What about the Old New Warriors?

I still like the New Warriors.

I am old enough to be the grandfather of any of those characters now, but I still like comic books, because, let’s be honest, if my taste in entertainment grew in sobriety, deepened in wisdom, or rose to the height of discriminating good taste, would I write Space Operas about Space Princesses? I say thee ‘nay.’


I read every published issue of all five or so of their runs, except for that time they were in a reality TV show. That one I skipped. So what so I really think?

Night Thrasher is one of my favorite ideas for a character — because when someone murders your parents, you go get high-tech battle armor, a retractable punching dagger, a pair of telescoping battle-staves, a bandoleer of grenades,and, of course, a bulletproof skateboard with a razor-sharp lead edge.

I have always felt a particular fondness for characters like Green Arrow or Karate Kid, who have no particular super powers, who are just guys, but are highly trained and decide to fight Juggernaut or the Abomination, or someone else who has just been wailing on Thor or pounding the Thing into the pavements of New York.

In fact, in his first appearance in Thor #411 -412, Dwayne Taylor, mere mortal, attacks the invincible Juggernaut, who merely ignores his ineffectual attacks, and slaps him away like a bug.

Both as a child and still as a grown man, I always thought his supersuit was the coolest looking and most sensible thing to wear when fighting crime — a cross between a high tech ninja and a SWAT team armor.

And he carried a firearm, just like Manhunter from DC comics (another favorite of mine).

Night Thrasher is so bad ass that he threw a depowered Nova off the brink of a skyscraper to see if the threat of immediate death would reawaken his powers.

My only complaint about Night Thrasher is he was rarely if ever drawn actually in the pose of a skateboarder doing extreme athletic moves. Silver Surfer was always drawn on his surfboad surfing. The only time I recall him using his signature-weapon razor-sharp bulletproof skateboard in combat was when he fought the Punisher.

The other characters in New Warriors were sort of Meh.

The writers could never decide what they wanted to do with Namorita, Namor’s cousin, and so they kept changing her look and costume.

Likewise with Marvel Boy. This was a big disappointment to my younger self, because Vance Astro was my favorite character from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and I liked his look, his powers, his limitations. Vance Astro the Guardian had a fish-out-of-water vibe, trying to keep his sanity in a crazy world of the future. If you have seen John Crichton from FARSCAPE, you know the kind of thing I mean.

But the younger version of the same man back in our time was bland, to say the least. He had a bland and dumb name, Marvel Boy, changed later to a blander and dumber name, Justice.

Firestar as generic female Human Torch is perhaps the most unimaginative character of all time, but she is one of the few who made the transition from telly to comics (She was one of the two Amazing Friends from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends — the other being Bobby Drake the Iceman who hid his latent sexual deviance for sodomy by making passes at her every episode).

But she comes from the old days, when the super-women of Marvel were drawn to look idealized beauties rather than, as now, the flat-chested slim-hipped dogs, frumps, chubbies, munters, and slab-faced hags those hate beauties idolize.

Rage was introduced later. He is bland and forgettable, the generic strong-man. I did like that he was down to earth. He is a strong and bulletproof guy who dons a wrestling mask and a leather coat, and is ready to rumble.

Silhouette had a nifty power, sort of a cross between Invisible Girl and Nightcrawler, but she could not walk.

That kind of thing, as I recall, was fashionable in my youth. I remember a show called IRONSIDE about a detective confined to a wheelchair, and, even more over the top, LONGSTREET, about a detective who was blind.

As a gimmick, the idea of a crippled detective is not impossible. After all, detectives need only gather information and think with their brains. Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s  older brother, after all, never stirred from his armchair.

But as a superhero? I am sorry, if you are going to have a cripple as a superhero, and he is not Professor X, then he better have a machine gun built into his amputated leg or something, because otherwise, it is like a crippled star athlete at the Olympics: a diversity hire.

The absurdity of Silhouette in combat can be summed up in two words: battle crutches.

Yes, she fight by clonking foes with her crutches, with all the power and strength of her soda-straw arms.

Speedball was always a joke character, so I did not have much affection for him, but the bouncy bounce power is no worse than what Stilt-Man or Mr Fantastic can do, but, again, the writers did not know what to do with him. Eventually they made him responsible for mass manslaughter, and he spent his days literally torturing himself.

Kid Nova is a character I almost forgot. Actually, I did forget him. Now that I remember him, the only thing I remember is that he is forgettable. He has rocket pants to rocket through the sky and shoots rocket blasts from his fists.

The main problem with most of these characters was just a lack of interesting background, dramatic origin, or personal turmoil.

The one exception was Night Thrasher, who was burning for revenge and whose parents had been killed as part of an intricate conspiracy involving other-dimensional aliens in a lost city in the jungles of Viet Nam.

What were the original stories of the others?

Namorita: Namor’s cousin. Also, she is the clone of a half-human/ half-mutant / half-Atlantean hybrid. That is three halves, I suppose, but who is counting?

Marvel Boy: Mutant. His latent telekinetic powers were activated when his future self traveled back in time trying to prevent his younger self from becoming a hero. His father thought him a freak, and drove him from home, where Vance became a circus performer.

Firestar: Mutant. Her father thought her a freak. She used to work for the Hellions of the Hellfire Club, so that is kind of cool.

Rage: Exposed to toxic waste while hiding from a group of bullies, became superstrong and invulnerable.

