Monday, November 28, 2011

Five Comics Worth Reading - November 2011

There’s a longer post to be written about this, I’m sure, but while I recognize that pound-for-pound Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a stronger TV series than Angel was, I always had a soft spot for the latter, often over the former, probably in large part because I watched both when I was in college, so supernatural aspects aside the “brooding young man with an old soul striking out in the world” motif resonated more with me at the time than “young girl and her friends finding themselves post-high school” for whatever reason (don’t get me wrong, I loved both). Now, once again, while I dig the Buffy Season Nine comic, I think I’m enjoying Angel & Faith that much more, not just because one has a prominent male protagonist though, it’s just well-done and exploring fresh ground. Aside from his Angelus periods, Angel has always been the stoic mentor, from his earliest appearance on Buffy guiding her into the world she’s embracing to leading his team on his own show, only really losing that control when he goes full evil. Conversely, Faith has always been the protégé in need of redemption, whether from Buffy, Giles or Angel himself. Here, Christos Gage is establishing a new dynamic where a reluctantly responsible Faith must look out not only for a band of neophyte slayers, but a penitent Angel, who is not just heaping his usual self guilt on for recent actions, but getting reckless without turning bad in his desperation to make things right. The plot is tight, but it’s getting to see both leads so out of their comfort zones and the characterization gold Gage is skillfully mining that makes this book tick. Rebekah Isaacs is also doing a slick job on art, walking that line between depicting characters with real life counterparts and finding ways to still own them yourselves.

This is probably the most dense comic I pick up, and I mean that as a total compliment. Some books I breeze through, but not Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, which I need to really pore over to appreciate every detail and development. The fact is, Batman has been around going on seven or eight decades now, and I don’t have much interest in most stories directly tackling his mindset or stuff of that nature because they’ve all been done to some extent. What does get me going is what Snyder is doing, and that’s focusing on the mythology of Gotham City or the Wayne legacy, making Batman the explorer rather than the discovery and in the process adding layers to the character as he builds the world around him. Snyder’s enthusiasm for the minutiae of detective work, forensics, or even architecture make the stories pop as it really is an almost interactive adventure you can follow rather than just having to be a passive observer of guys in spandex kicking and punching (though there is that too). He’s doing a nice job integrating the various generations of supporting cast as well as adding his own creations, again making Gotham feel like a living and evolving organism. I was a big mark for Capullo’s X-Force as a kid, so it’s cool to see him back with quite a few years experience and refinement under his belt knocking out dark, beautiful work that also has some nice bounce to it.

I may have to rethink my top five Flash artists, because honestly, few people have ever captured the pure energy of the concept in my mind like Francis Manapul has. Other guys may have conveyed speed better or drawn better figures and fight scenes, but I can’t think of anybody whose work at its essence feels like it is the burst of light, movement and pure joy I think of better than Manapul and Steve Buccalleto’s. The innovation and verve they bring to the visual aspect of The Flash undeniable, but as anybody who has read this blog for a little while knows, the real challenge is getting me to even tolerate Barry Allen; well, I’m still not the guy’s biggest supporter and can argue why he shouldn’t be wearing the red and yellow with the best of them, but I’m slowly coming around to some degree. I believe few characters have benefitted from the DC re-launch quite like Barry, as the removal of his Crisis sacrifice status as well as the Silver Age albatross of moral boredom goes a ways toward giving him a shot at being a likable protagonist. Right now, Manapul and Buccaletto’s art is so strong and their story hooks have enough pop that I’m going to try to like Barry Allen—I can give few higher compliments.

