New Warriors (4th series) #5

Issue Date: 
December 2007
Story Title: 
Defiant: part 5

Kevin Grevioux (writer), Paco Medina (pencils), Juan Vlasco (inks), Marte Gracia (colors), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters), Nic Klein (cover), Anthony Dial (production), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The New Warriors and the entire world are in shock. As the Zodiac member known as Cancer has just killed Longstrike on national television. Still, the battle continues and, with the surprising aid of Sofia, the Warriors manage to hurt the Zodiac enough for them having to retreat. However, their leader Scorpio unleashes a final blast on the Warriors, which badly injures Sofia, and warns they’ll continue this some other time. The Warriors fear for Sofia’s life, but must leave them to parademics as SHIELD is already on their way. While the Warriors depart, they are unaware of being watched by a shadowed person who leaves the moment they do. Left behind, Sofia finds herself in Heaven, where she is reunited with her mother. However, Sofia’s mom points out that it isn’t Sofia’s time yet as she still has much to do. In truth, Sofia lies unconscious in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors who are unsure of her chances. Later, the events of the battle are covered in the local newspapers, as well as the attention of reporters Sally Floyd and Kat Farell. At a café, the two ladies take it up on themselves to learn more about the New Warriors and their true identities. Meanwhile, Detectives Skykes and Givens continue their investigation and question Storm and the Black Panther at the Baxter Building. After they question T’Challa on the large parts that were shipped to the Warriors on behalf of his subsidiary companies, T’Challa gives the detectives a device with all the data they will need for their investigation. Elsewhere at the Warriors’ compound, Phaser and Skybolt quarrel heatedly over the death of Phaser’s sister until they are stopped by Night Thrasher. He announces that he feels personally responsible for having lost Longstrike and almost causing Sofia to die as well. He refuses to see any more lives lost and therefore intends to disband the team, effective immediately!

Full Summary: 

“Though they go mad…

…they shall be sane.

Though they sink through the sea…

…they shall rise again.

Though lovers be lost…

…love shall not.

And death shall have no dominion.”

Downtown Manhattan…

Blackwing, Tempest, Wondra and Night Thrasher stand in silent shock at what has just happened: Cancer has killed their teammate, Longstrike! And the awful event has been witnessed a host of bystanders, as well as all watching on national TV. Among their number are Tony Stark and Ms. Marvel, who are equally shocked. Through gritted teeth, Tony can only mutter, “Not again.”

At the center of attention, Phaser cradles his deceased sister, Christine, in his arms, and cries.
“Murderer,” mutters. A moment later, he repeats the accusation as he drops Christine and fires a powerful blast from his chest. The blast hits Cancer, but she only seems to be absorbing it, laughing all the while and calling Phaser “foolish.” She fires a blast in response, but Phaser is saved when Night Thrasher tackles him out of the way, ordering Phaser to get down. Cancer continues to shoot and almost hits Tempest, who gets rescued by Blackwing.

Meanwhile, Ripcord is still facing Taurus, who grabs Ripcord’s tentacles and swings her through the air. When Taurus releases, Ripcord is tossed away, falling against Decibel. Taurus then slams his huge fists into the ground, causing a small earthquake and shattering the pavement. Debris flies through the air and the New Warriors do their best to find some cover. Meanwhile, Tempest still clings to Blackwing’s neck as they fly away, and he fears they won’t make it. Tempest suddenly notices a huge piece of debris behind which to hide and points it out to Blackwing, who lands behind it so they can catch their breath.

The Zodiac laugh at the Warriors. Scorpio says they don’t have time for this. He opens a portal as he wants to go get the others. Sofia keeps looking at the battle and thinks about what to do. Nearby, police officers have gathered, but they too realize this is getting bad. One of them receives a dispatch that said SHIELD is on its way.

Nearby, Phaser still can’t believe the Zodiac killed his sister. Night Thrasher warns Phaser to get himself back together. He’s thinking. Thrasher asks everyone for their status. Wondra takes cover behind the wall where Tempest and Blackwing are as well. As the Zodiac continues to fire at them, Wondra reports that the Zodiac have them pinned. Tempest reports she is changing the batteries in her metal arms and needs some time. Phaser continues fighting the Zodiac but indicates he only has something of five rounds left before his weapons are out of power.

