10 Years of Nextwave: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Beyond©

If you’ve known me for any length of time, then you all might be aware of my obsession–passion for a little comic from 2006 called Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. Now that it’s supposedly the comic’s tenth birthday (according to Marvel.com, but I was late by two days because I’m an idiot. It’s supposedly the 25th of January), I think a few words might be in order.

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THEY KICK YOUR FACE

For the uninitiated, Nextwave is a 12-issue comic from Marvel written by Warren Ellis, pencilled by Stuart Immonen, inked by Wade von Grawbadger, colored by Dave McCaig, and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos. Nextwave’s main concept is basically obscure superheroes fight their terrorist-funded former employers. Awesomely.
Former Avengers chair (if you didn’t know, she’ll tell you) Monica Rambeau, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Avengers reservist Aaron Stack the Machine Man, Buffy-alike British badass Elsa Bloodstone, nineties fashion victim and ex-X-Forcer Tabitha Smith, and brand new Ellis creation The Captain make up the Nextwave Anti-Terrorism Squad, a team ironically created by the terrorist-funded H.A.T.E. led by cut-rate Nick Fury and Bruce Campbell-lookalike Dirk Anger. Together they fight whatever crazy weapon H.A.T.E. comes up with, from hiring Dormammu’s idiot cousin to summon Mindless Ones, rabid koalas dropped from the skies, to weaponized broccoli.
Why do I love Nextwave, you ask? I’ll let these speak for themselves.

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Nextwave is the very definition of a pure superhero popcorn comic. It’s like a Michael Bay movie turned into a comic, only with better dialogue and memorable characters. Nextwave is wall-to-wall awesome moment after awesome moment, sprinkled with wittily witty banter and at times deep Character Moments. Which are subsequently played for laughs and promised never to happen again. While some may argue that Nextwave changes the personalities of their cast drastically, this only seems to revitalize these characters from obscurity, most of them (The Captain excluded) going on to star and be in supporting roles in future comics with their Nextwave looks and personalities.

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Nextwave commits to page some of the weirdest baddies ever seen in a Marvel book by the amazing hands of Immonen, von Grawbadger, and McCaig, including but not limited to: Giant ape dressed as Wolverine, Stephen Hawking clones with eye lasers riding Spartan wheelchairs, and Siamese twin samurais. To string them together, Ellis has crafted a plotline that works in two-issue stretches, forming six story arcs during the 12-issue run. Each arc drops the team in increasingly crazy situations and never stops being crazy from the first page.
Don’t expect serious superheroics in Nextwave, as Warren Ellis’ writing leaves no room for seriousness. But he does have more than enough room for crazy superhero antics, over-the-top characters bantering with each other, and side-splittingly inane dialogue. Every corner of the Marvel Universe is mined for a gag, from the Celestials to the Mindless Ones.
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Celestials: Actual teenage giant space creatures

The art in this book is simply amazing. Immonen, von Grawbadger, and McCaig work perfectly to create one of the best-looking comics ever published. The slightly cartoony style fits its less-than-serious tone and at one point, Immonen even apes some other artists’ styles for one of the best sequences in the comic. And the very next issue is loaded with splash pages that is easily the high point of Nextwave. Chris Eliopoulos provides the lettering and also invented the now-legendary ‘☠☠☠☠’censors.
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That couldn’t have been family-friendly uncensored.

Not just the comic proper, things that in other books seem like an afterthought are also mined for comedic value. The letters column, manned by Letter-Matic® 7053 is easily the best letters column I’ve ever read in comics. Featuring letters from various historical figures and Lettermatic’s musings about Toto’s 1982 hit song Africa, how could it not be? Besides that, the recap pages for each issue feature humorous Q&A sessions, a format that made its triumphant return in AvX: VS and A+X. But hands-down, the best thing about Nextwave is that it has its own theme song by editor Nick Lowe’s band Thunder Thighs.
Seriously. Here it is.
Bottom line, Nextwave is one of the most fun comics to ever hit the stands. No need to know anything about anyone or read up on decades of continuity, everyone can jump straight in and have fun. The cover of issue 11 is right, they really do need more love.
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It’s true. They need love.

I wouldn’t mind a Nextwave adaptation in any shape or form, Marvel. And neither would a lot of people.
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Necronomi-Con-An Ash vs Evil Dead Season Finale ‘The Dark One’ Review

2016 starts with a boom(stick), as the finale of Ash vs Evil Dead’s first season, ‘The Dark One’, finally aired. After 9 weeks of venturing with Ash and his two new companions, the sometimes trippier-than-usual trip finally comes to an end in this episode.

