New Warriors # 2

Posted by Mike McNulty, a.k.a. Stillanerd 12 March 2014

So last time, we got to meet most of the heroes who will eventually make up the fifth version of the New Warriors, including our not-so friendly Spider-Man clone, Kaine, and his teenage Aztec demigod sidekick, Aracely, who thinks they should be calling themselves Scarlet Spider and Hummingbird respectively while Kaine would rather drink pina coladas on a beach. We also got to see a group of humaniod looking automatons called the Evolutionaires under the direction of the High Evolutionar, whose goal appears to be exterminating any superhuman they happen to come across. Why? Well as we will see in this issue, they claim its for their own good.  

THE STORY
In New York City, we see a teenage kid on a subway who wears a hoodie to hide a horn protruding from his forehead. A little boy notices the horn on the kid and tries to tell his mom, when suddenly there's an explosion. The horned kid is able to catch the little boy as he falls, but the passengers—convinced he must be a mutant or an inhuman—blame him for what happened to the subway. The horned kid, protesting his innocence, flees deeper into the subway tunnels. He hears a commotion and finds Sun Girl protecting the Morlocks from the Evolutionaries as we saw in the last issue. 

Meanwhile, in New Salem, Colorado, Justice and Vertigo are defending themselves against more Evolutionaires, who claim the two of them must be eliminated as they're a “threat to humanity.” However, before they can vaporize Justice, Speedball arrives and is accompanied by the other members of Salem's Seven. Justice tells Speedball the situation and to keep the others back, but an enraged Bruticus tries to attack the Evolutionaires, only to be blasted to the ground. As the Evolutionaires continue their attack, they also take a genetic sample from Bruticus before Justice uses his telekinetic powers to repel them back.

One of the Evolutionaires face-plates is partly damaged, revealing that the Evolutionaires are not robots but humans, and say they were once chosen to save mutants but have to to be destroyed. Justice tries to demand answers from them, but the Evolutionaires say there is no point as “judgment is coming” and teleport away.
 
In Mexico, Kaine attacks Fiara Sar Namora, whom the recap page identifies as “Water Snake,” assuming that she killed the other Atlantiens. Water Snake, angry that she's been struck by an “air-breather,”counter-attacks with her staff and mentally manipulating the ocean water, trapping Kaine in a miniature water-spout to drown him. But Aracely, as Hummingbird, uses her powers to convince Water Snake that “it's okay to be afraid,” and Water Snake, freeing Kaine, pleads for them not to touch her. Aracely then tells Water Snake she and Kaine are the good guys, and tells Kaine Water Snake did not kill the Atlantians. Water Snake then explains how, as she was traveling to the undersea city of Lemuira in search for someone, the city was attacked by Deviants. Then, the Evolutionaires appeared and began killing indiscriminately both Atlanteans and Deviants, thus Water Snake decided to go to the surface world to seek help. Kaine, however, has no interest in helping Lemuira, saying he and Aracely are not heroes and do not want to get involved. However, three Evolutionaires emerge from the ocean and, after identifying what Kaine, Aracely, and Water Snake are, attack them.

Justice and Speedball arrive at the Avengers Tower in New York City and are greeted by the Avenger's butler, Jarvis. Jarvis tells Justice and Speedball that the Avengers are not home, but Justice tells him what they really came for was information in the Avenger's database and whether they still share information with the X-Men. Justice soon finds a recording from Cyclops made before the events of X-Men: Schism. Cyclops, in the file, explains how Utopia was attacked by the Evolutionaires and how their goal was the extinction of humanity. He then gives background information on them, that they were created by the Eternals during prehistoric times, that they were “pre-homo sapiens” given enhanced intelligence and highly-advanced armor. The Evolutionaires goal was to protect mutants by wiping out regular humans, believing that homo superior were “man's evolutionary successors.” Thus, according to Cyclops, the Evolutionaries are an extinction-level threat.

This, however, doesn't make sense to Justice since, if the Evolutionaries are supposed to be protecting mutants, then why were they attacking him since he, himself, is a mutant? Just then, the Avengers computer gets an alert of an explosion at the subway terminal (the same one Sun Girl investigated) and, after ruling out both contacting the Avengers and the Fantastic Four since both are out-of-town, Justice and Speedball decide to deal with it themselves.

