Marvel

Why do people love the New Warriors? Part 5: Volume 2 coulda been a contender

You Can Get With This Or You Can Get With That

I realize that this means I shouldn’t be on the interwebs, but bad stories don’t bother me. If I think something is bad, I don’t generally think about it after I’ve read it. No, the stories that bother me are the ones that are bad, but where you can see that they could have been good. You can see the bare bones of something better, but it’s weighed down by awfulness. It’s even worse if you get the sense that something was actively working against the story to make it bad.

This is how I feel about the first New Warriors revamp.

I can’t find it online and I really wish I still had it, but there’s a drawing somewhere out there by Steve Scott that features a team from an alternate proposal by Jay Faerber. It’s a pretty big cast. Rage was in the shot, that much I remember for sure. I think it was basically everyone who’d ever been a New Warrior up to that point, plus a couple of new characters that Scott and Faerber planned on introducing.

This was not the team that was going to be used in the series, though. They also didn’t use the team in this proposal, either.

Editorial decided that those casts wouldn’t work, at least not as well as the one we got.

They were wrong.

What we got was a team of six characters, two of which were (more or less) brand new. Turbo was a second generation New Warrior, which meant there was only space left for three original members. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, although giving Nova yet another new costume was a bad decision. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they kept trying to get him out of his classic uniform. Namorita and Speedball were the other two founders on the team — no Rage in sight. No Night Thrasher. Understandably no Justice or Firestar who were with the Avengers at this point.

Still, much like with Skolnik’s version of the team, the founders who stuck around weren’t going to set the world on fire. Nova and Namorita are much more appealing than Justice and Firestar if only because their dynamic is more interesting. But neither of them adds the kind of story potential that Rage or Thrash would — particularly the former, whose story still had plenty of potential.

Perhaps more of a blow to the series, though, was the fact that Bolt and Aegis were never developed beyond one note characters. Bolt had the Legacy Virus. Aegis knew kids in gangs. That was about as far as it ever really got. Aegis made questionable decisions to hide his former life (note: making Nova suspicious of Aegis and then later mentioning how he’s still suspicious of Night Thrasher is not a good look for him) and Bolt refuses to tell anyone about the Legacy Virus for stiff, inorganic, plot reasons. It’s not surprising that they’ve both become footnotes in New Warriors lore.

But, honestly, the series falls into trouble well before these issue crop up. The problem? The book never had a regular art team.

New Warriors v2 had 5 pencilers over its first 7 issues. God bless Walden Wong because he inked every single issue of the run. I don’t know what his pencils look like, but at a certain point they really should have considered giving him a shot because at least he was showing up every month.

The frustrating part is that all of the artists who worked on the book were pretty good, but each had their own style and the changes were jarring, particularly since they sometimes occurred in the middle of an issue. Steve Scott’s pencils were great, but launching with Karl Kerschl as the regular penciler would have been great, too. Throw him in for a fill-in or two, though, and it is not smooth.

Maybe art influenced writing, but ultimately these 10 issues are easily tossed aside. Speedball runs around in a bad costume; Turbo’s isn’t much better. Nova eventually reverts back to his original look. Namorita seems to have some new powers (she’s also white again, when she was blue at the end of the last series). And the aforementioned new members aren’t really interesting.

Meanwhile

Volume 2 doesn’t pick up immediately after volume 1 and as such there’s some story to fill in. The Warriors popped here and there throughout the Marvel U, but the most important stories took place in Nova’s new book (everyone gets a new book!). The most questionable story is that Nita’s blue skin basically falls off, but not before she’s slimy and wrinkly and when she goes to Nova for help, he freaks out because of how she looks.

It’s not one of Nova’s finest moments.

It ends up being a low point for Namorita, too, as she returns to her original, white form and decides the best way to get back at Nova is by sleeping with anyone around him. I have no problems with Nita having lots and lots of sex if she so chooses, but her motivation for doing so seems completely at odds with what we’ve seen of her up until now. But the story is written by Erik Larsen and he’s not known for writing nuanced female characters.

The less problematic plot point is that the team breaks up…kind of. We don’t actually see them call it quits, we just see them start to head in that direction, even though they’re still active during this series.

The rationalizations each member gives for leaving aren’t great, particularly Night Thrasher’s, who basically says he wants to fight crime in the boardroom which is completely at odds with his character. It would have made more sense had he said he wanted to rethink the very concept of the New Warriors in an effort to make them more effective, but whatever.

So when volume 2 starts, the team is no longer, but Speedball thinks that should change, so he goes about trying to get everyone back together.

Less Than a Year in the Life

The crux of much of the ten issues revolves around a team of villains called Heavy Mettle whose designs are incredibly uninteresting to the point where it’s hard to tell them apart…or really care about them. While I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Marvel, I don’t think they’ve ever shown up anywhere else.

Nova spends much of the series trying to get the team good press. He and Speedball write a New Warriors screenplay. Nita dates Johnny Storm which dovetails nicely into a temporary, new Fantastic Four that debuts after this series ends. It features the Human Torch, Namorita, Ant Man (Scott Lang), and She-Hulk. It’s a pretty cool team.

Night Thrasher shows up at the end to try to save things, but he’s also been revamped. He’s given up his armor for a Master of Kung Fu look and it’s not great.

Art by Jamal Igle and Walden Wong

This leads me to a diatribe.

Creators working with Night Thrasher: own it. Is he dated? Yes. Is the skate board crazy? Yes. Is he some weird hybrid between Batman and Iron Man? Yes. Are any of these things particularly great? No. But his name is freaking Night Thrasher and you just need to own it. He is Mr. 90s. Bask in it. Roll around in it. Let it cover you and keep you warm. Love the Night Thrasher and he will love you back.

The series never takes off and only lasts 10 issues, although it leads into an Iron Fist/Woverine series by the last version of the creative team (Jay Faerber and Jamal Igle). Night Thrasher rejoins the team at the end.

The New Warriors are theoretically still together when the series ends, although Bolt and Aegis would eventually meet their ends in other titles and Nova would head into space for some really great stories.

This leaves Night Thrasher, Namorita, and Speedball and I still operate under the belief that the three of them are captured by the Mad Thinker and replaced by Super Adaptoids programmed in such a way to help him examine the human condition.

That’s the only way to explain what happens next without going insane.

Third Time’s the Worst

No. Just…no.

It’s not that I’m against the concept of the third volume of the New Warriors, it’s that it made no sense at all when applied to these characters. It’s awful. It is the worst kind of relaunch.

No amount of mental gymnastics makes the Warriors decision to participate in a reality television show legitimate.

But even if you look past the use of the New Warriors, this series wasn’t great. The entire concept is painfully obvious and the jokes are never funny, so much so that there are times when I wondered if it really was supposed to be funny.

If volume 2 was frustrating because it felt like it could have been good, volume 3 is frustrating because it was a waste of time and money. It will forever be a black mark on the Warriors’ legacy, made all the more worse by the fact that it led to the an even worse development for the team (and for Speedball in particular): Civil War.

And if you don’t know what happened to the New Warriors in Civil War, be thankful.

Next: Can the New Warriors bounce back from so much abuse?

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