Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Artist: Paco Medina (p), Juan Vlasco (i), Marte Gracia (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Editor’s Note: The first issue of New Warriors #1 appears in stores this Wednesday, June 6.
New Warriors. Previously, it was a name that brought to mind young heroes. Now the name conjures thoughts of reality television and Civil War. The New Warriors sparked the confrontation that split the Marvel Universe in half when they inadvertantly caused Nitro to blow up Stamford, Connecticut. Following the explosion, the sole surviving member of the attack, Speedball, because the masochistic Penance and joined the violent yet-oh-so-marketable Thunderbolts, who cameos in this issue on a fast food poster. Richard Rider, the sole surviving member of the Nova Corps avoided Civil War and got caught up in the Annihilation Wave, effectively saving the universe while Captain America and Iron Man duked it out over politics. For all intents and purposes, it looked as if the New Warriors were finished.
Well, sort of.
Mysterious vigilantes are on the prowl in New York City, tying up criminals for the cops, and laughing in the face of Registration posters. The cops are baffled, and even S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho Tony Stark has no idea what’s going on. The only clue? The words "New Warriors" graffitied across the scene of the crime. However, that’s not the main narrative in this issue. Deftly tying Civil War into the post-House of M world, writer Kevin Grevioux focuses on former mutant Sofia Barrett, a.k.a. Wind Dancer. She’s lost her powers, is done with the hero business, and has for the most part adjusted to her new life as a civilian. However, she soon starts receiving messages on her computer, which she refers to as the “Morpheus routine.” Someone wants her back in the superhero world, powers or no powers.
Grevioux is good at dialogue. His characters sound like normal twenty-somethings in the real world, which adds for a smooth, realistic tone to the book. Sophia serves as the window into the events of the comic, and her history and well adjusted nature serve as good counterbalances. The book’s final page leaves two major questions: will Sophia get back into the superhero role? And who exactly are the new New Warriors?
I’ve got to hand it Grevioux: the use of the New Warriors as a counter-Registration team really is appealing. They caused Civil War, and now they’re fighting against it. And this isn’t the reality television modus operandi the old team had; these guys mean business. They aren’t in hiding; they’re fighting a guerilla war in the urban jungle. Rambo they’re not, but they certainly seem to be doing a better job confronting Tony Stark than the New Avengers are. However, I am a bit upset about the book’s length. It felt decompressed and like half of a full issue. I would have liked to see more of Sophia meeting the New Warriors, but alas, it ends on a cliffhang. I am though really interested in where things are going, and if the New Warriors will take the fight to Iron Man and the Initiative.
Paco Medina’s art is cartoony but good. He captures the expressions of Sophia perfectly, and his backgrounds are sunny and upbeat, perfectly capturing New York on a good day. I’ll admit I find the style a bit unfitting for what looks like a dark book, but his art is good. His skills with action scenes are only hinted here, but from what I saw I look forward to seeing him draw a full on fight scene.
New Warriors is a great change of pace from the old incarnations of the team. Grevioux has crafted a wonderful story, tying in both Civil War and House of M to give the book a good cast and unique story. Sadly, the art, while good, does not really fit the mood presented in the book. The issue itself feels like it’s missing a few more pages, decompressed when it should be jam packed with story and action and suspense. I’ll admit I'm interested in seeing where things go from here.
If I hadn’t gotten a free copy of this, I probably would have gone out and bought it. I’m interested in what Marvel’s plans are with a New Warriors monthly, which seems to have some ideas that I like. Since the art is good, I would have picked this up if I had seen it in a shop and flipped through it.
Luckily, I didn’t pay for this. It’s hard for me, as an aspiring writer, to knock someone who is much further along in his career than I am, but I feel fine in saying that this is some bad writing. A lot of it feels like a bad 80’s movie; since it’s set in the Marvel Universe, I really did feel like I was in middle school again watching bad anime (not to say that all anime is bad). The dialogue, character interaction, and archetypes used all seem really fake to me—maybe there are places where these types of folks do exist, and if so, I wish to not meet them. The plot is driven by a group calling themselves the New Warriors who are trying to recruit a girl named Sofia—a.k.a. Wind Dancer, a depowered mutant. They go about it in similar fashion to the first Matrix movie. At one point Sofia even says to her computer screen, “Look, I don’t respond well to the Morpheus routine.” Though I do appreciate that they poke fun at it, I still didn’t like that they were doing a “Morpheus routine.”
