It's like Shakespeare. But with lots more punching.
"I took The Authority and I stripped out all the plots, logic, character and sanity. (...) It's an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It's people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode."Warren Ellis
and Stuart Immonen's irreverent parody of Super Teams
, which featured five relatively obscure Super Heroes
fighting the forces of H.A.T.E., a S.H.I.E.L.D-style organization
who were discovered to be in league with the Beyond Corporation, the current incarnation of their former rivals, S.I.L.E.N.T.
(Who doesn't love a good acronym
?)The team consisted of
- Monica Rambeau (Formerly known as Captain Marvel and Photon): The leader of the group. She used to lead The Avengers, and reminds her teammates of this fact at every available opportunity.
- Tabitha "Tabby" Smith (formerly known as Time Bomb, Boom-Boom, Boomer, Meltdown, Firecracker, and Mutate #35): A trailer-trash klepto with the "mutant powers of blowing things up and stealing all your stuff" (actual description). Her theft of the Beyond Corporation's Marketing Plan provided the impetus for the team to leave the employ of H.A.T.E.
- Aaron Stack (formerly known as X-51 and Machine Man): A surly, alcoholic, Do Anything Robotic Jerkass. Ended up as Ensemble Darkhorse for precisely those reasons.
- Elsa Bloodstone: Daughter of a famous monster hunter, she was the series' resident Action Girl. She's British.
- The Captain (Formerly known as Captain Power, Captain Ron, Captain L. Ron, Captain Universe, Captain Ultra, Captain Avenger, Captain Avalon, Captain Marvel, Captain ☠☠☠☠, and various others before finally giving up): An idiotic Flying Brick from Brooklyn who received his powers from benevolent aliens while drunkenly stumbling home. Subversion of The Good Captain and frequent victim of The Worf Effect. The only member of Nextwave created specifically for the series.
The series ran for twelve issues, with each story arc being two issues long (although a case can be made for the final arc actually being four issues long). Plot wasn't a high priority, and served mostly as an excuse for the team to beat things up and cause things to explode.
This series provided examples of:
- Action Girl: Elsa Bloodstone is capable of kicking anything's ass. Anything. Even if it doesn't have an ass. Monica and Tabby also apply.
- Affectionate Parody: Imagine every single comic book trope ever created subverted or lampshaded to hell, but adding in tons of Rule of Funny and Rule of Cool to it.
- Affirmative Action Girl: Ellis deliberately wanted obscure heroes for his team, and he wanted it weighted to women (hence why it's not Two Girls to a Team, but two guys), and he made the leader a woman of color, something that is almost unheard of in comics. To his credit, they are written as characters first and genders second.
- Alternate Continuity: Started out as one, but afterwards many references to it were made in the main titles, and the characters involved started displaying their personalities and costumes from the series in all their other appearances.
- Dan Slott's She-Hulk seemed to suggest that the series did take place, but that the Monica Rambeau present is actually from an alternate universe (explaining Captain America's Jerk Ass behavior and why Monica's mother is stated to be dead when a far as we know, 616!Monica's mother is still alive).
- Officially in continuity, as of 2013 - Marvel's in-house document detailing the changes that would occur if Hank Pym died before he created Ultron makes reference to the events of Nextwave. See it here.
- Asshole Victim: Officer Mac Mangel, a cop one week from retirement... who beats up drug dealers (when he doesn't get his cut), threatens prostitutes (when he doesn't get his cut), and beat up a mugging victim upon learning he still has some money left. He is transformed into some kind of robotic monster when trying to sell what he thinks is a stray cat, said robot body is blown up, and then Tabby and Aaron kick him for being a cop. Monica ends up being unwittingly bad help when she hands him over to his "friends" — all the people he'd victimized in the beginning. They promptly haul him off into a back alley and perform a little vigilante charity via several rounds to the skull.
- Ass Shove: The Captain swiftly got tired of dread Rorkannu's crap, and decided to reinsert it through the correct orifice. Via toilet brush. Like a real super hero.
- Back from the Dead: Beyond brings back Dirk Anger as a zombie after he accidentally hanged himself.
- Badass Boast:
Reverend Guilt: We are THE VESTRY!
The Inquisitor: Pay allegiance to God or get your robot face kicked in.
Aaron: My robot face is beautiful and will not be kicked by the likes of you fleshy ones. And I don't believe in your God. God is for fleshy ones. I am robot. And your God will throw up when he sees what I have done to you.
