New Challenges is the thirty-sixth issue of the Winx Club Comic Series.
After the events of Issue 35, Helia has left Red Fountain to live on his own as a freelance artist. He is soon commissioned by Mr. Zerja, but Zerja has his own sinister plans in mind for Helia's paintings.
Helia is walking through the streets of Magix City as he tries to figure out what he wants to do in life. He passes by an old man yelling at his son to think about his education and begins to remember how Saladin reacted.
In this memory, Saladin worried over how Helia would manage outside of Red Fountain until Helia told him that he is leaving to try and figure out what he is capable of. Saladin told Helia that despite not wanting him to leave, he felt as if he would be unable to convince him otherwise and so he wished Helia good luck. But before he left, Saladin gave Helia a debit card with just a bit of money to help him out in the beginning. He assured Helia that, no matter what happens, that he would always love him as he sees him off on his way out.
At Red Fountain, Timmy asks Sky how the call went but Sky tells him that he could not get in touch with Helia, possibly because he turned off his phone. Sky figures that Helia would want to bother with them preaching at him and Timmy tells the boys that he does not like Helia's strange behavior. Riven asks Timmy if he does not like Helia's behavior because it is not want Timmy wants him to do, but Timmy just does not like how Helia did not even bother telling them, even though they are all friends. Sky then tells the boys that even Codatorta does not have the foggiest idea as to what made Helia leave and that is when Brandon reveals that Stella told him that Helia even broke up with Flora before he left. He further claims that she has been crying to herself for the past two days and Sky explains that Bloom is doing everything she can to help Flora think of something other than the breakup in order to cheer her up. Timmy tries to figure out a solution as he comments on how the way Helia is behaving is not how a person behaves with friends, to which Riven claims that Helia just does not want friends by his side currently. Brandon tries to calm them down by telling them that, while they do not know what is making Helia act like this, they should still respect his choices. He then claims that Helia will explain everything once the time is right and Timmy hopes that what Brandon is saying will be true.
Meanwhile, Helia finds an apartment complex that seems to have a room available. Inside, the landlord tries to convince Helia to rent out the room until Helia approaches the windows wanting to open them and enjoy the view. The view, however, is very limited. The landlord tries to reassure Helia that once the building next door is torn down then the windows will be reopened, but Helia storms off as he claims that the rent is too expensive for that of a prison cell.
Helia then tries to look for available apartments elsewhere, but is turned down at every turn. He even turns down the chance to split rent between another student looking for a place to stay because the rent would still be too expensive.
Soon enough, it is already sunset and Helia still has not found a place to stay. As he worries about having to sleep on a park bench for the night, he gets a call from somebody. Once he picks up, it turns out to be Flora calling him. She desperately tries to keep Helia on the other end, hoping he will not hang up on her again. Before Helia reminds her of their breakup, Flora confesses to Helia that she can accept is he no longer wants to see her, however, he cannot stop her from trying to help him. She then reveals to him that she was looking for someone with a room available all day and she may have found somebody who has one! She explains that the man owns a rather large flower shop and he may have a room on the premises that he can rent out to Helia. Helia copies down the number as Flora asked him to but when she tries to hang up, Helia confesses to her that he only broke up with her because he believed that she deserves someone better. Flora asks if this means that Helia really wants them to be together but Helia claims that he still does not know yet and he quickly tells her goodnight before he can make the situation any harder on the both of them by fumbling on his words.
Just before nightfall, Helia arrives at the address he got from Flora. An old man greets Helia, realizing that he is the friend Flora told him about over the phone, and tells Helia that if he were to arrive any later then he would have already missed him. As the two of them comb the apartment, the old man tells Helia that the building is rather old and that he had been using it as more of a warehouse just recently. He then claims that Helia could possibly spruce up the place as he is an aspiring painter and shows Helia to a room he can use, though, the room is a cluttered mess. The old man tells Helia that he would be willing to give him a discount if he is capable of cleaning out his new room and then he asks how many credits Helia can pay for rent. Helia claims that he can only pay about 30 credits a month, to which the old man says that he will be fine if Helia just paid 20 per month instead. Helia asks if the old man can really accept such a low rent fee, to which the old man tells Helia that he would be willing to accept it if Helia can clean out the room and because he is a friend of Flora's. He hands Helia the key to the room and leaves as his dinner is about to get cold. As he leaves, Helia thanks him for all that has just done for him, as well as wishing him a good night. Helia then rejoices at the fact that he now has a place all to himself and he sets up his things so that he can go to sleep.
Meanwhile, at Alfea, Flora is still thinking of Helia as she tries to fall asleep.
