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Marvel released its November solicitations, and as I’ve feared for a few months now, New Warriors by Christopher Yost and Marcus To is ending with Issue 12. This isn’t exactly a surprise, as anyone even casually watching its sales probably saw this coming: July’s Issue 7 sold about 17,000 copies, a few thousand below the traditional line of death for a Marvel title.
While the writing may have been on the wall, it’s sad to see such a fun and spirited comic go away. As a longtime fan of New Warriors, this fourth attempt to revitalize the property was the most true to the fondly remembered original series by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley and Darick Robertson. The bright and energetic art was fantastic, the dialogue was pitch-perfect, and yet … it just didn’t click with enough readers.
So what’s the problem?
Unfortunately, the creators had an uphill climb for a number of reasons. Some are unique to the New Warriors and others are shared by non-marquee properties at Marvel, DC and other publishers. In February, when this New Warriors series launched, I celebrated the B-list characters and their comics. Now six months later, we’re staring down the barrel of cancellation. These B-listers are a double-edged sword, so now it’s time to look at the edge of the sword that we don’t like (or however that metaphor works).
In less than a week, New Warriors #1 by Christopher Yost and Marcus To will be in my grubby little hands. While everyone else will still be basking in the glow of this week’s new Wolverine and Punisher series, I’ll be resurrecting my dormant Marvel zombie for some much-neglected superhero nostalgia.
Most of my comic book-loving friends cite Spider-Man or Superman as their favorite characters, and the ones they read religiously as kids; they’re undeniably iconic. However, the superheroes that resonated most with me were those off the beaten path; the obscure characters have always led to the more satisfying reading experiences, even if it often meant tolerating missteps and frustrating gaps in time.
Maybe it’s a matter of rooting for the underdog, but I think generally there are more opportunities for exciting and entertaining stories when your main cast isn’t the star of several feature films and a merchandising empire.
I first encountered the New Warriors in 1990, not long after their debut. I was new to the Marvel Universe, and only Firestar was somewhat familiar to me from her role on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but she didn’t act the same as she did in the cartoon. She didn’t even have the same pet: Where was Ms. Lion? (Actually, that’s fine, leave Ms. Lion out of it. In fact, never mention Ms. Lion again.) Instead, Firestar had a pet cat named Pum’kin, which suited me fine — I was always more of a cat person anyway.
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Although this installment is a little late — curse you, technical problems! — we’re still left with plenty of time to prepare for this weekend’s Motor City Comic Con, Dallas Comic Con and the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention.
What’s more, our contributors have cast their eyes over Wednesday’s releases, singling out such favorites as Battlestar Galactica #1, Betelgeuse, Vol. 1, and The New Warriors Omnibus.
Marvel’s senior VP-executive editor Tom Brevoort shares a fun blast from the past over on his Marvel.com blog: a proposal for a series called Young Avengers. But this isn’t the Allan Heinberg/Jim Cheung book that came out in 2005; it’s a proposal from 1989, by studiomates Jim Valentino and Rob Liefeld. Before Youngblood, Shadowhawk, Deadpool, X-Force or even Guardians of the Galaxy, the duo pitched a series about Namorita, Firestar, Vance Astro, Speedball and Richard Rider — as Torpedo, rather than Nova — coming together with two new characters to train under the direction of Rick Jones.
“At the time this was written in 1989, while both of them had dabbled in doing Marvel work, neither creator had really had a break-out hit. Sharing a studio at the time, they hoped that YOUNG AVENGERS might be it, with Jim writing and Rob illustrating a series they would co-plot,” Brevoort writes.
Although the pages are a bit blurry when scanned in — they were typed more than 20 years ago — you can still read about some of the plots and villains they planned to use, as well as new characters they were creating named Cougar, Brahma, Photon and Combat. Which may sound familiar to readers of Youngblood and related titles.
“As it turned out, work was already underway on the book that eventually was entitled NEW WARRIORS, which prevented this incarnation of YOUNG AVENGERS from moving ahead. It’s actually pretty extraordinary to see how close the line-up for what Jim and Rob proposed was to the eventual NEW WARRIORS team,” Brevoort writes.
If only they’d given Rick Jones some battle armor and a skateboard …