Thursday, October 12, 2017

Influential: The strange and important saga of the New Warriors

I just picked up a huge stack of New Warriors back issues and reading them I thought it was more than necessary to revise my original Influential column about the characters from last year.

Image credit: Marvel
New Teen Titans in the early 80s was definitely an attempt by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and DC Comics to transform the young heroes of the DC Universe into the company’s own version of Uncanny X-Men. But while the motivation was obvious, the book became something far greater than what was initially planned. To this day, it is one of the best superhero books in the history of comics.

New Warriors had a similar origin. It came out of Marvel’s desire to have its own team of young superheroes. While the company already had the New Mutants, that team was already well on its way to becoming something very different: the paramilitary unit that became X-Force.

Rage is not only a favorite of mine,
he's also one of the few New Warriors
with an action figure.
Initially formed in the pages of Mighty Thor to battle Thor and the Juggernaut during the “Acts of Vengeance” crossover event, the team consisted of the majority of Marvel’s non-mutant teen heroes (as well as the little used mutant heroes Vance Astrovik and Firestar). Only one member, the mysterious Night Thrasher, was new. (Some rumors say he was originally meant to be Rocket Racer before a last minute change to tie in with the new series.)

Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley and later Darick Robertson were stars on the rise when they jumped on the ongoing series that spun out of Thor. Night Thrasher proved to be the linking force of the new team as he brought the young heroes together to fight the evils of the world. But Nicieza and company never forgot that these were disparate young people coming together. And they set out to do great things with the kids.

Nova (don’t call him “Kid”), Speedball, Namorita, Thrash, Marvel Boy/Justice, Firestar, Silhouette, Rage and the ever expanding cast always remained fascinating people even when they were fighting threats large and small.

Ultimately New Warriors succeeded best at being fun and compelling at the same time. The book spent most of its run never forgetting that comics were entertainment. It was always just plain fun.

They’ve tried to bring the concept back a dozen times, but it never quite works, probably because of the horrible damage done to the team at the beginning of Civil War. But as one of my first looks at a teen team in work, I will always look back to New Warriors every time I write about young heroes. Ultimately, the may be a moment in time never to return to the grandeur of their 90s heyday, but for team dynamics, young heroes in a topical setting and all around fun per page, I learned a lot from the great work Nicieza and company did on the book. 

Now Hasbro needs to get on making me a Speedball action figure...

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