Listen up, fleshy ones! This week’s Marvel Retro Rundown takes a look at one of the best superhero comics of the 2000s. Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen created one of the most unique mainstream superhero experiences of the decade with every issue of their 2006 series Nextwave. Does the over-the-top adventure hold up for a first-time reader?
We’ve got a look at all twelve issues of the series, plus a review of one of the handful of Marvel‘s new releases for the week, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.
Originally published as Nextwave #1-12
Written by Warren Ellis
Pencilled by Stuart Immonen
Inked by Wade Von Grawbadger
Colored by Dave McCaig with Paul Mounts
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna with Chris Eliopoulos
Cover by Stuart Immonen
Reviewed by Hussein Wasiti
You know that feeling you get when you read an acclaimed piece of work that you’ve been meaning to get to for a long time, but for some reason or another you just haven’t? I went through a brief period of self-consultation after putting down Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave, a twelve-issue series focusing on a group of crazy people who used to work for an organisation called H.A.T.E., who now work with a group called S.I.L.E.N.T. who want to test weapons of mass destruction in the United States. What, does it sound nonsensical and over-the-top? Sure it does; that’s what makes it so special.
When you attempt to simplify what makes this book great, you realise that this is the perfect blend of writer and artist. Ellis’ scripts are genuinely funny, subverting the superhero genre in a way that I don’t think has been matched by anyone not named Matt Fraction or Steve Lieber. His characters initially come across as funny joke machines without much else to them but Ellis perfectly peppers in glimpses into their pasts that connected me to them fairly quickly. As far as I know, there are only two previously established characters on the team with Monica Rambeau and Meltdown. I’m not familiar with these characters at all so this book almost read like an indie comic with some weird references to the Marvel universe.
Ellis’ wild scripts are brought to life by the equally wild and incredibly expressive artwork of the legendary Stuart Immonen. I’m a huge fan of his work and it was a blast to head into the way-back machine to see how far he’s come as an artist. This honestly may be the quintessential superhero look; vivid, expressive characters with crisp and concise action scenes. The double page spreads near the end of the series blew me away with every successive page turn, which obviously wouldn’t be possible without inker Wade von Grawbadger and colourist Dave McCaig, each of them leaving their stamp on every page.
I love that despite the relatively short length of this series, each story comes in digestible two-part arcs. It keeps things short and sweet, and the stories are a lot more memorable as a result. Every character on the team is able to get their moment in the sun since they’re facing a whole bunch of different obstacles as opposed to one or two sustained threats over the course of twelve issues. More scenarios offer more chances to get to know these characters, which I consider to be brilliant writing.
To cap off… Warren Ellis has been on my mind recently, what with his comments about his having no impact on the comics industry over the course of his career unlike Alan Moore or Garth Ennis. Ellis is a lot smarter than I am, so I think I know where he’s coming from when he makes statements like that, but books like The Authority, Planetary, and Nextwave are going to be cherished for decades to come and it’s thanks in large part to his singular voice. This point has been made by others already, but the Warren Ellis Forums jumpstarted a lot of careers and gave rise to new voices we otherwise would not have heard if not for his contributions. I don’t know which is the case, whether Ellis was put on Earth to make comics, or if I was put on Earth to read them. Whatever the answer may be, he’s a shining light whose work is always, without question, interesting.
- Amazing Spider-Man #43
- The three-part Gog arc finally reaches its end after a brief delay, and what an emotional end it is. I’m a sucker for misunderstood creatures finding a home and peace, and thus I was very delighted by the end of this issue. Spider-Man realises there’s a lot more to Gog than meets the eye when he learns about a certain corrupt mayor’s intentions. —HW
- Avengers #33
- The Avengers return, joined by Jason Aaron and new artist Javier Garron for this explosive and immediate arc where Moon Knight is making his rounds against the Marvel universe… and nobody is safe. Trust me, the less said, the better. Garron makes a splash with these pages and proves that he’s fit to tackle the big guns. I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds. —HW
Next week, another look back at a classic tale from Marvel’s past!
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