Another thing that irked me was all this news coverage vaguely referring to the re-emerging New Warriors as “that one vigilante group.” As pointed out in the Great Lakes Avengers mini series, the Marvel Universe seems to be centered around New York. One of the reasons why the Initiative got launched seems to be so that they can take away the outlandishness of that aspect. So while a vigilante group called New Warriors would make the news since it’s the name of the group that killed all those kids in Connecticut, there are too many vigilante groups running around for it to be reasonable to refer to any one in vague terms.
Writer Kevin Grevioux has had more of an acting career, only recently venturing into comic book writing, but his credits include being a producer and staff writer for both Underworld movies, which I found interested because this issue is carried a lot by how the art is broken down — its storytelling is more visual like a movie rather than simply words on a page. For instance, on one page where Sofia walks through New York, there is no dialogue, and one panel shows her going up stairs from a subway and a giant Marvel billboard catches your attention more than anything. Next she walks by a toy store display window filled with Thunderbolt paraphernalia, and finally she passes a bus station ad that features Penance, which is odd to anyone who knows who that is (for those who haven’t read Civil War: Front Line; Penance is the new alter ego of Speedball who is the only surviving member of the previous New Warriors team). What I am curious to know is how much of a role Grevioux took in laying out each panel. The art is in the same vein as anime. I would have to say that this title will probably fit in with Marvel titles like Runaways, Nextwave: Agents of HATE, and the current run of New X-Men.
For all my griping, it is a fun and light hearted story, which can be nice to read sometimes. Maybe I was disappointed because I was expecting similarities to “The Accused” story in Front Line, and this is far from that. Since it is about a group of heroes without any special powers, I might give the next issue a look, and it’s not as if there is nothing redeeming about the book. But I won’t buy this first issue and the title is going to be too far down my wish list of comics for me to ever likely buy.
A lot of people I knew always considered New Warriors to be a poor man’s version of DC’s Teen Titans series. But what I found over time was that these characters had a depth and were much more flexible in terms of storytelling possibilities. From Justice’s accidental killing of his father to Nova’s issues with losing and regaining his powers, Turbo losing her friend and partner as a result of using her suit as well as Night Thrasher’s issues, the team suddenly developed a story that was unique and unlike anything seen in the Marvel Universe at the time. Sadly though, after their cancellation and two failed relaunches, they were basically turned into the tragedy that launched Civil War. For once, I’m going to break the story down a little because there’s a lot of little details here I really enjoyed.
Kevin Grievoux and Paco Medina are trying to reinvent the team in a post-Civil War Marvel Universe. Not an easy task, given how much pressure most of the “Initiative” launch books have been under. The opening scene finds a young hero facing down and then shrinking (yes shrinking) down the Grey Gargoyle to the size of an action figure. There’s some mysterious dialogue from someone who is basically acting as a handler of sorts. We’re not given any information about this new(?) hero, but we know the Warriors are back.
The story is set up well, taking us into the life of a young waitress by the name of Sofia who, from the information I was able to dig up on the character, is a former mutant named Wind Dancer who was apparently one of the many M-Day casualties. On her way to work she runs into an old man she knows, who hands her a phone he was paid to give to her. As she’s walking, the person on the end of the phone apparently knows exactly who she is, but at this point that’s all the information we get. Mysterious. And it makes you a bit curious as to who she’s talking to - most likely whoever is behind the Warriors returning to action.
The other part of the story concerns a couple of detectives who are investigating what happened to the Grey Gargoyle (and discovering the New Warriors have apparently returned). Another villain is discovered shortly afterwards, wrapped up in a similar manner to the previous one. Short, and to the point, this basically illustrates that these heroes are going to do things their way, regardless of the Registration Act.
As we get back to Sofia’s story, she’s landed at work and is dealing with her boss and being co-erced into setting up a date with a customer. Later that night, after returning home, she’s contacted by the mysterious person from earlier, who pulls a page from the Wachowski Brothers and has their whole conversation via the computer. It’s obvious here by the dialogue between the two that Sofia’s been staked out for some time, and her date shortly thereafter puts it all in perspective, as she’s reunited with another fellow ex-mutant, whose identity I won’t spoil here, but suffice to say, it’s a nice surprise.
The last page of this issue is probably the biggest shocker of them all. It really is what is going to make me pick up the next issue, and suffice to say my fellow New Warriors fans will be very happy. Books like these make me glad to be a comics fan because it provides a solid story, very solid art and characters that all have significant history in the Marvel Universe. The bigger matter here, however, is this is a book you can give to a new comics reader, and they won’t be bogged down by details. In an age where every book seems to be driven towards the next big event, it’s a welcome change.