After revealing herself as a Dark One, one of the authors of the Necronomicon and it looks like a fight will ensue, Deadite Amanda bursts into the scene and instantly goes after Ash. A couples spat has never been so gory. And all Hiker Heather could do is watch as she’s sprayed with blood, the poor girl.

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I heard she’s a cunning linguist.

With Pablo and Ruby gone following the fight, there can only be one place for them to go. Down the cellar. Ash, ever the hero, insists on going down alone, leaving Other Gi—Heather with Kelly upstairs. A trip down the steps sends Ash on a trippier trip back into his trailer, to his high poetry night. With Ruby showing up, she offers Ash a chance to go back to Jacksonville, in exchange of him letting her, in his words, ‘Godfather’ the demons. The hero Ash is, he refused and instead attacks Ruby, only to be returned to the cellar.

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Can’t blame him being tempted, the fishin’s fine.

Back upstairs, Kelly and Heather has problems of their own trying to get the cellar door open while being tormented by the creepy crawlies and other bad things that lurk in the cabin. All the tricks are pulled out. Eyeballs in the walls, doors, hallucination, and bucketfuls of blood, everything’s there.

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This scene might bug some people.

Downstairs, Ash finds out what’s up with Pablo. Being an unwilling The Mask cosplayer brings the perk of being the proud father of several child demons.

[I’m sure there’s an actual title for that, but it’s a bit of a mouthful.]

By now, with Kelly locked out of the cabin and Heather trapped inside, we all know she’s going to die screaming. The only variable now is how gruesome it’ll be. And boy, did the cabin not disappoint. I’ll spare you the details and leave it for you to see. It’s bloody awesome, that’s what I can say.

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Bet this isn’t what she had in mind when she said she wants to get nailed.

And what’s child demons if Ash doesn’t fight one? This fight has got to be one of the more interesting ones in the series. Less gory Deadite fare, a little more pure moment of slapstick goodness with a little child abuse thrown in for good measure. To all of you Indonesian readers out there, these child demons are practically tuyuls.

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Child demons make bad silencers. Noted.

Back outside, after a slight bout of pyromania, Kelly finally manages to break the cabin and enters, finding Ash locked in combat against Necro!Pablo. Despite Pablo’s pleas to sacrifice himself, Ash resisted, instead taking the Kandarian Dagger from Ruby and used it as leverage for him to negotiate a deal. Truce in exchange of Jacksonville for Ash and the crew, and the Godfathering of demons for Ruby.

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Cutting a deal, the Ash Williams way.

Seems a good deal enough, no? That’s what Ash thought, much to the dismay of the rest of the crew. But Ash being Ash, he gladly took it. Too bad after the deal is done, the rest of the world thinks it was a bad deal, too.

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I’ve got this sinking feeling….

And thus concludes the thrill ride that is Ash vs Evil Dead….for now. The overall feel of the series does feel like an oversized Evil Dead story, with all the requisite blood, gore, one-liners, and Ash Williams idiocy, which is exactly what the fans want. The performances of the core cast are all amazing, save for a few bouts of incompetence at times, but no less great and Bruce Campbell still hasn’t lost a single step.

My chief complaint is that the episodes could stand to be made a little bit longer, if giving us more episodes per season isn’t an option. A lot of shows can get a lot done in ten episodes or less, but it wouldn’t hurt to make the whole season about as long as the first and last episodes, seeing as some of them seems to end at the most awkward of times. And the CGI, while used sparingly, is quite distracting especially when paired with the quality gore effects.

Longtime fans of the franchise will enjoy the sheer number of callbacks and shout-outs to past installments (barring Army of Darkness), especially when they get to the cabin, but newcomers to the franchise might be better off starting from the movies, seeing as this is basically Evil Dead 4, only a TV series instead of a movie.

All in all, save for the lack of tree, Ash vs Evil Dead’s first season knocked it out of the park in almost all the aspects it strives to excel at, delivering an Ash Williams adventure that still retains the spirit of the franchise while introducing new characters that, despite some doubts from the outset, has grown on me as the series went on. The perfect blending of slapstick humor, one-liners cheesier than movie theater nachos, and surprisingly effective horror, Ash vs Evil Dead has cemented itself as my favorite show of 2015.

And with the second season confirmed to be underway we’ll be seeing more of Ash in hopefully the near future. Groovy.