- Badass Longcoat: The "Nextwave outfit" consists only of a Badass Longcoat thrown over whatever superhero costume/civilian duds the team members happen to be wearing.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Fin Fang Foom has no genitals whatsoever.
Oh, you cannot imagine how annoyed he is.
- Berserk Button: Don't make fun of Forbush Man's hat.
- BFG: the extremely... suggestive looking Armageddon Horn.
- Also the ginormous suicide pistol nearly used by Dirk Anger. Cow sized rounds? Oh, Jesus...
- Bigger on the Inside: the team aircraft the Shockwave Rider, explicitly kept that way by Applied Phlebotinum which is later damaged, forcing a hurried bail-out.
- Bi the Way: Monica says that all of The Avengers hit on her. Including The Wasp.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Tabitha (blonde), Monica (brunette), and Elsa (redhead).
- The Caligula: Dirk Anger. Barking mad, momma's dress-wearing, sticking-baby-chicks-in-a-blender-and-ingesting-them-intravenously, Russian Roulette-playing Dirk Anger.
- Calling Your Attacks: Monica Rambeau has developed this somewhat Animesque habit.
- The Captain also has a special, ultimate attack. It's called "Kick!".
- Can't Have Sex, Ever: Fin Fang Foom. No wonder he's pissed.
- Captain Ersatz: Dirk Anger, H.A.T.E., and S.I.L.E.N.T. are stand-ins for Nick Fury, SHIELD, and HYDRA, respectively. (Warren Ellis wanted to use the originals, but was shouted down. After seeing what he did with them, that's kind of a relief.)
- Although Brian Bendis and John Hickman later recycled the idea, making both SHIELD and the goofier version of HYDRA sub-divisions of a larger HYDRA network; presumably, Marvel editors refused the earlier idea not because they were afraid of it... But afraid of Ellis.
- In the script, Ellis describes H.A.T.E. as "What SHIELD would be if you were as drunk as I was when I wrote this," and Dirk Anger as "Most definitely not Nick Fury. At all."
- Captain Superhero: Parodied. The Captain has tried being "Captain Anything" but it never sticks.
- Catch Phrase: "Fleshy one." "Kick. 'Splode." "Tick tick tick boom." "My robot brain needs beer."
- Character Development: Played with in an issue.
- Clothing Damage: The Captain is indestructible. His clothing isn't. So when he gets shot by a giant gun, guess what happens.
Monica: I'm almost tempted to make you walk around like that all the time.
Captain: Because I'm so hot?
Monica: Because you look so damn stupid.
- Combat Stilettos: Elsa Bloodstone.
- Continuity Nod: Some surprisingly obscure ones, too, all brilliantly Played for Laughs.
- Nearly every "Captain" character name mentioned really belonged to an obscure Marvel character, other than Captain Ron and Captain L. Ron. Yes, even Captain Kerosene is a minor Marvel UK character.
- The New Paramounts are all characters from Marvel's 1960s parody comic Not Brand Ecch, though Forbush-Man managed to turn up elsewhere over the years.
- General Zo is a reference to Zo, an illusory character who appeared in a few issues of the late 1960s Captain Marvel series. Aside from the military uniform, he looks exactly like the original.
- Delmar Insurance, seen in Machine Man's hallucination, was indeed where he worked back when he still used the Secret Identity of Aaron Stack.
- During the penultimate issue beatdown of the Beyond Corporation's army of genetic freaks, 1960's Marvel character Hidden Man can be seen fighting them. Also seen are copies of the Fantastic Four's one-time adversary, The Infant Terrible.
- Crisis Crossover: "Not part of a Marvel comics event".
- "We don't care."
- And yet Monica appears in Civil War in her Nextwave attire...
- Most recent appearances of Monica, Tabitha, or Aaron had them display connections with Nextwave, suggesting the miniseries was loved enough to be put in continuity anyway.
- Aaron's first appearance in the Marvel Zombies series has him getting over some of his cynicism and readopting his Machine Man title after dismissing it as silly in this series. He also retains his drunk jerkass persona afterwards as he teams up with Deadpool and Howard the Duck. Although later appearances seem to have reverted his to Pre-Nextwave personality with his appearances varying.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tabby.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Of the fifteen or so costumed and named characters Number None gathered up, all of them save Forbrush Man were very easily disposed of. Even when it was five against one odds.
