Archive for September, 2010

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #12

September 30, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
March 2007
*****
Revealed: behind the Beyond Corp. is Devil Dinosaur, a cherry-red T Rex Kirby kreation. That fits the book’s MO, under the punk ‘tude, has mostly been crazy monsters & deep roots in Marvel arcana. But the climax is unexpectedly trad: a villainous rant & the team wins the day. I’ll miss ’em.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #11]

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Nextwave, Agents of HATE #11

September 29, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
February 2007
****
The penultimate issue blatantly announces it’s a waste of money—& w/ half a dozen double-splash pages that resemble a (crazy) scrolling videogame, you can’t argue. The action is deranged & violent, w/ futuristic airships crashing into even bigger airships. But you sense Ellis is done here.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #10]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #12]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #10

September 28, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
January 2007
*****
Ellis swaps the manic comedy for something deeply strange. Nearing their mission’s endgame, the Squad faces Forbush Man (Stan Lee’s answer to Alfred E. Newman), who mind-casts them into alternate, quasi-mystical visions of themselves. Immonen too stretches himself, w/ each scene in a unique style.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #9]
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #11]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #9

September 24, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
December 2006
****
The CEO of Beyond Corp. has laid for the Nextwave Squad that crosses the line into comic book dada, w/ upside-down castles & preposterously-themed superteams. Ellis mocks widescreen idiocy like The Ultimates while homaging the original Silver Age Marvel self-parody, Not Brand Ecch!
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #8]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #10]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #8

September 22, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
November 2006
****
As a caption quips, this arc comes perilously close to depicting a few true character moments. Flashbacks to Elsa Bloodstone’s childhood training suggest she’s more unstable than she appears. But that doesn’t stop her from committing mayhem upon rock monsters who’re playing human, Broadway-style.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #7]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #9]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #7

September 21, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
September 2006
****
The Squad face an army of Mindless Ones (you know, the golem-like cannonfodder from Dr. Strange) in a small Colorado town. But first, a quality pair of dialogues offer a few reflective moments in a comic book w/ ADD. You suspect Ellis’ heart is in these scenes, which add sad depths to his SOBs.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #6]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #8]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #6

September 20, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
August 2006
****

The team escape HATE’s barrage of insane super-weaponry by tickling Dirk Anger’s mother fixation. Even when this comic is simple ultra-violence, Ellis & Immonen add fun touches like a fighting style specific to each hero. And its punk style (2-issue arcs = 2-minute songs) enforces a sense of glee.

last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #5
next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #7

also indexed for Aug. ’06
Astonishing X-Men #15
Civil War #2 of 7
Young Avengers #12

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #5

September 20, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
July 2006
*****
Ellis sets his mag in a bizarro Marvel, just close enough to confuse continuity whores. He riffs on Kirby & Steranko at their weirdest, w/ allusions gross & subtle to Marvel flotsam. Anger (= Fury) assaults the squad w/ an arsenal of goofball tech: broccoli-men, killer koalas, & ptera-soldiers.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #4]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #6]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #4

September 18, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
June 2006
****
The team blows up a mecha-monster real good. I like the two-issue rhythm that Nextwave has set up, but I hope the next arc will find a new plot. Aside from Immonen’s kinetic technicolor, #4’s high point is a comedic epilogue that nails the group’s dynamics & provides sick, Lenny Bruce-like humor.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #3]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #5]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #3

September 17, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
May 2006
****

Tho’ the tone’s hip, the plot’s thin & familiar: in the Midwest, a techno-spore mutates a man into a monster. Ellis leans heavily on the mayhem but he gets lazy kicks from making the victim a corrupt cop. Still, Immonen is coming into his own: his hyper-cartoon is perfect for superhero comics.

last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #2
next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #4

also indexed for May ’06
Iron Man #6
The Pulse #14
Young Avengers #11

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #2

September 15, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
April 2006
****
A special ops team has gone rogue from their SHIELD-parody superiors. They do the “right” thing, as long as that means committing mindless violence while shouting inane catchphrases—not so different from conventional comics, tho’ Ellis’s brio strips away the weak-sauce ethics of mainstream Marvel.
[last issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #1]
[next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #3]

Nextwave, Agents of HATE #1

September 13, 2010

Warren Ellis // Stuart Immonen
March 2006
*****

Spastic comix anarchism parodies Bush-era idiocy! Small-town America is a combat zone menaced by a classic Kirby monster, Fing Fang Foom. Open-bid contracts have put a superspy org at the service of a terrorist corporation. Our only defense: low-grade superheroes like ’80s Captain Marvel. Marvelous!

