New Warriors #58-59
Issue(s): New Warriors #58, New Warriors #59
The plot is that Israel's prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, has come to New York for a peace conference with Syria at the UN. Captain America was asked to provide security, but he wasn't available and instead suggested that Justice do it, and Justice brings Firestar and Speedball.
The handling of the sides of the Middle East conflict starts off feeling one-sided but it gets better. Things start off by presenting Rabin as being solely focused on peace and completely devoid of prejudice.
This is something that Noam Chomsky, for example, would laugh at, and even if you don't have opinions on the Israel/Palestine conflict, the idea that a real-life world leader is just altruistically focused on peace with no political considerations is just hagiography.
Then, a group of brown-skinned supers attack Rabin's car, and they are immediately branded as "terrorists" instead of mere super-villains.
I mean, in-universe this is probably correct; we of course don't get anything from their perspective in terms of their motivations, but they are trying to assassinate Rabin. And OF COURSE the first (probably) all-Muslim super-team will be ill defined, one-note "terrorists".
Plotwise, the idea is that Israel's state super-hero, Sabra, is with Rabin but is not supposed to act for political reasons. However, the Warriors flub their defense and Sabra has to get involved.
The one-sidedness continues when we get a flashback about Justice when he was a kid in Hebrew school, learning about how Jewish people have been persecuted throughout the ages (Pharoahs, Romans, Germans). Vance's concern as a child is that the Jewish people didn't fight back, and the teacher's response ("your best bet is to just be a good person to others, even if they're sometimes bad to you") caused Vance to turn away from religion. The history of persecution against Jewish people is of course correct (and is even incomplete; there was a lot more persecution in Europe between the Romans and Germans), but presenting this without any history of Palestine makes it seem like the current conflict is just another example of "good" people being attacked by "bad" people, and if anything the problem is that they aren't fighting back hard enough. It's pure (unintentional) propaganda.
Things a tad get better when we get inside the UN and we meet Syria's super protector, Batal.
"Batal" in Arabic seems to translate to "a hero", so you can't get any more generic than this! And he'll never show up again plus he'll get knocked out early and so isn't even a relevant player in his one and only appearance. But at least he gets to take umbrage when everyone assumes that he's part of the super-terrorists that attacked earlier ("we all look alike, don't we?") plus he gets to deliver this amazing burn.
Batal has, in fact, not killed any children. Sabra's line is just racist. So i think this shows that however biased this story might seem, especially in the beginning, the creators didn't intend to be one-sided. The main point is that you probably shouldn't try to deal with the most intractable geopolitical problem of the century with a clumsy comic book plot. (A secondary point is that one-sided media depictions like this contribute to the intractability.)
Anyway, from here the plot just devolves into absolute nonsense. Sabra gets mind-controlled and attacks everyone, and the New Warriors have to spend the remaining issue fighting her. The main complication is that Justice is mildy attracted to Sabra, leading to Firestar calling her a slut (!!!!).
Justice breaks the mind-control on Sabra by tricking her into thinking that he's her dead son, who he apparently looks like.
This is particularly Oedipal considering the mutual attraction between the two of them.
As for who mind-controlled Sabra... who cares???!?
It doesn't matter! Both sides!
You can bet that if, like, Purple Man mind-controlled Firestar into robbing a convenience store, the book would deal with it until Purple Man was caught. But someone tries to assassinate a country's prime minister? Shruggies! This is especially horrifying considering that Rabin was assassinated in real life (by an Israeli right-winger, not Arab super-terrorists) not long after this story was published.
Issue #59 also introduces Rina Patel, who will become Timeslip. She has a timeslip in this issue, and we get to see a glimpse of the future New Warriors lineup.
Note that the lineup includes the Scarlet Spider. This comes at a time when the lettercol is announcing the new editorial silos ("X-Men, Marvel Edge/2099, General Entertainment, Classic Heroes, and... Spider-Man"). New Warriors are part of the Spider-Man silo, and the lettercol promises that this seemingly "downright illogical" decision will make sense.
A final scene shows the New Warriors discovering that their base has been wrecked and getting a call for help from Nova's sort-of girlfriend Laura Dunham. This leads directly into Nova #18, the final issue of that series. I am blessed enough to not have that issue, so i won't be covering it.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's been an (oddly specific) "13 days" since Namorita was captured. In terms of placement, the New Warriors book kept having to get pushed back in publication time due to events in Namor, and this is the first time there's been a break in the series. So i'm not taking those thirteen days too seriously and i'm allowing a gap since last issue, helping this book catch up with its publication date (i still have it pushed back quite a bit). Nova #17-18 takes place more or less concurrently with these issues. It's not known how long ago Captain America was approached to provide security, so from a continuity perspective it's not important.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAdmiral Protocol, Batal, Firestar, General Admission, Hindsight Lad, Justice, Laura Dunham, Namorita, Sabra, Speedball II, Timeslip, Turbo
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