In the morning, the old man finds Helia already moving things out of the apartment. Despite all of the hard work, Helia believes that this apartment is the perfect place for him and the old man becomes a lot happier at this remark. He then asks Helia if he saw the frescoes near the stairs, hoping that Helia could touch them up a bit with some paint and Helia happily claims that he could try later on. The old man leaves Helia to continue his work and before Helia can get back to work, he hears someone greeting him from behind. He turns around and finds Flora walking up to him. She hopes that she is not disturbing him and Helia assures her that she is not as he lets down one of the boxes. He tries to apologize to Flora about what has happened between then, but Flora interrupts him to tell him that they can talk about their relationship later if he does not want to talk about it now. She then explains that she came to help him through this difficult time and hopes that he is happy, too. Helia assures her that he really is happy and drags her into the building to show her around. As they climb the stairs, Helia points out the frescoes on the wall and then the elegant carvings on his room door. He opens the door and asks Flora what she thinks of the place, until he realizes that he still has to clean everything out before it could look nice. Flora assures Helia by claiming that the room will be beautiful once everything has been cleaned out and that is when Helia continues to take out some more things. Flora asks why he does not just asks the Specialists or the Winx for help, but Helia wants to see how far he can get by himself, to see what he is capable of. He then adds that if he asked the Winx, they would end up using their magic to do all of the work which would make everything too easy. Flora tells him that he would need a completely different formula to clean out his room the way he wants: hard work and a little bit of elbow grease. Just then, a basket that Helia had picked up rips, causing everything inside of it to fall out. As he tries to pick everything up, Helia accepts Flora's help, so long as she does not use any magic.
A little while later, as the two of them have managed to move most of the junk outside, Helia comments on how they do not need to throw everything out because they could just restore them instead. Flora then uses a spell to restore the table and set of chairs to see how if would turn out if they did so, until Helia reprimands her for using magic. Flora assures him that her magic spell will wear off so Helia will be able to permanently restore the furniture with his own two hands, and she conjures up a couch for them to take a seat. As the two of them rest, Helia admits that using magic would not be all that bad and Flora decides to conjure up some sandwiches for them to eat.
Soon, the sun begins to set, but Helia and Flora managed to clear out his room before night fell. Flora marvels at the apartment, claiming that it is a perfect fit for an artist like Helia, until he pulls her over to tell her something. He tells Flora that he does not deserve her as he has been treating her badly recently but Flora believes that it should not matter so long as she loves him. Helia, however, is not satisfied by her response and explains the reasons for his behavior. He confesses that while he was guarding the hangars before Brandon had to escort Griffin to the Fortress of Light for her trial, he caught a glimpse of Flora kissing another boy and he only realized that it was a trap set up by the Trix when it was too late. He insists that it was pure luck that Brandon and Griffin were able to be rescued and, despite what was going on, he was so convinced that Flora cheated on him. He reprimands himself, claiming that a real Specialist would not have acted that way, until Flora interrupts by asking if that was really what caused him to leave Red Fountain and all of his friends behind. Helia is convinced that he does not deserve anyone's friendship, but Flora believes that he is punishing himself too severely, since everyone makes mistakes. While he is well aware of this, Helia left Red Fountain so that something like that would not happen again, and Flora asks him if he really wants to forget everything that has happened between them. He confesses that while he has tried to, he cannot live without Flora by his side, and the two kiss as they embrace each other tightly.
Later that night, Flora returns to Alfea and tells the Winx the she and Helia were able to make up. Stella asks Flora if he told her his reasons for leaving and Flora confirms this, but she insists that she cannot tell them the whole story. Stella begins to get annoyed, telling Flora that she is required to tell them what happened under the Winx Club Oath, and then she starts urging Flora to tell her whether she and Helia kissed or not. Bloom tells her to leave Flora alone and then tells Stella to tell them all about her and Brandon, since she wants to know so much about Flora's relationship with Helia. Stella, however, does not think it would be necessary to tell them about her relationship with Brandon because they have not been fighting and she insists that even she and Brandon have their own secrets. Tecna uses that statement of Stella's to tell her that since they do not want to know about her secrets with Brandon, she should not go prodding Flora for hers. Bloom then asks Flora what Helia has decided to do now and Flora tells them that he will try to find a job but, in the meantime, he will prepare some paintings first.
The next day, Helia has already managed to prepare many different paintings that he can show around to anyone willing to buy them. He packs them together and heads out into the city to look for anybody who is interested in new pieces of work. However, he is shot down at every art museum and showcasing he goes to for various reasons, such as his art not being abstract enough or how his art could never become popular.
