Over two decades ago, “New Warriors” burst onto the Marvel scene with the slogan “Heroes for the 90’s!” In that time, they’ve appeared in one form or another across four volumes and over one hundred issues. Each new series had a unique creative team and direction, which leads one to ask: which debut issue was the best?
Written by Fabian Nicieza / Illustrated by Mark Bagley / 32 pages
This issue begins with Night Thrasher recruiting Nova, Marvel Boy, and Firestar to form a new superteam. Each person gets two or three pages to quickly recap their history, abilities, and motives before the convienietly-timed reappearance of Terrax, who had been dead for about ten years or so. Aside from a couple exposition-y lines about being burned to death by the Fantastic Four, there’s no explanation for who he is or why he appeared out of some polluted dirt. Namorita and Speedball also happen to be nearby, so the six of them work together to defeat Terrax in a simple way with a contrived explanation. Then the Avengers show up and get credit for the victory, nicely displaying the underdog role the Warriors would go on to fill in the Marvel Universe.
The writing for this issue is very dated. Word balloons describing the events fill every page. There’s also a — great deal of — puncuated speech when — people are straining! While wordy, it quickly lets you know who everyone is and establishes motivations and relationships among the cast. The art is sometimes skimpy on detail, but the distinct costumes prevent confusion about who’s who.
This issue provides just enough detail to prevent a reader from needing to track down back issues, but doesn’t provide much of a hook to come back for issue two. Final Verdict: 7
Written by Jay Faerber / Illustrated by Steve Scott / 38 pages
The second volume begins with Speedball stopping a daring daylight bank robbery before telling a bystander the New Warriors no longer exist. The rest of the issue follows him as he visits his former teammates trying to get the band back together. At the same time, the company responsible for Terrax’s return at the start of the previous volume brings Blastaar to Earth. As the group bands together (temporarily) to stop him, they’re joined by two new members – Bolt and Aegis – before succeeding. After deciding they will reform the New Warriors afterall, the issue ends by teasing the return of a villain from the team’s past.
The writing was fun and entertaining, but Faerber breaks little new ground. It honors previous continuity to the point this could be “New Warriors” vol 1 #76 instead of vol 2 #1, but divulges enough to be a free-standing story. The extra pages allow more breathing room, but ultimately it follows the same formula as the 1990 issue. That isn’t inherantly bad, but it does fall a little flat. In the end, there’s no real reason for the team to exist, and no sense of direction of where the story will go. The art stands out for being very tightly focused. The primary character or action usually fills the entire panel with no “widescreen” shots to give individual scenes a sense of scale. If the storyline had been as focused as the art, and if the art had been as pulled back as the plot, this would’ve been a better book. It still managed to be entertaining, but sometimes that’s not enough. Final Verdict: 6
Written by Zeb Wells / Illustrated by Skottie Young / 23 pages
The next volume was a six-issue limited series, framed as a reality TV show following the Warriors as they handled supervillain crimes in small town, America. The entire issue is a fight between the team and two Vault escapees. While the team’s previous experiences are mentioned, a studio executive reminds them references to their past is bad for new viewers. Along with some other meta-commentary on editorial, this issue provides the team a reason to be together, a unique niche, and an indication of their next adventure.Continued below
Zeb Wells provides some truely humorous dialogue with a light hearted premise. Young’s cartoony art is a great fit for it. It’s hard not to wonder if there was hope this could continue into a second “season,” or if this was always just a set-up for “Civil War.” Final Verdict: 7
Written by Kevin Grevioux / Illustrated by Paco Medina / 25 pages
The final volume of “New Warriors” came from the pages of “CIVIL WAR,” and it’s all the worse for it. Like most new series from the time period, it takes for granted the reader is aware of the wider Marvel Universe. It opens with a chase scene between two characters who aren’t introduced, and then cuts to a confusing dream sequence, followed the lead (Sophia) waking up on a subway. References to the Thunderbolts, the SRA, M-Day, and other events which happened in other books. After a day in the life of regular person Sophia, we find out she’s a former mutant, and perhaps a former X-man. It’s not real clear. She’s contacted by someone who wants her to join a crime-fighting group. Maybe. It’s a group opposed to the “New World Order,” reminding her “Freedom isn’t free.” She meets them, only to find out one of them is also a former mutant (Beak), and someone who’s supposed to be dead (Night Thrasher). Both characters and thier relationship to Sophia is left unexplained in this issue.
This issue isn’t a bad book. Grevioux and Medina provide a decent story, but it’s not a good introduction, and it’s certainly not self-contained. While all the other “New Warriors” #1s had their own issues with continuity, they either provided a “see issue whatever” box or it was from other issues of the same title. This requires reading at least two event books and who knows what else. As such, it reads more like a tie-in instead of an ongoing which can sustain itself. Beyond that, the issue spends so much time establishing its location in the Marvel Universe it fails to tell you why you should care about this particular cornor. Unless you like Sophia, Beak, or Nightthrasher, there’s really no reason at all to come back to issue 2. Final Verdict: 4
Final Standoff: (1990) = (2005) > (1999) > (2007)