Marvel.com dropped a 90’s bomb on us this week with the announcement of the line-up for Freeform‘s upcoming “New Warriors” series! Fans of the 90’s super team may be surprised by the roster and the premise but the choices make a lot of sense given the tone of the show. “New Warriors” has always been a title that subverted expectations and this show doesn’t seem to be an exception. Ten episodes are coming in 2018. Prepare yourself with knowledge!
Who are the New Warriors?
Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming team from Marvel.com:
Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl)
Superpower: “The powers of a squirrel, the powers of a girl” (is acrobatic, strong, can fight, can talk to squirrels)
Doreen is a totally empowered fangirl. She is a natural leader—confident and tough, but not innocent. Doreen is bouncy and energetic and her greatest quality is her optimism… She has faith in others and inspires people to believe in themselves. She also takes her pet squirrel, Tippy Toe, everywhere.
Craig Hollis (Mister Immortal)
Superpower: Cannot die. Ever. Maybe. So he says.
The team troublemaker and lothario… Craig is kind of like “The Most Interesting Man Alive,” except he’s more cocky than confident and at times, charmingly grumpy. Although Craig’s superpower seems amazing, he hasn’t made use of it at all—he’s lazy and figures if he has all the time in the world to learn how to fight, what’s the rush?
Dwayne Taylor (Night Thrasher)
Dwayne is a local celebrity “hero” with his very own YouTube channel. Brilliant, strong, noble, and maybe a bit full of himself, Dwayne is a shameless self-promoter and entrepreneur. But he also deeply believes in justice — at least his version of it. Dwayne hides the fact that he comes from a really rich family because he’s afraid he’ll lose his street cred.
Robbie Baldwin (Speedball)
Superpower: Can launch kinetic balls of energy
Robbie grew up watching Quinjets take off from Avengers Tower and loves the idea of being a hero. He’s an impulsive and immature people-pleaser with a misplaced sense of confidence. Although you would think throwing kinetic balls of energy would be awesome and effective – his are completely out of control.
Zack Smith (Microbe)
Superpower: Can talk to germs
Zack is a shy hypochondriac whose ability nearly makes him a telepath — the germs tell him where you’ve been, what you ate and who you hung out with. It’s impossible to keep secrets around him. He’s a big sweet guy the team takes under their wing, and they help him find and grow his own confidence.
Deborah Fields (Debrii)
Superpower: Low level telekinetic; trickster
Deborah is proud, funny and quick witted. Confidently out as a lesbian, Deborah has experienced deep loss in her personal life as a direct result of super “heroics.” She can take care of herself, or at least says she can. She’s the one who calls people on their BS and has no fear of putting her opinions out there.
What’s New Warriors About?
So, here’s how Freeform pitches the series (from Freeform’s 2017 Upfronts):
“Marvel’s New Warriors” is a new comedic live-action adaptation of the popular Marvel comic featuring young adult heroes. This marks Marvel’s first foray into comedy for a television series. “Marvel’s New Warriors” is about six young people with powers living and working together. With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of The Avengers, the New Warriors want to make a difference in the world … even if the world isn’t ready. Not quite super, not yet heroes, “Marvel’s New Warriors” is about that time in your life when you first enter adulthood and feel like you can do everything and nothing at once – except in this world, bad guys can be as terrifying as bad dates.”
Wait, What? Let’s break this down…
As an OG New Warriors fan, my hackles started to rise until I thought it through a bit. This team comes from one particular version of the New Warriors and not the one comics fans know (or like) best. Fan favourites have been left out…some for obvious rights reasons (mutants like Marvel Boy/Justice and Firestar, MCU characters like Nova…and I think Fox has Namorita as part of Fantastic Four/Namor) but others seem like an oversight. No Rage? Where’s Darkhawk at? I like my 90’s properties obscure and arcane, durn it.
“Not quite super, not yet heroes” is a perfect encapsulation of the original 90’s series. From their “Teen-Titan“-sy introduction in an issue of Thor to the Avengers stealing credit for their first super villain bust, the New Warriors have always been perceived (diegetically and non-diegetically! So meta!) as the farm team for teen heroes – a perception the team -and readers – are meant to chafe at. Plus, bad dates were a steady feature of the original series. See Justice and Firestar’s awkward first date or Namoirta’s one night stand…that leads to tragic and disastrous consequences for the whole team (The Family arc in issues 37-39…one of the high points of the series). So, there’s one point for Freeform.
“New Warriors want to make a difference in the world … even if the world isn’t ready,” is another fine encapsulation of the original series. Although pitched as more socially minded (which, in 90’s terms meant environmentalism and hamfisted anti-racism), the team’s politics were front and centre in the book. Sometimes played for laughs, sometimes the hinge for villains (like the eco-extremest team, Force of Nature – a sorta inverted planeteers with elemental powers), sometimes the centrepiece of a plot-line (like Marvel Boy/Justice’s trial for killing his father in self-defence – another groundbreaking story). Two points, Freeform.
“With powers and abilities on the opposite end of the spectrum of The Avengers” is where we’re gonna have some problems with 90’s fans. The New Warriors’ powers were always on par with other teen heroes, if not their adult counterparts. Night Thrasher was basically Batman (with a skateboard…becuase 90’s…), Nova had long been a cosmic powerhouse, Firestar’s powers were easily the equal of heroes like the Human Torch and she’d had training as a Hellion (by Emma Frost, no less, in the X-Men spin-off, New Mutants) that let her wield them with deadly accuracy. Speedball and Justice kind of played the low/useless power card…but developed proficiency and confidence over time.
This low/dumb power set up is probably imported from Great Lakes Avengers, the source for Mr. Immortal and fan-favorite Squirel Girl (yeah, I know she didn’t debut in the title but c’mon…how deep do you wanna go here?). The GLA was Marvel’s own Mystery Men (see Dan Slott’s amazing GLA: Misassembled from 2005) and created as an intentional parody of the Avengers. Even given the more comedic tone of the Warriors’ reality show miniseries, this is kind of a let down…although probably a relief to the show’s producers; effect shots don’t come cheap. Either way, minus one, Freeform.
“This marks Marvel’s first foray into comedy for a television series.” is kinda the hanging question and problem for New Warriors comics fans. The recent (2005 is still recent right? – Old Man Szpirs) comedy take on the team represents six issues out of the team’s canon. It was a cool deviation from the series’ usual format and the characterisation was spot-on…but due to this particular iteration’s inclusion in the classic Civil War crossover, it’s sort of eclipsed what the team is generally about…which to say, New Warriors is not generally a comedy series. Unless Freeform gets the tone just right, they may come off as railroading the New Warriors into the Great Lakes Avengers’ role – the parody knock-off Avengers…which would be a disservice to the rich storytelling that made the team a name in the first place. There’s a reason why we’re not seeing a Force Works series. Jury’s out, Freeform. Tread lightly.
I am equal parts hope and fear on this. What say you, Geeks? Leave a comment!
#marvel #newwarriors #freeform