As he looks for more possible clients, he meets up with the old man working at his flower shop. He asks how Helia is doing, to which Helia reveals that he has had no luck in selling any of his work. The old man advises Helia to keep working at it as he will eventually find someone who is interested in his art, but Helia does not think so because everyone he talked to earlier did not even want to look at his paintings. The old man then tells Helia that he should not be so easily discouraged and that if he keeps trying his hardest, then he will find someone who will take his works. Helia thanks the old man for his advice and promises to make more of an effort early tomorrow morning.
Just as Helia promised, he is up and about in the early morning the next day looking for possible clients. He enters a furniture store and manages to convince the store owner to buy the painting, however, she does not have enough money to pay Helia at the moment as she still needs to pay all of the taxes for the shop. Helia suggests that he come back in a month to see if she has the money then and the store owner agrees as she gives him the store's contact information. As Helia leaves the shop, he comments on how that is already his third possible client within the hour, and he soon enters a clothing store to see if they are interested. That store's owner tells him that while he is not interested in any of Helia's paintings, he would not hesitate to commission him for a nice sign to put on his storefront. Helia agrees to those terms as he leaves the clothes store and figures that he check the store next to it.
Inside that store, the owner tells Helia that while his usual customers are not interested in his style of art, he would be willing to try something new. The owner introduces himself as Mister Zerja and offers to buy all of Helia's artwork in order to start up a line of modern paintings in his store. Though, he claims that he will need specific pieces of art if he were to commission Helia and Helia happily accepts Mr. Zerja's request.
At Alfea, Flora gets a call from Helia as he tells her that he managed to sell all of his paintings. Flora claims that Helia will become a famous artist at this rate, but Helia is just content with having enough money to keep up with his rent. He tells Flora that Mr. Zerja is rather strange but he seems to be more concerned with measurements rather than quality. Unfortunately, Helia cannot hang out with Flora or the others at the White Horse because he needs to make more paintings to keep up with Mr. Zerja's demands. Flora then suggests that she come over to his apartment instead so that she could watch him paint and Helia agrees to have her over.
Sunday rolls around and Flora takes the bus to Helia's apartment. The two of them playfully joke around until Helia shows Flora when of his works: a painting of her surrounded by roses. Helia claims that he will understand if Flora does not like it and then he mentions that he painted her likeness from memory. Flora hugs Helia, telling him that it is very beautiful and Helia tells her that he got the idea to paint her when he tried to copy how she really is, but the two of them are interrupted by a knock at the door. It turns out to be Mr. Zerja, who came to see how Helia was doing. Helia introduces Mr. Zerja to Flora and after the two of them greet each other, Mr. Zerja reminds him that he needs to come up with enough paintings by the day after tomorrow. As he inspects some of Helia's new works, Mr. Zerja claims that none of them will be able to make him rich. Flore interjects, suggesting that Helia possibly does not want to get rich and just wants to paint things that come naturally to him, but Mr. Zerja insists that what a person learns in the real world is much different than what a person has learned in school. He then claims that he will be able to make Helia famous after he showcases all of his works at a grand exhibition he will be holding at his store. He then tells Helia that if he wants him to make him famous, then he will need to keep up his part, starting with painting art that is not clouded by "silly sentiments and ideals. Mr. Zerja assures Helia that he will not regret his decision as he makes his way out of Helia's apartment.
Once he has left, Helia is astounded by the idea of getting an exhibition dedicated to his works, but Flora is not as excited. She is worried that Mr. Zerja will try to make a machine out of Helia, forcing him to pump out hollow works of art just to make a quick buck, but Helia believes that it will all change once he becomes a famous artist.
A few weeks later, Stella is upset that they could not spend a day with the boys at the lake because of rain and Bloom tries to assure her that even the rain can be fun. Flora claims that it is probably for the best that she cannot go outside since Helia is so busy that he is not even answering her calls. Stella tries to assure Flora that it will all be worth it once he becomes famous and then asks her when the exhibition is being held. Flora tells the girls that the exhibition will be held the day after tomorrow and is relieved at this fact due to the past three weeks being unbearable for her. Stella then proclaims that they will all show up to the exhibition, claiming that it will be a huge success.
Soon, the exhibition's opening night arrives and the Winx make their way to where it is being held. Bloom claims that the exhibition must be a big hit as there are already so many people attending just to check out Helia's paintings and Flora urges the girls to help her find him.
The Trix also happen to be attending the exhibition, taking advantage of the free buffet. Icy claims that Helia should be thanking them for ultimately causing him to leave Red Fountain. Stormy then comments on how funny she found his reaction to be when he thought he spotted Flora kissing another boy and the three of them laugh at how Helia took all of the blame because, if he were to admit that he was distracted during his post, it almost costed Brandon and Griffin their lives. Little do they know is that Mr. Zerja has overheard the Trix's conversation.