There are few characters in comics more interesting and complex than Magneto. His actions make him an ostensible villain, but it’s hard to argue with his justification. At his best, he invokes conflict in readers where you’re torn between rooting against his evil plots but for his gaining vengeance for past atrocities. At his best he is also more charismatic than brutal as far as “bad guys” go; you perhaps want him to reform—and are disappointed when he ultimately can’t—but there’s also that part of you that enjoys his wicked streak. Skottie Young—best known for his exquisite art but rocking his writing muscles here—captures all of this, every last bit, in this series. He gives you Magneto the philosopher, arguing his case for why any means really are necessary, but also throws enough cold inhumanity behind those words that you question your support almost immediately. He plays with the idea of the character’s reformation, both how possible it is and even if it’s necessarily right or needed. He explores all sides of Magneto, from the ruthless and violent crusader who tears through human lives to the eyebrow-raising rogue who mocks Iron Man’s rubber suit of armor. It’s a fascinating character study from start to finish just in issue one, but there’s also great action, an intriguing mystery and skillful use of continuity and the concept of the shared universe; again, for a guy who has made most of his name drawing beautiful pictures, Skottie Young has incredible skill and finesse as a writer. He also doesn’t need to fret over the visuals for this book, as Clay Mann turns in his finest work to date; as my friend and co-worker Ryan noted, the level of detail he puts just into one of Magneto’s boots blows you away to the point where when you get the full figure it’s just something else.

Whereas once upon a time young Ben Morse could not stand for any other genres to get mixed in with his super hero comics the same way he freaked out if a mushroom found its way into his soup, I’ve matured and reversed my position on both, allowing me to enjoy my wife’s delicious fried mushrooms as well as a great books like Six Guns. This series isn’t just a Western done in modern times or within a world with guys who can fly, it’s a mash-up of a noir story, a crime procedural, a mystery and straight action with the sensibilities of cowboy lore driving it. It reminds me a little bit of 100 Bullets in some regards—high praise—but with its own distinctive flavor to be sure. Andy Diggle is a master of taking tropes like sci fi or Western and knowing not only where to take a sharp turn in a new direction but also where to not fix what ain’t broke; Six Guns delivers fun stuff you’d expect from a story about cowboys, bikers and other thugs trying to out-tough one another, but it’s also smart in where it diverges. There are only the most tangential ties to the Marvel Universe in the form of the female Tarantula being a player and somebody who would seem to be a modern Two-Gun Kid showing up at the end of issue #2, but it’s enough to give a cool edge for a fan. Davide Gianfelice is in the zone on art and this certainly seems like the stuff he was born to draw. He’s seamless when it comes to bad looking dudes, hot ladies, nice bikes and dirty action—everything a book like this needs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from the CKT!

I'm currently up in Massachusetts stocking up for Turkey Day and who knows what those other scamps have planned, but from all of us here to all of our American readers, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. And for all our British readers, remember that we won. The rest of you, just have a nice day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Art Attack: February 2012's Coolest Covers

-Jonah Hex should fight giant bats and whatnot 24/7. Anybody remember when he was in that post-apocalyptic future? Me neither, but they should try it again.

-For my money, that's Adam Hughes' most inventive and inspired cover of his Batgirl run thus far. The snow filter adds a lot and seems like it motivates him to raise his game overall.

-I love when Georges Jeanty goes high concept on Buffy. I also love that logo.

-Captain America and Carnage U.S.A. are a pair of covers that stand out for being disturbing for completely different reasons. With Cap, Alan Davis takes a familiar, reassuring icon and subverts him, taking away the physical prowess we count on Captain America to display, though he's still clearly got his strength of will displayed in a more subtle way. Clayton Crain, on the other hand, just knows how to make Carnage straight up creepy with muted colors and horrifically twisted features.

-Fear Itself: The Fearless #7 is the current wallpaper background on my work computer.

-I'm only one issue in as far as reading the new Flash series, but the writing aside (and it's pretty solid), Francis Manapul conveys the ideal of what I imagine the character to be through his visual images better than anybody in recent memory. And when I say "the character," I'm not talking about Barry Allen or Wally West or any other single person, I mean the concept of The Flash, the kinetic energy of which he seems to have distilled down perfectly.

-What the heck is going on in Nathan Fox's Haunt cover? I dig it.

-I keep saying how the design for the new Venom seems to bring out the best in every artist who draws him, and it holds true even for a legend like Art Adams working on Secret Avengers. Can't wait to see that cover in full cover.

-You don't see sound effects on covers enough--well-played, Kaare Andrews! And that's a strikingly pretty Ultimate Scarlet Witch as well.

-Venom, Red Hulk, X-23 and the new Ghost Rider are a pretty quirky group, but Stefano Caselli makes them look like they belong together.

