Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#10 - NEW WARRIORS: Starlost (vol. 1, #40 -42)

Welcome to another Comic Book Clash, where characters & comics duke it out for supremacy. And today . . . we continue our COSMIC TRIPLE THREAT with a look to the past. Last week, young Mark Grayson deals with war . . . with a planet being destroyed. Yes. A super hero destroys a planet and helps kill a majority of a race. How lonely.  This week . . . we look back in 1993 to the Heroes of the 90s . . . the New Warriors; Although this is before the reality tv show crap that ended up making them targets by Millar to kill some of my favorite character and watch them start Marvel’s Civil War!

So join us as young Rich Rider, Nova, gets the spotlight as an adventure in space alongside the Warriors as a fate of an almost dead species. Yay! Welcome to our review of  New Warriors #40-#42: Starlost.


            The New Warriors had the (un) fortunate beginnings as being formed under the manipulations of  Night Thrasher, a rich man who decided to get back at criminals since they killed his mommy and daddy to form his own super team with him leading them in some armor. And while Night Thrasher only wanted Nova, Marvel Boy(aka Justice) and Firestar . . . they formed with them plus Namorita and Speedball. The team fight all sorts of threats, including former Galactus Herald, Terrax; the rogue Inhumans called The Force of Nature; the power of the time manipulating Sphinx; the reality altering Proteus and the all powerful sorceress . .. maid, Tai.
            Wait. Why? Why are you laughing?
 Okay. I know it sounds weird but . . . take a small listen to this. This miserable hag decided to use Chord, a soldier who made a deal with her and have a baby with one of her daughters . . .actually had 2 kids with her that were Night Thrasher’s rival, Midnight’s Fire and Night Thrasher’s (then) girlfriend, Silhouette: in order to kill Night Thrasher’s parents and became of Night Thrasher’s guardian. They trained him and watched him grow up into the same psycho who took a then powerless Rich Rider and drop him off the top of an apartment building in Queens. Sure, it gets Rich Rider’s powers back but still . . . Thrasher was NOT sure it would work. But come to find out, Tai decided that she will help push Dwayne (aka Night Thrasher) to form the New Warriors in order to sacrifice them into the Well of Power, aka a mystical well of power over magic in the Marvel Universe. Oh hey . . . why hasn’t it been mentioned again . . .EVER?!
            Since that time, the team has battled all those previous threats mentioned with Nova being cheap among them. After the 25th issue, Night Thrasher takes times off while Marvel Boy is in jail . . . for killing his secretly homosexual, jewish, physically abusive father. Sure it was self defense. Rage joined the team. Namorita became leader, got drunk after causing an international incident, have a one night stand with an enemy of Night Thrasher, who stole her phone book . . . with the names and address of all the Warriors and their families. That enemy leads a gang and attacks, kidnaps and even kills members of the Warriors families. Night Thrasher, alongside a boy who figures out Speedball’s identity, forces himself onto the team and leads the charge to defeat the gang, aka Poison Memories. Rage comes out and kills Namorita’s one night stand. She leads the team after making out with Nova, Night Thrasher leads again and Nova has been dating this one girl and we are now caught up to where we are.


