PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

Nextwave #1

William Gatevackes

If the plot seems somewhat conventional, don't worry. Ellis more than makes up for it with a gonzo writing style that is seldom seen in comics.

Nextwave #1

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Contributors: Stuart Immonen (Artist), Wade Von Grawbadger (Artist), Dave McCaig (Artist)
Price: $2.99
Writer: Warren Ellis
Item Type: Comic
Length: 32
Publication Date: 2006-03
Amazon

What do you get when you combine four D-list superheroes, a thinly-veiled Nick Fury clone, a hero whose code name contains an expletive, Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen, bad guys made out of genetically altered kelp, and a giant lizard monster in purple underpants? You get Nextwave, a wild and wacky fun ride which just happens to be one of the best new comics of 2006.

Nextwave tells the tale of a bunch of heroes who worked for a secret, anti-terrorist organization named H.A.T.E. which in turn was funded and armed by the Beyond Corporation which in turn is the new name for S.I.L.E.N.T, a terrorist group which H.A.T.E. was created to fight. When the heroes find out that the company they work for is being used by the same terrorists they are supposed to stop, they go A.W.O.L.

If the plot seems somewhat conventional, don't worry. Ellis more than makes up for it with a gonzo writing style that is seldom seen in comics.

Perhaps the reason Ellis is so freewheeling in his writing style is due to the characters he is working with. His team is composed of Monica Rambeau, the former Avenger once known as Captain Marvel and Photon, Aaron Stack, formerly known as Machine Man, Tabitha Smith, who used the code names Boom Boom and Meltdown, adventurer Elsa Bloodstone, and a new character called Captain ****, the asterisks (which are a skull and crossbones in the book) standing in for some undefined curse word.

You might not have heard from some of these characters in a while. Heck, you might not have heard of some of these characters at all. These aren't the type of heroes that Marvel is building big summer crossovers around or that Hollywood is rushing make movies about. You get the feeling Marvel just gave Ellis a list of characters and said, "Here. Do what you want with them. We don't care." Which might be why the team's former boss is Dirk Anger from H.A.T.E. and not Nick Fury from S.H.I.E.L.D.. The similarity between the two characters goes deeper than just the name. Nick Fury is still a vital character and therefore might have been off limits for Ellis to use.

If this is true, that Ellis was given carte blanche to do whatever he wants with the title and the characters, then this might be one of the smartest things that Marvel has ever done. Ellis revels in the free license Marvel has given him, and this results in some of his best writing in years. He uses his free rein to make Nextwave a high-brow parody book, one where he can play with and poke fun at comic book conventions.

The book is laugh-out loud funny at times, and the dialog is eminently quotable. If this was a movie, or if more people read comics, some of what Ellis comes off with would become part of our everyday lexicon. Dirk Anger's address to his new recruits is especially droll. The writing is top notch all around, silly without being stupid, amusing without being addlebrained.

The art acts as an ideal complement to the story. Immonen's style is versatile enough to be a perfect match for all aspects of the book. His artwork during the parts of heavy dialogue is great, making each of these panels more than just a bunch of talking heads. His characters show more personality by just listening to somebody speak than some others do in entire books. And his action scenes almost explode of the page, drawing the reader in. His drawing is crisp and detailed and shows the years of experience he has in the comic's business.

A special note must be paid to colorist Dave McCaig. Colorists often aren't mentioned unless their work is awful. This is not the case with McCaig's work on this title. His use of vibrant colors adds depth and texture to the art. Each page has the look of a richly painted animation cell, which goes well with the goofy, cartoon-like nature of the book.

As if the first issue wasn't funny enough, we are treated to a letters page where such historic figures as Genghis Khan and Napoleon offer their opinions on the issue we just read. Hey, William Shakespeare likes the book! What else do you need to know to take a chance on the book? And as a special bonus, the letters page prints the lyrics to the Nextwave theme song. Yes, you read that correctly. Nextwave has a theme song.

Nextwave is an inventive comic, rich with humor and excitement. It shows that some times when they let creators run loose, great things happen. My only complaint about the issue that is the first of only a 12-issue limited series. I wish that it was the first issue of a new, on-going series, because I don't want my enjoyment to end after a dozen issues.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.