-Lee Bermejo all day long, man. He draws the hell out of just about anything, but dang, that's one bad ass Winter Soldier. Hot Black Widow too. And hey, Gabrielle Dell'Otto draws a nice Winter Soldier too. Kudos to Steve Epting on a great design.

-Lot of guys doing great work this month, from Adams to Andrews to Simon Bisley, but Bermejo gets the slight nod as my artist of the month.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #6 by Ladronn
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #679 by Mike Del Mundo
BATGIRL #6 by Adam Hughes
BATMAN AND ROBIN #6 by Patrick Gleason
CAPTAIN AMERICA #8 by Alan Davis
CARNAGE U.S.A. #3 by Clayton Crain
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 by Becky Cloonan
DEATHSTROKE #6 by Simon Bisley
THE FLASH #6 by Francis Manapul
GLORY #23 by Ross Campbell
THE GOON #38 by Eric Powell
HAUNT #23 by Nathan Fox
HELLBLAZER #288 by Simon Bisley
NEW MUTANTS #37 by Kris Anka
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE #5 by Szymon Kudranski
SECRET AVENGERS #23 by Art Adams
THE SHADE #5 by Tony Harris
SIX GUNS #5 by Butch Guice
SPACEMAN #4 by Dave Johnson
SUPERNATURAL #5 by Dustin Nguyen
ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #7 by Kaare Andrews
VENOM #13 by Stefano Caselli
WINTER SOLDIER #1 by Lee Bermejo
WINTER SOLDIERS #1 variant by Gabrielle Dell'Otto
WINTER SOLDIER #2 by Lee Bermejo

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rasslin' Ramblings: Favorite Survivor Series Teams

The first wrestling pay-per-view I ever watched was Survivor Series 1990. It was Thanksgiving night and my dad, who alternately supported my love of wrestling having been a fan himself (he still tells me about seeing Pepper Gomez at the Boston Garden) and thought I watched it too much (or maybe my mom thought that, can’t remember) got it as a special treat. He, my sister and I brought some leftovers out to our den and settled in to enjoy three hours of WWF action including the one and only Ultimate Match of Survival where Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior overcame the odds to end the night on an up note.

In the 25 years since Survivor Series got its start, I’ve seen just about every one either live or via the magic of VHS or WWE Classics (I’ve still never seen 1988 and missed 2004 and 2005). I remember watching the Gravest Challenge at 1991 with my elementary school chums, seeing Bret Hart get screwed in 1997 with buddies from the wrestling team, booing Chyna beating Chris Jericho in 1999 with my high school pals, and catching 2006 and onwards on a couple months delay apiece from the privacy of my New Jersey apartment.

While Survivor Series has undergone many a format change since 1987 and the team elimination matches have become a special attraction as opposed to the norm, they’re still the first thing I think of when it comes to the event, so to commemorate tonight’s edition, here are my favorite squads from through the years.

1987: Team Macho Man (Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Jim Duggan & Brutus Beefcake)
This is the kind of upper mid card dream team I don’t think you could even assemble today. Every guy on this team was a future World champion at best and a guy who could have been a solid Intercontinental champ at worst. It was a round robin of hot tags between five guys the fans legitimately loved each of whom had a distinct and memorable character. They had pretty crappy opposition in the form of Honky Tonk Man and the likes of Danny Davis and Ron Bass, but they were fun to watch.

1989: The Rude Brood (Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect & The Fabulous Rougeaus)
First of all, you’re not going to find a better string of entrance themes than Rougeaus-Perfect-Rude—just melody to my 80’s music-loving ears. Second, it’s a great collection of skilled technical wrestlers who also happen to mesh well as a group of egomaniacs who run the table as far as variations on narcissism. Third, they had the perfect opponents in the unruly Roddy’s Rowdies (Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka & The Bushwhackers), and since I love rooting for jerks, I had it made.

1990: The Warriors (The Ultimate Warrior, The Texas Tornado & The Legion of Doom)
Going by pure childhood nostalgia, my favorite Survivor Series team ever, I do believe. As mentioned, this was the first PPV I ever watched, and these were the guys I wanted to see. Kerry Von Erich was my favorite wrestler when I was a kid. The Legion of Doom were the crazy WWF newcomers who I was quite intrigued by. I wasn’t the biggest Ultimate Warriors booster, but he was the WWF champion, and that earned a certain cred in my book. I was cheering my little head off as these guys steamrolled Mr. Perfect and Demolition, though I was bummed the Tornado was the first dude knocked out.

