New Mutants Vol. 2 Omnibus Review and Reading Order

New Mutants #50

After finishing the New Mutants Vol. 1 omnibus, which ended on an incredibly high note, I was absolutely ravenous for more New Mutants action. Thankfully, the New Mutants Vol. 2 omnibus is here to satisfy that hunger.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the meat of this collection.

What’s collected in this volume?

New Mutants #42

The first volume was absolutely jam-packed with content, and this one really tries to live up to the lofty expectations set by its predecessor. At 1,240 pages, this is just 32 pages shorter than Volume 1. It collects New Mutants (1983) #35-54, New Mutants Special Edition #1, New Mutants Annual #2-3, X-Men Annual #9-10, Power Pack #20 and 33, Fallen Angels (1987) #1-8, Firestar (1986), #1-4, New Mutants: War Children, material from Web of Spider-Man Annual #2, and an excerpt from Secret Wars II #9.

That’s a lot to process, so I’m going to list it all out in the order that it’s printed in this book.

  • New Mutants Special Edition #1
  • X-Men Annual #9
  • New Mutants #35-36
  • Power Pack #20
  • New Mutants #37
  • Excerpt from Secret Wars II #9
  • New Mutants #38-44
  • “Wake Me Up” and “Gotta Be Dreaming” from Web of Spider-Man Annual #2
  • New Mutants Annual #2
  • X-Men Annual #10
  • New Mutants #45-51
  • New Mutants Annual #3
  • New Mutants #52
  • Fallen Angels #1-8
  • New Mutants #53-54
  • Power Pack #33
  • Firestar #1-4
  • New Mutants: War Children

Beyond that, there’s a ton of bonus content, like cover galleries, pinups, artist sketches, interviews, essays, and so on. My favorite bonus feature, though, is a pretty sizeable chunk of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition (1985-1987). These are encyclopedia-style entries for various characters. The previous volume had entries for the original New Mutants lineup, but this one has a bunch of side characters as well, like Chance II and Devil Dinosaur.

I get why Marvel can’t include entries like this in every omnibus, but I love when they squeeze them in (like they did in the Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 omnibus).

A note on reading order

New Mutants

The New Mutants story is woven into a whole lot of other stuff, so it does make sense to read Uncanny X-Men alongside it, as well as Secret Wars II. And it’s probably good to read the Longshot series, which isn’t included here. While you can certainly wait to read it until later, it will be referenced pretty early in this volume, so I would recommend reading it sooner rather than later.

Then, the Firestar series takes place over multiple years, but it seems like it’s probably better to read it at the beginning of this volume instead of the end. And Chris Claremont insists that New Mutants: War Children takes place shortly after the Asgardian Wars and around the time of Nate Summers’ birth.

And then, of course, the X-Factor series begins right around the same time these issues were being published, so if you’re trying to read all of the X-books, this is where you’ll start X-Factor.

Because all of this can be a little confusing, I’m posting my recommended reading order below, which will include a ton of issues that aren’t collected in this volume.

  • Longshot #1-6
  • Firestar #1-4
  • Uncanny X-Men #199
  • New Mutants Special Edition #1
  • X-Men Annual #9
  • Uncanny X-Men #200
  • New Mutants #35
  • New Mutants: War Children
  • Uncanny X-Men #201
  • Secret Wars II #7
  • New Mutants #36
  • Power Pack #20
  • Uncanny X-Men #202
  • Secret Wars II #8
  • New Mutants #37
  • Uncanny X-Men #203
  • Secret Wars II #9
  • New Mutants #38-40
  • Uncanny X-Men #204
  • The Avengers #263
  • Fantastic Four #286
  • X-Factor #1-4
  • Iron Man Annual #8
  • X-Factor Annual #1
  • X-Factor #5-7
  • Amazing Spider-Man #282
  • X-Factor #8
  • Uncanny X-Men #205-209
  • New Mutants #41-44
  • “Wake Me Up” and “Gotta Be Dreaming” from Web of Spider-Man Annual #2
  • New Mutants Annual #2
  • The X-Men Annual #10
  • New Mutants #45

Note: Mutant Massacre takes place here, which includes New Mutants #46. You can see a complete reading order for that event with my X-Men: Mutant Massacre omnibus review.

  • New Mutants #47-51
  • New Mutants Annual #3
  • New Mutants #52
  • Fallen Angels #1-8
  • New Mutants #53-54
  • Power Pack #33

Note that you can pick this reading order up immediately after finishing the one I laid out in my New Mutants Vol. 1 review. I also borrowed the general reading order from the amazing Crushing Krisis guide, though I made quite a few changes to it based on my own personal preferences.

How is the quality of the physical book?

