Roundtable Review: New Warriors v4 #3

A new feature for the Conundrum debuts today! It’s the Roundtable Review, a discussion of a new release from four long-time New Warriors fans. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

As we prepare ourselves for next week’s release of issue #4, let’s take a look at last month’s New Warriors #3.

Before we get under way – who are the reviewers, and why should you care what they think? All four are longtime New Warriors fans who have been following the characters for the last 10+ years. But they won’t always agree on what makes a great New Warriors story. More specifically:

Corey is the web-master of the New Warriors Continuity Conundrum, which has been online since March 1, 2000. He also serves as editor for Dig Comics, the comic book publishing banner for writer/creator Miguel Cima. The first ongoing series, the horror/fantasy epic The Binder, is currently in production and slated for a 2008 release. He is also an actor based in Los Angeles and a founding member of the sketch comedy group Foe Pa.

James Hunter was born in Harrow, England, and is currently attending school for his MA/MSc in Librarianship and Information Studies. He discovered the New Warriors through The Exploits of Spider-Man, a British magazine reprinting American Spider-Man stories, and has since collected nearly all of their appearances through the back-issue market.

Jeremy Schwennen is a high school reading teacher at the Des Moines Public School District in the very center of the universe, Iowa. He also writes and develops role-playing games for Nightcandle Imaginations, a small independent publisher. He first encountered the New Warriors while avoiding band practice the summer before his sixth grade year. He lives in Ames, IA, with his partner of seven years and a roommate who, in spite of her sunny demeanor, bears more than a passing resemblance to a vampire.

Flank McLargehuge nerds on a semi-professional level. Along with proofreading most of the current Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe line for Marvel Comics, Flank has interviewed people like Greg Rucka, Michael Avon Oeming, and Bryan Lee O’Malley, and got paid to write about them. Hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska, Flank currently makes his home in Portland, Oregon.And now, on with the review:

New Warriors #3
“Defiant Part Three”
Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Nic Klein
Production: Rich Ginter
Assistant Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

Corey:
New Warriors #3 finally gave us our first solid look at the team. Unfortunately, it was so brief, it’s tough to really get into first impressions yet. But, right now I’m intrigued to find out if Decibel is Chamber, which seems to be the universally agreed-upon theory. I’m also curious to see if there’s an Apocalypse connection or if it’s just a visual coincidence. While Apocalypse has always been sufficiently cool for me, that would really solidly tie this incarnation of the New Warriors into the X-Men universe. Not that the use of Sofia, Beak, Jubilee, possibly Chamber, Arcade’s Murderworld and a Nimrod-looking android don’t already do this. And I think that seems to be the biggest oddity so far for this book. There seems to be a very large focus on the X-Men universe for a book that has traditionally pulled from various corners of the entire Marvel universe. However, if the characters are written compellingly and the art is solid, I can get over that.

James:
I agree that the limited exposure to the team made it hard to gather first impressions but I, personally, like having the team being introduced slowly to the alternative. If Decibal is Chamber (I hope he’s not, given his last appearance in New Excalibur) then there is definitly a link to Apocalypse. It was because he is descended from Apocalypse that Jono was able to be re-powered following “M-Day”.

I agree that if Decibal is Chamber it turns New Warriors into another x-book (and there’s no shortage of those!) so I hope that the remaining Warriors are revealed to come from other areas of the Marvel universe (this was, to me, the reason that volume 1 was so successful).

The writing certainly is compelling (although I have some problems) but this focus on de-powered mutants sadly detracts from my over-all enjoyment of the series.

Jeremy:
Ahhh, Decibel. My big concern here is the mouth covering. If he wasn’t wearing it, he wouldn’t look so much like Chamber—, especially since he doesn’t need it as he once did. So I don’t know if he’s a red herring or not. I guess I wasn’t aware that he was re-powered after the New Excalibur stuff. —I thought they just patched up the hole in his chest.

Seeing as they keep revealing new elements of the X-verse throughout the book, I really feel like this is going to be a recurring theme. To me, that rationalizes why we spend so much time, especially in this issue, focusing on Tony, Carol, Avengers, and FF members. I think that for the first arc (or two) Kevin is working very hard to show us the cosmopolitan nature of the Warriors through whom they interact with rather than who composes the team. Hopefully that will change once we start focusing on things aside from the “who is everyone” mysteries.

Flank:
I find the idea of a super-hero team composed entirely of former mutants interesting… but like most fans seem to be saying, that’s not what I want in this book. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying this set-up so far. And since none of these characters are still mutants, they no longer follow under the X-teams remit — nobody’s hating or fearing them anymore than the U.S. public is hating and fearing superheroes at the moment.

