Sunday, February 15, 2009

NextWave is Love

To continue with the theme in yesterday's post, where I discussed love in comics, today I will discuss one of the more primal reasons why I love comics. Sure, characterization is important, and a compelling storyline is almost essential for most readers. Most people first fell in love with comics when they were young children, and what caught our eyes the most at that age were huge explosions and mindless violence. NextWave - Agents of H.A.T.E., a 12 issue series from 2006, is basically explosions, mindless violence, taped together by an insanely thin plot. Warren Ellis, the writer of the series, admittedly came up with the idea when drunk, and basks into the decadence of the super-hero genre. Instead of trying to give the readers something deep and thought provoking, it completely embraces the insanity of comic books and created (what I think) is a modern masterpiece of comic books.

The series only lasted a bit more than a year and was never a huge commercial success, with sales number usually in between twenty and thirty thousand units (even with a Civil War tie-in cover). The real success, fueled by Warren Ellis' absurdity and Stuart Immonen's sometimes surreal drawings, was the lasting impact it had on the characters. The team was made up of four rather unpopular heroes (Photon/Monica Rambeau, Machine Man/Aaron Stack, Elsa Bloodstone, and Boom Boom/Tabitha Smith) and one original creation (The Captain) and put them together. The members of NextWave were crude, mean, petty and sometimes downright stupid, constantly bickering and insulting each other, a great departure from their previously heroic personalities. Besides, the out-of-character persona of the protagonists, the story in NextWave also feature flashbacks into other Marvel characters acting oddly, such as Captain America telling Photon to get him dinner and the Celestials calling Machine Man a "total $#!&". From the beginning, it seemed like NextWave would be set outside of regular Marvel continuity (Ellis and Quesada both stated so), but once the series ended and the dust settled, a lot of other creators picked up on the events in NextWave and slowly did their best to make the 616 universe mirror the series.

For example, during Civil War (by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven) we see Monica Rambeau wearing the same trench-coat that she wore during NextWave (and according to the script by Ellis, the coat was part of the uniform of the team)

The whole team appeared in a promotional art/cover for Avengers - The Initiative (right under the "THE"). And in the pages of Civil War - Battle Damage Report, it says that they all have registered with the Super Hero Registration Act.

In a story from X-Men - Manifest Destiny (by James Asmus and Chris Burnham), Tabitha Smith has the airhead and materialistic personality that she had in NextWave and she even claims to have been part of the team (and Beast doesn't know what that is).

Additionally, after the marriage of Black Panther and Storm (by Reginald Hudlin and Scot Eaton), the newlyweds receive a gift from a certain "Kirk" of the Beyond Corp. (one of the antagonists of the NextWave team).

The big winner of the whole series was Aaron Stack, after NextWave his popularity skyrocketed. He appeared in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents (by Ivan Brandon and Niko Henrichon), where it is revealed that he was currently living in the floating city that NextWave stole at the end of the series and he also mentions the part with the Celestials.

Machine Man also appeared in the pages of Ms. Marvel (by Brian Reed and company) where she joined the regular cast of Ms. Marvel's team. In this series, Machine Man solicited, as part of his deal with SHIELD, a Life Model Decoy of the aforementioned Monica Rambeau which he ends up using as his back-up body.

And finally, he was given the main role in the third series of the popular Marvel Zombies franchise (by Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker) where we see more of his now trademarked dislike for the "fleshy ones", especially of the undead kind.

So as you can see, I was not the only one that loved NextWave - Agents of H.A.T.E. Hopefully the higher ups at Marvel will decide to grant us another series, Warren Ellis himself stated that he would like to continue working on the team. And even if that never happens, at least I know that the characters will continue to receive love from all the other writers that also seemed to enjoy the explosions, insults and mindless violence.

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