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Comic Book Crap is Awesome:
The New Warriors!
Let me start off by admitting I'm a terrible geek. I don't read comics on a regular basis, and when I do, it almost never involves a guy wearing pastel spandex, fighting for the cause of justice. So maybe I'm not the right guy to start making fun of comics. Then again, maybe that makes me perfect for it. While I used to read comics, puberty eventually hit, and I ended up leaving most of them behind while taking a few memories with me. I LIKE superheroes, but spending my weekly allowance on them just started to seem frivolous compared to spending the same money to go out with friends and, heaven forbid, GIRLS. Most of what I know about superheroes now is what I see on television, but I also have a memory that won't let me forget unholy geeky crap that I'd be better off not knowing. What that means is I'm a trivia sponge and absorb monumental amounts of cultural refuse on a regular basis.
So, when someone gave me access to the contents of a comic book store and told me to "go to town" and start making fun of stuff, for some reason The New Warriors came to mind. The New Warriors was a comic book that was launched by Marvel Comics in early 1990 that, while having gotten sort-of popularity in a few comic circles, never really made it big outside a comic book store. So, even if you love or loved the New Warriors, you still have to admit that the random person on the street is just going to look at you like a total psycho if you want to debate which costume was Nova's best. Hell, I'd give you a weird look even though I'd know what you were talking about. You might think that's a crazy exaggeration, but there are people, mostly online, that'll argue the strangest things until their sex life curls up and dies forever. Since their debut, the superhero group has been redesigned a fair number of times and keeps getting republished with the hope that the new version will hit the big time...but that's for another day. Today I'm going to dive in and show you just how awkward and even retarded the New Warriors were (or ARE, depending) Let's start with their comic debut:
Not a terrible cover, but let's take a closer look. The heroes are busting out of classic Marvel comic book covers, showing that these guys are the next big "thing." The best thing, however, is the cover's claim that the New Warriors are "Heroes for the '90's!" This is hilarious in so many ways. In Marvel's defense, the 1990's had just begun and really didn't look that different from the 1980's. Even worse, Marvel didn't see much of a difference between the early 90's and the 1970's. What the hell am I talking about? Half of the characters in the team are from the the 1970's. So our heroes of the 1990's have been around for a while already...and even worse, most of them were made for kids in bell bottoms. This article is just going to be me walking you through the team's members because they really are bizarre choices to attempt to represent the year 1990 and onward.
We'll start with the team's only new character, Night Thrasher. He's the rather DARK (as in wearing black, not that I'm calling a black man dark because of his skin) fellow at the bottom of the above comic cover with the Atari logo on his forehead. He's also embarrassingly timely...because he's named after skater slang. Guys, "thrash" as a skater term. He's the "Night Thrasher", or "he who thrashes the night." Oh sure, it's just a name right? It's not like they'd actually make a skateboard-themed vigilante, right?
Wrong. Night Thrasher saves the day while catching some totally radical air. God damn it, that can't ever have been cool. I mean really, why didn't they just go all the way and just name him "Rad Lad" or the "Gnarly Knight?" It's effectively the same God-Damn chunk of suck.
"Look at me, I'm a freakin' Ninja Turtle, kids! Love me, America...I'm, like, totally gnarly!
Riding a skateboard is one thing, but the fact that he uses it as a regular weapon, in this case against a robot ninja, is really pathetic. Speaking of weapons, I should probably point out that Night Thrasher is a lot like Batman. Both wear a lot of black, both fight crime to avenge the death of their parents, both use a lot of tools, neither has superpowers, and both are multi-billionaire playboys. But Night Thrasher wins, because we all know Batman's not cool enough to ride a skateboard, right? :sigh: Long story short, Night Thrasher is the group's leader who beats criminals with sticks while riding around on a skateboard. Sometimes. Also he's black, so that means he's a step towards affirmative action in comics. Seriously, if you read old comics the only time a brother shows up is as a spear-chucking wildman. Of course, that started to change during the 1970's, when the Fantastic Four started to meet villains like The Black Panther. God bless cultural awareness. :sigh: Next time you get some flak from your parents, remember to ask them why their generation was so damn racist. They'll thank you for it. Let's move on.
A less interesting member of the team is Nova. He's an old school Marvel character from 1975 who already had is own comic book back in the days of hippies and free love. Check him out:
Don't be fooled. Nova is not going to be fighting Sushi People in this issue...that's just a weird title for this week's story. What's even better is how, after you read the episode, the concept of "Sushi People" still makes no sense...no matter how cool it might be. Then again, maybe that would just be Nova beating up random Japanese businessmen.
