New Warriors #7-9
Issue(s): New Warriors #7, New Warriors #8, New Warriors #9
We have two separate threads in this arc, plus a set-up for the story in issue #10. The first thread is the Bengal thread, and it also features Silhouette, Night Thrasher, and the Punisher. While they are dealing with that, the rest of the New Warriors, including Chord, travel to Brazil to look for Speedball's mother. Tai remains behind and, in the set up for next issue, gets beaten up by the White Queen and the Hellions. I'll take each thread separately since they don't interact except during a brief inter-team fight when arguing about whether to help Silhouette or Speedball, which is settled by splitting the team up.
On the Bengal side, we start with Silhouette entering a church where a Father Janes resides. Father Janes turns out to be one of the members of the squad that shot up Bengal's village in Viet Nam. Punisher, meanwhile, is trailing Silhouette because he thinks that she's involved in her brother's gang activities. When Bengal attacks, Silhouette defends Father Janes.
And when the fight gets tough, Silhouette disappears, leaving her clothes behind.
She later shows up naked at the New Warriors' headquarters.
It turns out that she has super-powers, which hopefully isn't a major surprise. I mean, Silhouette isn't exactly a common nickname. Her power is to basically become insubstantial and teleport to the nearest shadows. Hopefully someone puts in a rush order for some unstable molecules.
Night Thrasher and Silhouette go back to Father Janes' church, where Bengal attacks again.
And this time the Punisher makes his move as well.
Revel in the awesomeness of Night Thrasher's skateboard. It hides a blade.
And it is bulletproof.
Even Punisher thinks it's awesome.
In fact, Night Thrasher beats the crap out of Punisher.
And Night Thrasher's armor even takes some close range automatic rounds.
After shooting Night Thrasher off him, Punisher retreats to "get some breathing room". Meanwhile, Night Thrasher must be a regular reader of the Punisher's comic, because he knows that the Punisher is "never wrong", so if he's going after Silhouette, it must be for a good reason.
Night Thrasher will say something along these lines at least once more, and it's an odd thing to have him say, especially since it will turn out that the Punisher is wrong in this case; Silhouette has nothing to do with her brother's crimes. Of more immediate concern is the reason Bengal is after Father Janes. Janes gives an explanation that sounds to me like a whitewashed version of Bengal's origin in Daredevil #258, admitting to doing some wrong in Vietnam but not that much wrong. Meanwhile, the Punisher looks up the specs on Night Thrasher's armor (which of course uses adamantium)...
...and notices that there's a hidden compartment. He wonders what is in it, and we find out when the Punisher returns for round two: it's a gun!
This is kind of laughable. These are super-hero comics! We have one character that can teleport into shadows. One that is a tiger ninja. And a guy with a multi-million dollar exoskeleton and a bulletproof Swiss army knife skateboard. But pulling out a gun merits a cliffhanger ending.
The standoff is ended when Silhouette teleports away. Punisher listens to her and judges that she's telling the truth when she says that she's not associated with her brother. Punisher then leaves, saying that he's not interested in a "team-up against the bad guys" to deal with Bengal.
But after the fight between Night Thrasher and Bengal gets going...
...Punisher actually does return.
Everyone then stands around and notes how pretty much everyone's origin involves the death of their families.
Peacemaker is a weird role for the Punisher to play. It's not the first time he's been shown to be a bit of a softee, but it still feels like a misuse of the character, even with the similarity in origins. Anyway, all's well that ends in hugs.
As for Speedball's plot, we start with Robbie having an emotional moment with his father. His big revelation is that he's not really into the bands like Poison and Ozzy Osborne that he has up on his walls. He's really into artists like Ruben Blades and Midnight Oil. As you might expect, the distinction is completely lost on Mr. Baldwin.
After that awkward display of emotion, Robbie runs off and convinces the New Warriors (sans Night Thrasher) to help look for his mom. One other quick note: some space is dedicated to explaining any difference in personality for Namorita between this book and John Byrne's Namor (there must have been enough complaints about this that it also merited an explanation in issue #8's lettercol).