1997: Team Shamrock (Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom)
Taking a look at this crew, I had trouble imagining anybody had the stuff to take them down. Shamrock was just hitting his stride as a bad ass, LOD was back as close to top form as they could get and Ahmed, while on the last legs of his brief run in the big time, still came off as a powerhouse who could take anybody’s head off. Not a lot of finesse, but with those grimaces, did they need it?

2003: Team Stone Cold (Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam & The Dudley Boyz)
This is kind of an all-time greatest hits Survivor Series team, almost. You’ve got Shawn Michaels, my favorite wrestler ever and one of the WWF’s greatest performers. Booker T was the standard bearer of WCW in their final years. Rob Van Dam was the embodiment of ECW and arguably the biggest star they ever produced. The Dudleys also had the ECW legacy, but more than that, you’re not going to name a more decorated tag team. To top it off, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the biggest star of the 90’s, was in their corner. Can you believe they lost to Eric Bischoff’s team? So much for playing the odds…

2006: Team DX (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, C.M. Punk & The Hardy Boyz)
The finest Survivor Series team of recent vintage and likely one of the coolest of all-time when it comes to popularity. With DX leading the charge they were guaranteed major fan support already, but adding the recently reunited Hardys was gasoline on an already raging fire. However, most will agree the coolest aspect of this grouping was hearing newcomer Punk get the loudest reaction and seeing him get at least a momentary rub from his veteran partners. They dismantled the competition—a pretty game squad themselves with Edge, Randy Orton, the future John Morrison, the underrated Gregory Helms and, well, Mike Knox—handily, had a good time doing it with a wealth of fun spots and earned a standing ovation from the crowd after surviving all intact.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Justice League Task Force was not very good

I’m not talking about Justice League Task Force the comic book, mind you. While I only own a few issues, Christopher Priest had a run as writer, and that generally ensures a certain degree of quality at least for a stretch. And while I loathe the “pro-active” super team chestnut, the Secret Defenders rotating line-up one is fun. Hey, did Justice League Task Force steal that gimmick from Secret Defenders or vice versa?

But I’m getting off topic—allow me to set the stage…

It’s 1995, I’m 13 years old, I’m huge into comics and while I’m only really versed in video games as far as my spare time at my friend Matt’s will allow me since I’ve only got an original NES with a partially rabbit-chewed wire, I do have some favorites, among them Street Fighter II. Thus the announcement of a fighting game featuring the Justice League seems like a slam dunk to me and I’m counting the days until Blockbuster gets their rental shipment in.

Any fan of comics and/or video game who has played Justice League Task Force is likely now cringing at my misplaced anticipated excitement.

To first give credit where credit is due, I liked and still dig the graphics on Justice League Task Force. The figures are colorful and energetic, looking like they’re straight out of a comic book, but the right mix of cartoony Street Fighter with more realistic Mortal Kombat living in harmony. The characters moved well enough—the women are in a kind of permanent uncomfortable looking crane pose—and the special moves look suitably neat. The mini movie that kicks the whole thing off is pretty well done too, with the cuts to all the locales and looming Darkseid promising a dope story to move this thing along.

And that’s where the good stuff ends.

The plot is that you’re a member of the Justice League going around visiting your friends to get info, but they all attack you and you need to fight them before gradually realizing they’re all android clones created by Darkseid. Then you beat Cheetah and Despero. Then you fight Darkseid. It ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s good enough for a 90’s fighting game, I guess.

You can play as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman or Green Arrow. No Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter, which is a shame as both ring constructs and shape shifting would have made for some diverse special moves, but as I’ll get to, a variety of fighting options is not really this game’s strong suit. It’s 1995, so Superman has a mullet. Also, Aquaman carries a trident around because that’s presumably easier to program than getting whales to jump on and off the screen.

Each character has their own location-specific background, which is pretty slick as far as Gotham, Metropolis, Themyscira, Atlantis and The Flash Museum—complete with statue of dead Barry Allen—but I guess they ran out of budget because Green Arrow gets a forest clearing. Cheetah is in the desert, Despero is on a spaceship and of course the final battle with Darkseid is on a so-so Apokolips.

