The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
Thanks to Greg Burgas for pitching in yesterday. You’ll probably see him again before the end of the week. I’m a terrible comics fan because I haven’t read the best Ellis has to offer, but I bring you the best to write about it for me! For up-to-the-minute Ellis goodness, check out his just-launched-today message board here.
Today: the most awesome comic in the history of the universe. (Archive.)
Nextwave: a comic so cool, it’s got its own theme song.
Warren Ellis devised Nextwave (I’m going to leave off the ‘Agents of HATE’ tag) for one purpose: to “give them what they want.” Nextwave takes the superhero concept and peels it back to its bare essentials. In the words of Ellis himself:
I took The Authority and I stripped out all the plots, logic, character and sanity… It’s an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode.
So what’s Nextwave about? It’s about this:
Loud and crazy, it’s the most irreverent thing Marvel’s published in ages, and came as a breath of fresh air to this cynical comics reader. It’s the smartest mindless superhero comic ever made, pointing out the ludicrousness of the genre and reveling in it at the same time.
The cast was drawn from all corners of the Marvel Universe: Monica Rambeau, who used to lead the Avengers! Aaron Stack, the now-crazy Machine Man! Elsa Bloodstone, monster hunter! Tabitha Smith, also known as “Boom Boom,” the airhead explosionist mutant! And the Captain, sensational character find of 2006! Together, they’re Nextwave, a team of superheroes who found out that the organization backing them (HATE: ‘Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort’) was being funded by the terrorists they were supposed to be fighting. Naturally, this leads them to conflict with Dirk Anger, the suicidally insane and usually hilarious director of HATE. Shenanigans ensue!
Through six two-issue storyarcs (’cause superhero books need them cliffhangers), Ellis barraged us with mad ideas and ridiculous comedy. Nextwave took on menaces like Fin Fang Foom, broccoli soldiers, Shogun Warriors, Rorkannu, Elvis MODOKs, baby MODOKs, and the greatest of them all– Forbush Man! Yes. Forbush Man (don’t laugh at his hat) and a bunch of other dudes from Not Brand Ecch. I will not, however, reveal the super mastermind villain behind it all. I’d hate to spoil it for you; that bit’s got to be experienced.
In fact, the comic as a whole has to be experienced. I don’t think I can possibly describe the beautiful madness of it all, but I will share some of my favorite moments with you in this post. Seek out the trades!
No, I didn’t forget to talk about Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger’s wonderful art. Lean and light, it’s filled with energy and completely sells the over-the-top situations Ellis throws into the script. Immonen always tailors his style to the project– heck, in one issue (#10), he went and drew different vignettes in varying styles as an homage to guys like Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, John Paul Leon, and even Dan Clowes. His cover design was also quite brilliant at times, with a different layout and logo every month. All told, it was spectacular, day-glo action art, perfect for the sugary brain candy that is Nextwave.
And that 12-or-so-page spread in #11? SWEET LORD. Behold a sample:
Nextwave is gone now, but one day, when we need it most, it shall return, out of the mists, and lead us to glory once again. It’s far from intellectually stimulating, but it’s big, funny, and explosive– and it does it well. Sometimes, that’s all you need. Thank you, Intarwub Jebus, for giving us the kick ‘splode we wanted so badly. Absurdism and violence– that’s all the comic industry really needs! Right?
See you tomorrow.
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