Unless you're dense, you'll notice that doesn't look like something from the New Warriors. What you're looking at is from a book from 1977 called "How to Draw the Marvel Way." Part of the book teaches you how to draw Marvel characters and, sure enough, there's Nova. So he was pretty dated by the time 1990 rolled around, without question. He can fly and has super-strength thanks to some sort of aliens, which isn't that interesting. What IS interesting is this:
After having been in comics for almost two decades, Nova still lives with his parents. You'd think incredible cosmic power would at least give you the state of mind to move the hell out of the house and get a girlfriend. Poor loser. I don't want to give our mullet-wearing hero any more of my attention, so who's next?
This is Speedball. Speedball has the ability to "redirect kinetic energy." What that means is he fights crime by bouncing against things. It's just as goofy as you'd think it would be. I could say more, but any hero that's named after a combination of heroine and cocaine shouldn't be discussed in too much detail. Just like how we don't talk about how Spiderman's girlfriend is named after marijuana. Oh and for those of you playing at home, Speedball debuted in 1985 or so.
This is Firestar. Firestar is a girl with the ability to generate and manipulate mircowaves, which lets her fly and shoot fiery death out of her hands. This also lets her cook her own dinners rather easily.
I love it when a joke...isn't one. What's more interesting here is the fact that Firestar was already a decade old when she joined the New Warriors....and she is one of the few comic book characters that didn't originate in a comic book. What the hell am I talking about? In 1981, there was this ungodly awful Spiderman cartoon called "Spiderman and his Amazing Friends." While the show itself is so undeniably ghetto that it deserves its own review, Spiderman's friends (who were amazing) included Iceman and, of course, Firestar. They were dating or something. Originally named, Heatwave, Firestar debuted as a superhero for the 80's, without question.
Bizarre, right? But it gets even stranger:
Firestar was even a LIVE-ACTION character before she was in comic books. This shot was taken from NBC's "Yummy Awards," some show that pretty much told kids how awesome NBC's cartoons are this year. You'd think that'd put her on the fast-track to stardom, but it turns out Spiderman's amazing friends weren't really considered that amazing to the general public. Poor girl.
Hailing from the year 1972, Namorita is my particular favorite member of the New Warriors. Of course, by favorite I mean the most hilarious. Marvel Comics back in the days when making comic books about fighting Nazis was all the rage, had a superhero named the Submariner. He'd eventually start going simply by Namor, which leads us to why this bikini-clad crime fighter is so amusing to me. She doesn't have a superhero name. She's simply been given the feminized name of her brother. So, if her brother had been named "Steve", she'd fight for justice under the moniker "Steverita." Or Bobira. Or Jaredelia. While I could talk about how she's the female version of Marvel's version of Aquaman (infamously a pathetically weak superhero with fish powers), the name thing cinches it for me. Poor Namorita. If I were you, I'd blame your infinitely uncreative parents for turning you into something so unintentionally funny. Godspeed, Steverita.
Oh, Marvel Boy. Of all the members of the New Warriors, you're the most dated and the most oblivious to your own name. At least Namorita sticks with what she was born with. You, on the other hand, seem to be mentally retarded....which is the only excuse to stop looking for a superhero name when "Marvel Boy" comes to mind. There might actually be something to the "mental deficiency" theory. Check out how he first appears in the New Warriors:
Nice cape, douche-bag.
Unless you're the Phantom of the Opera, there's no excuse to wear a cape. Ever. That said, let's talk about Marvel Boy's powers. Marvel Boy can move things with his mind, typically illustrated by wavy blue energy. This lets him effectively fly, just like four other members of the team. Sadly that leaves Night Thrasher and his girlfriend in serious need of transportation. In any given issue, you're almost guaranteed to see Marvel Boy doing what he does best: Carrying people....with his MIND.
And here he is towing his boss and his crippled girlfriend towards another rip-roaring adventure. You get to see this A LOT when you read the early days of the New Warriors. Sure, they've got this insane amount of funding that could easily outfit them with flying robotic squids each with their own fully stocked bar and Swedish maid ex-stripper who doesn't understand English. Well, maybe they should go that route, but the point is that the Warriors could totally set up a transportation method beyond: "Hey Marvel Boy, can you pick me and girl up...we've got dinner reservations at 8." "Certainly sir. Can I also polish your shoes...with my mind....while I'm at it?" Marvel Boy is such a tool.
