Thursday, September 20, 2012


 It's been awhile since I wrote something about the New Warriors, having covered the first and second volumes of Marvel's reprint collections awhile back. Thankfully, Vol. 3 has arrived, which is good, because in three volumes, we're just now getting past the first year of the book (You'll remember that Volume 2 was taken up in large part by the utterly empty "Kings of Pain" Annuals, which has as much to do with the New Warriors as a Spirograph set does with trigonometry) Volume 3 gets us into Year 2 of the book and plays around the edges with a few elements of the New Warriors story pool as the decks get cleared for the big storyline that will close the second year out.

 We begin with the three-part "Forever Yesterday" story, wherein a new version of old Nova villain the Sphinx rewrites reality, creating an alternate timeline four years before the other omnipotent Egyptian bad guy did it. It's an interesting little romp that uses Nova's backstory very well (I always thought it was strange the way the Sphinx caught the fancy of certain writers at Marvel after Nova's run finished and he became a Fantastic Four villain for some time after) has some cool re-designs by Mark Bagley, giving the Marvel heroes an Egyptian flair and the alternate universe stuff allows for suitably apocalyptic action without overstaying it's welcome or (like the Age of Apocalypse) becoming an undying reservoir of alternate character takes.

 Issue #14 is a done-in-one featuring Namorita getting the crap kicked out of her by Sea Urchin, a minor Namor villain (who also guest stars) Darkawk also guest stars, for reasons which seem barely justifiable, but make sense given the book's remit. While the issue struggles manfully to make all this stuff hang together, it doesn't really work, and Nicieza's Atlantean poetry is. . .uhm, let's just say he's done better elsewhere and move quickly on.

 #15, titled "The Sushi People," for some reason I hope to ask Fabian Nicieza about some day, starts another three-parter, this one featuring Psionex (the opposite numbers for the Warriors from issue #4) and features a rematch with Terrax, who, you will remember, was the bad guy from issue #1.Of course, being that Terrax is a herald of Galactus, this fight actually goes worse than the first issue fight and by the end of the three-parter, the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer have been called in to deal with Terrax.

 As with "Kings of Pain, this doesn't really work so well, basically because it sidelines the Warriors in their own book. Had Nicieza just stuck with making it a re-match with Psionex, it might have been OK, and would have kept it more directly tied in with the main characters, but  it functions as a nice call-back to the book;s past while various subplots are moving along in the background which will ultimately culminate in issue #25 and the first major shake-up of the book.

 But that will come in Volume 4. Hopefully. Volume 3 culminates with two issues of the Avengers, featuring Rage being rather upset for a convenient marvel Universe allegory for the then-current L.A. riots. This being the Marvel Universe, of course, the riots are the work of the latest hate-Monger, and. . .well., while I laud Nicieza for trying to land this and trying to make Rage "work" as a character, it doesn't quite come off (possibly because Rage never really worked in Avengers anyway) but is included ere because the Warriors have a guest-starring role and very soon Rage will be folded into the Warriors, and this (though I'm not sure it was meant to at the time) lays the track for that.

 In all, it's a brisk read, and while all of it doesn't work as well as it might, it's no more objectionable than say, Chris Claremont's overly melodramatic team dynamics and heavy-handed social allegory that only made X-Men the most insanely popular superhero book on the stands. There are worse paradigms to try and imitate. For all the book's shortcomings, it has its own voice and a lot of energy, and that goes a long way towards spackling over the rough bits. It's well worth a read.

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