Roundtable Review: New Warriors v4 #5

The Conundrum’s Roundtable Review panel discusses New Warriors #5. The mysterious Flank kicks it off this time, followed by fellow longtime New Warriors fans Jeremy, Corey and James. For a rundown of our panel of reviewers, check out the first Roundtable Review. To find out how this issue held up, read on…!

And be sure to post your own review in the Comments section and let us know if you agree or disagree with our assessments.

FLANK:
We’re now five months into NEW WARRIORS. And what do we have so far? A new youth team is making waves in the Marvel Universe. The authorities want to shut them down, some people are trying to figure out what their deal is. They’ve publicly linked themselves to an existing team that recently was disassembled, several of whose members were killed. Their identities are slowly revealed to the reader, as well as the links they have to another established team.

Wait — am I talking about NEW WARRIORS or YOUNG AVENGERS?

I didn’t even notice the parallels until someone in the book likened the Warriors to the Young Avengers. But man, they’re there. The difference is, YOUNG AVENGERS was far more successful at pulling it off than NEW WARRIORS is being. YOUNG AVENGERS brought in two Avengers to represent the other heroes’ perspective on the new team and had the group being investigated by a single person (Jessica Jones, for the Daily Bugle), and the three of them, Captain America, Iron Man and Jones all became supporting characters in the book. The links to established Marvel continuity were teased out, while giving the reader a sense of who the team were like as people, and giving them some good action scenes early on. Meanwhile, NEW WARRIORS is flooded with characters and perspectives, and it gets worse this issue — not only do we have the two detectives, Iron Man and Secretary Kooning, and a bunch of one-off heroes throwing in their viewpoints, now we’ve got Sally Floyd from FRONTLINE and Kat Farrel from DEADLINE investigating them too (not that I recognized them initially — you have to already be familiar with them to understand who they are in this issue). And though we get two more secret identities in this issue, we still haven’t gotten a sense of who these characters are or why they’re doing this.

JEREMY:
You’ve really hit the nail on the head here, Flank. The similarities would have fallen on deaf ears in my case had it not been for the sudden and poorly-handled inclusion of Sally and Kat here. The only thing that could have been more jarring for me (once I realized who they were) would have been an inclusion of Jessica Jones instead of Sally. I think there are enough differences that this book isn’t a direct rip-off of the other, but it does beg the question of how such comparisons are going to affect the book in the long term.

And where does his book fit into Avengers: Initiative and World War Hulk continuity?

COREY:
This is a great point. And I think one of the other differences is another reason why NEW WARRIORS seems to be struggling to me. YOUNG AVENGERS’ main cast of characters were all new characters. And they were written that way. The reader was introduced to them and developed as full characters. Sure, their identities were teased out (for a while it seemed like they might be pre-existing characters) but we were allowed to get to know them. Here, at least half of the team feels like nothing more than colorful costumes running around. Some first names have been dropped sporadically, and we more or less have an idea of everyone’s powers, but I’m just not connecting with them. There’s just no central viewpoint to gain perspective. At first, I thought Sofia was going to be out POV character, then it started to shift to Jubilee, sometimes it seemed like the two cops, now we’ve got two investigative reporters to pull more focus. I was actually pretty surprised by the scene with Sally and Kat. Do we really need MORE supporting characters in this book?

What’s frustrating is that I can tell this is a great idea, a great concept. So much of this must’ve looked great on paper. But the execution is becoming very muddied and frustrating.

As for the World War Hulk continuity question, I somehow didn’t even notice that. Since Tony is walking around fine, I’m going to say this story arc takes place before World War Hulk.

Oh and speaking of supporting characters, I just want to throw out the theory that Secretary Kooning is Night Thrasher. I don’t necessarily believe it, but I do think he’s a candidate.

