Sunday, March 4, 2018
Don't Make Me Angry!, Part 23: Nextwave, Agents of H.A.T.E., Vol. 1: This is What They Want
Since I included so much of the early history of Aaron Stack, A.K.A. Machine Man in my recently-concluded INCREDIBLE HULK reading marathon, it only seemed fitting to pull up the Comixology account and whip up a review for Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen's NEXTWAVE, AGENTS OF H.A.T.E., VOL. 1: THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT. After all, Machine Man IS a member of this oddball group....
I eagerly snapped up copies of this book in floppy form when it was first released, back in my pre-trade-waiting days, and I didn't make it very far into the run. Ellis' stories flew in the face of my precious continuity, and the strange, jokey tone of the series put me off.
Anyway, Marvel was having one of their amazing quarterlycsales of digital books on Amazon last month, and I figured, what the hell...? For $4.40, I could grab both NEXTWAVE trades, and see how the rest of the story went....maybe I would love it!
I didn't hate it.....it just seemed.....I dunno...unnecessary? Ugly? Mean-spirited..?
When I originally read the first few issues, I was surprised to see that Ellis wrote Machine Man to be a complete asshole. Having actually read his solo series, I now see that Machine man always was a complete asshole. (Haughty, ill-tempered, condescending to humans, etc.) I took, and still take, issue with Ellis making Monica Rambeau (The former Captain Marvel/Photon) a complete asshole, but...since Ellis goes out of his way to show her using her powers as a child to fry an annoying animal, I was able to let this go. (She didn't HAVE powers as a child, if you go by her AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16 origin, so maybe this is just some weird, Elseworlds stuff.)
The book gets off to a bad start by having the team already assembled, so you feel like you've come in about halfway through the film. The team is comprised of the aforementioned Monica Rambeau and Machine Man, plus Elsa Bloodstone, Tabitha "Boom Boom" Smith, and The Captain. I had always labored under the impression that The Captain was former Captain America John Walker, but his origin here shows that to not be the case....He's just some random superpowered lout.
The team works under Dirk Anger, an agent of H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort), but it turns out that they're just a front for a terrorist organization, so the team soon finds themselves under constant assault from Dirk and his neverending troops of broccoli-men/Human Resource employees. (Don't ask.) They demean and emasculate the mighty Fin Fang Foom in the first story arc, and face a giant mecha corrupt cop in the second, before facing off against Anger in the third arc.
Ellis tries for broad comedy, but the characters are so thin and underdeveloped that most of it falls flat. The usual Ellis high-concept plot devices are on display, but it's hard to give a shit about Boom Boom, Elsa Bloodstone, and The Captain when they're all so paper-thin. This is one of those books where there's truly no one to root for, since everyone is an asshole.
Stuart Immonen's art is serviceable, but not my cup of tea...there's just nothing exciting or interesting about it. He gets the job done, in a bare-minimum kind of way, but even his wild action scenes don't provide any thrills.
I already have volume 2 on deck, so I'm in for the full ride, but I can easily see why I dropped this so fast the first time around.
NEXTWAVE, AGENTS OF H.A.T.E., VOL. 1: THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT earns an ugly five out of ten corrupt giant mecha-cops: