Skip to Content

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. – Alternative Comics Beat

Alt Beat

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)

Monica Rambeau

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.

The Captain

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.

Elsa Bloodstone

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).

Tabitha Smith

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.

Read More about Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. – Alternative Comics Beat

Alternative Comics Beat: This One Summer

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

This One Summer


Written by: Markio Tamaki

Art by: Jillian Tamaki

Published by: First Second

Summer reading, summer adventure

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is read something that reminds me how much I cherish the way I spend the rest of my summer days — with good friends. When I stumble upon something that reminds me what it was like to be younger, to have the summer be a grand adventure, I cherish it all the more.

This One Summer is an original graphic novel that captures the adventure of a summer cabin and injects some real human moments and themes into the story.

The story follows Rose, a girl that’s spent every year in Awago Beach with her mother and father. Her summer bestie Windy stays each year in a cabin near by, and the two of them are inseparable when they arrive. Problems start to arise when Rose’s mom starts lashing out and withdrawing for unknown reasons, and Rose starts experiencing second-hand what it’s going to be like when she’s a teenager. She and Windy spend the summer watching horror movies and talking about their inevitible puberty, and each scene has more heart and charm than the last.



An original graphic novel more like a prose novel

One of the many great things about this OGN is that it doesn’t really read like many other comics. While you can often see a clear story structure in most books, This One Summer reads more like an illustrated novel that a regular American comic book.

This format lets readers spend more time with Rose and get inside her head, even in silent scenes or where she has no dialogue. It’s a book that really sets a tone and mood for the characters and lets them explore throughout the pages.



Why it’s a great alternative

This is the kind of book that doesn’t have a supernatural twist. There’s no superpowers, no ghosts, and no demons or space invaders. It’s just a slice-of-life story about summer and coming to terms with growing up, as well as they mysteries of older kids and sex. It’s a great change of pace for people that are burnt out on superhero comics or want something a little more grounded.



Who would enjoy this OGN?

I think that people who are fans of comics like Lost at Sea, Blankets, and Essex County will really enjoy this OGN. It’s got the same amount of heart as all of those stories and really shows off how comics can be used to tell a story in any genre. It’s a fantastic story that doesn’t need fantastical elements to make you feel for the characters.

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and 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.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: This One Summer

Alternative Comics Beat: The Eyes Of The Cat

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

The Eyes of the Cat


Written by: Alexandro Jodorowsky

Illustrated by: Moebius

Published by: Humanoids


I recently traveled across the state to see the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, the fabled adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel by Alexandro Jodorowsky that never saw the light of day, but went on to inspire movies for decades afterwards. In the pre-production of the film Jodorowsky met the comic artist Moebius, who then went on to storyboard Jodorowsky’s version of Dune in no less than 3,000 images.

When the film fell through they decided to take their love of collaboration and artwork to the comic book and graphic novel medium, and The Eyes of the Cat was the first result of their work together in sequential art. Before launching the game-changing series The Incal, Jodorowsky and Moebius combined forces to create a comic book that was originally free, then went on to be pirated and distributed before becoming a highly sought after piece of storytelling.





Creation of the book

Originally Jodorowsky pitched the idea to Moebius as a five-page story. Moebius didn’t think that there were pages to fill their quota, so Jodorowsky came up with the idea of illustrating the book completely in large, single images. Many of the images would be repeated for dramatic effect, including the blind boy standing at the window.

Jodorowsky was so excited about the project that he talks about driving hours to see each page as it was finished. Moebius would call him, tell him he’d completed a page, and Jodorowsky would hop in his car without a second thought to see it in person.

Part of the charm of Jodorowsky’s work, in comics or any other medium, is that he has enthusiasm for creating art like no other person on the planet. The Eyes of the Cat reflects that love and enthusiasm, while putting a spin on creating comic books that only that partnership could manifest.





Poetry and comics

I mentioned earlier that The Eyes of the Cat is basically comic book poetry. I’m not trying to be fancy, that’s literally how it reads. The sparse captions and large images are less direct that traditional comic book storytelling and are present for atmosphere. There’s simply the blind boy, the bird, and the black cat that interact with one another in a melancholy landscape.

I’ve been reading comics for years and I’ve never read anything quite like this book. While it does read very fast, it was still a delight to go back and read it twice more. Once to appreciate the words that Jodorowsky wrote for the piece, the second time to go over Moebius’ incredible lineart, which I’ll expand upon in a moment. I’ll most likely read it a fourth time before finishing this article, just so that I can drink in the atmosphere a little more and get a better feel for what’s going on with the story.

