Sunday, June 18, 2006

NextWave - Agents of H.A.T.E. #5

Recently I experienced something I have never, ever experienced before in my life. A perfect comic. I can imagine the look of disbelief on your faces as you take a moment to digest that I, the pickiest and bitchiest of fanboys, have found the one comic that satisfies all of my comic needs. The words of Warren Ellis, the doodlings of Stuart Immonen, and the mad tracing skillz of Wade von Grawbadger (please take a moment to reflect on the fact that there is more than one person in the world with the last name Grawbadger) all aligned perfectly in NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #5 to produce the perfect comic.

In the beginning I was as blind to satire as the average audience member at this year’s White House Press Corps dinner. Therefore when I read the first issue of this series I was some what less than pleased with the result. Sure I giggled as Fin Fang Foom put in an appearance (and shed a tear when he realized his heart was broken), and I enjoyed Elsa Bloodstone’s guitar-o-rama of death as much as the next guy (okay, that would be a lie if this dude was sitting next to me) but as a whole the book struck me as kind of, well, blah. To be honest it struck me as somewhat masturbatory pap with Ellis just being crazy for crazy’s sake. Eventually some kind soul let me in on the joke by explaining that Ellis was taking the piss out of the spandex set. Armed with this knowledge I reread the first issue and this time I was able to laugh along with the crowd.

The joke kept humming along for four issues, each one eliciting a chuckle here and a giggle there, however then they dropped this bomb of comic genius commonly referred to as issue five. From cover to cover I was laughing, mostly out-loud to the dismay of my roommates, and the book and its jokes just stuck with me. I found myself having to fight the urge to call my coworkers “Fleshy Ones.” When asked about something I may have responded with, “Special Bear is dead.” (Since I am all about the non-sequiter, people expect this kind of stuff from me and it is not a sign of the madness finally setting in.)

In fact I enjoyed this comic so much that I became down right evangelical about it, forcing Mr. TunaCan to read it over dinner. It was at this moment that I realized I should share the crunchy goodness from start to finish with my loyal readers. Of course this is certain to drive at least three of you away (bye Mom), but like the man said, “With friends like these, who needs enemas?”

WARNING! If you actually care to read the comic and have yet to get this done WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Oh yeah, and don’t read anything beyond this point as I pretty much reveal all the jokes and then run them into the ground.

This issue opens on the H.A.T.E.’s (Highest Anti-Terrorims Effort) Aeromarine headquarters with General Dirk Anger (the leader of H.A.T.E. and an obvious riff on Dave Campbell) purging, which he describes as “…very important directorial anti-terrorist business…” His purging is interrupted by a minor functionary who informs him H.A.T.E. has learned the whereabouts of a group of renegade agents (NextWave, our heroes). The Aeromarine sets off at maximum speed to apprehend the agents.

Meanwhile our heroes have discovered one of The Beyond Corporation’s (H.A.T.E.’s benefactor and front for the S.I.L.E.N.T. terrorist organization) War Gardens where the Human Resource Operatives (aka. Broccoli Men) with whom our heroes have tangled in the past are grown. Clearly the only option is to do some gardening.

Of course since this is not a combat situation, we have to have some intra-team conflict to keep things interesting. Let’s be honest, even if the team is killing proto-broccoli murder dudes, gardening just doesn’t sell comics. (Although a comic on gardening by Ellis would probably turn a profit.) Strife with teammates. Robots that are complete dicks. Interstellar god-things telling a robot that he is a complete dick. These things sell comics and Ellis, he delivers the goods.

Now since this is not DragonBall Z (or one of my high school dates, come to think of it), we know we are going to get to the action sooner rather than later and on page 11 Dirk Anger and the Aeromarine arrive. As I was reading these panels I could hear Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” and Dirk Anger’s voice started to sound suspiciously like Robert Duvall. Then things get crazy. I mean crazy in a Grant Morrison I Take MUCH Cooler Drugs Than You When I Write way. In rapid succession we see H.A.T.E. deploy:

1. The Armageddon Horn which looks like a Technicolor clarinet. This also may be one of the best names for a weapon ever as well as being an odd Biblical reference.

2. The Drop Bears. Better known as the “Widdle cuddly bears…of death.” These bad boys seem to be a cross between Stitch (of Lilo & Stitch fame) and your average, garden variety koala bear. With huge freakin’ teeth. (Some of you may be under the impression that this is the first time the U.S. government has entangled koalas in their covert operations, however you would be wrong. I would like to take this moment to draw your attention to 1986’s independent stand-out Naïve Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas.)

3. The Assault Pterosuit Flock. They are men. They have guns. They chew Lizard Boom Sticks. And they wear Combat Pterodactyl Suits. You should fear them. If this isn’t enough, the guns they carry fire Quantum-Tunnel Drill Bits which are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. “Schrodinger’s death!”

4. Samuroid Batch 23. We don’t learn too much about the Samuroid Batch 23 other than Elsa is of the opinion that “Samurai robots beat guns. No question.” This leaves her with nothing but a shovel, and since its Elsa, she’s down.

Now Ellis doesn’t just leave us to wallow in combat. Oh no, he has some revealing character moments to thrust at us as well.

1. We learn that Monica Rambeau might have some issues with the truth, and that Captain America might be related to Eric Cartman.

2. The Captain hates teddy bears because of childhood trauma.

3. Tabitha was forced to work with one of the Summers clan. This trauma alone may explain her unique manner of speech and certainly qualifies her for inclusion on this pack of mentally unstable Z-listers.

I think it is plain that, while I was expecting a snack, Warren and crew served a meal of Gaussian proportions. This doesn’t even take in to account the Crayon Butchery variant edition. That’s right boys and girls, there is a variant edition of this comic which is printed on newsprint using only the line art so you can take a stab at coloring this issue yourself. Personally I bought three. Now I just need some crayons and once I am done with my issue I will post it here for your enjoyment. I will leave you with the immortal words of Butt-head, who said, “I have seen the top of the mountain.” In other words, it is all down hill from here.

Bonus Round – Marsupial versus Rodent

For those of you heathens who did not believe me about the Naïve Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas I offer the following two panel spread from the first issue of their solo book:

For the rest this is to whet your appetite for the upcoming NIDCK feature here on the Opiate.

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