Monday, 17 April 2017

NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E., Volume 1: This is What They Want Review (Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen)

HATE are the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, aka, like SHIELD, someone really wanted to spell HATE! Dirk Anger (of course) is the Director, a bile-spewing Spider Jerusalem knockoff, and his agents of HATE (or are they Nextwave? Ah, I don’t care!) are Machine Man, a sassy robot who likes beer, Monica Rambeau, a former Captain Marvel, Elsa Bloodstone, a sorceress or something, and some weirdo called The Captain who used to have a dirty name.

Together they fight Fin Fang Foom, a giant dragon who’s wearing pants in this book for no reason (he doesn’t have genitals!), a corrupt cop who turns into a giant Transformer, and robot hitmen who’re made of broccoli. Uhh… k.

This sounds like the kind of comic I might enjoy but Nextwave didn’t click with me. The stories are utterly pointless and generic – there’s a big thing to punch, let’s punch it! - and the characters were one-dimensional at best and completely unmemorable. I didn’t care about this team or its goals and found the book very easy to put down.

Also, Warren Ellis’ comedy in this one feels too try-hard and unfunny (Ha, BROCCOLI – I’m OUTRAGEOUS!). Maybe that’s because he had to dial it back a bit for Marvel but Ellis is at his best when he’s allowed to go really dark in his humour, like he does in Transmetropolitan. Here it feels weak and sanitized, like someone doing a safe parody of Warren Ellis.

Stuart Immonen’s art isn’t bad, though it’s definitely not his best work, and some of Dirk Anger’s vitriolic monologues were amusing. I guess it’s cool that Marvel did something this batty and imaginative - with the killer koalas, Pteromen (idiots wearing Pterodactyl outfits) and the Samuroids (robot samurais), this read more like an average issue of Chew than Marvel’s usual – but it was still boring in its OTT silliness. Bad jokes and humdrum hyperactive superhero action are no substitute for quality characters or story. I didn't hate these agents but I definitely didn't like them much - Agents of Ambivalence!

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