, beginning with the legendary Demon Bear Saga. This is where New Mutants starts getting really weird, and I love it.

And then comes Warlock…

When I was a kid, I remember seeing Warlock on the covers of comic books whenever I went to my local comic shop. I was fascinated by this absolutely weird-looking thing, and somehow I never ended up reading a whole lot of Warlock stories in the decades since. So this New Mutants omnibus was actually my first proper introduction to the character.

New Mutants - Warlock

Warlock is an alien that’s both organic and synthetic. He looks like a jumble of circuitry and he can transform himself into whatever shape he pleases. He doesn’t quite understand how things are supposed to look on Earth, though, so he’s constantly just looking… well, weird.

Plus, he’s part of a society where a father and son are required to fight to the death. If the son wins, he proves himself worthy and replaces the father; if the father wins, he proves that the son was never worthy. Warlock’s father is called the Magus, and he’s basically a tougher, evil version of Warlock. The X-Men will eventually have to deal with ol’ Magus…

X-Men - The Magus

Toward the end of the book, the quality really ramps up, with some really compelling stories about Rahne and Roberto feeling the aftereffects of having been injected with the same serum as Cloak and Dagger (which happened way back in Marvel Team-Up Annual #6). I wasn’t a big fan of that team-up, and I’ve also never been into Cloak and Dagger, but this particular storyline is really great.

And all the while, Magneto is hanging out with Scott Summers’ ex-girlfriend Aleytys Forrester, the sorceress Selene is integrating herself with the Hellfire Club, and there are hints about Xavier possibly having a son. It took a while to get to this point, but in my opinion, this is where New Mutants is finally as good as X-Men. In fact, the corresponding X-Men issues are quite a bit weaker than you might expect, so I would argue that New Mutants is actually better than X-Men for a little bit.

But we’re not done yet. That whole thing about Xavier possibly having a son? Well, that becomes important in New Mutants #26-28, when we learn what happened to that son. His name is David Haller, and he’s been locked inside his own head for a decade. His powers first manifested during a terrorist attack, during which he reflexively psi-blasted the attackers and absorbed the consciousness of one of the terrorists. He’s been building alternate personalities ever since, while this terrorist stalks his mindscape. Now, all these years later, he’s begun pulling more minds into his, trapping them in the nightmare world of his subconscious.

New Mutants - David Haller

This is some heavy stuff, and with the messy, abstract style of Sienkiewicz, it all feels weighty and disorienting. This is an incredible batch of comics, and definitely the high point of the New Mutants so far. It also continues that detour through the horror genre that began with the Demon Bear Saga.

Admittedly, the quality does drop a bit toward the end of this volume, especially as the main story is interrupted by Secret Wars II and Bill Sienkiewicz is replaced by Steve Leialoha as the artist. While Leialoha does try to replicate what Sienkiewicz was doing, he just doesn’t have the same magic that makes Sienkiewicz’s art work so well with the series.

We do, however, see the return of someone who’d been missing for a really long time, and even if you know who I’m referring to, the events surrounding this return are quite unexpected…

Is this a good place to start reading New Mutants?

New Mutants - Cannonball

If you’re looking to get into New Mutants and you don’t know where to start, this omnibus is an excellent jumping-on point. This will allow you to start at the very beginning of the series and get to know the original team that started it all. Chris Claremont was at the absolute top of his game in the 1980s, so even though there are some weak points in this particular run, there are some incredibly strong issues here as well.

And the Bill Sienkiewicz issues really are essential, as his art style would define the highly stylized look of the series for decades — and even though this style has been imitated throughout the years, no one will ever do it better than Sienkiewicz.

I should point out that the writing does feel a little old, so it might take a little bit of getting used to for modern folks, but I promise you this stuff has aged much, much better than the 1960s X-Men comics.

So yeah, if you are interested in New Mutants and you have a hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket, this book really is a great introduction to the team.

So what’s next?

There is a second omnibus: New Mutants Vol. 2, which picks up right where this one ends.

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