I did research some of the language and imagery used in the book, but it was still pretty vague. Meduz, the name of the eagle, is a word most often associated with “jelly fish” in other cultures. I’m not sure if this has something to do with the nature of detached eyes, or has some other kind of cultural meaning, but the fact that it made me interested enough to pause while writing this article shows how much the story stuck with me afterwards.





Moebius’ artwork

If you’re not familiar with Moebius (Jean Giraud) I want you to stop reading this article and search any corner of the internet or your local comic book store for his artwork. It’s fantastic. The way that this edition of The Eyes of the Cat was presented had Moebius’ work on a bright yellow background. This makes Moebius’ inks and lines pop off the page and gives that melancholy feel to the artwork that the captions imply.

While we don’t see a lot of this unnamed city or the blind boy, we can feel the desolation and isolation that Moebius’ artwork conveys on the page.

Why it’s a great alternative

If there were ever an alternative from normal comics, this would be a showcase piece. It’s so far removed from the weekly pull box fare that I should have read and recommended the work earlier. I’m sure I have Jodorowsky’s Dune to thank for my interest in the other works that he collaborated on with Moebius outside of The Incal.

Who might like The Eyes of the Cat?

The Incal is actually a great place to start for people that would be interested in this comic book. If you read The Incal or you’re a fan of out-of-the-box storytelling and moody poetry like something that Edgar Allan Poe would create, this is the comic for you.

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and 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.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: The Eyes Of The Cat

Your Alternative Comics Beat For July 8th, 2013: Batman ’66

Alt Beat With Kenneth Porter


I know I’m going against the grain by picking not only a Big Two book for this column, but also a Batman title. If you give me a chance to explain I think we can avoid any stone throwing or harsh language. Since the debut of Tim Burton’s Batman the world has viewed the caped crusader as the dark knight instead of a fun, pulp character. My first exposure to the Adam West Batman was in the film version of the TV show.

I thought it was hilarious, very fun, and a whimsical take on Batman that I had never seen.


I grew up on the Tim Burton films and Batman: The Animated Series. When I discovered the TV version of the character I didn’t react like many people my age did. I’ve literally heard people call it embarrassing and ridiculous. The same might be said about Nolan’s films by an audience in the future. Back then the whole idea of costumed crime fighting was light and fun pulp stories. Now the trend is to make things as dark as possible, even when it has no right being there.

What makes Batman ’66 so special is the blend between the fun and goofy TV show and post-modern comic book storytelling. The comic was written by Jeff Parker with art and colors by Jonathan Case, and it really pops. Both the writing and the artwork are incredible. I feel like I’m watching an episode of the TV show but with a much higher budget. They never could have had Batman launch from the batmobile and fight it out with the Riddler on a bi-plane in the TV show.


If they did it wouldn’t have looked this impressive.

I really need to focus on the art here. Parker writes a thrilling story, but Case delivers on the art front in a way I’ve never seen before. It mixes pop sensibilities of the 60’s with a use of color that makes it unique on the digital shelves.

So why is it an Alt-Beat you ask?

Because this is a version of Batman many of you might not be familiar with. It’s a look back to what Batman used to mean to a whole different generation. It shows off just how versatile the character is and how he can flourish in any decade and context. Throw your caution to the wind and try this digital title on for size.


Will the readers warm up to Batman ’66?

Can Alt-Beat columnist Ken Porter stave off the rampaging post-modern Batman fans?

Will he find something just as fun to talk about next week?

Tune in to Cosmic Book News and the Alt-Beat column again! Same Cosmic time, same Cosmic channel!

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For July 8th, 2013: Batman ’66

Your Alternative Comics Beat For May 10th, 2013: Gutter Magic

A Different World

Fantasy and magic are genres that have been gracing the pages of comics for decades. It takes something really special to grab the attention of new readers or make an impact with all of the competition on the shelves and digital marketplaces. What this week’s Alternative Comics Beat selection does is drop you in on a fun, action-oriented world of urban fantasy that leaves you with just enough to want more.

Gutter Magic


Written by Rich Douek and drawn by Brett Barkley, Gutter Magic follows a timeline where powerful sorcerers stepped into World War II and changed the course of human history. Cinder and his goblin pal Blacktooth are trying to make a living in this world, but find themselves pursued by some powerful and rough customers.

The Story

I’ve become a big fan of urban fantasy over the years. What makes or breaks a great urban fantasy is the balance of spectacle and actual character development. In Douek’s first issue we get a good balance of both. There are moments of danger and suspense, but each moment reflects how the characters react in each situation and what makes them unique from each other.

