Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Next Wave - Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.
Volume 1 This is What They Want
Written by Warren Ellis,
Art by Stuart Immonen & Wade Von Grawbadger

Nextwave is Warren Ellis writing Gonzo Superheroes. Nextwave is pure revisionist, remixed and re-imagined superheroes for now. Nextwave is Warren Ellis mercilessly taking the mickey out of many, many things: horribly bad superheroes, ridiculous Marvel villains, Nick Fury, the medium itself. But most of all this is Warren Ellis parodying himself. And a damn fine job he does of it as well

In Nextwave, the government’s security and defence organisation H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort) recruits five washed up supertypes and sets them up as Nextwave, dedicated agents against terrorism. Unfortunately for this motley crew of superpeople, H.A.T.E. isn’t sure which side it’s on anymore. In these modern times of corporate buyouts and open bidding it appears they’ve been taken over by The Beyond Corp, which just coincidentally happens to be the legit arm of S.I.L.E.N.T., previously the world’s largest terror organisation.

So H.A.T.E. spends all it’s time sending Nextwave around the world fighting new and stranger Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction (UWMDs) on behalf of the Beyond Corporation. A modern kind of product testing regime if you will. And if a few small backwater towns get wiped out, who’s really that bothered?

It all goes a little pear shaped when Nextwave stumble upon the Beyond Corps plans. Well, perhaps stumble isn’t the right phrase. Let’s try steal. After all, one of the team, Boom Boom, happens to be a little bit of a kleptomaniac. So Boom Boom nips off with the plans and the rest of Nextwave start heading round the country, desperately trying to bring the Beyond Corp and H.A.T.E. to task whilst keeping an eye out for the next UWMD to appear.
And given that Warren’s playing around here, the UWMDs are just a little bit silly, none more so than Fin Fang Foom, the green lizard thing as tall as a skyscraper that always wears purple pants.:

“Fin Fang Foom has been burning with the desire to mate since 1956!Fin Fang Foom has absolutely no genitals whatsoever!Oh, you cannot imagine how annoyed he is.”

After surviving this menace, they’re faced with the Ultra Samurai Seed (or Warren finally getting to write the Transformers issue they never allowed him to at Marvel UK perhaps?) and then a face off with H.A.T.E. and their increasingly unstable commander General Dirk Anger:

“You know who you are? You know what you’re like?You’re just like my wife!Everything was fine and dandy and then I just asked you to do one little thing! … I said perform the weapons tests and don’t worry your girly little head about the weapons coming from a company that used to be a terrorist cell!I said blow up chunks of America for freedom!But no! You couldn’t! One little thing!”

Nextwave is refreshingly self aware, incredibly fast paced and never afraid of poking itself with a big stick to stop it getting anywhere near serious. Each storyline takes 2 issues of the comic, making 3 separate but connected stories inside this book. Sadly the whole series got cancelled after just 12 issues, which means that they’ll only ever be two books available of this fantastic series.

Warren Ellis has always written great superhero series and obviously knows what he’s doing enough to make this complete deconstruction work really well. By knowing his stuff, he’s able to extract every insane conceit of the genre and amplify it to make great comedy whilst still retaining the bones of a great superhero story. Stuart Immonen’s artwork is never less than crystal clear and perfectly suited to the tale he’s telling

(Originally posted for PROPAGANDA on the FPI weblog here)

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