Open Mike Night: New Warriors (vol 1) #1 & Morbius the Living Vampire #4

New Warriors #1

Written by: Fabian Nicieza
Pencilled by: Mark Bagley
Inked by: Al Williamson
Colored by: Michael Rockwitz
Lettered by: Michael Heigler
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $1.00 ($1.99 on Comixology)

Maillaro: Before we get started here, I just want to thank Marvel and Comixology for the ridiculous 700 free issue 1 giveaway. Granted there were a few hiccups, but once things got sorted out, this was a great way for readers to check out new books or revisit some old favorites. New Warriors: Beginnings was actually one of the first trades I ever read (I still have mine bought way back in the early 90’s).

Funny thing is that when I first read New Warriors, I really thought they were basically all new characters…except for Firestar who I knew from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. The more I read comics and saw that most of these characters had been around and just never gained much of a following, the more impressed I was by what Nicieza and Bagley built here.

Maybe I just have a warped sense of humor, but I always wanted to see a quick “What If Night Thrasher was wrong about Richard Rider?” which is just this panel

Followed by SPLAT!

Weaver: On the other hand, I’ve never read a New Warriors comic before, unless you count Civil War. If I remember correctly, Firestar appeared in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends before she ever showed up in a comic because the initial pitch involved using Human Torch, who had some weird rights issues going on at the time. Still, most of these guys didn’t have a huge following before New Warriors…I mean, Nova had a solo series that died pretty quickly, and the rest basically showed up as guest stars in various titles. What’s also interesting is how many of them were inferior versions of established heroes, like Namor and Vance Astro, and yet none of them were ever sidekicks, unlike Teen Titans.

Rich Rider pizza would have been a great opening to the book. It would have saved us from that terrible red costume he’s using.

This book tries to be full of clever references, and does decently, I particularly liked the Joseph Heller one. But when you try to market yourself as clever like that, you shouldn’t make as glaring an error as page five’s blurb talking about 3 kids getting cancer and another five getting leukemia. Leukemia is a form of cancer. But beyond that, the hits are much more numerable than the misses, so I can forgive it.

Maillaro: Yeah, I was surprised by all the quirky references in this one. I definitely did not remember that from my earlier reads. It’s not something Nicieza normally tries to do. I guess at the time, it was an attempt to make the characters seem hip and relevant, but a lot of the references would have been dated even then, much less reading it 20 years later.

I am also kind of amused that Night Thrasher felt that the team he recruited: himself, Nova, Firestar, and Marvel Boy would have been enough to have any real impact on the superstitious and vicious criminal lot Night Thrasher was trying to take out.. New Mutants was the same way with several key characters being added AFTER Xavier’s initial recruiting. I bet most people don’t realize that Cannonball was actually the villain of the first issue, not one of Xavier’s intentioned recruits.

There are definitely some growing pains in this issue that they would recover from quickly. New Warriors seems off to a slightly shaky start, though I do love the fact that we get to see the whole team introduced, recruited, and fight Terrax, all in the same issue. These days, that would be an 25 issues arc…

Weaver: Slightly untrue…Cannonball was a member in the first issue of New Mutants, but not in their Graphic Novel debut. Lots of teams function like that, notably Captain America on the Avengers and Wolverine on the X-Men. There’s always those guys that weren’t there at the start that turn out to be the key members of the team that everyone knows.

It does seem like he got a huge gift in random firepower, although I have to assume part of why he wanted to keep it with who he initially had was that he felt some measure of control over them. Marvel Boy really wanted to “belong.” Nova was happy to have his powers back. Firestar was apparently mega easy to bribe and extort. Namorita…well, Atlanteans aren’t really known for their willingness to follow directions.

I did like seeing them all in action in the first issue, that’s definitely something that we don’t get enough of now. I wonder if part of that may be that Nicieza and Bagley knew that they needed to throw everything into this to make people want to buy the next issue since none of the characters were even B-list, much less A.

Oh, speaking of references, Legion of Substitute Avengers!

Weaver: Fair point on the New Mutants graphic novel, you pedantic twit. What is really weird is that this actually wasn’t the New Warrior’s first appearance. They had already debuted as a team in Thor #411 and #412 where they helped Thor defeat Juggernaut. This would be the same tactic Marvel would use with the Thunderbolts a few years later when they first appeared as a team in Incredible Hulk #449. Wonder if that is just odd coincidence or something Nicieza just likes to do.

One thing that did kind of disappoint me is the art on this issue. Some of the panels were real scant on details.

It’s really not what I expect from Mark Bagley…though at the time he was drawing both New Warriors and Amazing Spider-Man at the same time. And Amazing Spider-Man seemed to like doing two issues a month every summer, so his work load had to have been ridiculous.

Weaver: Additional pedantry time: Busiek created the Thunderbolts, but he did it with Bagley, so you could put it on that half of the creative force.

I felt the art was pretty sloppy too. Also, and I want to reiterate this is for the digital version released on comixology…the colors seemed really overpowering. Sometimes that’s just what happens when an old school comic is converted to new school inks, but it was especially painful here.

Maillaro: I am just not having a good fact checking day. ::chuckle:: Nicieza came on Thunderbolts later on. DUH!

Yeah, some of the colors are a little odd…like the aforementioned “Red Nova.” My Beginnings trade is buried in the crawlspace (and no, that is not a freaky sexual euphemism), so I can’t compare. For the most part, I still really enjoyed this issue, but it definitely wasn’t the classic I remembered it to be.

By the way, Marvel is doing a massive hardcover Omnibus of the 26 issues of New Warriors and some additional comics (like the Thor issues, the Kings of Pain annual crossover, the Hero Killers annual crossover). $100 bucks, though you can get it on Amazon for $62. Kind of surprises me…I don’t think New Warriors still has that strong a following where they can sell a lot of these. Probably would have been better off doing some cheapie Essential trades.