So far not terrible, but keep in mind I’ve really just given you the set up—now it’s time to play the game.

Remember back in the 60’s where those old school Justice League stories paired off the various members of the team and so none could be distinguishable from the others they not only had the same personalities but virtually the same powers as well? By that I mean that even if Green Arrow was teamed with Superman, GA would have “fire arrows” and “ice arrows” so anything Supes could do with heat vision or arctic breath he could approximate. Likewise they’d use comics super science to explain how anything Green Lantern could do with his ring, Flash could do with speed. And maybe Batman had a magic lasso or something, I don’t know.

While I’d like to think the creators of Justice League Task Force were paying in homage to Gardner Fox and company, in reality, they seemingly just got really lazy, because everybody in this game has the same moves.

Superman has heat vision and arctic breath, while Green Arrow has fire and ice arrows and Batman has fire and ice Batarangs—all are the same. You can do the same shit with Aquaman’s trident you can do with Wonder Woman’s lasso. The only guy who really has his own move set is Flash, who has an awesomely cheap one where you can just keep running across the screen in continuous motion so whoever you’re fighting keeps getting punched and can’t stop you; it’s the JLTF equivalent of playing Street Fighter as E. Honda and doing that million punches thing (which I always do). Also, Flash can create tornados—who knew.

Anyways, you’ve basically got six characters with about six total moves between them and it gets real old real fast.

Oh, also Superman and Wonder Woman can fly, but they can’t really attack well while flying, so it’s somewhat useless.

Long story short, Justice League Task Force is a pretty game to look at, but you get sick of actually playing it really quick. You’d hope they’d redeem that somewhat with cool character endings, but again, they all have the same one.

I may not know much about video games, but I know what I like, and this wasn’t it. I will, however, throw a bone to the game’s developers because they also made Death and Return of Superman, which was awesome and my friend Chris and I stayed up through an entire night of college to beat it. I don’t see a world where I will ever grow tired of beating up thugs named Molotov as Superboy in the leather jacket and John Lennon glasses he should still be wearing today (and forever).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Underrated/Overlooked: Psionex

In most iconic super hero-super villain archenemy pairings, the two individuals or teams involved are bound by their stark differences, cracked mirror similarities, or in some cases a little bit of both.

Superman is the alien who is an everyman while Lex Luthor is the human who sees himself as above his fellow man. Spider-Man is the hopeful optimism of youth in the face of adversity battling old men like Doctor Octopus or The Green Goblin who have given up on altruism and are driven by greed. Batman is the imposition of order while The Joker is the embodiment of chaos. Doctor Doom is the intelligence of Mr. Fantastic without morality and civic unselfishness keeping him in check.

The New Warriors never really had an archenemy. Some might say it was The Sphinx, and in that case you could argue the dynamic was the young agents of change versus the timeless champion of inevitability, but he was really Nova’s bad guy first and foremost. If you look at the bad guys in other big Warriors storylines like Tai, the Poison Memories or the Dire Wraiths, they were all basically one and done adversaries.

Breaking it down to numbers, the villains who plagued the New Warriors the most frequently and were their opposite number at least in the sense of being a team of young people were Psionex, introduced in issue #4 of the original series and recurring for the remainder of the volume as foes to our heroes, reluctant allies against a larger threat like Terrax, and even Night Thrasher’s attempt at a rehabilitation project.

If there was a weakness to Psionex in their core concept, it was that they didn’t really stand for much of anything, whereas the Warriors had a very strong sense of identity. Certain buzz phrases would recur through all of that classic first Warriors series—“making hard choices,” “searching for the truth,” “the power of love over the love of power”—creating not only a clear mission statement for the good guys, but the potential for an antithesis that was never really filled outside of in part with stuff I mentioned like The Sphinx and other little cases.

The initial hook to Psionex was a simple one: They were unbalanced young people given super powers by Genetech, the faceless corporation who would bug the New Warriors because why not. As it said on the blurb of their introductory issue, “They were bred for one purpose: To destroy the New Warriors!” but aside from having powers that gave various members of the team trouble, you never got the whole “bred for one purpose” thing. This wasn’t like the Injustice League or Dark Avengers or some incarnations of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants where each member of the villain team was picked specifically to target an opposing player on the good guys; it was just a bunch of randoms with cool powers.