And I’d be very surprised if Decibel wasn’t Chamber.

I love that the team is based in Murderworld. It’s a great idea that I’ve wanted to see repeated with more substance since X-Force briefly lived in Murderworld, and Arcade is one of those X-villains who has no real tie to the mutant world besides that’s who he’s always being written to fight. I also like the reactions of the rest of the superhero community. To me, the Warriors defined themselves as a reaction to existing super-groups, and so they’re inextricably linked to the older community of superheroes (even though they were a reaction against it). But even so, if we had the option of continuing to see this much reaction from the rest of the world versus seeing the team itself more… I’d rather see the team.

Corey:
Elsewhere in the issue, we get more of the sub-plot following the two cops and their investigation into the New Warriors. And we are heavily led to believe that Dwayne Taylor is still alive and has formed the new team as Night Thrasher by stealing money from his half-brother Donyell Taylor, the former Bandit. The popular theory seems to involve Dwayne and Donyell switching identities, possibly in collusion. While certainly possible, I’d personally prefer something a bit less contrived. I’m certainly convinced it’s not Dwayne Taylor behind the Night Thrasher mask, as the evidence seems too strong. At this point there won’t be much of a surprise if Dwayne Taylor ends up being Night Thrasher, since we’ve been all but explicitly told to expect just that. With the showdown cliffhanger at the end of this issue, it’s possible we’ll get our answers next month, but I’d be fine with keeping the mystery going another few months. I think the speculation is adding a lot of fun to the title.

James:
I don’t mind keeping the mystery of Night thrasher’s identity going for another few months, however, I am willing to accept that it is Dwayne as Thrash. Although it is no great mystery (if that is the revelation) the fact of the matter is that it’s only fans who have decided that there is a mystery, to an extent. I also draw your attention to the fact that, from the very first interviews, Grievoux said there would be one returning Warrior and no other canditate (at this point) makes sense. I hope the mystery is left to play out a little longer though.

Jeremy:
I’m with Corey here: not Dwayne. I can’t see Dwayne attacking the cops. It doesn’t feel true to the character to me, and the “mystery” is too easily solved.

Regarding Bandit, Kevin really threw me for a loop. I don’t know what to think, but I can’t wait to see more. I still hold to my belief that “car accident” is synonymous with “Belladonna cutting off my legs.”

Flank:
I honestly could see this going either way. If it’s really Dwayne in the armor, then it’s not a big surprise after this issue. But if Kevin were to resurrect Dwayne, the scenes we saw in this issue are exactly the kind of groundwork we’d need to see for him to have plausibly survived Stamford. (And I think Bandit fits the “one returning Warrior” comment, if unexpectedly since he was only part of the team for one storyline. And the way Paco drew Bandit in this issue, I could see him fitting in that armor.)

Corey:
I don’t have too much to say about the Wolverine cameo. It’s always nice to see a guest-star used so effectively. Tradition seems to dictate to plenty of writers that it need be much more gratuitous. Instead we got a nice character-driven reason for him showing up, and it helped us get to know Wondra and her recent history.

James:
It was a bearable Wolverine cameo, but I would question it’s necessity at this early juncture. Certainly Logan is going to look in on Jubilee at some point, but I question if as early as three issues in is the most logical place to deal with this. I know Wolverine boosts sales but surely he wasn’t necessary this early on. That said, the cameo made for a very strong character moment for Wondra. I just hope she stays as driven as she currently is, rather than goes back to her annoying, bubbly personality. She doesn’t need to be serious all of the time, but, in my opinion, it’s high time she matured at least to the level she was at the end of Generation X.

Jeremy:
I too like the change in drive for Jubilee, and I think Wolverine’s appearance did a fine job of showcasing the bridge between her old personality and her new one. In some ways, Jubilee’s turn as Wondra is very much a Rich Rider transformation for her fans. Back when Volume 1 came out, Rich’s portrayal in New Warriors was a big shock to old school Nova fans, and it took quite some time for Fabian to really explain it and reconcile the issue. Kevin seems intent to avoid that hurdle by using Wolverine and Jubilee carefully early on to help make her changes believable.

Flank:
I always found Jubilee annoying. Now I don’t, and I like that — but that’s because there’s little of her old characterization left in her appearances so far. That’s an issue with most of the recurring characters in the first three issues — Sofia went from quiet upbeat foreigner to sassy, jaded New Yorker, Barnell went from horribly awkward foreigner to charming New Yorker, Bandit’s a disabled philanthropist inventor rather than a vengeance-driven muscle-bound jerk, and Jubilee’s gone bitter and cynical. Time will tell whether these turn out to be evolutions of the characters, or out-of-character writing.