Later, Helia approaches Mr. Zerja to thank him for the exhibition. Mr. Zerja claims that he already sold some of the paintings that he commissioned Helia for until Flora suggests that he showcase Helia's other works. Mr. Zerja then pulls Helia aside to tell him something important. Once she is out of earshot, Mr. Zerja demands that Helia dump Flora as, thanks to what he has heard, she was the reason that he is no longer attending Red Fountain. Helia asks Mr. Zerja how he knows about this, to which Mr. Zerja reveals that he witnessed her bragging about it to a couple of witches. He claims that Flora thinks she has Helia wrapped around her finger and urges him to break it off with her as he storms off. Flora approaches Helia to ask him what went wrong and Helia confesses that he was about to make the same mistake twice: leaving Flora by believing in someone else's lies. He then explains to her, as well as all of his friends, on what Mr. Zerja told him. Flora does not understand why Mr. Zerja would say such things about her until Stella claims that he thinks that she is a threat to business. Stella further explains that, without Flora, Helia would be able to fully dedicate himself to art and make Mr. Zerja more money. Bloom asks why Stella referred to Mr. Zerja as "a scoundrel," to which Stella claims that her "sixth sense" tells her so and Musa and Tecna add in that Mr. Zerja also rubs them the wrong way. Brandon then adds that he saw a strange man known for making shady deals throughout Magix passing by the exhibition and, while he did not think anything of it at first, he saw the shady man and Mr. Zerja nod at each other; confirming that they have some sort of relationship. With all of this new info in mind, Stella reveals to the group that she plans to sneak into Mr. Zerja's shop later tonight in order to figure out what he is really up to. She asks if anyone will be coming along, to which the rest of the Winx naturally say that they will.
Later that night, the Winx arrive at Mr. Zerja's store as planned, however, the front entrance is obviously barred so the girls check to see if there is a back entrance. They find a heavy wooden door at the back but before the Winx can get discouraged, Flora reveals that she learned a spell that should help in their current situation. She uses a spell that turns the wooden door into one made of vines so the Winx can sneak in without being heard. Once inside, they see light coming from a door that was left slightly open and decide to see who is in there. The girls find Mr. Zerja using Helia's paintings to hide much older and more valuable ones underneath. Once they have seen enough, the girls flee before Mr. Zerja could possibly notice they were even there.
In the room, Mr. Zerja brags to himself about how easy it is to fool the authorities with this trick as he has never been caught from the moment he started his shady business.
The following day, Mr. Zerja is a sort of post office trying to get his paintings shipped to the Delta Dimension when one of the officers notifies him about the taxes he has to pay for the value of what he wants to export. Mr. Zerja claims that the paintings are not worth much since they are made by a new aspiring artist until the officer takes out a screwdriver to check if there is anything under the frame. The officer uncovers a stolen painting on two more officers arrive to arrest Mr. Zerja.
At the police office, the chief of police reveals to Helia that they have been trying to arrest Mr. Zerja for some time now and, thanks to Helia's friends, they have been able to do so. He then assures Helia that he will be completely exonerated of all crimes as he had no idea what Zerja was using his paintings for. Helia leaves the chief's office only to be met with Flora jumping into his arms, asking if he is okay. Helia assures everyone that he is fine and that the police know that he was unaware of Zerja's true intentions, however, now that Zerja has been arrested, Helia has to start back from square-one if he wants to get any paintings sold. Flora believes that he is capable of finding another client but Helia does not have so much faith in himself, as Zerja only bought his paintings in order to justify his trafficking. Flora disagrees with Helia by claiming that his works of art are still very impressive, which lifts Helia's spirits somewhat.
Just as the Specialists and the Winx leave the police station, a restaurant owner comes out of his restaurant and approaches Helia, recognizing him as the artist from the exhibition that was held earlier that week. The restaurant owner wants to buy Helia's works but he does not have the money at the moment, so he proposes a swap: 20 meals at his restaurant in exchange for just 1 of Helia's paintings. He then makes the deal sweeter by claiming that he will buy up to three or even four of Helia's artwork! Helia accepts the restaurant owner's deal and claims that he will start working after a meal with his friends.
As the group dines in the restaurant, they all congratulate Helia on being able to find another client.
- "Tables bloom and planks grow. Bark, tender buds; emerge from the dark. Soft vines are transformed your way; so through this door pass, we may." - Used by Flora to turn the wooden backdoor into a hedge of vines.
- Throughout the issue, the scarf that Stella wears constantly changes colors.
- The Winx
- The Specialists
- Red Fountain Staff
- This issue is a direct continuation of The Trial.