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Nextwave #9 – Brand Name Goodness

This weeks’ Nextwave is partially built around a gem of a gimme idea, and it is to Warren Ellis’ credit that he does not allow the idea to overwhelm the issue itself, providing a good issue even if it weren’t for the coolness of the idea.

The gimme idea, in this instance, is that Nextwave faces off against “The Paramounts,” who are made up of a group of characters from the pages of Marvel’s late 60s humor magazine, Not Brand Echh.

So Forbush Man, Charlie America, The Inedible Bulk and Giant Sam are the villains of the piece, and Ellis gives each character a nice intro before they show up at the end, supplying an amusing origin for each (except Forbush Man, who needs no introduction).

It’s such a clever idea that Ellis pretty much could have rested on the laurels of that idea, but he does a good job making the rest of the issue intriguing on its own.

Stuart Immonen, as usual, delivers a knockout performance on the artwork, and I can’t be the only one who is reading the issue thinking, “Hmm…yeah, I can see him doing a very good job on Ultimate Spider-Man,” can I?

I loved Ellis’ use of Tabitha to parody American culture, but the use of the shirt at the end? Rarely are parodies of satires all that good of an idea, and in this instance, while it was amusing, it wasn’t NEARLY worth the effort put into for the joke.

I loved the homages to Morrison, but I think, to be honest, Ellis went a bit overboard with the other supervillains, as it sorta detracted from the coolness of the Paramounts.

Still, a very cool issue.

Highly recommended.

22 Comments

Sometimes waiting for the trade can be a bit annoying. I’ll be happy I did it when it comes out though.

Tabitha is a parody of just one aspect of American culture, the other American characters are parodies of other aspects. Which leads me to my sole problem with Nextwave: Ellis falls into his usual tic of making the British character flawless and badass. The “flaws” of Bloodstone really aren’t flaws at all. Other than that, I love the book.

Everyone seems to love this book; why is it being cancellled?

“Everyone seems to love this book; why is it being cancellled?”

Everybody’s waiting for the trade paperback, or in this particular case, hardcover.

What’s really unfortunate about this is that ‘Nextwave’ is one of the only comics coming out right now that seems designed to be read as a floppy. I can totally endorse a ‘wait for the trade’ mentality for any of the Ultimate titles or for something like Ellis’ run on Iron Man where the stories are obviously built around the paperback. You don’t get a complete unit of entertainment until you have the entire arc. Nextwave though, with it’s 2 issue arcs, is built to be picked up in 22 page doses. The letters page is a part of the fun too with weird ramblings from the Answer-O-Matic (best thus far being it’s analysis of the song Africa by Toto). This is a definite case of everybody losing because of the wait-for-the-trade folks. The books become less fun for the people waiting, and none of us get to read more of it because the sales were too low. Wah.

Also, apparently Immonen was being moved off the book to a bigger assignment, and I don’t think Ellis wanted to do the book without Immonen.

However, Immonen is a fast enough artist that it sounds like he will, indeed, squeeze in some future Nextwave mini-series with Ellis! Huzzah!

“it wasn’t NEARLY worth the effort put into for the joke”.

Yes it was! It’s the funniest joke in Nextwave so far.

moose n squirrel

October 26, 2006 at 4:10 pm

Ellis called it the worst joke he’s told in years, but I liked it. I did think the previous conversation leading up to it (“Europe is a community” “I bet community’s just a big word for country!” etc.) was funnier, though.

I’ll miss this book a hell of a lot. Ellis can be hilarious when he’s cutting loose and having fun, and Immonen’s art has been nothing short of wonderful. It’s frankly a shame that Immonen’s going over to Ultimate Spider-man, which I haven’t read in ages; his dynamism seems a poor fit for Bendis’s plodding decompression.

Oh, totally agreed.

The jokes leading up to it were very funny.

I think Immonen was also channeling the art style of The Ultimates for his work on The Paramounts.

Loved that.

I liked the joke prtecisely as a “parody of a satire,” in no small part because the original satire was so clangingly stupid. An American whose primary war experience was World War II would, I’d imagine, have a hell of a hard time thinking of the French as surrendering cowards. De Gaulle and the Maquis make that a bit tough, really. Ed Brubaker rather cleverly pointed this out in an issue of his Captain America run, #3 I believe.

Ellis said that the sales on the book weren’t high enough to justify Marvel paying the rates that both he and Immonen receive, so for the book to continue one of them would have had to go. Warren recognized that the art was just as important as the writing (rare for a writer, I think) and thus, we go to miniseries instead.

And while I agree that the last-page joke was a real stretch, I loved it. The build-ups were better, but that sequence (well, “panel,” really) desperately needed the wind taken out it. And I’m with Omar – the seqeunce at the beginning of the Captain America run was a great slap in the face to the people ignorant enough to think that picking on the French is fun.