Also, Rage went to the Avenger’s mansion and complained to Captain America that the Avenger was low on its affirmative action quota — this, in a world where mutants and Norse Gods were on the team. Cap replied that they hired on merit, and to come back after he proved himself.

Cap gives the same speech, or much like it, to Marvel Boy, so maybe Steve Rogers of the World War II generation knows something about judging based on performance that the generation after him are trying to gaslight the world into forgetting.

Silhouette: Mutant. Also, complex shenanigans surrounding an extradimensional energy source in the Vietnamese jungle, and a breeding program meant to create a utopia, something something, evil betrayals.  She is crippled due to being shot in the spine while doing vigilante work.

Speedball: Accidentally irradiated with an extradimensional energy during a lab accident. It is all the fault of the cat.

Kid Nova: A dying space alien infused his energy to Richard Rider to turn him into a human rocket.

There were other members, like Silhouette or Rage, and, later, Turbo, who joined the roster and dropped off during the various incarnations of the team.

As for the stories, I can only call them forgettable because I have forgotten them — which could be the fault of passing years on my part, not a slight against the writing — but I do recall liking the earlier runs better than the later, because when the group was first getting started, there was more Spider-Man flavored problems afflicting our teen heroes, such as having to steal a quinjet to get overseas to fight the badguys, or Marvel Boy going to jail, or Firestar’s dad losing his job, and suchlike.

The New Warriors are the epitome of cookie-cutter retreads of older ideas done better elsewhere.

Let me count the ways:

Namorita is female Namor.

Except without the crush on Sue Storm and the tragic backstory of blaming the land dwellers for destroying his kingdom and the other things that made Namor interesting.

Marvel Boy is male Marvel Girl.

All the stuff I like about the character comes from the space-disaster that seals him in a permanent airtight supersuit in the far future. Oddly enough, telekinesis is a difficult power to do well in a static visual medium like comic books, because things flying around with no one touching them does not easily lend itself to kinetic action.

Firestar is female Human Torch.

Except she is without all that stealing a space rocket and being exposed to cosmic radiation and bickering with the Thing and hot rod racing and so on that makes Torch dramatic.

Rage is a poor man’s Luke Cage, the Hero for Hire, but without the mean-streets cool factor that makes Luke Cage one of the best Marvel heroes of all time. Sweet Christmas! Also, Rage is whiny.

Silhouette is a female version of Nightcrawler.

The one thing that makes her a completely original character — namely, she was gunned down during a sting operation gone wrong, and is now unfit for service — is the thing that is least likable and least believable about the character.

Speedball is Bouncing Boy from DC Comic’s Legion of Superheros. But at least he was zany.

Kid Nova is a poor man’s Hal Jordan.

Except instead of getting a cool magic ring with an understandable limitation to its powers, he gets rocket pants. Also, he is not a test pilot selected by the ring because of his brave and strong willed heart, he is selected at random. Like the New Mutant Cannonball, his legs vanish when he is zooming.

Night Thrasher is Batman on a skateboard.

But instead of being raised by Alfred the faithful butler, imagine if he were raised by the Penguin and Thalia Al-Gul, who are only waiting for him to grow old enough to stuff him into a Lazarus Pit or something, and kill him.

So these cookie cutter retreads, now and again, do show a spark of originality, or  a new take on an old trope, but, by and large, my enthusiasm is less than enthusiastic.

I liked this comic, but I would not recommend it, because, honestly, unlike my favorite comics, it was not worth rereading.

The basic problem is that there was nothing new about the New Warriors.

They were a lazy recycle of old ideas, and the only new thing thrown in was the skateboard. Which almost never got used.

And the fact the Night Thrasher was a stone-cold crazykill hard boiled egg who would as soon kill you as look at you. That was new.

* ** *** *** ***

I hasten to add:

Now, having said all that, I still like the New Warriors and will still defend them. They were the well-balanced team with an interesting mix of powers and personalities, told in the Mighty Marvel Manner back in the days when that meant something.

So what if they were formulaic? You did not think Homer made up his heroes, did you? He copied them from earlier sources.

A Star Wars fan is allowed to complain about the prequels. Compared to the Disney abominations, however, they are gold.

So, here. I am a loyal fan. I paid my money to Marvel, and I have the right and duty to complain when they are turning out B-grade material. I have also seen them at the A-grade, so I know what Marvel can do. Or, at one time, could.

But compared to the Z-grade of the socjus parody which is appropriating the name “New Warriors” which consists of a silly group of ill-clad pastel-mismatched uproariously stupid diversity-checklist non-entities?

Marvel will never learn that taking the names of things, like Hawkeye and Thor and Captain America and so on, and merely assigning them to some empty character does not make them the hero whose name they wear. It is stolen valor: wearing the purple heart medal, but not wearing the wound that earns it.

Compared to abomination, even a bland McBurger from a fast food joint is nectar and ambrosia from Olympus. So it is one again. The New Warriors were good but not great, entertaining but not memorable, and modest in attempt and result. But they were not trash, and they certainly were not hateful trash.

Will I give the parody version a try? Will Snowflake and Safespace, the nonbinary semi-incestuous twins of color, led by Fat Backpack and Boy with a Cellphone be as cool and fun as Nightthrasher, Firestar, Vance Astro, Rage, Kid Nova and Namorita?

Even to type the question makes my fingers cramp and turn cold.

Well, I think my time is better spent rereading ‘The Eye of Argon’ by by Jim Theis (available here: https://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/sf/eyeargon/eyeargon.htm)