Sofia is a de-powered mutant trying to make a new life for herself. But someone is offering her a chance to be something more. That someone has formed an illegal superteam called The New Warriors. They’ve been capturing supervillains for weeks. Although they’re largely unknown, we readers meet two of their members, including their leader, and see a third one in action.
And that’s it, really. We don’t meet the entire team. Nor do we learn exactly why this team has formed. Is it born from the suspicion towards Tony Stark and the expanded powers of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Is it the natural desire of teenagers to not do what they’re told? Or do these people see a genuine need for superheroes who work outside the system? We don’t know who these people are or why they’re doing this. That’s a huge failure for a first issue.
However, we do learn a lot about Sofia who seems to be the reader’s point of entry to this new team. And in these days of continued story arcs, it’s very likely we’ll have more answers and details in the second issue. What used to be done in just the first comic is now done in the first five or six. So I’m going to forgive this first issue for lacking details for now. But I won’t forgive the second.
The story we do get is a good look at the life of a young mutant woman who’s learned to be “normal”. Writer Kevin Grevioux has created a character who is confident, kind and a little sexy. Too bad the rest of the cast is made up of stock characters. There’s the old bum who believes in conspiracies, the gruff but kind short order cook (i.e. Mel from Alice), and the sassy Black Mama. Hopefully we won’t see much of them after Sofia joins the New Warriors.
Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco give us very nice art in the same vein as Mark Bagley, Ian Churchill, and the Dodsons. It’s bright, loose and fluid. Very good for superhero work. I wish I could have seen more action and fighting, but I have a good feeling they’ll do a good job at that.
I was entertained by this issue, but I admit there’s very little about the New Warriors in here. What we do get is a fine story in its own right. There’s potential for a good series. I hope to see it realized next issue.
Where exactly are all the registered heroes? It would seem from this first issue of The New Warriors that they are hiding out at the new Initiative base, waiting for unfortunate super-powered vigilantes to raise their heads so they can strike out against them. Because it doesn’t look like they are doing anything about the super villains.
The first few pages of The New Warriors show the Gray Gargoyle being chased down by a member of the titular vigilante group. Putting aside the recycled dialogue that is used throughout the fight, this scene seems flawed. The Gray Gargoyle is a super-powered villain with a long track record, having fought greats such as Thor. Also, he’s French, so he would need to enter the United States in a surreptitious manner. As far as this reviewer knows, the last time the Gargoyle was seen was escaping from prison. In short, this man is exactly the type of villain that S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Initiative were designed to deal with. On top of that, it is revealed later in the comic that the Gargoyle is that last of four, count ‘em, four super-villains that the New Warriors have taken out in the last month. Stark’s response to learning that this many powered criminals are running around in his backyard? He’s gonna find and deal with those pesky vigilantes who are doing are job for us. In the current political clime a foreigner with super-powers, one that personally defeated Iron Man in the past, would surely be classified as a terrorist and dealt with. Odd that Stark is focusing on would-be do-gooders to the point of exclusivity. In one solid point during The New Warriors a couple of diner attendees almost touch on this point.
Now granted, The New Warriors, being the group that caused the entire mess at Stamford, would certainly be at the top of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hit list. However, this only brings up the question of why anyone would be foolish enough to bring back this group with the same nom de guerre. The ending of this issue brings up a possible answer to that, even if it isn’t a satisfactory one.
There are a couple of things that The New Warriors does well. The characterization of Sofia (a.k.a. Wind Dancer) is done very well. Sofia has always been optimistic and cheerful, which, oddly, has in the past made her the object of ridicule. However, people who are positive tend to well-liked, and this shows in her new life after M-Day. While she still misses her ability to skip among the clouds (who wouldn’t?), she has characteristically dealt it as best she is able. Not surprisingly, though, when a mysterious stranger shows up to lure her back into the life, it doesn’t take much arm twisting.
Another good story-telling facet the book touches on is that not everyone who lost their powers on M-Day would be unhappy about it. Would Scott Summers really have cared so much if he were no longer a danger to those he loved every time he misplaced his sunglasses? While many mutants probably breathed a sigh of relief on that day, The New Warriors is the first book that I know of that addresses this fact. While I may be wrong on that point, this first issue still does an excellent job of illustrating it.
Unfortunately, though, these last two points aren’t really enough to save The New Warriors from being unremarkable. Unless you’re a big The New Warriors fan, this issue will most likely leave you with the feeling that you’ve read this book before.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!