–yo
trying to decide if “pamphlets” or “floppies” is a dumber term for individual issues

I do want to clarify, by the way, that what I object to in Millar’s scene from Ultimates is not so much the anti-French sentiment — with which I don’t agree, but with which I know others might — as it is the mess it makes of Ultimate Cap’s characterization.

Millar has never really decided whether he’s writing an actual WWII-era person, a leftist’s satire of a conservative, or an honest attempt to portray conservative views. It’s the same problem I have with his Ultimate Hulk, who seems to swerve from being a horror character to to an empathetic portrait of an emotional cripple to a comedy emasculation-overcompensation character, never managuing to display more than one of these possible interpretations at a time.

Ultimate Cap’s France joke was one of the highlights of the series. I like Brubaker, but his French-loving will forever be a low point of his Cap run.

Yes, it’s terrible when historical fact conflicts with modern prejudices…

“Ellis falls into his usual tic of making the British character flawless and badass. The “flaws” of Bloodstone really aren’t flaws at all. Other than that, I love the book.”

but the british are flawless and badass

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never understood the way in which some people in the U.S. get so damned worked up about the fact that other countries might have different geopolitical interests and views.

Nor do I gather quite why France is so especially hated, when there are plenty of worse countries saying and doing worse things to the United States and the world on a daily basis. You don’t see mass boycotts of Chinese-made goods and Chinese cuisine or Chinese Checkers being renamed “freedom checkers,” for instance. And they run over people with tanks and support North Korea.

“Yes, it’s terrible when historical fact conflicts with modern prejudices… ”

Yo, I’m just joking. When foreign people make tongue-in-cheek fun of Americans like in Nextwave, it’s a funny satire or spoof. When Americans make tongue-in-cheek fun of the French (even at the hands of of a Scottish writer), people suddenly get oversensitive and contrite and even address it in-story like in Bru’s Cap. No writers going out of their way to rectify Ellis’s anti-American stereotypes in Nextwave, it’s understood to be a harmless joke. I think Ultimate Cap’s statement was the same, just something to be laughed off in good tongue-in-cheek humor.

The difference, T., seems to be that Nextwave is “self-correcting” in the sense that everyone is a stereotype. Yes, even Elsa, who seems to be an OTT parody, not of actual Brits, but of “Mockney” icons like Spike from Buffy.

At any rate, you’ll have no trouble find millions of Americans who believe in
the redneck stereotype Ellis is riffing on in this issue, some of them self-proclaimed “rednecks” and “trailer trash” themselves. John Waters isn’t a foreigner. Jeff Foxworthy isn’t a foreigner. Chris Rock isn’t a foreigner. And all of them have played off of such stereotypes in their comedy. While we’re going after Ellis, shall we also demand apologies from Larry the Cable Guy for portraying middle Americans as dumb, uneducated louts?

Omar, that’s my point: Americans can laugh at their own stereotypes, whether it comes from others or whether it comes for themselves. So why must we get all PC and contrite when we mock other countries. I’m sure they can laugh at themselves just as easily as we can. And if not, screw em for not being able to take a joke.

And as far as Elsa being a “mockney” stereotype, whatever that is, it’s not a very insulting if your stereotype is to always have the best lines, look great and kick ass effortlessly. That’s up there with saying “my only flaw is that I care too much” or “it sucks to be so handsome.”

I suppose the difference is that I don’t perceive the same degree of sheer mindless spite in Ellis’s joke, nor the willful distortion of historical fact needed to make it work. When Ellis mocks Tabby for her ignorance and shallowness, he’s not figuratively pissing on the fields of Flanders or the graves of the Maquis. Rednecks are a goofy stereotype, who are portrayed as stupid and uncouth because so many self-proclaimed “rednecks” go on Springer and so forth and make asses of themselves. Other Americans are embarrassed by them and mock them.

But France-bashing? France-bashing is an effort to insult an entire nation by people in another nation, for what amounts to ill-considered spite — as I noted, there are worse nations out there by far that don’t get nearly as much stick from U.S.ers. It tends to bespeak a certain moral condescension that’s disturbingly tied up with American nationalism, and so for me it comes off as both more hostile and desperately unfunny. It’s the difference between poking fun at oneself or one’s neighbors, and poking fun at that kid you and your clique really do dislike.

But if you can’t see that distinction, I can’t really make my side of the issue any clearer.

This is a definite case of everybody losing because of the wait-for-the-trade folks. The books become less fun for the people waiting, and none of us get to read more of it because the sales were too low. Wah.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you waiting for the trade hurts anyone. It is a lie spread by publishers too dumb, too ignorant or too careless to figure out what their customers want.

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