THE NEW MUTANTSMedium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1982
Creators: Chris Claremont (writer) and Bob McLeod (artist)
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The X-Men, Marvel Comics' most popular superhero team, started out in 1963 as a school where Professor X would teach young mutants how to deal with their special abilities, and get along peacefully in a
world mostly populated by normal humans. They started getting away from that idea, and saving the world from super villains, in the very first issue; and within a few years had almost completely forgotten their original purpose. The New Mutants, who constituted a new class at Professor X's school, brought the concept back to its roots.
The new class began with the professor, despondent at the presumed deaths of the original X-Men at the hands of aliens, uninterested in resuming his educational work. But in the fourth entry (1982) of Marvel's newly-launched series of graphic novels, writer Chris Claremont (then the regular X-Men scripter, also known for Iron Fist, Sovereign Seven and more) and artist Bob McLeod (who is best known in American comics for this work, but who has also drawn Spider-Man, Superman and many others) described how, one by one, for various reasons, he assembled his younger class anyway. He dressed them in black and yellow costumes just like those the X-Men themselves had worn in their first few dozen issues, and The New Mutants were well established by the time the original group (inevitably) turned out to have survived after all.
Cannonball (no relation) was Sam Guthrie, whose super power was to manufacture energy and use it to launch himself like a rocket, wherever he wanted to go. Karma was Xi'an Coy Manh, who could control other people's minds. Psyche (later called Mirage) was Danielle Moonstar, whose power was to create realistic illusions. Sunspot was Roberto DaCosta, who had the ability to absorb sunlight and turn it into super strength. Wolfsbane was the most incongruously-named of the group — the "bane" of a thing is usually understood to mean its worst enemy, whereas Rahne Sinclair's super power was to turn into a wolf.
Those were the founding members. Early additions included Cypher (Doug Ramsey, who had a mutant-level ability with languages), Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde, transferred/demoted from the parent group) and Warlock (no relation), an alien with no other apparent name.
The New Mutants moved out into their own title with a cover date of May, 1983. Naturally, they quickly fell into the the same pattern of fighting super villains, but much of it, in their case, was subordinated to their stated role as superheroes in training.
The problem with being consistent about that sort of role is that training eventually ends. It took 100 issues (the last dated April, 1991), seven annuals and a couple of special editions, but theirs finally did. Afterward, a mutant from the future named Cable, likely the son and/or stepson of Cyclops and Phoenix, organized many of them into X-Force, another mutant team, this one less interested in peaceful coexistence with normal humans than in seeing that the mutants come out on top. But that didn't last, and before long, the former New Mutants had scattered throughout the Marvel Universe.
They were back for a mini-series in 1997, which depicted them as time travelers from the previous decade. A 2003 series revived the concept of teaching a previously-untrained new mutant. Nowadays, the phrase is just a trademark, which may or may not, at any given time, be used in connection with the new mutants who are always popping up in Marvel comics.