Ok, back to the Speedball plot. On the plane ride to Brazil, the characters reveal their civilian identities to each other. The fact that Speedball is extra young and scrawny is a surprise to everyone.
So Speedball is 15. But i'm not sure how young that is compared to the rest of the team. Namorita has been college aged since 1973. Nova was high school aged in his original series, which ran from 1976-1979, and it was said in New Warriors #3 that by now all of his school friends have graduated even though he hasn't. We also saw Firestar going to school in issue #3; it wasn't clear to me but per Steven in the Comments that must have been high school since Firestar turns 18 in Kurt Busiek's Avengers run. I assume Marvel Boy is around the same age as Firestar since Nicieza is building a romance between them. And i am also not sure about Night Thrasher. Speedball's comment in the scene above implies that his age isn't that different than the team; it's just that his hormones haven't kicked in.
When the New Warriors get to Brazil, they are captured by a group called the Force of Nature, surely the worst name of a super-villain team since the Elements of Doom.
But the group actually has some real pedigree. "Terraformer" is in fact plant matter animated by the Plantman. "Skybreaker" is Aireo, one of the evil Inhumans. "Aqueduct" is actually Water Wizard. And "Firewall" is a new character (but she'll later change her name to, er, Silk Fever, and that's what i'm tagging her as).
I wonder if the idea was originally for Terraformer to be the Plantman but they backed away from it for some reason.
The Forces are working for the environmental group, Project: Earth, that Speedball's mother has joined. It turns out that the environmentalists are a bit Machiavellian when it comes to their cause; they faked being kidnapped by Brazilian land developers for the publicity, and now they are planning on attacking the developers because they are tearing down the rainforest. Speedball briefly promised that the New Warriors would join them so that he could find out what was going on with his mom, but that goes out the window pretty quickly.
The environmentalists decide to kill one of their own, choosing Mrs. Baldwin, to further their cause, but she's rescued by Speedball...
...who she learns is her son.
It's a pretty good fight between the New Warriors and the Forces of Nature.
Terraformer is seemingly "killed".
And Aqueduct/Water Wizard makes the mistake of trying to attack Namorita.
Skybreaker/Aireo and Firewall are knocked out. Chord says to let the environmentalists flee because the Warriors don't have any evidence on them, and the Forces of Nature are said to be dropped off with the local police. Then, after some admonishments for Mrs. Baldwin, they begin to return home.
As for the White Queen thread, she's noticed that there have been hacks into the Hellfire Club's computer network. So she interrogates a guard that gave away the computer codes, and then has her Hellions stage an invasion of the New Warriors' headquarters. They get their asses kicked.
When the White Queen steps into the fight, we get a glimpse of what they are fighting, but when it's all over it's just Tai.
The two new Hellions, "Beef" and Bevatron, may be a hasitly redrawn/recolored Empath and Thunderbird. The same month as this issue (#9), New Mutants #99 says that Thunderbird was no longer with the Hellions. And of course Empath has been in Nova Roma for some time.
Also in these issues, we continue to see the incredibly slow build-up (like one page every issue since #4) to the new Sphinx.
So several threads are happening. Actually, unlike some of Fabian Nicieza's books at this time, the plotting is rather straightforward, with the complexity coming from the number of plots that are being juggled instead of there being deep twists in any one plot. Which is good. The composition of characters in this book works best with straightforward super-heroics. I feel like with the Punisher/Bengal plot, Nicieza is perhaps trying to be a bit more grim and gritty, and with the Forces of Nature plot he's trying to be more topical/political. But truthfully the tone of the book is really just fun super-hero stuff. Again, a lot of that has to do with the types of characters, but a big part of it is Mark Bagley's art, which is clean and shiny and really great for turning a fight between a team of randomly collected teen characters and some repurposed C-list villains into a classic super-brawl.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Speedball's mom has been gone for "three weeks" prior to the start of this story. This arc ends with the White Queen and the Hellions taking over the New Warriors' headquarters, and issue #10 begins with Night Thrasher and Silhouette returning after their battle with Bengal and the Punisher to find them there, so #10 shouldn't take place too long after this. The Punisher's appearance here is context free. We'll learn in New Mutants #99 that Thunderbird has left the Hellions, but that doesn't mean that New Mutants #99 has to take place before this arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
I'm no Punisher fan but losing to the Skateboard Ninja must be his all time low.
