Shiny Shelf

New Warriors #5

By Mark Clapham on 12 November 2005

One of the problems with human desire is that we cannot direct our attentions towards getting that which we want, because do not necessarily know what we want until we’ve already got it. Such are the limits of being human.

For example, before I read this comic had no idea how much I wanted to see Namorita have a fight with Virginia Woolf, or see Speedball get seven kinds of hell kicked out of him by Albert Einstein. This is because I hadn’t imagined that such wonders were possible.

Fortunately, where my imagination fails, Zeb Wells’ delivers.

From its original premise as a superhero spin on the reality TV phenomenon, ‘New Warriors’ has gained layers through the first five issues of its six issue run. Aside from the demands placed on them by they’re media paymasters, the Warriors are also essentially superheroic garbage men, dealing with the cast-off creations and fugitive henchmen of the big supervillains.

In issue #4, a case of kidnapped cats drew the Warriors to a small town where they’re confronted by the aforementioned Einstein and Woolf, along with Leonardo Da Vinci and Sigmund Freud. These four are ‘intellectual robots’ created by the Mad Thinker, who kicked them out on the street when he got bored of their conversation.

This is a thin excuse for a great idea – second rate superheroes fight four great minds from history. As anyone who has ever seen an episode of ‘The Time Tunnel’ will know, mixing historical greatness with action fantasy can be disastrous.

Wells, however, gets away with it via a lightness of touch and sly attitude to character that is reminiscent of ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’: the geniuses are caricatured, of course, but in an appropriate way and one which reflects their place in history and the characters of those they fight. Seeing a tentacled robot Sigmund Freud analysing the emotionally unstable Nova to the point of tears, or Virginia Woolf laconically discussing gender and alienation with the female, alien, Namorita, works so well because Wells balances authenticity, theme and silliness pretty much perfectly. Skottie Young’s exaggerated but smooth artwork helps sell that balance as well.

This is a really fun book, and a demonstration of Wells’ delivery of the promise he showed with his ‘Peter Parker: Spider-Man’ fill-ins a few years ago. Hopefully he’ll get a shot at a bigger title soon. In the meantime, latecomers to this series should either get the trade, or just pick up this issue, which stands up perfectly well on its own.

‘New Warriors’ is also one of a number of ‘loser super team’ titles Marvel have turned out lately, all of which have been good but which, together, seem a lot like overkill. Now, if Marvel could somehow get all these creative teams and characters rotating on some kind of ongoing anthology – ‘Defenders: Declassified’ or ‘Avengers Unlimited’, perhaps – rather than splintering their efforts over half a dozen similar, often low-selling, titles, then we would be getting somewhere.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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