New Mutants Vol. 2 Omnibus

My copy of this book was manufactured June 18 and August 30 of 2021 by IMAK Offset in Istanbul, Turkey. The street date of the book was February 15, 2022, so that means this is the first printing of this book.

I love the front cover, which comes from the cover of New Mutants #47, which depicts the team battling against Magus. The back of the dust jacket shows a gallery of all the issues collected in this book, which is a classic format for omnibuses, but I do appreciate it.

New Mutants Vol. 2 Omnibus

Under the dust jacket, though, is where things get spicy, with a reuse of the cover of New Mutants Special Edition #1 by Arthur Adams and Terry Austin. This is also inside this book, but it makes a really great wraparound mural. It looks really, really cool, in my opinion. And you’ve got Magik on the spine, which is great (Doug in Warlock armor is on the dust jacket spine).

New Mutants Vol. 2 Omnibus

The binding is stitched and it seems relatively okay, but it does feel a bit weaker than a lot of other Marvel omnibuses.

New Mutants Vol. 2 Omnibus

Plus, the paper is really thin. If you look closely at the image below, you’ll probably notice that you can see panel borders bleeding through the page. While this is definitely something omnibus collectors will be familiar with, the problem seems to be especially noticeable with this volume.

New Mutants Vol. 2 Omnibus

I also noticed some warping on the middle pages of this volume. It’s subtle — just a little bit of an arc when I try to lay a page flat — but it’s definitely noticeable. This seems like something that shouldn’t happen with a book that costs over $100.

Yes, books printed at IMAK Offset tend to be lower in quality than those printed at R.R. Donnelley in China. This book was printed at IMAK, so a slightly lower quality was to be expected. But I do think the overall quality here is a little bit worse than I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great volume that looks cool on the shelf and fills in some gaps in the Claremont X-book line, but I do wish the quality were a little higher.

Are these stories any good?

New Mutants #37

This collection of stories takes place immediately after New Mutants Vol. 1, which ended on an incredibly high note. Thankfully, New Mutants Vol. 2 starts off really strong, with the “Asgardian Wars” storyline. This story takes place across New Mutants Special Edition #1 and X-Men Annual #9, and in it, Loki summons Storm to Asgard. Since Storm is sort of playing chaperone to the New Mutants, they come along for the ride. Illyana attempts to teleport them back, but her powers don’t work properly in Asgard, and the New Mutants are scattered across the nine realms.

From here, the issue plays out like a collection of solo stories, showing what happened to each character in turn. I’m really warming up to high fantasy within the Marvel Universe, and the Asgardian Wars storyline is a great example of this done really well. I do think Karma’s storyline is kind of… um… weird? But pretty much everything else is great; there’s a whole lot of phenomenal stuff happening here.

Oh, and this is where Dani becomes a Valkyrie, which is really cool, and it’s something that will have a huge impact on her as a character going forward.

When the team returns to Earth, they discover that Charles Xavier has been whisked off to space, and he’d left Magneto in charge. It’s probably a little bit jarring if you don’t read Uncanny X-Men #200, so I definitely recommended that you chase down that issue before you read any further in this book. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t include it in this collection (though I admit this volume is already pretty beefy). But yeah, Uncanny X-Men #200 is super important here.

New Mutants

After this point, the story is interrupted by the ending of Secret Wars II, which kind of derails the flow of the plot for a bit. Secret Wars II is admittedly not great — though it’s better than the previous Secret Wars, in my opinion — but it does have some major implications for the New Mutants. To be fair, the content in the actual New Mutants series is better than Secret Wars II, but there’s a really huge event that happens to the characters that you’ll want to know about. Okay, I’ll just say it: The New Mutants are basically wiped from existence temporarily, which has some severe psychological impacts on them once they return from nonexistence.

And I have to admit, the fallout is much better reading than anything that happened during the event itself. This ends with the New Mutants enrolling in the Massachusetts Academy under Emma Frost, with Magneto becoming a gloomy alcoholic. This arc is interesting, because we start to see a softer, more compassionate side of Emma Frost. No, she’s not ready to join the X-Men quite yet — it’ll be about 15 years before that happens, actually, in Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking run on New X-Men. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

At this point, there are some one-off issues that focus on a single team member. There’s an issue where Dani Moonstar returns home to spend time with her family, followed by an issue where Sam Guthrie does the same. I wonder how much the upcoming Mutant Massacre played into this, because it seems a little bit like Chris Claremont might have been hesitant to set up broader story arcs with such a big crossover event on the horizon. If you read X-Men alongside New Mutants, you’ll see that the mainline X-Men series does a similar thing at about the same time. It’s not bad though; these are some great stories that allow Claremont to focus on smaller, more poignant character moments, which is one of Claremont’s greatest strengths as a comic book writer.