Posted by: kveto | September 9, 2015 4:50 PM
As we'll see later, Dwayne's company didn't put in a rush order for unstable molecules- they STOLE the unstable molecules for Silhouette's costume.
Posted by: Michael | September 9, 2015 9:10 PM
Regarding that skateboard brings a phrase to my mind. "If its stupid and it works, its not stupid."
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 9, 2015 9:14 PM
I loved the New Warriors back in the day! It probably had at least a bit to do with I was their age back when I read this in real time. I do remember it being a fun series.
There were fan complaints about Namorita's inconsistent characterization between the "Namor" and "New Warriors" books and this was an attempt to address that. I felt it was kind of weak, since she was essentially two separate characters in each book, but I appreciated the effort. That's much more than we would get nowadays.
Posted by: Bill | September 9, 2015 11:18 PM
Firestar is under 18 and in high school, for she turned 18 right before Avengers Vol. 3 #4 and then joined the Avengers.
Posted by: Steven | September 11, 2015 12:55 AM
Thanks, Steven. I've updated the bit about the ages.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 11, 2015 7:19 AM
I believe Fabian gave an interview in Marvel Age when this series first started. If I can remember correctly, he stated the character ages as Nova 19, Namorita 19, Marvel Boy 18, Night Thrasher 17, Firestar 16, and Speedball 15.
Posted by: Steven | September 11, 2015 11:53 AM
In addition. I think Firestar mentions flunking a driving test during the series run.
"After that awkward display of emotion, Robbie runs off and convinces the New Mutants (sans Night Thrasher) to help look for his mom."
Well he better be quick about it because that team's about to be disbanded. :-)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 11, 2015 3:53 PM
Heh, thanks Jon. It was also pointed out to me that elsewhere in the entry i made the opposite mistake. Hopefully that will stop when New Mutants becomes X-Force.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 11, 2015 3:58 PM
Is young Vance's age ever stated in the Defenders issues in which he first appeared? Because he looked like a little kid then, at about the same time that Nova was being introduced as a high-schooler in his own series. I'd hazard to guess about 5-7 years difference between Justice and Nova.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 12, 2015 2:32 PM
Are Namorita and Emma competing to see whose bikini bottom can cover less of their body?
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 20, 2015 7:07 AM
I thought Terraformer was definitely an identity swap mid-story. He looks pretty identical to how Plantman does out of costume and, as Michael notes, even identifies himself as "Sam" in #7.
Bevatron also immediately struck me as a recolored Empath too.
Thunderbird/Beef didn't cross my mind. With Nicieza also writing New Mutants, it's hard to say he was unaware that Thunderbird was in use. I think Beef is just a generic super strength replacement to literally beef up the team. Plus, unlike the other two cases, it's quite clear it's not Thunderbird recolored. Beef has different hair and is a lot bigger (although they might both be Bagley's take on Thunderbird, we'll probably never know)
Posted by: AF | March 12, 2016 4:40 PM
Though, Bevatron is clearly shown using his powers on panel, so I don't think it was the case that he was a last minute change either despite him REALLY looking like a blonde Empath.
Posted by: AF | March 12, 2016 5:13 PM
Emma just will NOT give up on the mismatched boots.
Posted by: Mizark | July 22, 2016 5:53 AM
By the way, about the "ages", it was stated in the Firestar mini that Angelica was starting high school for the first time, so she was probably about 14 when that series appeared (especially since that was also the first time her mutant powers first emerged.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 25, 2017 12:16 PM
Firestar's age was given as 13 in the first issue of her series and the 4th issue says it's been "3 years" since then.
Posted by: Michael | January 25, 2017 11:31 PM
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