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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Smash Pages Q&A: Danny Fingeroth

The writer and editor discusses his unauthorized biography of ‘the most famous person in comics.’

Danny Fingeroth has been working in comics for decades. A longtime editor at Marvel, Byron Preiss and Visionary Media, Fingeroth wrote comics like Darkhawk, Dazzler, Venom: Deathtrap – The Vault and Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, and wrote nonfiction books including Superman on the Couch and Disguised as Clark Kent. He’s also known to a lot of convention goers as one of the people who runs a lot of panels — interviewing and celebrating the creators who helped to invent comics at dozens of labels across the country. At the end of 2019 he came out with his biggest book to date, A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee. 

The biography of the late Stan Lee is unauthorized but affectionate, and tries to capture the man that Fingeroth got to know later in his life with the young man who has been written about at length. After reading the book, I asked Fingeroth a few questions about the project and how it fits in with his other work, including serving as chair of Will Eisner Week.

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