New Mutants #45

After issue #44, the series is interrupted by a few annuals. There’s Web of Spider-Man Annual #2, which is basically about Warlock running amok after watching too much TV. There’s more to it than that, of course, but it’s a pretty lighthearted story that’s mostly an excuse to let Arthur Adams’ art go absolutely wild. Seriously, this issue looks incredible.

And then we have New Mutants Annual #2, which is drawn by Alan Davis and features the return of Betsy and Brian Braddock (remember them from Captain Britain?), as well as Mojo (remember him from the Longshot miniseries?) This issue was also collected in the Captain Britain expanded omnibus, which I reviewed a while back. This is an important issue, because it’s when Psylocke finally starts mingling with the New Mutants (she’ll eventually become one of the X-Men).

After issue #45, New Mutants briefly crosses into Mutant Massacre. However, the New Mutants miss most of the events of the Massacre, as they end up on their own journey across time and space. Warlock’s father Magus is still trying to kill him (all of this was set up in New Mutants Vol. 1), so the New Mutants escape to Illyana’s demon dimension Limbo and wind up scattered across time. Warlock takes control of the demon S’ym, who is essentially using Magus’ Transmode virus to transform Limbo into a Technarchy world that Illyana no longer has control over. Limbo becomes the domain of Magus, leaving the scattered New Mutants with no way to return home.

By some strange coincidence, Illyana ends up crossing paths with Charles Xavier in space. Xavier has been missing the X-Men and the New Mutants, so he’s glad to catch up with Illyana, but he also learns of the Mutant Massacre and all the stuff that X-Factor’s been up to. Yeah, things got pretty bleak in his absence. He decides he must return to Earth and set things straight. But first, he must help Illyana reclaim Limbo and collect the scattered New Mutants.

New Mutants #50

This whole storyline is just wild and crazy and so much fun. I really like how so many different storylines end up woven together into one epic double-issue (issue #50) to tell this bizarre, huge tale. Even the Starjammers get involved in this one. I really like the Warlock vs. Magus arc, and this storyline brings it to a really satisfying conclusion.

This arc is, of course, interrupted by New Mutants Annual #3 and the eight-issue Fallen Angels series, and all of those issues are collected in this massive tome. Annual #3 is an Impossible Man story, and I would say that it’s skippable if it wasn’t drawn by Alan Davis, whose work I generally admire. The Fallen Angels storyline is a bit silly and it goes on for way longer than it feels like it needs to, but there are some good character moments in the second half. The first half is kind of strange, as you have a bunch of familiar characters acting in strange and irrational ways, like Sunspot reading Magneto’s file on him and deciding he should try becoming a supervillain. But I actually really appreciate these pocket groups of Mutants, and it’s nice to get away from the more established characters for a bit to get to spend some time with Boom Boom and Gomi (and Gomi’s cyber-lobster pals).

The Firestar miniseries is just kind of alright as well. While it gives some insight into the origin of Angelica Jones, it also feels like it’s stretched a bit thin. Thankfully, this collection ends with New Mutants: War Children, which is a long-awaited return of Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz as a creative duo, making it a really fun read.

Ultimately, there are some really good stories collected in this book — Asgardian Wars especially — but it does feel kind of bogged down by mediocre annuals and passable miniseries.

Is this a good place to begin reading New Mutants?

New Mutants

Honestly, this is a pretty decent place to start New Mutants. It’s not the best place, mind you, as Vol. 1 is preferable as a starting point, but Vol. 2 drops you into the action during a particularly high point in the series. The problem with Vol. 1 is that it spins its wheels for a bit before it really gets going, and Vol. 2 starts with a ton of momentum.

That also comes with the downside of jumping into character stories midway through their arcs, but Vol. 2 begins with some transition points that will continue to be important for a while. So if you can get past the initial disoriented sense of picking up a story in media res, you’ll quickly find yourself getting pulled into the story, I think.

The caveat, of course, is that the story is interrupted by Secret Wars II and Mutant Massacre, so there are some awkward moments where things slow down for a bit. This is the curse of the comic-book crossover. And then you’ve got a bunch of just-sort-of-okay miniseries to bulk up this volume, and I’m probably going to skip most of that content on my next re-read.

What’s next?

Once you finish this collection, you can follow the adventures of the New Mutants into the pages of the X-Men: Fall of the Mutants omnibus, which picks up with issue #55. Note that Chris Claremont leaves the series at that point, and Louise Simonson begins writing it. Claremont stays on Uncanny, though, while Louise Simonson continues writing X-Factor. You’ll find all three of those series collected together in Fall of the Mutants, which makes them so much easier to read than previous X-collections (which tend to focus on a singular title rather than the X-universe as a whole).

Of course, Excalibur spins out of the X-books at that point, which is its own can of worms, but that’s a story for another time…

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