next issue: Nextwave, Agents of HATE #2

also indexed for Mar. ’06
Iron Man #5
Young Avengers #10

The Defenders #77

September 12, 2010

Steven Grant // Herb Trimpe
November 1979
**
Led by the moody Moondragon, a handful of superwomen bungle their rescue of a starchild. It’s the confused finale to Steve Gerber’s cult classic Omega the Unknown. Grant lacks Gerber’s hermetic sense of subtext but he does undermine expectations & subvert the superheroics.
[last issue: The Defenders #76]
[next issue: The Defenders #78]

The Defenders #76

September 10, 2010

Steven Grant // Herb Trimpe
October 1979
*
How does a non-team disband? Hop randomly from subplot to subplot. The A-story ties up a two-year-old loose end, a cancelled Marvel comic called Omega the Unknown. Rookie writer Grant flattens that book’s enigma (how’s a serious boy tethered to a heroic stereotype?) under necessary exposition.
[continued from Omega the Unknown #10]
[last issue: The Defenders #75]
[next issue: The Defenders #78]

Omega the Unknown #10

September 9, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
September 1977
***
OtU‘s last issue, adding enigmas even as it’s cut short. James-Michael & his gal-pal visit his old home, where they find copies of his robot parents! The mag’s other strand ends more definitively, as the Caped Man decamps for Vegas to make $ for his ‘mission’, only to be gunned down by the LVPD.
[continued in The Defenders #76]
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #9]

Omega the Unknown #9

September 8, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
July 1977
****
This prickling weirdness ought to be felt all the time on the Marvel U’s outskirts. The creative team returns to hammer out a complex critique of superhero vigilantism: Foolkiller (from Gerber’s Man-Thing) sees crime as an aesthetic offense, while Omega & his foe have identical, mercenary motives.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #8]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #10]

Omega the Unknown #8

September 7, 2010

Roger Stern // Lee Elias
May 1977
**
The fill-in work continues. Elias is an adequate sub for Mooney, while Stern (a rookie) shows basic chops. He ushers in Gerber’s alter ego from Man-Thing, a Nice Guy named Richard Rory, along w/ Rory’s foe, Foolkiller. Otherwise it’s a generic fight btw. the Caped Man & a Captain Marvel foe.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #7]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #9]

Omega the Unknown #7

September 6, 2010

Scott Edelman // Jim Mooney
March 1977
*
In a bid for readers, dumb answers & dumber action. The unique tug of the heightened script is lost as the strange Cptn. Marvel/Billy Batson dynamic flattens into a phony riff on Shane. Mooney’s art is rushed too: now it’s that uninspiring ’70s Marvel style (think Sal Buscema) & lacking backgrounds.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #6]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #8]

Omega the Unknown #6

September 5, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
January 1977
****
Gerber & Skrenes push that pivot-point btw. realism & superheroes to a new extreme. Omega prowls Hell’s Kitchen looking for a schizoid murderer; James-Michael walks those same streets confused by the bums & his own pubescent urges. New York’s a violent, lonely town & no superhero can change that.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #5]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #7]

Omega the Unknown #5

September 4, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
November 1976
***
Another brush w/ the inexpressible. For Omega it’s magic, as he struggles w/ a local shaman; for James-Michael it’s emotions, as he wrestles w/ his reaction to a friend’s hospitalization. The “unknown” of the title must refer to the paths that Gerber & Skrenes are blazing in superhero comics.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #4]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #6]

Omega the Unknown #4

September 3, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
September 1976
***
The A-plot involves a neighborhood bruja & a damsel-in-distress—nice to see non-Anglo NYers!—& the B-plot is realistic school bullying. Together, they dramatize how existence grinds the spirit out of you. If the art matched the writing (Mooney’s okay but conventional), OtU would be a masterpiece.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #3]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #5]

Omega the Unknown #3

September 1, 2010

Steve Gerber & Mary Skrenes // Jim Mooney
July 1976
***
The altogether strange Omega starts in on starts in on standard action-heroism w/ that old convention, the face-off in a TV studio (executed ably by Mooney). But the clear, intense voice of the narrator compels you to focus on the kid’s coming-of-age instead: a depressingly violent first day at school.
[last issue: Omega the Unknown #2]
[next issue: Omega the Unknown #4]