            First, before I even start on this . . . this was during the 90s. New Warriors #40 had a gimmick cover that is a bit harder with gold color where Nova’s costume has gold or yellow and the logo and everything else is black and white with art by Darick Robertson. I actually love it! Oh wow.  I know, right?
            We see Supernova still lost in the time stream as narrative tells us why and how he got there while he finds out that he thought he had all of the Nova Corps powers but no . . . Rich Rider has part of it left. And Supernova is MAD about it.
            Next, Speedball, Firestar and our hero in the cover, Nova, face off against Psionex member, Asylum. Asylum is mostly ghostly made of black clouds and if you are caught in it and it touches you, you will be faced with your worst fear. And Nova gets the trip this time around. We get to see in some interesting paneling that shows Rich’s fears of his family being killed by his enemies and him losing his powers. Firestar tosses Speedball in there and Speedball uses his kinetic bubbles to break Asylum . . . to the point that she . . . well, all that is left of her was her mask. Speedball asks if he killed her and Firestar reassured him that she didn’t. LOL. No Speedball . . . you are not responsible for being blood thirsty or a killer . . . yet. They check on Nova who yells at Speedball but quickly apologizes and files off. Firestar and Speedball watch him fly off as they see through their friend’s arrogance as Firestar points out:
            “. . . None of his arrogance can cover up the amount of responsibility he puts on his own shoulders.
            Speedball: Imagine if We expected as much out of him as he expects out of himself? Aneurysm time.
            Nova flies in his skies as he is upset at yelling at Speedball and all the recent events of his brother losing a finger to Poison Memories and Namorita kissing him then flying away. He keeps thinking of what to do til he ended up go to see his date, Laura Durham. They meet up and start making out . . . Namorita who right?
            They go for a walk . . . from where I am not sure . . . to a restaurant? Okay. Rich tells Laura about Namorita . . . without saying he’s Nova and she’s Namorita. Til Supernova arrives to be that ultimate douche. Nova gives Laura a business card with a number to call and tells her to say that “Rich needs help.” Laura asks why and what is going on and Rich says he can’t. And the number . . . 212 – MANHATTAN?! Wow. Good one. After a chuckle happy look at Rich changing into his Nova uniform, he confronts Supernova.
            Over in the space remains of what was once Xandar, machines start to work . . . one of them saying Cloning. Oh wow. And over in another star system, Air Walker is in pain . . . all cause Supernova is back in reality. Firelord checks on Air Walker and tells him that Xandar’s computer is up They decide to go to earth, sensing the Nova Corp energies are all back in this universe.
            Supernova talks very loudly and argues with Nova, starting a battle. They talk and Nova gets angry enough to throw a Nova Burst . . . his first since my very first comic book storyline I collected, New Warriors’ Forever Yesterday. After that, Nova is exhausted and Supernova stated that either he give his powers to him or Supernova will destroy the planets.
            Meanwhile, the Warriors are running out to their helicopter, with Warriors’ pilot Spocket yelling at Rage when Firelord and Air Walker arrive. Night Thrasher orders the Warriors to get ready to attack. Firelord says that they are not a threat and are here as Xandarians, which they were before they became Galactus’s waiters. They tell of Supernova and tell the Warriors that Nova is DEAD.
            Next issue opens with Nova laying in Laura’s arms with him having nothing on but some kinda of ripped shorts that were pants. Okay . . . Bit of a continuity era. Last we saw Nova . . . he was in his NOVA UNIFORM. *sigh*
            Next we open to a splash page of the Warriors with Firelord and Air Walker standing over Laura and the . . .dead Rich Rider. Air Walker then walks over with ease stating that all he has to do is give Rich a little of his power cosmic to revive him. Air Walker was about to reveal that Rich was Nova, although the whole Xandar energies seems to have went over Laura’s head. Rich revives and gets up. Laura asks what is going on and who are these people. Rich says he can’t. Honestly, I don’t blame Rich for this is just after the whole Poison Memories deal. The Warriors leave with the heralds leaving Laura alone to cry.
            Out in Shi’ar space, Supernova, now containing all the power of the Nova Corps, goes all kinds of crazy and starts . . . destroying starships. Supernova is corrupted by the power and states that since Shi’ar didn’t help Xandar when it was attacked by Nebula, he will make them pay; by killing them. Yes . . . restore Xandar’s honor . . .BY KILLING OTHER RACES. Yes, you are such a wonderful son of Xandar, Supernova.
            Speaking of Xandar . . . we see one of the computers working haiving a baby  . . . in a box. WHAT?!
