By Ken Porter
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. - Alt Beat
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The best of the rest
While I love the A-list superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman, I’ve always had an affinity for the lower heroes on the hero roster. Characters like Animal Man or Hank Pym, who are known but barely get the same amount of “screen time” like the other members of the JLA or Avengers. When a friend of mine recommended Nextwave to me I was more than happy to get to know some of Marvel’s lesser known characters. What I got was a story so fun, so rich with life and humor, that Nextwave might be one of my favorite superhero teams ever concocted.
Who are the members of Nextwave?
(The Captain, Tabitha Smith, Monica Rambeau, Machine Man, Bloodstone)
Formerly known as Captain Marvel and Photon, Monica leads Nextwave in the battle against the terrorist organization S.I.L.E.N.T. as well as H.A.T.E. I know that might sound confusing, but I’ll clear it up when we get to the plot. Monica has the ability to convert her body into any form of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Created for the Nextwave series by Ellis and Immonen, The Captain (formerly known as Captain @#$%) has super strength and speed and an identity problem. He can’t seem to come up with a Captain name that hasn’t been taken or put under copyright.
A nearly indestructible monster hunter with a love of firearms and creature slaying. She’s the daughter of Marvel Universe monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone and the brother of Cullen Bloodstone (Avengers Arena, Avengers Undercover).
Formerly a member of X-Force, Tabby can make things explode at will, usually saying something along the lines of “tick, tick, boom” beforehand. She’s the more bubbly member of the group.
Machine Man AKA Aaron Stack
Originally created by Jack Kirby for the 2001: A Space Odyssey series, Aaron Stack is an android with a variety of onboard weapons, abilities, and knowledge. He’s the team’s resident tech expert and is a bit of a lovable jerk.
So wait… Nextwave are Agents of H.A.T.E. but are also against them?
A very big part of this limited series is its humor. Nextwave is a team put together by the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort (H.A.T.E.) in order to fight the terror group S.I.L.E.N.T. The only problem is that the team discovers in the first issue that the Beyond Corporation, a subsidiary of the terror organization, is funding H.A.T.E. This leads to a hilarious cat and mouse chase as Nextwave fights weapons of mass destruction released on Earth while also fighting their boss -- Dirk Angers -- who exists as a sort of Anti-Fury.
What makes Nextwave a great alternative?
There are few Marvel comics series that allow for the level of absurdity that Nextwave embraces. Usually Marvel characters will have a bit of humor thrown into their adventures, but the Nextwave series lives on the line of crazy action visuals and hilarious hijinks. No other Marvel series is going to have a scene where man-eating koala bears are thrown out of plane at the heroes.
The characters are also incredibly fun to read and each have a distinct voice. Sometimes I find myself getting bored with some team members in big superhero comics. Nextwave is one of the few team books where I’m excited to read a scene with any and all of the characters on the roster.
Who would like Nextwave?
Fans of Ellis’ other work might enjoy this book quite a bit. It’s very different from works like The Authority or Trees, but it’s definitely worth seeing him tackle a much more absurd premise and group of characters. It actually reminded me a lot of Invincible from Image Comics and Robert Kirkman, so if you’re a fan of that series run out and get Nextwave as quickly as you can.
Ken Porter also writes comic books including "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year's Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in "Artifacts" #33.