30 years of changing the world: Celebrating the anniversary of the New Warriors

Hear from writers, artists, editors and fans about the impact ‘New Warriors’ has had on them.

Special thanks to Doug Smith, who contributed additional reporting to this post.

Thirty years ago, comic shops were selling the first issue of a brand new comic book series starring a brand new Marvel Comics superhero team. The New Warriors starred a lineup of mostly forgotten and obscure characters by a creative team who had never launched an ongoing series before. Conventional wisdom at the time said the new series would fail. And yet, improbably, New Warriors not only survived, it thrived. At its peak, it was among the top 25 best-selling comics in North America and the United Kingdom.What was it about this underdog series that defied the odds?

Was it the characters? The book starred supporting characters like Namorita from Sub-Mariner and Marvel Boy from The Thing, and stars of previously cancelled comics like Nova and Speedball. Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief at the time, Tom DeFalco, assembled the team. He also included the abandoned co-star of the animated Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends TV show, Firestar, and a new character co-created with Thor artist Ron Frenz, Night Thrasher.

Was it the creators? Writer Fabian Nicieza inherited these characters and immediately embraced them as his own. The first two years of the book was tightly plotted out and featured sharp dialogue, humor, betrayal, adventure and surprise revelations. Artist Mark Bagley, initially inked by Al Williamson and later by Larry Mahlstedt, injected character-driven storytelling with fun action in every issue. After two years, Bagley was moved to Amazing Spider-Man and replaced with Darick Robertson, who brought his own dynamic and expressive storytelling visuals. Even 30 years later, the series is fondly remembered by fans and comic book professionals, even inspiring some of them to become professionals.

We reached out to a number of comic book writers, artists, retailers and others to hear in their own words what made the New Warriors so special to them. We also reached out to Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley, as well as the first editor on the series, Danny Fingeroth, and writer Evan Skolnick, who succeeded Nicieza as writer, to get their own thoughts on their time working on this secret classic.

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Binge-worthy Backlist Bonanza: Terry Moore’s ‘Strangers in Paradise’

Looking for something to read while stuck at home? The Smash Pages crew recommends a meet-up with ‘Strangers in Paradise.’

In the current climate, many industries are in a standstill as people isolate and wait out the coronavirus. The comics industry is no different, with Diamond Comic Distributors shutting down, leaving comic shops without a supply of new weekly comics.

With that in mind, we’ve introduced a new feature this week, Binge-worthy Backlist Bonzana. While new comics might not be arriving for a while, your local retailer, favorite online site, digital comics provider or even favorite creator can still supply older comics that you might not have read yet.

Today Corey Blake revisits old friends between the pages of Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise. Watch for more from the Smash Pages crew over the next days and weeks.

In this age of social distancing and isolation, there is a strong need to reconnect with old friends, fictional or otherwise. Cartoonist Terry Moore has an uncanny ability to create instant lifelong friends in his comics. His current project Five Years brings together characters from almost all of his previous comics into one storyline. As that series (and all comics) are forced into a pause, it’s a good opportunity to revisit old friends.

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Fresh Eyes on ‘Devil Dinosaur’ by Jack Kirby

In celebration of what would have been Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, Corey Blake journeys into The Valley of Flame.

Fresh Eyes is a column reassessing milestone stories in comic book history from a modern perspective. Do they hold up, and how might they resonate with today’s readers?

Devil and Moon Boy take a rare break in Devil Dinosaur #1 by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer

In the late 1970s, Jack Kirby made a triumphant return to Marvel Comics. Among his mini-line of new ideas and character, there was Devil Dinosaur, a prehistoric adventure series about a mighty red T-Rex and his best friend, an early human named Moon Boy. In celebration of what would have been Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, I sought out to read the comic series for the first time.

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Fresh Eyes on ‘Black Panther: Panther’s Rage’

Fresh Eyes is a new column reassessing milestone stories in comic book history from a modern perspective. Do they hold up, and how might they resonate with today’s readers?

Jungle Action #11 by McGregor, Graham and Janson

In the mid-1970s, the Black Panther starred in a sprawling 13-part epic called Panther’s Rage in the pages of Jungle Action by writer Don McGregor and artists Rich Buckler and Billy Graham. With promotion heating up for the 2018 Black Panther movie from Marvel Studios, it seemed like a good time to revisit this story. For me, it was the first time reading it.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Transience and forgotten memories

Do you remember yesterday? I often barely remember where I parked but I more or less know what I do day to day. In Transience, Leo Johnson and Ricardo Mo have assembled a collection of stories that build a world wrecked from amnesia.

In a unique science fiction premise, they’ve imagined a world where a series of biological attacks have left cities and towns around the world without the ability to form new memories. Each morning, people wake up with the previous day lost to them. Each story is set in a different city around the world where years have passed since the attack.

The creative teams tackling these stories often come from the location of their story, and make up an international team of collaborators that helped form this world.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Helm’s Hasan and Caballero break out with Eisner nomination

Last June, the high fantasy series Helm launched through Crookshaw Creative’s website. Less than a year later, it has been nominated for a prestigious Eisner Award in the digital comics category alongside industry luminaries such as Colleen Coover and Chris Roberson. (See the full list of Eisner nominations.)

Writer Jehanzeb Hasan and illustrator Mauricio Caballero’s enthusiasm for their work is infectious. We talked about creating a high fantasy world that mixes steampunk, the comic’s video game origins, the animation-style look and feel of Helm, and plans for a print edition. We also talked about coffee as inspiration and Scarlett Johansson.

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Ray-Anthony Height and Vito Delsante reunite for the return of Midnight Tiger

Announced at the recent Long Beach Comic-Con, artist Ray-Anthony Height and writer Vito Delsante revealed that the two will be teaming up to bring back Height’s superhero creation Midnight Tiger. The character’s comic book series was initially self-published before attracting the attention of Action Lab Entertainment, resulting in the publication of three issues in 2014.

Height and Delsante previously worked together on the Actionverse mini-series, which brought together a number of Action Lab’s creator-owned superhero series into one big collaborative story, including Height’s Midnight Tiger and Delsante’s Stray.

I reached out to both creators to find out more about the upcoming return of Midnight Tiger.

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Ignatz-nominee ‘A Small Revolution’ headed to print

Soaring Penguin Press has announced plans for the English-language publication of A Small Revolution by Boum. Nominated for Outstanding Online Comic in this year’s Ignatz Awards, A Small Revolution follows the young orphan named Florence who joins a revolution she’s too young to fully understand.

A Small Revolution is a story of dictatorship and revolution as seen through the eyes of a little girl, and her love for Boris Vian’s music,” explained Boum, the pen name for Samantha Leriche-Gionet of Montreal, Canada. Continue reading “Ignatz-nominee ‘A Small Revolution’ headed to print”

Superman and the Cure for Cancer

Everyone knows someone affected by cancer. Even Superman. But maybe he can do something about it.

Writer/artist Stephen Sonneveld has released Superman vs. Cancer, a 70-page webcomic where the Man of Steel goes to any length to finally stop this pervasive and all too common disease.

Obviously this is not an official DC Comics release. Described as “for portfolio purposes only,” Superman vs. Cancer is clearly not pretending to be canon, but its use of not only Superman’s mythology and the larger DC Universe contributes to a story that is emotionally resonant and affecting, even disarming.

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