JAMES:
Jeremy, I see your point. Jessica Jones would have made the similarities a little more jarring, but given how close Kat and Jessica are it wouldn’t suprise me if Jess started appearing in this title (just as soon as CIVIL WAR stuff dies down, so probably in time for SECRET INVASION…). I’m not sure if I agree that there ARE enough differences for it to be a direct rip-off (the characters are just too similar, even if YOUNG AVENGERS pulled it off far more sucessfully).

The similarities have been there from the start and this issue (in terms of events) was an almost exact copy of YOUNG AVENGERS #1 (it just took 5 issues, rather than 1 to get here!)

 

As to where this book fits into continuity? I would put the whole of the first arc before WORLD WAR HULK (so somewhere within the first 3 issues of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE).

 

FLANK:
The new characters are from Xavier’s School too. I think there was a way to do this — take a bunch of former mutants, former X-Men, pull them out of the X-verse and place them in the larger Marvel Universe, without it seeming like an X-book. This isn’t it yet, though. (Not that this really feels like an X-book — the faux Danger Room scene aside, we haven’t even seen the team in action enough yet for that)

 

JEREMY:
For everyone’s complaints, the book doesn’t feel like an X-book… it simply has very gaudy roots in places to which we would rather not be beholden. I decided, as of this issue, that I wasn’t going to hold the character pool against the book any more, because the Warriors have always been about change, and what characters have been through more change than these Decimated mutants? As long as I like where this book is GOING, I’m thinking it’s time to stop worrying about where it came from.

 

Except for wanting more ties to the original Warriors of course. That need of mine (and many other fans) isn’t going anywhere.

 

COREY:
Strategically, it makes sense for Night Thrasher to pull from one source – Xavier’s school(s). He knows they’ve already gotten training and they’ve have had at least some combat experience against super-powered opponents, so he doesn’t have to start from the ground up. And presumably they’re angry and frustrated at having their powers taken from them, so they have a motivation to join his cause, along with a pre-existing bias against the established status quo and a desire to make positive change in the world. If this is still Dwayne Taylor wearing the Night Thrasher armor, he did have a membership to the Hellfire Club, according to X-MEN #29. So maybe he’d been eyeing Xavier students as a recruiting alternative for some time.

 

I agree it’s a great concept. Again, it looks great on paper. But it’s not necessarily what people expect when they see “New Warriors” on the cover. Of course, Grevioux warned us that “this isn’t your Daddy’s New Warriors” so maybe we should’ve dumped our expectations a little more thoroughly.

 

JAMES:

For me personally, the book does still feel too much like an X-book. In a funny way, I think the problem is that not enough emphasis has been put on the DE-POWERED part of these mutants: they don’t seem to be showing any affects of the Decimation, their characters act exactly as they did before, and the training room session from a few issues ago just felt too much like a Danger Room session for my liking.

 

I’ll get used to the number of ex-mutants (or should that be X-mutants?) in this title I’m sure, but I’m not there yet and I just feel, as I’ve said before, that the title is lacking variety.

 

I have to say though, for me, personally, it’s not so much more ties to the original Warriors that I want (although that would be nice, I’m happy with where a lot of the former Warriors are at the minute) as more ties to the wider Marvel universe. Despite the appearance of Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D I just feel that this title is too focused into one little corner of the Marvel universe.

 

FLANK:
I still really like the art, but Medina has some strange quirks. There’s a panel of Stark walking down a hall that says “sidescroller” to me (there was one in the police station last issue that said the same thing to me), and some awkward storytelling — in one sequence Thrash dragged Phaser behind some rubble for cover, and it cuts from the whole team being pinned down to Phaser jumping around firing energy bolts. Makes me miss Mark Bagley — when the team fought Terrax the second time, the fight was so clear, you could tell where each person was in it.

 

JEREMY:
I like Medina’s character designs, but I think he tends to leap around a scene without any sense of purpose – maybe trying to capture the chaos of the situation? I think I can predict a Corey-complaint here in that his background work is awfully…well, non-existent in a lot of the combat, using dust and fire to cover for not developing the scene very well.