            Back on Earth, Hindsight Lad, aka the guy who blackmailed Speedball onto the team, goes over all the data they have on Xandar. Speedball reminds him that they already know it cause it came from Rich. Hindsight Lad asks when do they leave but Night Thrasher quickly dashes that and begins to say that he’s not even a part of the team. Rich tells the heralds to excuse the verbal battling when Firelord assume him that they have seen such stuff with the Avengers and Fantastic Four. They look after the data and realize that they could get the Xandarian World Mine, the master computer that can help make Xandar live again if they can get Supernova give off all his energy to the worldmind. Yet Nova asks what about getting his powers back. Air Walker stated that Xandar’s resurrection may depend that Rich never gets his powers back.
            Small little interlude as Namorita goes to Atlantis to see Namor. Yet she is barred from the city. When she angrily protests, the Grand Vizer comes out to say that she is a clone and is sick. Before she yells, she collapses, the Grand Vizer stating that she is sick.
            Two days pas as the Warriors are on the Firelord and Air Walker’s ship. As they follow the trail of Supernova’s destructive path. They meet up with Supernova and the battle begins. Well, kinda. Rich suits up to start fighting but Thrasher states they need to get their most powerful member to get Supernova down to a planet so everyone else can fight.  Firelord says he is ready when Thrasher says it is not him. Air Walker states that Firelord is stronger than him and Thrasher says not him either. Suddenly we see Firestar out in space with a suit cause the space having electromagnetic currents feeds her microwave powers and she can cut loose. Supernova laughs at Firestar . . . only to be blasted by  her onto a planet. The Warriors and the two Heralds join Firestar on an assault against Supernova. While they fight, Firelord explains to Supernova while he may have the power of Xandar, their late Queen, Queen Adora had placed the Nova prime energies and soul within Rich.
            WAIT . . .Queen Adora . . . whoa, She-Ra has come up in the universe. She went from Princess to Queen. YAY!!!
            Since Firelord gives Supernova that pearl of wisdom, Supernova grabs rich and disappears to Xandar. Back in Xandar, the cloned baby is all grown up and Queen Adora lives again . . .WHAT?! And she says that in order for Xander to live again, Rich is gonna have to die. Wow . . . second time told that.
            Supernova holds Rich in his grasp as they arrive in Xandar. Supernova boasts about how they will bring Xandar back to its rightful glory. Rich asks how to bring back the dead and what they are doing is just crap. Rich says that Supernova will kill them both. Firestar uses her powers to help generate a new star gate to go after Supernova with the rest of the Warriors. Back to Supernova, Supernova gives all the Nova Powers to Rich . . . and . . . merge together . . .not merge together . . . merge together . . . not merge together . . .
            Rich, now completely engulfed in the Nova Corps energies and . .. well, starts to go a little crazy. Not Supernova crazy but a bit dialed down. Rich states on how much the power is tearing him apart. Back on earth, the former Marvel Boy is given early release and Namorita is seemingly mutating according to Atlantean scientists. Nova explodes with power . . . destroying the ship. The Warriors walk up on one of Xandar’s sphere with Queen Adora saying that she brought them in and that their space suit saved them. Queen Adora then proclaims that if Xandar is to live . . . Rich has to die.
            Firelord and Air Walker are fighting Rich, trying to get him to discharge the energies of the Nova Force into the Xandarian Worldmind in order for it to be resurrected. Yet, Rich wants to hold on to the power and knocks back Firelord and Air Walker: stating that he is too powerful. The Shi’ar arrive with an armada and the Imperial Guard. Rich takes on the Shi’ar as the Warriors get a new ship with Queen Adora, whose color scheme has changed since last issue’s appearance. The Warriors and Queen Adora disembarks . . . with the Queen being the only one . . . WITHOUT A SPACE SUIT. HUH?
            Okay, Adora appears and Rich is shocked. But who can blame him, since she died YEARS AGO. Adora tells Rich that she was brought back to life cause of a failsafe. And we then got Rich asking how do you expect him to do that . . .WHAT? Do what? Then Adora says he must relinquish the Nova Force while Thrasher reassures him that they will try to get Rich into a space suit as quickly as possible. Rich starts on that he needs the powers to live but then decides that he won’t be defined by his powers and releases all the energy into the Xandar Worldmind, reliving the once dead world’s computers and Worldmind. Rich wakes up 3 days later, with the Warriors welcoming him. Rich asks how he is alive and the World mind and Queen Adora explain that they gave him enough of the Nova Force to revive him. So . . .Rich has died . .. 3 times in this 3 issue story arc. WOW, Marvel, WOW. Adora and World Mind have given Rich the rank of First Centrion Prime , basically the leader of the Nova Corps which they will rebuild in time and Rich is one again Nova, ending the comic with a new version of his costume and standing proudly.