Suddenly, a kid on a bike shouts the Zodiac they can’t mess with the New Warriors like this: they take care of their own. The youth intends to prevent Scorpio from stepping through his portal. Aeries notices this and coldly fires some bolts at the kid, destroying his bike and knocking him out.

Incensed, Sofia steps over the police barriers and ignores their calls to come back. Her name is Sofia Mantega, he thinks as she leaps over debris. She used to be the mutant named Wind Dancer. She was an X-Man. A hero. Those days are over, but it has taken her until now to realize that even though she can no longer fly, nor control the wind… she will always be able to dance!

Sofia quickly runs towards Scorpio, and kicks him hard in the face! Blackwing and Ripcord see it happening and can’t believe their eyes. Sofia continues to hit Scorpio, who curses at her. The various news reporters see it too and keep their cameras on the surprising turn of events. As Sofia grabs Scorpio from behind, twisting her apron around her eyes, the Zodiac leader continues firing his energy blast, but is so disoriented that he doesn’t see where he fires, and accidentally hits Taurus.

Night Thrasher is glad that Sofia bought them some time. He orders everyone to execute code “Red Dog 44”… now! Phaser unleashes a powerful green light, causing two Zodiac members to go blind. Simultaneously, Skybolt, Wondra, Decibel, Blackwing and Tempest gather around and unleash their combined powers on the Zodiac, hitting most of them. As Skybolt fires some blasts from his gloves, Tempest traps some of their opponents in ice.

Meanwhile, Sofia helps the kid up and warns him to get out. She manages to do that, but is then attacked by a blast which hits her from behind. Night Thrasher sees it happening and calls our Sofia’s name as she collapses. A moment later, Wondra picks up a car and leaps high into the air, smashing it down on Taurus. As she then proceeds to hit Taurus repeatedly, she yells that that Sofia was her friend.

Scorpio realizes there is nothing more he and his team can do there. He unleashes a teleportation portal around himself and his teammates, and they vanish. “Another time, Warriors, another time,” Scorpio promises before they take off.

A distraught Night Thrasher takes the still unconscious and badly injured Sofia in his arms, desperately telling her that she’ll be okay. Blackwing approaches Thrasher, warning that they’ve got to get out of here before SHIELD arrives. Thrasher refuses because Sofia saved their lives, and they won’t leave soldiers behind. Some paramedics tell Night Thrasher it’s okay. They promise to take care of Sofia, and tell Night Thrasher that he and his team should leave before the feds arrive. Night Thrasher still isn’t sure, but Decibel makes it clear they can’t help Sofia. She’ll be better off with the paramedics. Night Thrasher releases a blue wave, enabling all of the Warriors to take to the sky and leave. Night Thrasher tells the paramedics to take good care of Sofia, to which they promise to do their beast.

Once the Warriors are gone, the medics take a closer look at Sofia. They think they spoke too soon: they don’t think their best would be good enough. Sofia appears to have truly died. A short distance away, seen by none, a shadowed man takes in the sight from an alley. He then walks away, with only a kid standing nearby who is paying more attention to the disasters than to the shadowed man.


The battle between the Warriors and the Zodiac is front page news in the newspapers. Reporters Sally Floyd and Kat Farell are discussing what happened while sitting outside a diner in the city. Sally can’t believe it: here they go again. First the Young Avengers, now the all-new, all-different New Warriors. She thinks there might be something in this universe that’s producing all these teenage super-hero groups all of a sudden. And what’s worse, now this group has gotten another kid killed and another in critical condition. Sally swears that the New Warriors are cursed.

She won’t get an argument from her, Kate replies. She wonders how some of the old Warriors feel about this. Sally wasn’t even aware that there are any old Warriors left. Kate is surprised about that, and informs Sally that most of the old Warriors are now in the Initiative. Sally defends that at the Frontline paper, they do real journalism. They don’t care about team rosters.

Kate thinks it’s true that these kids get more publicity than a rock star in a murder trial. Still, there might be a story there. Kate challenges Sally to cover it. Kate wants to make a deal: the first one of them who gets the story will buy lunch for a week. Sally laughs, joking that when someone else has the tab, she doesn’t to calzones or Philly cheesesteaks. To this, Kate bluntly retorts that she doesn’t plan on losing.

