Nextwave: Agents of HATE, v. 1: This Is What They Want
Collects: Nextwave: Agents of HATE #1-6 (2006)
Released: January 2007 (Marvel)
Format: 144 pages / color / $14.99 / ISBN: 9780785122784
Well, it feels like something Quesada / Jemas would push to fruition, something made when Grant Morrison made the X-Men new and Peter Milligan and Mike Allred were X-Statix, but it’s not — it’s actually a Warren Ellis / Stuart Immonen collaboration from 2006.
Nextwave is gloriously over the top, full of explosions and punching. Nominally, Nextwave is a team of heroes battling HATE, an antiterrorism group similar to SHIELD and funded by the Beyond Corp.,which is essentially a terrorist group. I say “nominally” because the book is more interested in making fun of the heroes and Dirk Anger (leader of HATE and a thinly veiled Nick Fury stand-in) and having fun with the concept of superheroes.
Fortunately, Ellis is hilarious at it. He has to mangle the characters he uses to make them funnier, but that’s all right — everything he does to them will be forgotten whenever someone else wants to use them, and Nextwave doesn’t seem to be in continuity anyway. Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel and Photon, is the leader who won’t stop banging on about how things were better when she was leading the Avengers. Meltdown, formerly of the old X-Force, is made into a Britney Spears type, in that she’s gone from stereotypical trailer trash to a shallow, consumeristic pretty trailer trash. Aaron Stark, Machine Man, is on a robot power kick who calls humans “fleshy ones” while being constantly mocked by his teammates. Elsa Bloodstone is an uber-lethal monster hunter; I have no idea how Ellis’s characterization accords with her previous appearances. She still has her dignity and is, not coincidentally, the resident Brit on the team.
The less said about Captain *!?*, the better.
Even though I find Nextwave hilarious, it’s not perfect. Ellis is adolescently obsessed with Fin Fang Foom, a giant dragon who wears shorts; Meltdown using the phrase “tick tick tick Boom” whenever she uses her timebombs grows tiresome as well. And I admit, other than Monica, I’m not sure why it wouldn’t have been better to use new characters instead of changing the old. But as I said, it’s hilarious, and it does no real harm.
The art from Immonen fits well with the title — cartoony but able to tell the story. The style is reminiscent of Samurai Jack, which is appropriate for a story with a lot of the ultraviolence but without realism. (Immonen’s death bears — superdeadly koalas — and Samuroid Batch 23 are simultaneously funny, creepy, and wonderously weird, and he does a great job with all the Beyond Corporation’s bizarre organic weapons.)
Nextwave ran 12 issues; the next TPB will finish off the series. Get it. Get this.
Rating: (4.5 of 5)