Chris Claremont kick lately, probably because the current All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men comics, as well as the couple-years-old-now Wolverine and the X-Men feel much more influenced by his work than any X-Men series has in quite some time. I was a fan of Claremont's work back in the day, and I had a particular fondness for New Mutants, although I haven't read any of those issues since they originally came out. I'm pleased to say that they completely live up to my memories of them.
In today's comics market, where it appears to be a federal law that fully 1/3 of all Marvel Comics' output must be X-Men-related at any given moment, it's tough to recall that back in the early 1980s, there was only one X-Men comic: Uncanny X-Men. So, in 1982, when the fourth Marvel graphic novel introduced a new team at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, it was a big deal. As a newly-minted X-Men fan, having been brought into the fold through the X-Men/New Teen Titans crossover, I was excited at the possibility of getting in on this story on the ground floor, so I eagerly snapped it up.
The art on the graphic novel, by Bob McLeod, also holds up, I think. I now know that this was an early project for him, and that it was a bit of a rush job. I don't see that in the art at all. He does a great job with a story that features a lot of scenes of normal-looking people in normal environments, and that grounds the book in a reality that sets it a bit apart from Uncanny X-Men. Like Claremont, he creates characters who are distinct individuals, with specific looks and body types. The reader can tell who is who without having to rely on costumes or hair colors. It's a good introduction, and sets the tone for what is to follow.
It's probably worth pointing out that the ratio of female to male characters on the team was three to two. This may have had some additional appeal for me.