Or – “For The First Time Ever, An Actual New Warrior Appears!”
Hint: It ain’t Night Thrasher. But he does look all manly, and stuff, doesn’t he? Anyway, in recent years, comics have entered a phase wherein each individual issue is no longer treated as a singular entity. The old Jim Shooter storytelling method of explaining everything in each issue so casual readers won’t be lost has been thrown aside for a “write for the inevitable trade paperback” mentality. Nowhere has this “It’ll read better collected” mentality been so aptly illustrated than in the monthhly trainwreck called New Warriors. Will this issue be the one that changes this trend for the better?
Previously, on New Warriors: Dwayne Taylor is dead, killed by Nitro in the explosion that destroyed Stamford, Connecticut and sent the Marvel Universe spinning down the road towards madness, murdered Sentinels of Liberty, and Assclown Directors of SHIELD. His half-brother Donyell, formerly the New Warrior known as Bandit, has taken up the red and black helmet and motorized skateboard of Night Thrasher, and gathered a group of former superhumans to become his New Warriors army. Stealing armaments from throughout the Marvel Universe, they fabricate super-powers, and run amok in the post-registration world. Unfortunately, since Night Thrasher keeps disappearing on them, the team has come to question his commitment, and distrust abounds. Last issue, Wondra (the artists formerly known as Jubilee) voiced her concerns about Thrash, only to find him distracting the stupid team members with his new “crime computer,” essentially smoke and mirrors to keep them all in check. The overarching question is this: After nearly a dozen issues, why can’t they give me enough information to remember which of these characters is which?
We start out with a scene that makes me happy, as an old school New Warriors fan, as Officer Whatsername of the NYPD costumed division arrives at Camp Hammond to follow a lead about the New Warriors case. She gathers Rage, Slapstick, Justice, Debrii and Ultragirland tries to get them to spill anything they know about the rotten kids using their name in vain. Justice accuses her of trying to start a fight, and she feigns ignorance, then implies that the Junior Guardsmen (Tony Stark’s young people’s group designed in part to balance the New Warriors) are a new Hitler Youth group. But she’s not trying to start a fight… really. Remember the old Internet adage: If you evoke Der Fuhrer to win a fight, you automatically lose. Justice and Rage storm out, and Rage tells Justice that they SHOULD be working with the new kids. “The New Warriors used to stand for something. But from where I sit, the originals have falllen for any and everything the Initiative has fed us.” Vance (Justice) is amazed that Rage would imply that they should join up, but Rage corrects him: They should form their OWN New New Warriors.
Meanwhile, at a diner in Manhattan, Kat Farrell of the Daily Bugle interviews Sofia Coppola, former X-Man, now the New Warrior named Renascence (?) Kat also tries to pick a fight, implying that the New Warriors should be in jail, and asking why Sofia assisted them against the Zodiac several months ago. Smash cut to the secret underground lair of the New Warriors, where Tempest (the former Angel II from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run) teases her husband Barnell. Using her ice gauntlet, she starts a snowball fight, and the team actually acts like teenagers for once, throwing snow everywhere, until estranged leader Jubilee returns. Jubes has come to thank them all and apologize for her outburst last issue. “I just wanted to say that whatever you do… Whatever you want… I’m with you.” Wow. I can’t imagine the Jubilee that I remember (Yes, I read a book with Jubilee in it. Try not to faint.) being such a milquetoast.
Ripcord (who used to be Stacy X) follows Jubilee out, and I’m stunned to see that there is absolutely NO difference in their faces as drawn by Paco Medina. Aside from different colored tops, there’s not way for me to tell the two characters apart, which really detracts what should be a nicely emotional scene. Later that night, the whole team goes into the field to track down Samuel Saxon, the villain known as the Machinesmith. The Warriors engage him, and find that a man who successfully took on Daredevil and Captain America without breaking a sweat is amazingly capable to beating some punk kids who went to school in upstate New York. I looked that up in a magazine called “Duh.” While his cannon fodder valued employees get their collective butts handed to them, Night Thrasher sneaks off to drain Saxon’s database of information. While that’s happening, Sofia Coppola (whose conversation is continued from what has to be several hours ago, though there’s no real explanation of that) tells Kat Farrell she can go to hell with her “New Warriors are dangerous” talk. Of course, the New Warriors prove Kat’s point by enraging the Machinesmith into a full-on supervillain rage, during which four of the Warriors are trapped. Night Thrasher grabs the other half of the team and retreats, leaving Skybolt, Phaser, Decibel and Tempest (who looks pretty much just like Wondra and Ripcord, again undermining the storytelling) behind at the mercies of Saxon…
I have to tell you, there’s not a lot to recommend here. The whole issue, from the hideously ugly cover to the pedestrian dialogue to the inexplicable timeline of events, just sort of… happens. I honestly don’t expect that much from an issue of New Warriors, but this one somehow managed to disappoint me. The immediate change of direction from Jubilee didn’t work from a dramatic standpoint, and we just haven’t had enough context to care about Night Thrasher or his mysterious act, and even the character moments that we’ve had with the new team members feel a little bit generic. There’s nothing here that couldn’t have been done with a whole new roster of characters, with the sole exception of the “Hey, It’s That Guy!” factor. I will be sticking with New Warriors next month to see how the appearance of the characters now known as “The Counter Initiave” works for me, and also because it’s an issue that multiplies by six, so it should wrap up the trade storyline… At that point, I’m probably done with this book. New Warriors #12 is a 1.5 out of 5 star book, and I’ll be surprised if it lasts until issue #15.