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Written by Warren Ellis

Drawn by Stuart Immonen

Published by Marvel Comics

 

2006’s “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.” is the best super-hero comic nobody read. It’s a cynical, action-heavy book about washout super-heroes that will teach you to love again. The Nextwave Squad were going to be the elite Super-hero team of the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort. (H.A.T.E.) Until, that is, they discovered that H.A.T.E. is a front for the Beyond Corporation, a rebranded terrorist organization interested in field testing bizarre weapons of mass destruction on American Soil. They go rogue, steal an experimental aircraft, and set to work stopping H.A.T.E.

“Nextwave” was a comic ahead of its time. A parody of Marvels greatest excesses, it recast five c-list heroes as scenery chewing, trench-coat wearing action stars with severe personality issues. At a time when Marvel was pitching overblown crossovers like “Civil War,” Ellis boiled it down, doing short, fun action movies in two issues. These story’s were thrilling, easily digestible, and more importantly, irreverent. In the main universe, Marvel’s heroes were making gritty choices and compromising their ethics fro security. Nextwave was kicking broccoli-based HR Robots until they exploded.

Immonen’s art, which is absolutely gorgeous, helps. It’s as bright and beautiful as story is darkly comedic. Every kick and explosion is delivered with aplomb. The characters all have a manic gleam in their eye and a middle finger thrust towards convention.

Even the editorial team was in on the joke, with a letter page written by a delusional mail-sorting machine. “Nextwave” even had its own theme song, with the lyrics printed in issue one, and an MP3 recorded by editor Nick Lowe’s band “Thunder Thighs.”

“Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E” was a sly, silly, chop-socky gem of a series, and it remains a cult favorite. You can pick it up in trade omnibus from your local shop, or in digital issues from Comixology.

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