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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #332

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.)


332. Nextwave

Nextwave 11.jpg

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:

Nextwave 7.jpg

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!

Nextwave 1.jpg

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!

Nextwave 2.jpgNextwave 3.jpgNextwave 4.jpg

Nextwave 8.jpg Nextwave 10.JPG

Nextwave 6.jpg Nextwave 5.jpg

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 9.JPG

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.


I have the three page Machine Man strip from issue #10 hanging in my office. I feel his pain.


Nextwave was pretty wonderful. There were a couple of times where the jokes were unoriginal or uninspired, but the majority of the book was very good. Definitely a comic to read while inebriated in some way.

“Fear MY robot mind!”?!?

And Marvel cancelled this book?

The mind boggles!

Excellent, excellent series, one that I looked forward to each and every month.

I’m just happy that we got a full 12 issues.

In Marvel’s defense, the book wasn’t exactly cancelled. Immonen got the USM gig and didn’t have time to do Nextwave. Ellis stated that he wasn’t going to continue it without Immonen on pencils. So the book is one a self-imposed, indefinite hiatus.

Which is a shame, because I love this book. It’s the perfect example of what this medium does better than any other.

Poor, poor Special Bear…


November 28, 2007 at 9:14 pm

In Marvel’s defense, the book wasn’t exactly cancelled. Immonen got the USM gig and didn’t have time to do Nextwave. Ellis stated that he wasn’t going to continue it without Immonen on pencils. So the book is one a self-imposed, indefinite hiatus.

They were going to be canceled, the creators just stopped before they were.

I love this book and wish it was still running. But you know what? I think it’s a good thing it ended on such a high note. We have an incredible artifact that, I have to agree, is a breath of bracing pure oxygen for cynical comics fans everywhere, and we never have to say it became too much of a good thing.

Then again, who really thinks you can have too much of a good thing?

Have you seen Immonen’s Hellcat in Marvel Comics Presents? Pretty damn good, so far.

Then again, who really thinks you can have too much of a good thing?


Nextwave is fantastically entertaining from cover to cover. It was odd to hear everyone explain the book ending was because they couldn’t pay Immonen enough. Noone seemed to want it to end, but the finances just didn’t work. Maybe I’m naive about it, but that seems an awful shame.

Good call Bill! You picked out most of my favourite bits too – “Ha! Fear my robot head!” is one of my favourite comic lines ever.

Good comics.

They fought Forbush Man?????

How the hell did I miss this

I hope the person who cancelled this went to the same ‘special hell’ described in the comic as the place where parents who tell their kids to get proper jobs go…
Seriously. I don’t understand why on earth there’s no more Next Wave.

I hated the idea but really, really couldn’t argue with the execution.

KAI: I totally disagree with your “favorite line” assessment. To illustrate my point…

“A M.O.D.O.K. and a M.O.D.A.M. made sweet monkey love by the light of a rack of World of Warctaft servers, and I was the result.”

Laugh out loud funny. I laughed, I cried, I felt an emptiness inside when it was no more. Fun for the whole family.

Honestly, this series was the first time I liked Tabitha. Unashamedly stupid, but dang effective. When she mis-spelled her own name with the bodies of whomever she just blew up was priceless.

Thank you for reminding me that they cancelled the best comic in the history of comics. I will now cry for the remainder of the day. And if any of my co-workers ask, I will point to this article, and they will understand.

I really felt bad for Fin Fang Foom when he said his heart was broken and tears were streaming from his face.

Man, some days when things just aren’t going my way I really feel like having a good Dirk Anger style breakdown.

The most quotable comic in decades (sorry, ASBAR) finally gets its due!

Ok guys… you convinced me to hunt down the TPB…. and MAN! That was just as good as you said it was… I laughed so hard! And I’m still grinning…. The KOALAS!

ah… .happiness!

They were going to be canceled, the creators just stopped before they were.

According to Warren Ellis on his Badsignal mailing list, Marvel were happy to continue the book, but the sales weren’t good enough to justify Stuart Immonen’s standard page rate. Rather than make Immonen work for less than his standard rate or get a different artist in, Ellis decided to leave it at twelve issues.


[…] Could the Challs hold their own series again? I think it’s totally possible. Let’s make it as big and crazy as possible. Call it “Challengers: @#$% the Unknown.” Four normal people in a world gone mad– not just challenging the unknown, but flipping the bird to it. Nextwave meets Fantastic Four, all in glorious KIRBYVISION. In a day-glo DC universe where fresh horrors lurk around ever corner, the Challengers are there to set things right– probably by blowing stuff up. […]

Well…I found this comic by accident and I agree with all you here that it is a shame that it had been cancelled after 12 issues. I’m from Europe and so I liked the Euro-shirt (the Euro-Currency symbol is not really in the Euro-Flag), and many other jokes. I loughed very much (about the Captain – how he got his powers !, Aaron and Dirk) and I dind’t find any unoriginal or uninspired jokes.
Seldom I was so many times surprised by a comic. It had exactly the right mixture. I love such funny comics. I think also, that it is nearly impossible to hold such a high standard over a longer period.
Let us all put our issues to our holy places and take them out in some moments for being enjoyed again, while we are waiting a decade oder two for anything linke them.

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