In said subway tunnel, an exhausted Sun Girl is still protecting the Morlocks from the Evolutionaires. The Evolutionaires tells her to stand down as they are only trying to protect her. When Sun Girl demands an explanation, the Evolutionaires say they did not initially realize she was human, and that their mission is to protect her and other humans from mutants—by killing mutants. Sun Girl, however, says they're still killing innocent people and, telling the Morlocks to run, starts firing her lasers at the Evolutionaires. They, in turn, open fire, but the horned teenager from the beginning of the issue, appears and shields Sun Girl...and starts to literally eat the energy blasts. The Evolutionaires, identifying the teenager as an Inhuman, begin to charge themselves for another blast, and Sun Girl, believing they are about to die, asks the Inhuman for his name. The Inhuman tells her his name is Mark, and Sun Girl says her name is Selah and thanks him for trying to save her.

But at that moment, Justice and Speedball leap down from above. The Evolutionairs, determining there are now “too many targets,” teleport away. Needless to say, Sun Girl, stunned at first she and Mark are not dead, starts demanding answers.

Finally, we see Sam Alexander, aka Nova, waking up within Wundagore Mountain—the home of the slaughtered New Men from the first issue—and the High Evolutionary introduces himself. When Sam asks for why he's been brought here, the High Evolutionary explains he is “preparing for the cleansing.” It seems that the Celestials are returning to Earth to judge their creations, and, as the High Evolutionary explains, he and Nova “are the only hope for humanity's survival.”

THOUGHTS
I guess it's one of the consequences of modern comic book creators' tendency to “write for the trade,” but I find it irksome that, for a series about a team of superheroes, the latest incarnation of New Warriors still haven't fully formed even after two issues. Moreover, the plot still hasn't moved past the various heroes being attacked in random parts of the world, and while do learn why the Evoluntionaires are eradicating mutants, magic-users, and other “genetic anomalies,” it still feels as if events of this story haven't progressed much past the first issue. In some cases, it's already falling prey to repetition, as, for example, we get another scene of heroes fighting among themselves due to someone jumping to conclusions. Granted, we're starting to see the various heroes meet up with each other, but I believe they won't fully come together as a group until the fourth issue.

Yost also introduces us to the new Inhuman character, Mark, who, (just as the rest of the Marvel Universe has been doing with Inhumans since the aftermath of Infinity) is regarded with as much fear and suspicion that Marvel's mutants have been dealing with for decades; and we get to learn just who exactly Fiara Sar Namora and see her rather formidable powers in action. Thus, for these two, we already have an idea of just who they are and where they're coming from, and that's a big plus. However, Yost is also still trying to re-acquaint readers with the already established characters...or rather assumes we're already acquainted with them.  Let's face it, this is a series which deals with superheroes who are not as familiar compared to the likes of Spider-Man, the Avengers, or the X-Men—even amongst the more devoted of Marvel fans—so unless you've been a regular reader of the titles these various superheroes have previously been in, you're not really getting to know these characters. That's potentially harmful, in my opinion, for a new ongoing series attempting to jump-start an old franchise.

So it's ironic that one of the better moments of this issue is when we get some exposition who just who the Evolutionaires are, their history, and what their motives are, and done in an organic way. Also, even though it does rely on the common trope of having the other heroes be unavailable for whatever reason, it still makes all the sense in the world for Justice and Speedball to actually go to the Avengers Tower to look up information on who has attacked them.

I also appreciated the art by Marcus To, particularly the way he illustrated the fight between Kaine and Water Snake, even though I felt the reason for them fighting was forced. It was able to convey the power and skill Faira Sar Namora had and show, by having her fight someone as skilled as Kaine, just how formidable a warrior she is. The same goes for the look of the Evolutionaires, the way they are portrayed as silhouettes save for their golden face, chest and shoulder plates really conveys the sense these once primitive humans have succumbed to becoming such cold and calculating machines.

Just as I felt with the last issue, this is once again not bad, but not good, and in many ways, was also dull. Hopefully things will be picking up for next time and that this isn't a sign that the latest volume of the New Warriors doesn't become a lackluster series.

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