Sally accepts the challenge. She then asks Kate that she’s absolutely certain there is a story here, to which Kate asks Sally to think about it: she means, what makes a group of kids defy an executive order banning all unregistered superhuman activity and then take the name of the group who caused the law in the first place? It doesn’t make any sense to her. Sally thinks perhaps someone is behind the Warriors. This gives Kat an idea and she gets up without saying a word. Sally calls out to her friend, wanting to know where she is going. “To work up an appetite,” Kat smiles.

Somewhere else…

Though still in her waitress outfit, Sofia now sports a pair of angelic wings and floats among the clouds in a heaven-like setting. There, she meets someone she didn’t expect to see today… her mother! “My dear, sweet, angel,” Miranda Mantega welcomes her daughter. Sofia cries, saying she’s coming home… to be with her mom. “One day, perhaps,” Miranda answers, but Sofia’s time has not yet come. Sofia ignores it and tells her mom she missed her very much and has much to tell her.

A loud thumping sound interrupts the two, followed by another. Sofia hears it and asks her mom what that was, but her mother ignores it, telling Sofia that she has much more to do. Saying goodbye, she tells Sofia to remember that she’ll always be with her. Sofia doesn’t want her mom to let go, and calls after her.


Sofia lies in a hospital bed, a respirator on her mouth. One of the doctors around her tells the anesthesiologist that they can bring Sofia out of it now. They conclude Sofia has a massive concussion, is bleeding on the brain, has a cardiac arrest, second degree burns… One of the doctors is surprised Sofia is even still alive.

Another asks how old Sofia is… seventeen? Yet another doctor isn’t sure Sofia is even that old. But they were lucky they were able to pressure on Sofia’s brain when they did. This situation could have been a lot worse. “No thanks to those ‘the New Warriors’” they are told. His friend says he wouldn’t be too hard on the New Warriors. “Kids will be kids,” he believes. The guy from before corrects that they’ll be dangerous kids. To this, his colleague points out that the New Warriors saved a lot of lives. And if that doesn’t count for anything, he doesn’t know what will. They leave Sofia so she can rest a little.

Stark Tower…

Walking to his destination through the hallway, Tony Stark is discussing matters via a telephone headset with a seriously displeased Senator Kooning, who is in his limo elsewhere. The Senator states that he sees this situation as a PR nightmare for Tony and his entire Initiative organization. The Initiative got their own heads handed over to them on national television. He thinks the entire program is a complete washout. Tony wants Kooning to be calm and think for a minute. If he calls for the Initiative members’ heads after the whole world saw what they did against the Zodiac, it’s going to be the government that looks like the bad guys. Tony can guarantee Kooning that.

Kooning, however, blames Tony for that. Kooning tells Tony he has just made their job ten times more difficult. Tony believes they can use that to their advantage. Kooning doesn’t understand. Tony explains he didn’t become a billionaire industrialist by being a fool. A situation this delicate takes time. Kooning wants to give Tony once more chance, but, Kooning warns, if Tony is wrong… Tony promises he won’t be wrong. He’s sure of it, he concludes, regarding an old photo appearing on his desk’s embedded computer screen.

The Baxter Building…

Sykes and Givens arrive at the Baxter Building where they are welcomed by Storm and the Black Panther. T’Challa wants to make it clear to Sykes that he is under no obligation to concede to the American justice system. Sykes notices aloud that the Panther is hiding behind diplomatic immunity and asks if he has a guilty conscience. To this, T’Challa replies that he is merely wielding the power befitting his station. Sykes jokes back that’s what she just said.

Annoyed, T’Challa tells the detectives to state their business so they can be on their way. Bev asks the Panther if he’s aware of a superhuman team known as the New Warriors. “Past or present?” T’Challa jokingly asks her, though Sykes isn’t amused. However, T’Challa claims he wasn’t joking. He wants to state for the record, that he is in full support of anyone or anything that has arrayed itself against what Stark and his minions have wrought. Sykes isn’t surprised about that either. Because, she explains, she and her partner have credible evidence that this current incarnation of the New Warriors is being funded by a considerably wealthy source. To be specific: several offshore companies that are all subsidiaries of Wakanda Holdings, Inc.

