Title: New Challengers.
Writer(s): Scott Snyder & Aaron Gillespie.
Penciller(s): Andy Kubert & V Ken Marion.
Inker(s): Klaus Janson & Sandu Florea.
Colourist(s): Brad Anderson & Dinei Ribeiro.
Letterer(s): Deron Bennett.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: December 24th 2018.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
DC Comics’ The New Age of Heroes line-up is drawing to an end with multiple runs getting axed and leaving those stories unfinished as their quality wasn’t up to par with anyone’s standards and as they had a tough time to truly find a niche or a lifeline to hold onto. With so many of the newly introduced characters and groups of superheroes presenting evident resemblances with Marvel’s property, it was only a matter of time before things went haywire and the ensemble of writers and artists were reallocated to much more substantial comic book series. Following the aftermath of DC’s latest cosmic event in Dark Nights: Metal, a whole new volume of threats surfaced from the dark multiverse only for new and old heroes to rise to the occasion and start their own legacy alongside the long-established line of superheroes we all know and love. Collecting issues #1-6, New Challengers is the before last series part of The New Age of Heroes that was prematurely abandoned and that will not have more to tell than what it offers fans here.
New Challengers (Vol. 1) follows the story of five misfits who are given a second chance at life by a mysterious individual who goes by the name of “The Professor”. Working on borrowed time, they are to explore some of the strangest and darkest regions of the multiverse in hopes of finding pieces of a powerful artifact that controls the dark frequency. As they learn to work with each other, they quickly find out that they aren’t, however, the only ones who are tasked with a life-threatening mission. With the world on the brink of extinction, if they do not successfully accomplish their assignment, these five adventurers find themselves kick-starting a team of heroes that was long-lost in history without knowing what they are getting themselves into.
The first noteworthy remark that needs to be addressed is the creative team on this project. Having Eisner Award-winning superstar writer Scott Snyder and legendary artist Andy Kubert was enough to reanimate a dead corpse with the amount of electrifying creativity these two can come up alone. What however dims it all down is the fact that they’re working on a New Age of Heroes title that got quickly canceled. New Challengers also turns out to be a reboot of a team of superheroes that never truly got time to breathe known as The Challengers of the Unknown. Unverifiably credited as Jack Kirby’s creation, this team-up is known to go up against some of the most paranormal creatures throughout time. But does this all-star creative team manage to successfully revamp them in this latest story arc? Yes and no. While we won’t be getting more of these new heroes, this volume contained incredible potential that merits this title a second chance. Where it truly fails is in its narrative structure. Not only is there too much crammed into this volume, but it also bounces around from one timeline to another (past and present), it explores different time periods (prehistoric, unknown, etc.), all the while covering the origin story of all the different characters—which totals to more than five different unmemorable heroes. This story simply had no hopes to ever capturing anyone’s attention with the way it was structured.
While it might have been one of the most chaotic and messy stories I’ve ever enjoyed reading, I strongly believe that the artwork played a huge role in keeping me hooked from cover to cover. This is a beautiful example of how different writers and artists are able to work together and make it impossible for readers to distinguish one from another. And with Andy Kubert’s art style always being eye candy for me, it was even more of a pleasure when V Ken Marion was able to deliver a consistent style that made it impossible to know who drew what. I simply loved how detailed and colourful their designs were, especially when it came down to the action sequences that sometimes were much gorier than I would have ever thought possible for this flagship title. The seamlessness of these artists’ work is also present in the writing style of both Scott Snyder and Aaron Gillespie who deliver solid dialogues, although the structure haunts the overall execution. It’s also worth mentioning that this story is filled with some of the easiest cliches imaginable, but aren’t impressive enough to annoy me in the end.
New Challengers (Vol. 1) is the reboot of a DC title that delivers stunning artwork with a confusing and convoluted plot about a group of misfit superheroes and their hunt for mysterious powerful artifacts.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and DC Comics for sending me a copy for review!