However, it’s in those powers and their relative inventiveness that Psionex raises a notch or two up in my mind. Fabian Nicieza clearly put some time into coming up with these guys’ abilities, and in an era where “generic energy blast” was the flavor of every month—I’m looking at you Acolytes—it was refreshing and appreciated.

Asylum was a mental patient who never spoke but had a body composed entirely of Darkforce matter that induced hallucinations in anybody she came into contact with; similar to Cloak but with a twist of mental imbalance. Coronary at first glance seemed like the team powerhouse, but who was actually a “bio-telepath,” capable of messing with people’s internal functions so as to make them vomit, give them a heart attack or do other nastiness. Impulse had an enhanced metabolism which gave him fairly generic heightened speed, reflexes and healing, but his crazy thrill seeker personality coupled with his gang background made him interesting and led to classic moments like him trying to take on Terrax singlehanded and getting his back snapped (he got better). Mathemanic not only had a great name, but the most bizarre and intriguing abilities, as he practiced “mathematical telepathy,” messing with statistical regularities so he could do things like forcing his foes to perceive interstellar measures of distance and thus not see what’s in front of them or slowing the passage of time by altering perceptions. Last but not least you had Pretty Persuasions, an exotic dancer with an energy whip who could increase and then draw power from the “erotic urges” of others, making her one of the most straightforwardly sexual characters in comics at the time, but in an odd “what you see is what you get” refreshing kind of way.

Psionex had their initial clash with the Warriors, then a rematch that ended with Terrax’s rebirth and a temporary truce/half the villains fleeing. Later, after Asylum dissipated during a fight with Nova, Firestar and Speedball, another New Warriors villain, Darkling, found her mask and took up her mantel, getting Psionex back together and attempting to make them into heroes who would use the excessive force the Warriors were unwilling to; this period showed some potential for the group to really forge their own place in the Marvel Universe—or at least in the New Warriors mythos—but while it made for a few good stories, they were heavily focused on Asylum, with the rest becoming more or less window dressing. After Asylum accidentally killed a child by inducing an unknown heart condition while trying to scare him straight, we got a pretty emotionally hard hitting story—Nicieza’s final issue—where Mathemanic tries to turn back time by affecting perceptions across New York City, but ultimately is convinced that he can’t undo what is already done.

From there Psionex joined up briefly with Night Thrasher and Rage before gradually receding into a background role in the Marvel Universe for the past couple decades, generally only showing up for cameos when Nicieza is writing a book like New Thunderbolts or part of huge villain armies in titles being penned by New Warriors fans like when Christos Gage had the reins of Avengers: The Initiative.

In addition to their powers, the other thing Psionex really had going for it was that Mark Bagley did a bang-up job on their designs. They really were a motley crew of misfits, as befit their status as nut jobs, with the nerdy Mathemanic looking like he belonged nowhere near a group that also included S&M bombshell Pretty Persuasions. Asylum’s lack of physical form anchored by that golden mask was cool, as was Coronary’s evolving crystalline shape—although the weird skirt he rocked at first was bizarre—and even Impulse’s fairly traditional super villain get-up had neat touches like the evil Spider-Man bug eyes or weird wrist gauntlet blades. Richard Pace would ramp up the exaggerated elements of Psionex during his all-too-brief run on New Warriors and breathe even more life into Bagley’s work.

But again, while Psionex had plenty of potential in the abilities and visual departments, their lack of personalities, individually or as a group, and no real direction hurt their lasting legacy. It wasn’t enough just to be crazy, particularly in the 90’s, and after that initial Genetech-sponsored fracas, it wasn’t even quite clear why they were always tangling with the New Warriors.

Still, there’s something there in Psionex, even if it’s just that they bring something different to the table in terms of abilities that go beyond the tired cocktail of super strength, mind powers and, yes, energy blasts. I’m not saying they’re ever going to anchor a line-wide crossover or anything, but maybe next time an Avengers writer needs to kill half a standalone issue that’s really about the heroes’ relationships anyways, rather than use the Wrecking Crew yet again, they give Psionex a shot.