In response, the Black Panther presses on a red button, after which one of his servants appears and presents T’Challa a device, which lies on a red cushion. Accepting it, T’Challa offers the device to Sykes, who asks what the thing is. T’Challa explains it holds digital manifests of all the shipments and order numbers of the items and subsidiaries in question. When Givens then asks Storm how they can now these numbers haven’t been doctored, Storm points out they won’t. They “only” have the word of the King of Wakanda.

Givens still wants to figure this out before they can accept their word and asks if they can take the device with them. T’Challa replies “of course.” Turning his attention back to Sykes, he tells her that, in case she doesn’t know it, she and he share a kinship, a motherland. There is no need for posturing. When Sykes replies that she’s just there to find out the truth, T’Challa suggests she stop looking for conspiracies where there are none. He quotes that, as they say in his land: “If you want to catch the best fish, cast your net closer to home. If you dare.”

Meanwhile, at the New Warriors base…

Phaser and Skybolt are in a heated argument, with Phaser accusing his teammate that it his fault. In response, Skybolt defends himself that Tattoo was “dogging it” and tells Phaser he knows that. She was always complaining and skipping training. He was a liability.

Attention to step in, Jubilee reminds Skybolt that Longstrike is dead now, and he has to show some respect. Still angry, Skybolt replies that he is sorry for that, but he reminds Phaser this isn’t the boy scouts. This game is for keeps. Decibel reminds Vin that nobody signed up to die. Not even when they were with the X-Men. Tempest thinks that perhaps Skybolt is right. Night Thrasher isn’t there half the time, like they aren’t worth it. Angel thinks this wouldn’t have happened if they were better trained. Barry can’t believe Angel is serious about that. She isn’t sure… but maybe she is.

Undeterred, Phaser still blames Skybolt telling him that his sister’s blood is on his hands. To this, Skybolt reminds Phaser that this is war. It’s part of the game. Phaser wonders about next time. How many more of them are supposed to die because of Night Thrasher’s cause? Jubilee defends that it’s their cause. They’re a team! Phaser shouts they should act like one.

“Enough!” an angry Night Thrasher shouts. He wants everyone to listen. He explains he made himself a promise when he formed this team that no one would fall under his watch. That either they all go home or no one goes home. That, come hell or high water, they wouldn’t end up like the last team. But one of their own fell today and another was badly injured when they were back on their heels. As team leader, it was his responsibility, and by extension, his fault.

Ripcord tells Night Thrasher they all knew the deal. Nobody is blaming him. Though she defends him, Thrasher instructs her to be quiet. Continuing, he announces that they fought the good fight, but when it came down to it, they just weren’t good enough. And he refuses to put any more lives on the line. And as a result… he’s pulling the plug.

As Wondra and Skybolt reel in shock, Jubilee asks Thrasher what’s going on, wanting him to talk to her. Blackwing is also curious what Night Thrasher meant by that. But it’s just like he said: effective immediately, the New Warriors are officially disbanded!

Characters Involved: 

Blackwing, Decibel, Longstrike, Night Thrasher, Ripcord, Phaser, Skybolt, Tempest, Wondra (all New Warriors)

Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Taurus, Virgo (all Zodiac)

Iron Man, Ms. Marvel (both “mighty” Avengers)

Senator Kooning

Sofia Mantega (formerly Wind Dancer)


Black Panther

Bev Sykes, Harry Givens (both police detectives)

Sally Floyd (reporter of Frontline)

Kat Farell (repoter of Deadline)

various bystanders (all unnamed)

various police officers (all unnamed)

various news reporters (all unnamed)

various hospital staff (all unnamed)

on TV:

a female news reporter (unnamed)

in Heaven / dream:

Sofia Mantega

Miranda Mantega (Sofia’s mother)

Story Notes: 

More about Sofia’s mother, Miranda, can be found in New Mutants (2nd series) #1.

At the moment, Storm and the Black Panther are still members of the Fantastic Four.

Longstrike was once known as Tattoo, yet another former student of Xavier’s who had lost her powers. One time, Tattoo rebelled together with Kid Omega in a school riot, until suppressed by the X-Men and sent to jail. This issue reveals her true name to have been Christine Cord. (New X-Men (1st series) #134-138)

Skybolt’s first real name is revealed to be Vin. His last name or other identity hasn’t been revealed yet.

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