Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Stuart Immonen(p), Wade von Grawbadger(i), Dave McCaig(c)
This issue of Nextwave: Agents of HATE benefits from Ellie Bloodstone's sharp characterization and the art team's fun, often upside down artwork, but the plot really just involves a lot of introductions. So, it's not much this week. A pity since I really look forward to the book. Naturally, Marvel has decided to discontinue it after three more issues.
The story starts way back in the forties at the point of Steve Rogers rebirth as Captain America. There's a joke involving Steve's urine here, but I didn't find it funny. I'm a tough sell when it comes to scatological humor, but it's not impossible for me to laugh at a good pee-joke. The best such gag so far has been Homer Simpson’s extra-long whiz in a World Trade Center Tower bathroom.
The book cuts to a deserted city, and I like that Nextwave immediately comes to the conclusion that this is indeed a trap set up by SILENT, sponsors of HATE. While usually Nextwave: Agents of HATE consists of fun and games, Ellis recognizes these characters still have a lot of experience under their belts, and it's this experience in the super-hero game that usually gives the book its snappy pacing.
The trap takes a page from Doctor Doom's Recipes for Killing the Fantastic Four Volume One. Immonen, von Grawbadger and McCaig do spruce up the handed-down ingredients with the aforementioned upside down artwork. That series of introductions I was talking about follow.
SILENT has been secretly buying super-powered soldiers comprised of wannabe super-heroes who haven't any inkling about what it means to be a super-hero. Ellis' gags in this run of introductions are hit and miss. The best concerns a smashing parody of Power Girl and a send-up of the Authority, mocked only in name since they have a function to attend.
Most will identify the return of an old bona-fide Marvel character as the high point, but his reintroduction really falls flat because there's just no ice cream for the cherry to be placed atop. The high point for me is when Ellie Bloodstone becomes outraged and expresses this lividness through gunfire. Tabitha's typical "Tick. Tick. Boom." moments also liven up an otherwise average Nextwave issue.
European Union Central Bank: Ellie Bloodstone is wearing a tee-shirt emblazoned with their flag. As she implies--"The stars bit anyway."--The European Union flag consists of a circle of gold stars on a blue field. The stylized E though does add a touch of class to an otherwise bland banner, which is probably why she chose this shirt to represent the EU.
Number None: CEO of the Beyond Corporation; probably a reference to The Prisoner, in which He Who is Not Number Six asked in each episode "Who is number one?" Christopher Eccleston, the ninth Doctor, will be portraying the Prisoner in a new series.
Pope Omerta: a member of the Core Cell of SILENT; Omerta, the code of silence coined by the Mafia or the Hollywood version of the Mafia. Take your pick. It's a word, true or false, associated with the Mafia.
General Quiet: horrible pun and also another Core Cell member. Each member of this Core Cell represents figures of authority or those who wish to be authorities that often if not always wish to silent the public. Number None represents the upper-class rich. Mister Sshhh represents a middle management dilettante. Pope Omerta represents religion. General Quiet represents the military.
The Homosexuality: a group of SILENT owned villains not available for this adventure due to attending "a gay pride parade in San Francisco." While save for Dr. Headless, the other villains previously mentioned in the book are basically new creations, the Homosexuality represents Wildstorm's Authority. "The Sun-King" of course translates as Apollo. "The Midniteman" translates as Midnighter. "Polestar," probably referring to strippers, and "Slightly Creepy Policewoman" are just generics thrown into the joke.
The New Paramounts: The New Avengers, with shabby looking Captain America, Giant Man and Hulk replicants.
"I want the New Rhinestone Maximums." Ohhhhh, sweeeeeet. Ellie gets the best lines this issue, and here's one of them. Rhinestones were considered the chintzy equivalent of diamonds back in the disco era. “Maximums” equals Ultimates.
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