For Your Consideration: Marvel’s Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger

by Robert Greenberger

Marvel loves its acronyms. Once there was just S.H.I.E.L.D. and A.I.M. but today we have M.O.D.O.K., S.W.O.R.D., B.A.D., U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., H.E.R.B.I.E. and H.A.T.E.. What’s worse, H.A.T.E (Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort) is a subsidiary of the Beyond Corporation© and was formed by Dirk Anger, who I swear is the name of a porn star. It’s hard to take an outfit like this seriously so thank goodness we’re not meant to.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

From the wicked pen of Warren Ellis and pencil of Stuart Immonen, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. was a humorous comic under the guise of superheroics. The twelve issues took familiar figures Monica Rambeau (formerly Captain Marvel and Photon), Aaron Stack (Machine Man), Tabitha Smith (X-Force’s Boom Boom or Meltdown—these people can never settle for just one name), monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone, and The Captain (an Ellis creation mocking every hero to sport the rank), placing them in mock serious adventures against Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction (BWMD). The title is often overlooked and we have to thank Immonen’s recent relocation to a galaxy far, far away to thank for prompting Marvel to re-release a complete collection of these stories.

Anger formed H.A.T.E to oppose the terrorist cell S.I.L.E.N.T., which went legit as the Beyond Corporation. Thanks to the federal government’s bidding process, Beyond managed to become H.A.T.E.’s corporate sponsor, sending them out in the Shockwave Rider (which is larger on the inside than the outside) to do their dirty work. Or so it seemed.

After all, how could Devil Dinosaur really be behind it all? He doesn’t have opposable thumbs. Thankfully, this bit of silliness was erased when it was revealed he and his compatriot Fin Fang Foom were clones.

Of course, to Ellis, such continuity conundrums meant little to him, telling a reporter, “I think it has to be a self-contained universe. It takes from Marvel history, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to drag mainstream Marvel into it for fear of what I would do to it.” Then grand high poobah Joe Quesada agreed and discounted these stories from the Earth-616 continuity. Of course, given the current Secret Wars, all bets are off.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.  #5

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #5

So, why read this omnibus?

It’s fun. It’s refreshing in its skewering of government, mass media, comic book readers, and the very superheroics that are a staple of every reader’s diet. From each issue’s amusing FAQs to launch the story to the off-kilter take on each character, the sum is greater than its oddball parts. After all, what do these heroes have in common? Not much but that doesn’t stop Ellis from throwing them together then at Earth-shattering menaces. Mostly, they crisscross America in search of BWMD’s including the dragon-like beast of Fin Fang Foom, who’s always good for a laugh. They also confront Broccoli Men, Ultra Samurai, and the Mindless Ones not to mention a confrontation with Forbush Man himself.

How do you reconcile Ellis’ writing, considering this was the man who made WildStorm’s superteam deadly series? He explained in one interview, “I took The Authority and I stripped out all the plots, logic, character and sanity.”

Immonen matched him, bringing a gravitas to the mayhem that grounded the series and making it feel as legit as any issue of The Avengers. Perfectly matching him is Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks and the two remain a potent duo. It was another strong performance by the artist who has only grown stronger in the intervening years so it’s refreshing to look back at his dynamic work here.

Interestingly, even though sales brought the title to an end after just a year, the Young Adult Library Services Association named Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. among the 2007 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Of course, that is not the full story as Ellis said he had always intended to leave after a year but when Marvel wanted Immonen for a tour of duty in the Ultimate Universe, there was little interest in continuing the title.

Editor Nick Lowe worked with Ellis to create some of the first social media viral marketing for a comic book with Lowe crafting the book’s own theme song. Sadly, none of that will be found in the collection but the love, affection, and madness will be found on every page.


Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. Complete Collection SC


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