Corey:
To wrap up, I thought the third issue was a great continuation of this new volume, and helped assure me that the dialogue problems in the first issue were either a fluke or are now wisely being reined in. The art remains solid. Every so often a character’s pose or body language seems awkward or strange, but these are fortunately few, far between, and rarely glaring. I continue to be extremely happy with this volume. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had reading a comic called New Warriors since volume 1.

James:
I’m thoroughly enjoying this volume (and would agree that it’s better than volumes 2 and 3) but I’m not sure it’s yet up to the standard of volume 1. The thing that continues to grate on me is Grievoux’s handling of Sofia. He just does not seem to understand what makes the character tick. Grievoux is improving every issue but it’s glaringly obvious (to me) that he has not done the research into Sofia’s character. She was one of my favourite characters in New X-Men: Academy X and I was delighted to see she was not discarded to limbo after her de-powerment, but Grievoux has not fully grasped her character which is unfortunate, as every time she is given dialogue, it pulls me out of the story (her accent and her optimism are both glaringly missing).

Dispite my criticism of Grievoux’s handling of Sofia, I would say that he writes a very good Night Thrasher, Wondra and Beak so perhaps I am nit-picking. I do agree that the art is solid, though.

Jeremy:
I love the art, and while it has a handful of weak moments, I can easily recall such moments in the early work of other more revered New Warriors-artist alum. The writing grows every issue (should the bum happen to leave, I think that the dialog issues may well vanish entirely) and I can’t wait to see it grow even further.

I can see James’ point though: Sofia’s change of heart is, to me, the real Rich Rider moment of this book. While Kevin works so hard at showcasing Jubilee’s motivations, I think he expects Sofia’s to feel more natural to us, and they don’t. I believe he has done his homework, but for whatever reason he chose to make some obvious changes to Sofia’s demeanor in order to make her an accessible viewpoint character. Hopefully as his writing skills continue to evolve he will be able to integrate the old Sofia with the new. I guess, at this point, only time will tell.

Flank:
I don’t want to say I hated the first issue of the new series, so instead I’ll say I strongly disliked it. Then I really rather liked the second issue. And I flat-out love the third issue. Grievoux’s dialogue has improved vastly (I think because he’s just not trying so hard, which was how the first issue felt to me), I love Paco’s art, and I’m finding the set-up and intriguing departure from previous incarnations of the Warriors. The major sticking points for me are what we covered — the departure in characterizations, the overwhelming ties to the X-Men, and the remaining hints of cliché and clunkiness in the dialogue. But based on the improvements we’ve seen in just three issues time, this has gone from a book I was dreading after the first issue to a book I’m really excited about.

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Comments

  • bradydale  On September 5, 2007 at 11:38 am

    What I want from this new incarnation is for it to live up more to what it was billed as… a resistance book. I want the Civil War to continue, even if it’s just a small renegade cell that’s keeping the fighting going. It’s a lot more about the team and a lot less about the resistance. I’ll stick with it, but I want more sabotage and intrigue and a little less recruitment stories.

    It didn’t occur to me how mutant (or ex-mutant) focused the book was until I read this. It didn’t feel like X-anything, but I see you guys’s point (though I’m not quite up on the last few years of history as well as you guys are).

    I’m enjoying it, mostly. I could do with less Sofia. I could care less if she joins or not, to be honest and (is there any question that she will?).

    Very, very intrigued by the question of Thrash. It feels weird for it to only be him, but apparently Robbie will be heard from soon?

    It doesn’t feel like The New Warriors without Speedball.

    Not Penance.

    Speedball.

    Raise your hand if you remember the time that Speedball had his throwdown with Gideon and Gideon stole his powers for a little bit and remarked “how fascinating” his powers were.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but that comment was never really picked up as a plotline, right? It would be cool if this Penance thing were temporary,
    he got some counseling,
    and went back to being something more like Speedball but sort of evolved into a more sophisticated user of complex powers.

    Like how Danny Rand is learning new applications of The Iron Fist right now.

  • Jeremy Schwennen  On September 10, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    I think Gideon’s “Fascinating” line was tied directly into the aborted 54 plans to reveal Robbie as dead… and, if nothing else, it connects to the Time & Time Again revelation that Robbie is the living embodiment of the Kinetic Dimension…

    But any excuse that brings Robbie back as not-Penance works for me, really. I enjoy Penance’s story, but not at the expense of Robbie’s role as Speedball. I am looking forward to the promised elements of the Old Warriors that will eventually materialize in the New Warriors to help link the books together. Right now, I’m feeling as though I am reading a book that I enjoy that just happens to be called the New Warriors… but honestly, it could have been called “The Old Hamsters” and it would be the same book, to me. You know?

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