I want to like Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. Maybe I do. You take several unused Marvel characters to form a corporate-sponsored team called Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort to fight the bad guys. Only the team discovers that the company are actually the remnants of a terrorist cell and that their marketing plan involves destroying parts of America with Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. So Nextwave goes rogue in order to be Big Damn Heroes.
It’s classic comic book but with modern sensibilities. Rather, with Warren Ellis’ kind of modern sensibilities. The bad guy’s got some wonky sexual proclivities, the British member is very British, the bad guys come from some kind of inventive fever dream.
I should love this page, it’s the type of thing I go for. I loved Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, with its bizarre yet believable vision of the future. Nextwave is amusing and imaginative, but it didn’t grab me. I don’t think it’s the comic’s fault. I read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, I’m fine with fun. Sometimes it doesn’t completely click.
I mean, look at that. These are extra-dimensional mindless monsters in the service of some ancient, magical being. They’ve been commanded to take over some small town in Colorado and they’re doing it with musical style. (Can we also talk about Ellis’ use of Tabitha “Boom Boom” Smith? The way she keeps saying, “Tick, tick, tick, BOOM!”? And this panel? And it’s a stretch to compare it to the “1, 2, 3, 4” or the “klik, klik, klik, KLIK” of The Wicked + The Divine but it’s still super evocative here? Ok? Thanks.) Why do I appreciate this but I don’t luuuurrrrve it?
I was torn between buying Nextwave and Superman: Secret Identity. The comic guy told me both were considered classics in the own way. “And they’re both drawn by Stuart Immonen, so you really can’t go wrong.” I can’t believe I thought Immonen’s art felt restrained in the first half of the overall arc. After all, he’s drawing plant-based robots and a ginormous dragon with purple underpants in the first issue alone. But by issue six, he’s drawing skeleton ninja samurai and plant-based ninjas in pterodactyl flying costumes and koalas with killer teeth and the various ways Monica Rambeau can use the electromagnetic spectrum. And the above image? That’s one of the tamer two-page images in the penultimate issue. He goes into various comic styles in issue ten and it’s truly a glorious sight.
But it’s not enough for me. Perhaps I am broken inside.