The Artwork


Barkley’s artwork is a very detailed style that works well with the gritty tones of the Gutter Magic universe. I particularly like the lines and definitions on Blacktooth, who isn’t just an average cartoon goblin. There’s an array of wrinkles on his face that could probably tell their own stories, and that says a lot about a character’s design. The colors by Donna Gregory really compliment Barkley’s artwork. It mixes that bright magic feeling with the musty feeling of a fantastical city.

Why it’s Worth Your Time

I think that this series will appeal to fans of many genres. There’s fantasy, urban crime, steam punk elements, and a buddy action movie vibe between Cinder and Blacktooth. If you’re a fan of series like Skullkickers, Orc Stain, or fantasy RPG games, then you should really check this out. It’s a great alternative to your usual stack and it supports an independent creative team on Comixology. It’s really a double win if you think about it. Or don’t think about – just try it!

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For May 10th, 2013: Gutter Magic

Your Alternative Comics Beat For March 8, 2013: Kamandi

Alt Beat


Jack Kirby is one of the most influential comic book creators that ever lived. He helped define and design many of Marvel Comics greatest characters and did his fair share of writing and creating at DC Comics as well. One of the series that he wrote and drew for DC was Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Like something right out of a Twilight Zone episode or an untold chapter of Planet of the Apes, this series placed a young human warrior in a world controlled by animal men that see him as nothing more than an intelligent pet.


I’ve been feeling very nostalgic towards old comic books lately, so I thought that I would recommend something to people who want to read some of the classic old stories by creators like Kirby. Kamandi does feel like a lot of science fiction from the 70’s, but the artwork, colors, and pulp science fiction tone make it a fun read even by today’s standards. The dialogue and thought balloons are very of the time, but the story still moves forward at wonderful pace and the character designs are fun and vibrant.

Kamandi is a character that hasn’t penetrated the general pop culture sphere. He’s appeared in episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and in various comic book mini-series and events, but has never really come back into play. The chance to do an out of continuity character set in a futuristic world with animal rulers would be a great story to reboot for DC’s New 52, though I’m not sure if the character would move as many books with young viewers.


On the other hand, one of the things that are great about this character and story is that he’s one of those survivalist young men who will do anything to survive in a horrifying world where people worship atomic warheads. Is it something that needs to be read or is incredibly groundbreaking? No, not necessarily. But it is a change up from regular superhero comics, especially for 1972 when the character was first published.

Kamandi is one of Kirby’s own original creations, and if you haven’t delved into Kirby or the history of this comic book creation machine than you’re doing yourself a disservice. Just studying his drawing style or his dynamic poses is worth the trouble or downloading old issues on digital comic platforms. I was able to pick up the first issue of the series for only 99 cents, so for less than a cup of coffee you can read a piece of comic book history.

I was honestly pulled in by the iconic cover, which I hope to find as a poster sometime in the near future.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For March 8, 2013: Kamandi

Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 29th, 2012

Hello, Cosmic readers! Welcome to another edition of Alternative Comics Beat. I hope that everyone had a great holiday and that you try not to party too hard this New Year’s Eve.

With that being said, let’s jump right in!

It’s All About Sponsorship

The comic book that I decided to choose for this week’s article was one that caught me by surprise. I had planned to do a completely different series until I picked up a new title from Image Comics on a whim. This new series by writer Brian Wood (DMZ) and artist Ming Doyle combines a look into the future with an interesting combination of the military and professional sports world.

Mara #1


In a future where the world is obsessed with military and sports culture, Mara Prince is more popular than religion. She’s one of the world’s greatest athletes and is constantly in the spotlight. But things go horribly wrong for her when a supernatural event takes place during a live broadcast.

Why It’s A Great Alternative

Futuristic stories are a dime a dozen. It’s really rare to see anything where a writer is willing to take a chance and take the human race in a new direction. The concept of the military and sports being interrelated makes so much sense that I’m amazed I’ve never read anything like it before. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist, but personally it’s a bold new take for me.


Brian Wood has been known for developing great characters. He’s been doing a lot of work with Marvel’s X-Men, but this new series from Image allows him to spread his wings from the strict rules of franchise characters.

This comic book is a prime example of what this column is all about. It a new and exciting concept and delivers it in the form of a thought-out and incredibly produced comic book. Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire deserve just as much praise as Wood for putting together a beautiful issue.

Why You Should Read It


I’m aware of the fact that Marvel has some wonderful superhero stuff going on with Marvel NOW! In fact I’d have to be hiding under a rock not to notice it. But considering that last week we were dumped with a million comics because of the holiday, now would be the time to pick up something different if you’ve got a light week. Mara has the potential to be one of those deep character stories that people could talk about for years to come. I suggest you get in on the ground floor while the getting is good.

After the first issue, I know that I’m hooked.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 29th, 2012