Hmmm…writing 3.5/5. Art 3/5. Some of the panels were great, some of them were bad. But I am giving the artist the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Weaver: I see this as a relic of its time. It was probably actually a lot better when it first came out…unfortunately, we aren’t in those glory days anymore. I’ll go ahead and call the writing a 3, but you’re not going to convince me the art deserves more than a 2.

Maillaro: Brutal, but I have to admit, it probably deserves it. All right, on to Morbius!

Morbius: The Living Vampire #4

Written by: Joe Keatinge
Art by: Richard Elson
Colored by: Antonio Fabela
Lettered by: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99

Weaver: Morbius is the best series that no one’s reading. I love this book. They’ve built up Brownsville really well, and now a top secret supervillain base in the middle of New York…sort of. This comic has great characters, great setting, and just…it’s great. Every issue is fantastic, and this one is no exception.

The dialogue is always top notch, and this had one of the best secret reveals that you later discover was telegraphed but had no idea. The villain mentions kids wanting to move into Brownsville and become kingpins…and it turns out he’s the Rose, a name first taken by the Kingpin’s son.

Maillaro: This issue was brilliant. My one concern about Morbius has been that I wasn’t sure there was a lot of long term story telling to be told…especially since Morbius seemed to have killed the biggest threat facing Brownsville. I was very surprised to see that the first three issues had subtly been laying down the ground work for something much bigger. I am not sure, but I think that is the real Rose. I loved his comment about having no interest in Shadowland or Madripoor. Granted, I am not sure that Brownsville really would be the crown jewel of any criminal empire, but that is just a small detail that I can easily ignore.

Mr Weaver actually convinced a mutual friend of ours to give Morbius a read. We are working to build up the fan base of this book…one person at a time if need be!

Weaver: Still hilarious I got the credit for that.

Anyway, are you kidding me? The advantages of a Madripoor-ish situation less than a mile from Superhuman Central NYC are huge. If the Rose can get a massive criminal power base that close to the crown jewel of the Marvel Universe, man. Think of what criminals would be willing to do to have essentially free reign to go punch the Avengers and take a quick cab ride to no man’s land.

Maillaro: But that’s the thing, it’s New York, not a foreign country with foreign laws. I imagine Daredevil or Spidey would have no problem catching a cab to Brownsville to pop Tombstone in the mouth if he decided to try hiding in the Eli’s Diner. Well, okay they might have to walk…I guess the cabs wouldn’t run to Brownsville…but that is sort of beside the point here…

Weaver: I live in Detroit, right? Theoretically we’re still in the United States, but believe me, there are places where the rules are off. While Spidey could swing to Brownsville probably, the danger that he’s going to end up with more than he bargained for exponentially increases the further into Brownsville he would get. I know Daredevil thinks he’s all hard hanging out in Hell’s Kitchen, but if the Rose’s plan goes through, Hell’s Kitchen would be nothing compared to Brownsville.

But back to the name of the Rose, I think this is the most recent Rose, the one who gave Jackpot powers during Brand New Day, since he’s talking up genetically modifying St Germain and such. I don’t think it’s the original Rose, who I’m pretty sure is dead anyway.

Maillaro: You do not live in Detroit, you live in Ypsilanti…just saying…

Wow, I didn’t even know there had been four Roses…or that Richard was dead (killed by his own mom…damn that’s rough). Now that you say that, you are right, Philip Hayes makes much more sense.

I love that the death of Noah seems to have caused a huge power vacuum with Morbius stuck in the middle. It really helped up the stakes on this already great book. I have to admit, I am more than a little worried about all the “friends” (and some of the enemies) Morbius has made in his short time in Brownsville. You definitely get the sense that no one is going to be safe in whatever comes next, and what better way to show “shit get real” then put some innocent (and not so innocent) bystanders in mortal danger.

Definitely a 4.5/5 for the writing on this one.

The art on Morbius is still gorgeous, with a terrific muted color palate that works so well. I do think they have toned down some of the more unique panel layouts and splashes of narration from the first issue, but that doesn’t take away from how original Morbius has been. Along Scarlet Spider and Venom (not to mention the terrific Superior Spider-Man), this is probably the best line up of Spider-related comics I’ve ever seen.

Weaver: Would that I still lived in Ypsilanti. That’s still a hard town compared to where I actually live. I’m totally talking out of my ass (although I do actually drive around Detroit Proper on a fairly regular basis).

I’m going to side with you on the writing, 4.5. This book has been developing nicely, and almost has that Claremont/Byrne X-Men feel where you think a story is over and then it just explodes all over the place. I do want Morbius to end up with some kind of solid win here, though, since I’m liking the guy a lot.

I still see some neat art things. There’s a panel where the smoke from a gun barrel wafts into neighboring panels that I really enjoyed.

It’s not as great as it was in issue #1, but I think it’s still solid 4/5 material.

Maillaro: Hmm….I am actually not sure I “like” Morbius all that much. He’s kind of an asshole… But I am with you, I really hope he gets some wins every now and then…again, I am reminded of Scarlet Spider.

Yeah, I would still give the art and design a solid 4/5 too! There was nothing here I didn’t like, I was just a little (very little) sad that it seemed to have lost a little of what make the first issue so eye grabbing.

And with that, I think we are finished with another column!

Weaver: Before we go, what’s on the agenda for next week? It’s up to you, brother.

Maillaro: JMS has a new title launching from Image called Ten Grand which looks pretty cool. I actually was thinking of doing this week’s Scarlet Spider…it was a real clever stand alone issue.

Weaver: Works for me!

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
New Warriors #1 3.5 3 3 2
Morbius: The Living Vampire #4 4.5 4.5 4 4

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