I probably shouldn't have read Defiant by writer Kevin Grevioux and artist Paco Medina when I did. I'd recently taken in a lot of pop culture dealing with themes of "otherness" and the evils of colonialism, and the story in this trade paperback, which reprints the first six issues of The New Warriors rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know that I've really read anything else by Grevioux, but the lack of research and the consequential taking for granted of a boatload of Marvel's mutant history and symbolism has alienated me from reading anything else from him.
Paco Medina's art in this book kind of looks as though Terry Dodson his the sauce and went home to draw; here, I am thinking of the panels where Jubilee confronts Sofia in the alleyway behind the diner where she works to try to enlist her to the team. Jubilee is drawn tall and busty; one cannot believe this is the same short character drawn by Chris Bachalo in Generation X or Olivier Coipel in X-Men. Speaking of Jubilee, because this is an X-book disguised as a New Warriors comic, I'm a little surprised that Jubilation Lee's work as a counselor in Generation M. The depowered Stacy X is also a member of this team. Like Jubilee, she appeared in Generation M, but retained her serpentine appearance in that book in spite of losing her powers, even as Chamber had to be put on life support because the loss of his powers left him without a lower jaw and with a gaping hole in his chest.
There is really no explanation for the radical changes to any of those characters, and Grevioux's explanations that Angel and Beak are beautiful sans mutation runs contrary to the underlying rhetoric behind all mutant titles since Lee and Kirby's X-Men, an analogy for civil rights in the United States: without their powers, mutants not only look like everyone else, they look better. I suspect this is unintentional, because it is the worst pro-colonization/assimilation messages I have ever read. One winces when you consider the deeper implication that having lost the genetic x-factor that some Marvel mutants have celebrated because it made them unique--the powers that simultaneously made them social pariahs in the United States--the former mutant herein use technology to simulate powers, and all of the tech is derivative from other heroes and villains. For example, Longreach uses hydraulics derived from the Stilt-Man, while Ripcord/Stacy X has webshooters, as well as equipment coopted from Slyde and Leap-Frog. So, having lost both that which was deeply tied into their own identities, the New Warriors co-opt the identities of others to re-enter hero culture. The underlying philosophy in Grevioux's story is kind of perverse and racist when you read this in context to every Marvel comic that promotes mutants as symbols of diversity and cultural awareness. Alright, the twisting of the mutant metaphor aside, let's look at the rest of this comic. I have to say that I found Sofia to be an extremely sympathetic character, and that it was fun to read about her life without powers. She was still a hero in significant ways, taking food to the elderly homeless man on her way to work, and not allowing the loss of her mutant powers to ruin her life. The new Zodiac team was visually okay, though they could have been any one of the innumerable cadre of supervillains running around the Marvel Universe. There wasn't anything astrology-based to their plans like in appearances by previous incarnations of the group. The Zodiac attack doesn't even seem to be the central point of conflict in this story, which I am okay with, as it seems to focus on Sofia and the mystery of Dwayne Turner's apparent survival after the events of Civil War #1. Still, I wish the villains' appearance had been more meaningful. Marvel editorial allowed them to be killed off in their next appearance (Dark Reign: Zodiac), so apparently, there were no long-term plans for this team.
All in all, the bad outweighs the good, and I didn't like it. Read it for yourself and feel free to comment or PM me your own opinions. Echo chambers are boring and I look forward to hearing from you. Neghead OUT.