Writer Vita Ayala kicks off their New Mutants run in this week's New Mutants #14 alongside returning artist Rod Reis, and the new creative team offers their first glimpse at the New Mutants' next big threat following the just-wrapped 'X of Swords' – the return of a classic X-Men villain.
But the infamous bad guy's return isn't the big surprise – as their schemes seem to already be unfolding in a way that could have a profound effect on not just the youth of Krakoa, but the entire mutant population.
Spoilers ahead for New Mutants #14
New Mutants #14 kicks off with Dani Moonstar psychically helping Karma work through recurring nightmares she's had of the Otherworld, since the end of 'X of Swords.' Though the team, including Magik, wish to dig into the nightmares further, they're interrupted by Warpath, who (sporting a comical new 'gym coach' uniform) rallies the team and their young proteges for training.
As the young mutants train in synergizing their powers, Gabby (a clone of X-23 who is herself a sorta genetically-engineered bio-duplicate of Wolverine) becomes concerned that she may die in the fight and not be allowed resurrection, as Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey) was denied the Resurrection Protocols. But Magik reassures her that Madelyne Pryor was left dead because of her crimes against mutants and humans – things Gabby isn't guilty of. But Gabby remains concerned.
Meanwhile, as the younger mutants break into their groups after their training session, Anole, Cosmar, No-Girl, and Rain Boy head out into the wilderness of Krakoa where they venture into a dark cave. Once inside, they're confronted by a classic X-Men villain making his big return – the Shadow King.
But they seem to have nothing to fear, as all four address Shadow King as their leader, apparently under his psychic thrall as spies among Krakoa.
The Shadow King is a psychic entity from the Astral Plane, who has long used the mutant Amahl Farouk as his host and avatar on Earth, even appearing as Farouk in his natural Astral form at times.
Shadow King first encountered Charles Xavier in Xavier's youth, and the pair became rivals with Shadow King eventually capturing and holding Xavier's psyche hostage in the Astral realm until he was freed and given a new physical body, with Shadow King seemingly destroyed in the process.
Since then, Amahl Farouk, without the presence of the Shadow King, has been seen as one of the mutant residents of Krakoa – though, with this reveal, it seems he may still be under Shadow King's influence or at least the Shadow King is still using Farouk's form when he manifests.
Though Shadow King's return wasn't previously directly revealed, the cover of February's New Mutants #16 seems to show the Astral visage of the Shadow King. Before that, however, the story continues in January 20's New Mutants #15.
As New Mutants ramps up its post-'X of Swords' arc, stay up on all the new X-Men comics, graphic novels, and collections coming up.