 

As far as pencils, what is really bugging me is the inconsistencies of the facial designs. I think Medina relies way too much on color and hair to identify people (especially Jubilee – her face has been rendered in about 30 ways and no two have been the same). As a consolation, Darick Robertson had this problem early in his NW run as well.

 

I can’t speak to the ink work (which seems strong to me, but I’ve never developed very refined tastes in that area) but I do believe our colorist is doing a wonderful job. Industry-standard stuff, but it’s still serving the need of the art and the story very well.

 

COREY:
I think the book has a fine art team, but from the beginning I pictured a much darker and grittier art style. Medina has a very open, more fun style that just doesn’t seem to be fitting with the tense intrigue and anti-establishment vibe. As we’ve discussed, there’s a lot going on in this book, and it sometimes feels like Medina is struggling to keep up and fit it all in. Conversely, I love Nic Klein’s cover art, and would love it if he or someone more in that stylistic vein was doing the interiors.

 

(And sure, some more detailed background work here and there would be nice. It could help in orienting the players in each scene for the reader. )

 

JAMES:
Here I’m going out of my depths. It’s a case of I don’t know art, even if I do know what I like! I agree that Medina’s basic character designs are good and that he needs to jump around scenes less though.

 

On the penciling front, there have been far too many times where Wondra/Jubilee and Tempest/Angel have looked too similar. Medina needs to find some defining features for each of the characters, making them easier to tell apart. I have to disagree with Jeremy that Robertson had this problem with his earlier NEW WARRIORS work though. In my opinion Robertson was able to define the characters from the word go, no two characters looked overly similar.

 

It’s something which Medina can work on and I’m sure it will improve, but it does need work. That said 5 issues isn’t long for any artist to find his (or her) comfort zone with characters though.

 

FLANK:
But nonetheless, Grevioux and Medina are doing something right — because I’m still enjoying it a lot! I’m still intrigued, and my over-all sense is that I like this book, even if it’s unfocused and hasn’t given me much of a sense of who these characters are and why they’re doing the things they’re doing.

 

JEREMY:
This issue didn’t deliver any of what I wanted, but it also didn’t feel like the filler that Part 5 of 6 books often do. So… while I wanted a beginning to the payout, the issue instead enriched the previous four issues for me. Now, however, I’m pinning ALL of my hopes for the title’s continued success on issue 6. Which is, I must complain, TWO MONTHS away.

 

COREY:
I feel like I’ve said a lot of negative things, which I kind of feel bad about. Perhaps it’s a hold-over from last month’s issue, which I thought was a step back in quality. This issue I thought was a step forward. Issue #3 is probably still the strongest issue so far, but we’re headed back in the right direction. I’m also optimistic that once we get this initial story arc done, we’ll be able to dig into characters a bit more, which I’ll be very glad to see.

 

JAMES:
I kind of fall between Jeremy and Flank. I’m not sure Grievoux and Medina are doing something right, this book still doesn’t quite work for me but at the same time I am enjoying seeing where Grievoux is taking this title. This issue did seem a little bit of a filler (as Jeremy noted that’s no suprise on part 5 of a 6 part story) but I’m optimistic that Grievoux will finish the arc on a strong note, and looking at the solicits, the next 3 issues look interesting. I just hope that Grievoux will have found his footing for #6, and will be able to deliver all the goods which I am hoping for.

 

I seem to have gone on about Grievoux’s writing (again, I will try to stop in 2 months when the next issue is out) more than the art, but I can only really talk about what I know. I think the fundamental problem with this title may, perhaps, be that Grievoux (no doubt at Quesada’s request) is writing for the trade too much. It’s a common problem to all writers who come from the TV and film world. They are used to writing hour long episodes or whole film scripts, and aren’t very good at breaking it down into 6 equally eventful/exciting parts.

 

I have a feeling that #6 will be impressive and I look forward to seeing how grievoux wraps up this first arc.

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