So there're really only two members of the New Warriors that can't fly. Speedball can bounce like a madman, so he'll be excluded in the equation since he's all over the place anyway. One of them, Night Thrasher, scours the streets of the city on his black skateboard of honor and revenge, but where does that leave Silhouette in the locomotion department? Let's do a field test, shall we? Here goes:
With a mighty Krakthoom!!, the New Warriors break in, posing like they would for the local paparazzi. Marvel Boy (tee hee) smashing open the wall with his mighty telekinetic power....while Night Thrasher beats it with a stick. Everyone's coming in on full assault mode.. But what's that in the back there? Who's that not charging into the fray? Who's that woman with the crutches and why the hell is she here?
Say hello to Silhouette. She's one of Night Thrasher's loved ones, and she doesn't have control of her legs, so she is, officially crippled. She also has the ability (as if being crippled was her 1st superpower) to teleport through shadows. It's kind of cool, but mostly due to one side-effect of her using said power:
Sure, she can teleport....she just can't teleport her clothes....usually. So, more often than not, there's a naked cripple popping out of strange places in any given issue of the New Warriors. Eventually, she would join the team during their more militaristic missions. Silhouette filled a very unique niche strategically on the team. Take a peak: (Hint: FSSS near a shadow means Silhouette is teleporting nearby)
Without fail, Silhouette the cripple will ninja-hobble behind the team's enemies and hit them with her combat crutches. Sure, she's a one-trick pony, but according to the law, every team has to be handicapped-accessible.
There's also this other guy who joins the team a little way down the road, but I'll let him speak for himself:
His name is Rage and he has issues with anger management. Oh. And they killed his Granny.
Now any superhero team is only as powerful as its villains. The New Warriors don't have the best track record for arch-nemesi (nemesises?)...their early adventures are filled with bad guys from the 1960's. Terrax, the Sphinx, and, um, yeah. No one you heard of, but still characters your grandfather read about. There are still a few honest stabs at new villains, one of which I'll share with you because, well, you'll see. Her name's Pretty Persuasions and I'll let you see her comic debut and introduction for yourself:
A super-powered hooker. Who kills you with orgasms. Dare I ask how they defeat her?
"Yes! Don't stop!" The best part about this is you don't know if she's winning or losing. Hell, maybe it's both. All I know is that there's a stripper being attacked by her own whip-shaped orgasm while men in masks surround her like that scene from Eyes Wide Shut. Pretty Persuasions shows up a few times in the comic series, one time just shaking her moneymakers in a strip club, proving you can't make a career out of super-villainy.
So there you go. The New Warriors is a team of folks that aren't really that popular outside of the comic book store, despite one of their members appearing on national television in her own adventures. The team was intended to be Marvel's "new blood" and help herald the 1990's in comic book-style. What we got were a bunch of characters from the 70's and 80's and a skateboarding-themed vigilante. As a disclaimer I should say that the New Warriors have changed a lot over the years and the only stuff I'm presenting here is from the first two or three years of the series. But really, how exactly are you supposed to summarize a comic book? Considering how a comic's artist, writer, and audience will change every few years, there's no way to get an "absolute" grasp of any particular comic book. Any long-running series will move in totally random directions, and story lines will fluctuate all over the place. Hell, Spiderman's died and been replaced by a clone and come back again. If that kind of crap can go down with a hero you KNOW about, you can only imagine what sticks with characters the mainstream doesn't give a crap about. But again, don't listen to me...I don't actually read comics any more. They're just a great alternative to bad movies. Considering the origin of comic books in general, that's pretty applicable.
So the question is, does this make you want to read about the continuing adventures of The New Warriors? Maybe Firestar has something to say...
Yes, yes it does my dear. That doesn't help, but it's pretty fun to read out of context. And that's what this article was all about. Mostly.
Bonus Comic Book Geekiness:
Did you know that the Mighty Thor at one point became a frog and fought for the forces of good as the great "Frog of Thunder?"
I don't know who's geekier: The guy who thought this was a cool idea or me for thinking I needed to share it with you. Oh and hope you guys have survived this geeky, geeky article. This one was really a test to see if comics might be worth a mocking eye. I can't believe I was actually uncertain at one point. Enjoy yourself until I need to vent more geekiness in article form.
Copyright 2006, except the images which are the property of Marvel and their respective owners (be they corporate or otherwise) and are use here for Fair Use review purposes. So please don't sue me for pointing out what was supposed to be cool in some distant foreign land known as the early 1990's. Oh and I will apologize if my use of the term "cripple" offended you. Political correctness has been the bane of many a good joke but if you yourself have to fight crime from a wheelchair, I can totally imagine having offended you. Sorry about that, Handicaptain America.
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