Very heartened to see and hear similarly positive thoughts across the Internet and even around the Marvel offices about Fabian Nicieza’s New Warriors following my post the other day. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who considers that run rightfully essential.
If you’re a New Warriors neophyte looking to see the team’s glory days for yourself, you’re in luck, as Marvel released the first six issues plus the group’s two-part debut in Thor in New Warriors Classic, and there’s a second volume coming in May with issues #7-10 plus the first Annual and the other three chapters of the “Kings of Pain” crossover with the X-Men, New Mutants and X-Factor.
You can also find single issues on the relative cheap if you scour shops and shows for them and while I wholeheartedly recommend the entire series, here are some choice stories to whet your appetite (issues #1-25 today, #26-50 coming tomorrow or soon after).
“Hard Choices” (New Warriors #7-9)
After taking the first few issues to introduce his cast and firmly place them in the Marvel Universe, Nicieza tackles his first real multi-part storyline and immediately places the book apart from most of its contemporaries as far as not being afraid to hit real world hot button issues. Most of the team heads out of the country to save Speedball’s mother after she gets in over her head with an environmental rights group and run up against eco-terrorists the Force of Nature. Meanwhile, back in New York City, Night Thrasher attempts to protect Father Michael Janes, a respected priest, from Bengal, a Vietnamese orphan whose village he helped massacre during his days in the army; The Punisher also gets involved. These are the issues where Mark Bagley’s art also begins improving by quantum leaps (and it’s not like he was half-bad to start).
“Forever Yesterday” (New Warriors #11-13)
One of the craziest, most fun and plain best alternate reality stories I’ve ever read, as the first chapter drops us straight into a world where once upon a time Moses lost his duel with Pharaoh’s sorcerer, leading to a world where Egypt became a major superpower, black are the upper class while whites are the minority, and a female version of old Nova villain The Sphinx secretly rules it all. Within the first 10 pages, an Avengers team consisting of Captain Assyria, Horus, Storm, Monica Rambeau, a black Iron Man and Nova as the token white fry Wolverine to a crisp—in the first 10 pages. Over three issues we get a boffo “What If?” history of the Marvel Universe with Bagley going balls out and redesigning every character ever to accommodate for racial shifts, a classic “rebels versus the establishment” struggle between mutants and The Sphinx, a decent bit of social commentary, and the New Warriors having to come together as strangers and save reality as they don’t know it.
“Ground War” (New Warriors #15-17)
After a return bout with Psionex—a group of mental cases given powers who were basically the New Warriors’ Masters of Evil or Brotherhood of Evil Mutants—our heroes renew another old acquaintance: their first ever opponent Terrax, a cosmic-powered former Herald of Galactus. The gist is that the first time they met him, the Warriors got really lucky and basically beat Terrax on a fluke, but here he’s fully powered and prepared, so he more or less kicks their asses and nearly destroys New York City in the process. It’s really the Warriors’ coming out party, as they’re in way over their heads and have to take their lumps big-time before formulating a comeback plan that involves asking for help from guest stars the Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer, but it’s also Nicieza doing the equivalent of a blockbuster disaster movie in comic book form as the action is insane and, again, Bagley really gets a chance to shine.
“Nothing But the Truth” (New Warriors #22-25)
Two huge storylines for the price of one, as Nicieza bids Bagley a fond farewell and in the process really wraps up the first era of the larger story he’s telling with the New Warriors. On one side, Night Thrasher learns his whole life is more or less a lie, with the tragedies he’s faced having been perpetrated by those closest to him, and embarks on a quest for the truth that leads to him and the bulk of the Warriors team—along with honorary members Darkhawk and Rage—having to face down a villain who scared the crap out of me as a kid as well as prevent the end of the world. On the other, Marvel Boy, with Firestar in his corner and Foggy Nelson pleading his case, stands trial for murdering his own abusive father a few issues back when he lost control of his powers. Both stories pack an emotional wallop and Nicieza delivers big-time on all the clues and teases he has laid out over the first two years of the series with shocking answers, high stakes, and a conclusion I sure as heck did not see coming.