Friday, February 10, 2006

Thoughts on Nextwave, Pts. 1 and 2

Thoughts on Nextwave
(the comic with a theme song.)

Like a thousand other nitwits, nerds, and aesthetes, I’m a big fan of a lot of Warren Ellis’s stuff, and strangely enough, an even bigger fan of Stuart Immonen. Back when I started reading comics on the mid 90s, Stuart was drawing one of the Superman monthlies, and was one of the first artists I fell in love with. He’s an amazing artist on a lot of levels, a guy who can really flesh out the entirety of a scene, paying attention to background details that simply make everything more real. He draws great people, beautiful women, and does a great job with the character acting that makes a comic sing. When Nextwave came out, there was a good chance for me to be let down.

I wasn’t.

Nextwave is a five person superteam consisting of the Captain, Boom Boom, Captain Marvel/Photon, Machine Man, and Elsa Bloodstone. Elsa Bloodstone is a gun-toting monster hunter, an amazon who tosses out one-liners as easily as she crushes zombie skull. Machine Man is a barely-used creation of Jack Kirby, a guy with no desire to be human, and none of the logic of the typical ‘bot. Photon is an experienced hero with both phenomenal power and an average joe background. It’s too early to judge what the other 2 will be like, except that the Captain is stupid. Really stupid.

Stuart's art for Nextwave has been causing a lot of people to say, 'there's nothing this guy can't do!!' While flattering, this isn't quite true. While light years beyond his (already superb) work on Action comics, this is simply a new wrinkle on the the style developed for Superman: Secret Identity. (with Kurt Busiek, available now!) Stuart's art has a wonderful sense of lighting, three dimensional space, and solidity. The biggest change is a newfound sense of movement/flexibility that almost seems like an animation/manga influence. While I can't say what the actual influence was, I will say this: it's beautiful, and it fits Nextwave to a T.

The jokes in Ellis's script have an amazing hit/miss ratio. The characters exhibit the improv-like near-spastic fits of humor, (Dirk Anger, p. 4) as well as the sardonic verbal jabs (Elsa Bloodstone) that fans have come to expext. Nextwave isn't as funny, say, as an issue of Ren and Stimpy, but there's a point. While hilarious, this isn't a comedy book, its an action book with laughs. From start to finish, the comic vibrates with energy. Picture the opening of an action movie without any fights. People are chatting, the scenes are changing, fancy cars are driving around. Even though nothing is expoding, the pulse is picking up; the soundtrack goes from catchy, to pounding, to the roar of an engine. That's the first 8 pages of Nextwave.

From there, we get giant-monster rampaging and streetfighting robots. What more do you want? The charcters are sharp, the colors are vibrant, and the threats are menacing. The team has to save a town while they fight both Foom and their corporate sponsors. While I'm excited to see the end of the battle, I'm just as excited by Warren Ellis's plan to keep each story contained in 2 issue arcs. While I love the story as it is, I can't wait to see where the team winds up in issue 3. Good onya, Warren.


Anonymous mj said...

what do you think about paul pope and the next batman graphic novel series?

7:28 PM  

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