August 30, 2009

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Nextwave Agents of Hate Volume 2

Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Stuart Immonen
Marvel

It's both a shame and a good thing that there were only 12 issues of Nextwave. While it's always fun to have a totally screwed up series like this exist, especially in the hands of Warren Ellis, there's also something to be said for going out on top, rather than limping to the finish line when the jokes get stale.

There's no danger of staleness for this trade, as Marvel really lets Ellis and Immonen go crazy, bringing in--of all things--characters from Not Brand Echh, a twisted take on the Mindless Ones, and a whole host of splash pages with crazy villain concepts that once again make me wonder about the sanity of Marvel's editorial staff.

Ellis uses the Nextwave gang to hit just about every nook and cranny in the forgotten parts of Marvel, which is appropriate given that's where he put the team together from. So we get a Dim Dimension story, where the Mindless Ones simply replace the humans they kill, leading to biting commentary and hysterical scenes of monsters dancing ala West Side Story. Another section gives this team the Doom Patrol treatment, complete with Grant Morrison-like enemies and a plot that makes absolutely no sense to anyone, not even the characters.

(This also gives Immonen a chance to shine, as he pulls off a Starlin impression, a Clowes impression, and a Mignola impression all within a few pages, to the point that they were so good I double checked to make sure they didn't ask them to guest-pencil a few pages each.)

As things get more rediculous, with Ellis tweaking his fellow Ultimate Universe/Authority writer Mark Millar on the nose and creating some truly horrific backstory for Bloodstone, it's clear that this can't end anywhere but the most rediculous set of villain reveals ever.

So that's just what Ellis does, because, hey, he's Warren Ellis.

As we move into the the final issue climax, Ellis and Immonen really got into overdrive, throwing the most rediculous concepts ever seen in a Marvel comic (this is saying something, folks). You'll want to go back and re-read the last major group fight scene because there's so many little touches, such as killer Steven Hawkings.

Yup. I'll wait for you to clean up the mess from your brain exploding.

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Back? Okay, good. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone who's not read the series yet (and seriously, why haven't you? Go do it now!), but regardless of its continuity, it's a perfect way for this rediculous series to go out--against one of the more rediculous concepts in the Marvel pantheon.

Nextwave is stupid fun for a long-time Marvel reader presented in the sickest way possible that still gets past an editor. From the sarcastic narration boxes to the idea that Aaron Stack has lost his respect for humans, this comic keeps the abuse going and comes back to give you more. No one involved is saved from the abuse, and even Photon (the straight woman in this motley crew) starts to get into the act by the end. Perhaps best of all, despite all the insanity, Ellis does what a good creator does when a concept ends--leave enough there to return to someday.

If you love comics that don't take themselves--or the industry--seriously and can stand some of the cruder parts of the humour spectrum (we are talking literal toilet humour here), then you really need to be reading Nextwave. If only to learn the Avengers's various pick up lines. (P.S. Stay away from Ant Man's feet.)