            Okay. Before we get into this, I’d like to clear something up. First, I started collecting comics because of the New Warriors. 20 years ago, I had picked up New Warriors # 11 and X-Factor #67 and collected all of Forever Yesterday storyline in New Warriors, then collected the entire first volume with happiness. I grew up with the members of the original run of Warriors: Nova, Justice (then Marvel Boy), Namorita, Firestar, Night Thrasher, Speedball, Silouette, Rage, Darkhawk, Dagger, Cloak, Bandit, Turbo, Powerpax, Hindsight Lad, Scarlet Spider, Helix, Timeslip . . . these characters were all a part of a great group of heroes that I respected and loved. Volume 2 happened and I collected. Volumes 3 and 4 happened and the group was sooooo different. But I always loved this original group of characters. With that said,  there may be cause for alarm cause I may be biased of the work.
            Allow me to make you feel better in saying that my love for the characters will NOT stop me from putting a hole in this or any other comic if there are things wrong. And let me tell you . . . there are some issues with Starlost.
            First the good. And honestly, the only real good here for Starlost is the Art. Darick Robertson, Brandon McKinney and Larry Mahlstedt did a great job with the art within the 3 part story. Darick’s pencils and breakdowns are so very well done, conveying the emotions and epic proportions of the story with ease. You can tell that Darick has a great amount of ease that he feels with this characters back then. Rich’s stubble. Firestar’s . . .  Speed Demon like costume. Speedball’s hair. Darick makes each character stand out and show emotion easily without words.
            Brandon McKinney helps finish the pencils that Darick started for the final part of Starlost and does a great job. Larry Mahstedt is one of the most underrated inkers in the business. His inks are what helped get Mark Bagley up to the superstar status he earned. His ink help really bring out the best of any artists he works with. Letting the shadows be right for something emotional or something sinister with very obvious differences. Supernova was as epic as he needed to be. And Darick and Larry certainly made sure of it.
            Another thing that I do not mention often but I really loved about the book was the panel work. The panels for most of the storyline were very much different in order to really give the story its outer space feel. Just in New Warriors # 40, part 1 of Starlost, we got some great panel work with the art to show that Supernova was indeed lost in the time stream. The panels really showed us the beauty of  Darick’s artwork while showing the character’s emotion. This was done again when Nova was dealing with his fears inside Asylum. Excellent and visually appealing panel work that was set the book apart from many others in Marvel at that time. Kudos to Darick, Brandon and Larry for their wonderful work.
            Which gets to my gripes. The coloring was exquisite for Joe Rosas . . . with a few continunity hiccups that editing missed. First, Supernova’s out . . . is it navy blue or purple. This happened a few times during the arc. Queen Adora is another. At the end of Starlost part 2, her color scheme changed between that and the last part of Starlost . . . with no explanation. And a few times, it seemed he wasn’t as inspired to color as vividly as he did in Starlost part one but over all, Joe Rosas did a great job.
            Finally, my biggest gripe about this would have to be the story. Well not necessarily the story as a whole but the mistakes and continuity foul ups during Starlost. Fabian Nicieza is a good writer . . .even a great writer. But Starlost has some mistakes that holds it down. First, was during the transition between Starlost part 1 to Starlost part 2. Why was Nova dressed in full uniform at the end of part 1 but then in nothing but ripped jeans at the beginning of part 2. Did Laura strip him? Did Rich’s clothes burn up when Supernova took his powers? Did Rich get attacked by fangirls on the way down? WE DON’T KNOW! And it makes NO Sense. And while the whole cloning thing is kinda crazy  . . . how does a clone know everything that the original Adora did? Can someone tell me that? Okay. I can dismiss that one. Then there is the constant fact that we keep hearing that Rich has to die. During the course of Starlost, we hear that at least five times during the story. We get it . . . Rich has to die in order for Xandar to live. Well, at least the comic did not disappoint . . . killing Rich at least twice during Starlost. The first time at the end of Starlost part 1 and the second after Rich gave up all of the Nova Force to the World mind. You might want to count him being reborn with the Nova force too but that was a confusing sequence. Honestly, at first I thought Supernova and Rich had merged into one being but in honesty, Rich had been filled with all of the Nova Force while we learned that Supernova survived . . . off screen.
            Come on Nicieza. You can do better than that. For God’s sake, you just came off a great pay off from the whole Poison Memories storyline that had a hero’s family attacked unlike any other I had seen at the time. There were elements of Starlost that just seemed rushed. The bad transition between parts 1 & 2. Then the whole  Adora thing when Rich asks how she is alive then she explains then goes right to him talking about something else completely and finally, the whole quick ending of Rich releasing the powers and World mind is up again. It just seemed like Nicieza had more to tell with Starlost but it was cut.
            Nicieza is by no means a bad writer. Especially when it came to these characters who he had spent nearly 5 years with. He knows them well and Starlost was the vehicle that set up the new Nova ongoing (volume 2) back in 1993. The character development of the cast of the book was very solid over all. No one did seem to act differently. And Rich, being the main star of this tale, was given such good development and advancement of himself as a person and as a hero. The rest of the Warriors seemingly had bit parts but at the same time, they were not overshadowed by Firelord or Air Walker. The story itself was good if you look at the over picture of where it wanted to go.
            The fact that Nicieza gave a legitimate reason for Rich not to give Laura his identity and talking about him having feelings for someone else was refreshing. Whatever dialogue we got from the Warriors, we got a good grasp of their personalities. The scope of the story matched well to Rich’s history and how the group dealt with being in space was interesting.

            Overall, I had picked this story cause of the fact that last week was a war and the destruction of a planet. This was a story about the resurrection of a planet and a civilation. And since both Nova and Invincible are both around the same age during time of stories, it seemed to work very well for comparison.
   Yet, looking at both stories, Starlost had so much potential that was taken down thanks to continuity mistakes and not enough time to tell the story as it was meant to be. Nicieza does great with characterization but transitions were lousy during the story. Yet, the art was spectacular with great panel work and wonderful visuals. The coloring was inconsistent but still enjoyable.

So Comic Book Clash is gonna give New Warriors: Starlost, an X Division Contendship ranking. It was a good story and had lots of potential but had too many small continunity gaps and missing parts of story that could very well make this a World Heavyweight Contender.

Next Week: Our Cosmic Triple Threat ends with a trip to DC and . . . nah, that would be telling. 

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