Why is this story from New Warriors #14 being billed mainly as a Darkhawk review? Because reasons. Specifically, because I’m doing it on my way through all the Darkhawk books. But Matt, you did Doctor Strange: Be With Me for the same reason and made a Doctor Strange logo, why don’t the New Warriors get a logo? Because Doctor Strange is getting a movie soon and there’s as much chance of the New Warriors getting a feature film as there is of me flying to it. But then, until a few years ago, I would have said the same thing about Guardians of the Galaxy and The Inhumans, so I guess that shows what I know huh?
So yeah, spoilers, I know very little about the New Warriors. I read them mainly in crossovers with other books, because Marvel did crossovers during the ’90s the way Washington DC did crack during the ’80s (re: a lot). I know them through Round Robin, I know them through Shattered Fates, I know them through Child’s Play. I know them through a frightening amount of not-really the best stories, is what I’m driving at here. But hopefully that’s not their fault, even though they are guilty of making sure Speedball continues to exist. Coincidentally: the term “speedball” is yet another thing the Warriors have in common with cocaine.
So: the story. We open on the docks, late at night. I don’t understand why city’s don’t just close the docks after 6PM. According to fiction, nothing good ever goes down there then. Anyway, Namorita (cousin of Namor, the Sub-Mariner) and Speedball have received an anonymous tip regarding some stolen goods being transported, and make quick work of the culprits. During the scuffle, one of the crates had burst open, and now Namorita recognizes its contents: Atlantian Artifacts. She barely has time to acknowledge this though, as she is interrupted by Darkhawk, who tells her to drop the stolen goods.
At this point we start the obligatory “heroes think each other are the villain and beat on each other” fight… except that in Speedball, of all people, cooler heads prevail. ‘Nita and Darkhawk only get a punch each in, before he throws himself between them, recognizing that ‘Nita is just upset by the artifacts and not thinking clearly, and that Darkhawk is too new to know the score.
And in checking out the publication date, yeah, this does look like it takes place very early in Darkhawk’s career. Specifically, right after Darkhawk Classic, when he still very much hadn’t figured out the type of hero he was going to be, if he was going to be one at all. So that fits.
Sadly, while they were fighting, the smugglers have gotten away on their speedboat. Being the only one who can fly, Namorita heads after them as Speedball and Darkhawk get to know each other, poking fun at how they each talk weird (as both are “animated” with different-from-normal speech balloons, a bit of a trend of the era.
At first ‘Nita striking off alone seems perfectly logical — they handled the smugglers no-issue, until she gets there and Jeremy Swimming Bear steps out of the shadows. This villain is better know by the name the “media” gave him: Sea Urchin. This does answer a question I had after looking at the cover: who the hell would call themselves Sea Urchin? It turns out, nobody, and being called it really pisses him off. He starts beating ‘Nita, so harshly that her blood is flying off his armored fists as he swings back. Yikes.
We then see ‘Nita’s beaten, bruised and slashed face, and watch as Swimming Bear scalps her. Holy crap!! I’m not entirely sure how Marvel got away with this, the imagery here is really disturbing. And — by the way — it’s pretty clear that Swimming Bear only took ‘Nita’s ponytail, but the art is left ambiguous and is meant to fool the reader. And honestly, if not for the fact that I’m reading this comic displaced 20 years in time, it would have.
We cut away to Nova, Night Thrasher and Silhouette, who have arranged a meeting so that Night Thrasher can make up for the way he treated Nova… by throwing him off a rooftop in New Warrirors #1?? I might have to read this book, that’s a little nuts. Nova accepts his apology and — as a token of friendship — Night Thrasher provides Nova with a new costume, the gold-and-yellow we the readers have been familiar with ever since. We then cut again to a sweet scene between Vance picking up Angel (Firestar) for their first date. As an outsider to the Warriors, I’d always just kind of assumed they came packaged together, but I suppose that’s not the case. They play off each other very sweetly. I’m getting the hint that this title — because of its myriad of characters — can move from epic and heart-pounding to sweet and sublime at the drop of a hat, and that’s very good writing and pacing.
Back to the main story, Darkhawk and Speedball have brought Namorita to the care of Namor, who tries to convince her not to go after Swimming Bear. Enraged that she was beaten so thoroughly — and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female comic-book character so completely beaten in this way — she dons Atlantian armor called the Blood Code Carapace, despite her cousin’s objections, and sets out to find blood vengeance: both for the wrongs committed against her, and the wrongs being committed against her people.
Namorita finds, attacks, and beats Swimming Bear — but her nature stops her short of killing him, and she leaves him with the mole in Project: Earth that made the tip to she and Speedball and started this tale. She makes her way back to Namor to return her armor and breaks down in tears that she was unable to spill the blood demanded of wearing it — that she can never be a true Atlantian or a true Human.
This is a great, well, written, powerful issue and I cannot wait to dig into the rest of the New Warriors and see what they’re all about.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“We then cut again to a sweet scene between Vance picking up Angel for their first date. As an outsider to the Warriors, I’d always just kind of assumed they came packaged together, but I suppose that’s not the case. They play off each other very sweetly.”