Or – “Saving America By Entertaining The $#!+ Out Of Us…”

reviewbubble.jpgnw9.jpgI mentioned yesterday that I can’t believe that a book with the quality of art and story seen in “Birds Of Prey” wasn’t DC’s top selling comic. On the Marvel side of the fence, that same disbelief occurs about Nextwave. I share the same delusion as many Americans, that my opinion is the only correct and justifiable one, and that everyone else will eventually come around to see things “the right way.” The right way, in this case, is to love Nextwave, and nearly everyone I’ve recommended it to has come away laughing, and usually adds it to their pull list. Sadly, even that isn’t going to be enough to keep it on the stands, though Marvel brass has promised limited series treatment down the road. Issue #11 is the penultimate issue of the run, and they’ve tossed in everything but the kitchen sink to get your blood pumping… Does it work?

Indeed it does, but like every issue of NextWave, you may have to do a double-take in order to let it all sink in. Last issue’s defeat of Forbush Man by Tabitha “ZOMG!” Smith and the subsequent retreat of Number None (head of the evil Beyond Corporation) has allowed our heroes to FINALLY track him down to his real lair, a place called State 51. “You mean AREA 51?” asks team leader Monica of her robotic stooge Aaron. No, fleshy stupid one, Aaron means STATE 51, and adjusts the viewscreen of their battlewagon to allow them to see the floating factory of mighty evil for the first time.

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Several miles of concentrated “Holy Crap On A Stick!” It’s like Manhattan, only with fewer pizza joints and a slightly more evil cloning factories. Aaron has trouble on his approach, with competing energy fields and gravity wells, strange radar resistances, and a general sense of weirdness…

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Hmm… almost like that, yep. It is imporant for copyright reasons that we make it 100% clear that is NOT the helicarrier, H.A.T.E. is not S.H.I.E.L.D., and their leader Dirk Anger is NOT Nick Fury, regardless of their synonymous last names. Sure, they’re both a little wacky, both cover one eye, both have command of huge nebulous legions of swarming identical guys in coveralls, but Nick Fury… umm… well, he’s still ALIVE.

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I’ve worked for companies like Beyond before, and I’m going to go to the doctor IMMEDIATELY and make sure I don’t have a “zombie switch” of my own installed. If you are or have been employed by any branch of the media, the gub’mint, Time Warner, World Wrestling Entertainment, or 7-11, I implore you to do the same. Anyway, zombie Dirk is intent on seeing his errant charges dead, dead dead, and is willing to go to any ends to make that happen. He steers the giant flagship directly after Nextwave, matching Aaron’s flight plan move for move, with no regard to the fact that he’s trying to chase a jackrabbit while riding a pregnant cow, metaphorically speaking. “Sir, we’re too close, we’ll crash!” pipes up one of Dirk’s lieutenants. “I have reinvented suicide as a group activity… My name’s Dirk Anger and I say @#$! all of you,” replies the undead superspy, and PLOWS HIS SHIP directly into State 51. The resulting explosion seemingly annihilates them all, but also manages to damage the Nextwave squad’s ship beyond repair, forcing the team to continue on foot. What’s the plan, oh mighty Monica leader of men (technically, I guess, leader of a man, a woman, a girl, and a giant toaster oven)?

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Amen, sister. What follows is the most gleeful, awesome, brilliant, inventive and downright psychotic fight scene ever put on bristol board. It’s better than the 8 minutes of punching in “They Live.” It’s better than the moment when Batman kicks Superman in the face in “The Dark Knight Returns.” It’s even better than Cyclops & Wolverine’s tour de force in the original X-Men movie (“Prove it!” “You’re a @#$#.” “Fair enough…”) Purple communist monkeys. Killer robots. Giant men of stone. Stephen Hawking clones in flying wheelchairs with Heat Vision. Four-armed Samurais with Two Heads. Midgets in bondage gear and Iron Man helmets… And the piece de resistance, the be-all and end-all surreal image of all comicdom, surpassing even Korrek The Barbarian coalescing out of a jar of peanut butter…

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MODOK Elvises. Or perhaps Elvis MODOKS, I’m not sure. (Mental Organism Duplicatin’ Our King of Rock & Roll, uh huh HUH!) It’s an image that will bring tears to your eye, in a good way, and it’s among SIX separate likewise incredible double-page spreads of utterly wonderful chaos. Note Aaron’s giant scissor hands in that panel, if you can see them. Even more interesting, note the familiar claws and headgear on The Captain’s adversaries on the next page.

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Good lord… CHOKE! Chimperines! Oh, the huge manatee! I think the tagline on the last double-spread says it all, “Nextwave: Blatantly Wasting Your Money Since 2006!” And yet, I don’t feel cheated. I love page after page of Bendis dialogue as much as the next guy, but these images are just so entertainingly trippy that I laughed my way through the whole issue. Finally, when all the fightin’ is done, the team staggers through into another corridor, and exhausted Captain complaining, “My god, this HAS to get easier.” He’s obviously never played a video game, has he? After all, the level boss always makes the endless waves of foot solldiers look like a walk in the park with Dr. Girlfriend, doesn’t he?

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Oh my stars and garters! Right in the framistat! Can Aaron survive this? Well, he survived THIS, so I’m saying “Yeah.” But darned if that wasn’t an incredibly dramatic moment, hmm? This issue really reminded me of how much I’ll miss this book once it’s not montly anymore. I’m crossing my fingers that it comes back for the promised occasional limited series, but with Stuart Immonen going on to draw Ultimate Spider-Man, I’m not holding my breath. We’ve heard the old “If you love it, we’ll bring it back” song and dance from Marvel in the past, but it’s very rare that a revival ever captures the madness that was the original series. And with Nextwave, it’s a peculiar and excellent brand of madness, one that earns a heartfelt three stars.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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2 Comments

  1. Salieri
    January 20, 2007 at 3:58 am — Reply

    Aheh…the ‘wasting your money since 2006’ comment was a referral to the fact that the multiple splash pages mean you either have to waste money on a scanner or five extra pages.

  2. January 20, 2007 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    Is it Elvises or Elvii?

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