New Mutants #98 (Fascimile Edition) // Review
Rob Liefeld is a… controversial figure in the comics world. Barging onto the scene in the late 80s with action-packed art, he helped usher in what has jokingly become known as The Dark Age of Comics. One of his most slapped-together creations at the time, Deadpool, has also become a multi-million dollar film star and has more comics under his name than some Marvel A-listers. Since Marvel seems to be on a reproduction run with other popular characters, someone at Marvel had the bright idea to reprint the original debut of Deadpool in New Mutants 98, ads and all. It will provide the reader with perhaps the most elusive feeling of all: stumbling into an ongoing storyline with having no idea what happened before, and filling in the blanks themselves.
The plot and art is, of course, by Rob Liefeld. Fabian Nicieza steps in to put words on the pages with a script, while Joe Rosen letters the pages. Scott Buccellato colors the pages as well.
Opening with a Danger Room sequence, Cable and the New Mutants are ambushed by new assassin Deadpool. He’s been hired by the mysterious Mister Tolliver to end Cable’s life by any means. Can Cable and the New Mutants fend off Deadpool? And what’s with Gideon and the mysterious Domino?
Despite opening as a new storyline, this book wastes no time introducing any of the characters. Louise Simonson, who had left the book with the previous issue, had taken great pains to ensure that every storyline had something for new readers. With pages crammed full of nonsensical action provided by Liefeld, Nicieza actually seems to struggle to explain what happens, and makes that a priority over who anyone actually is beyond the new characters of Deadpool, Domino, and Gideon. As mentioned above, this gives the reader that same giddy and heady feel of encountering something exciting and new… but can also completely turn off new readers who find Liefeld’s storytelling to be chaotic and confusing.
Liefeld’s has a great ability to convey motion, making every page look kinetic and exciting. However, even this early in his career, some weird weaknesses are starting to show. He can’t quite draw feet. Mouths have too many teeth. Everyone squints, with some characters looking like dried prunes who were cast as Clint Eastwood. Characters sprout new abilities, only to forget them again.
Also, no one still knows what is up with Gideon.
However, Scott Buccellato does a fantastic job making sure characters are distinct and easy to recognize from one another, even while they grimace and strain like they need those aforementioned prunes. Deadpool is also perfect right out of the gate in design, and Domino looks wonderful.
As with Marvel’s other Facsimile copies, this comic goes through great lengths to reproduce the original issue. Subscription pages, radical advertisements from publishers no longer in business, Stan Lee’s Bullpen Bulletins advertising the Hot New Character Find of 1991, Night Cat. It is a wonderful snapshot of comics in the 1990s, and a perfect sample of how bizarre and awesome comics can be at the same time.
If you’re looking to own Deadpool and Domino’s first appearance, look no more. This is the book for you. If you’re curious to see how comics were presented in the grand Dark Age, this is also one for your collection.