Every five years or so, since the 1990s, Marvel Comics has relaunched New Warriors in the hopes of getting past twelve issues. This volume didn’t pull it off, but how does the last issue measure up? Your Major Spoilers review of New Warriors #12 awaits!
Previously in New Warriors: Since the formation of this latest incarnation, the New Warriors have been crossing swords with the High Evolutionary, mad geneticist, who seemed to have a plan and a secret associate. Turns out that H.E.’s tag-team partner was none other than Zuras, leader of the hidden race called The Eternals, a group of demi-god-level superhumans. Zuras and his team have captured and incapacitated all of the New Warriors, and (believing the Celestial Host is returning to Earth to judge and/or destroy it), have created a device to create a wave of energy that will kill anyone with superhuman powers, be they mutant, Inhuman clone or genetic experiment.
And they’ve turned it on.
This is, I believe, the fifth time that I’ve read the final issue of a volume of New Warriors, and it always leaves me a little bit depressed. This issue opens with what seems to be the destroyed remains of the Warriors uniforms lying in the Artic snow, with a voice-over about Zuras and H.E.’s weapon, indicating that “It was death.” We get cutaways all around the world, as the various heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe succumb to the weapon, from The X-Men to Spider-Man and even the Mighty Avengers falling before the energy wave. Before they can all die, Zuras is stunned to find his flagship attacked by an unseen force, a battering ram of power that he quickly discovers has a name: Vance Astrovik, Justice. Vance breaks his team free, and the teens once again engage the Eternals in battle, but thanks to some quick thinking from Nova and Speedball, Zuras’ soldiers start to question exactly what it is they are supporting. Justice goes toe-to-toe with Zuras himself (seemingly having gotten some sort of power-boost from being at ground-zero of the weapon’s wave.) When his soldiers stop fighting for him, Zuras is stunned to find that a group of teenagers has undone his plan.
“MY ‘WE SHOULD BREAK HIS FACE’ SENSE IS TINGLING.”
I have really enjoyed this series so far, even though the new members haven’t all gotten the same level of exposure, and the second half of this issue makes me even sadder that it’s gotten canned, as Justice stares down Zuras (the oldest of old entrenched guardsmen) and forces him to explain himself. When Zuras blames it all on the bad influence of the High Evolutionary, even The Eternals don’t fully believe him, and Zuras leaves in defeat and more than a little shame. As the issue closes, we find that Justice has been narrating the story as a report to Steve Rogers, who asks what they’re going to do now that he has saved the world: “We’re gonna make sure things don’t get so far next time. We’re expanding.” The final panel is a shot of the whole team (including the as-yet-unseen members Namorita, Night Thrasher and Rage) with a note indicating that it is “The Beginning.” As much as I like that development, I’m almost certain that nothing will come of this, unless Christopher Yost manages to hold everything together in whatever his next writing gig is. Artistically, this issue is really impressive work, with great action sequences and a couple of real “Hell, YEAH!” moments from Marcus To, which makes it even more depressing that it’s the last issue…
THE BOTTOM LINE: AN UPBEAT ENDING
To be honest, Marvel shot themselves in the foot with the New Warriors franchise years ago, when they made the team an in-universe laughingstock to kick off the still-indefensibly-dumb Civil War, so it’s no real surprise to see this book getting the pink slip once again, but it is a shame. This isn’t the strongest character issue for the team, but it serves as a real tour-de-force performance for Justice, with a couple of strong moments from Speedball as well and a great job from the art team. In short, New Warriors #12 is one of the better ways to go out, and I hope that we’ll still see this team in the Marvel Universe in coming months, leaving us with an impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s kind of a shame to see the book go, but at least it went out strong…