- In fairness, they turn out to be Broccoli People dressed up as superheroes, so it makes sense that they give the Nextwave crew little trouble.
- Death Is Cheap: Lampshaded.
Elsa: Didn't Tabby also say that Magik was dead?
Monica: Like that matters. X-Men come back more than Jesus.
- Despair Speech: Played for Laughs with Dirk Anger.
I've reinvented suicide as a group activity. Go me. We must all burn.
- Disability Immunity: Tabby when she defeats Forbush-Man and his mind control powers because she has no mind to control.
- Dirty Cop: Officer Mangel, very much so.
"I AM THE LAW. GIMMIE YOUR WALLETS!"
- Discontinuity Nod: Possibly the fastest on record occurs when, one issue after we get clever origin cutaways for the New Paramounts, it turns out that all the other superhero squads there are just well-disguised Broccoli People, suggesting that the origins we see are false.
- The Ditz/Dumb Blonde: Tabby Smith
"I hate cops! Because, like, cops keep arresting me and stuff? For stealing? Like stealing's a crime or something?"
- Do-Anything Robot: Aaron contains pretty much every conceivable sharp pointy object ever made within his body. Read the trope article and become enlightened.
"I am full of very useful devices."
- Driven To Repeated Suicide Attempts: Dirk Anger.
- Dumb Muscle: The Captain isn't a terribly bright guy, but at least he cops to the fact that, for instance, he "can barely speak English." He can also, you know, tear your head off with one hand.
- Eat Me: Machine Man, against Fin Fang Foom. He regrets this method strongly.
- Faceless Mooks: The humanoid broccoli clones who make up the Beyond Corporation's "Human Resource Department" all wear the same expressionless mask.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: "My name's Dirk Anger and I say ☠☠☠☠ all of you."
- Five-Man Band: Monica is The Hero and Tabitha is The Chick. Aaron is The Smart Guy but also the best candidate for The Lancer, while Elsa and The Captain are both The Big Guy (with Elsa also having shades of The Smart Guy and The Lancer).
- Flashback Cut: Mostly used to illustrate childhood trauma, and almost all totally at odds with established Marvel canon.
"Special Bear's dead."
- Flying Brick: The Captain's powers, which even he refers to as his "generic set of super-hero abilities".
- Foreshadowing: Very subtle, and bordering on Fridge Brilliance, but in issue #9, Elsa notes that the team should be seeing "devil dinosaurs tearing up the landscape." Two issues later, we learn that Devil Dinosaur is the mastermind behind S.I.L.E.N.T.
- Fun with Acronyms
- Gag Censor: All swearwords are replaced with "☠☠☠☠". Including one of The Captain's previous codenames.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
Tabby: They shot their muck all over meee!
Aaron: Like that's never happened before.
- "The Hideous Felch-Monster of Bihar Province" - we know what most of those words mean. Don't look up "felch." Really. Don't.note
- The famous "Mark Millar Licks Goats" cover right here in the page picture. There's an urban legend that editors discouraged the use of the word "flick" in comics, because when written in capital letters, if the L and the I overlap, you get, well, "☠☠☠☠" Now notice that there's just enough space out of sight on Aaron's sign for the letter F and you get...
- Gigantic Gulp: Aaron and his barrel full of beer.
- Global Ignorance: Tabby. She thinks Europe is a country and is shocked to learn that the French are in Canada.
- Glory Days: Did you know Monica Rambeau used to lead The Avengers?
- The Good Captain: Naturally, The Captain is a spoof of this.
- Guns VS Swords: Elsa uses both, but upon facing an army of samurai robots, she declares that swords beat guns, and faces them with a shovel.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Elsa Bloodstone. Her father forced her into a pit to fight an ancient monster. (Elsa was an infant at the time.) Later on, unbeknownst to her mother, he forced Elsa to study monsters under the tutelage of a robotic iron maiden named Hate Mother.
- Humongous Mecha: Beyond Corporation's Ultra Samurai Seed turns people into one.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Subverted.
Aaron Stack: Excuse me. Have you really ever met a robot you could kill by stabbing it through the chest? My beer-deprived robot brain says: No, pusbag, you haven't.
- Infant Immortality: Subverted with Baby Modok.
- But played straight with Elsa, who somehow survived fighting at least two monsters before even being able to talk.
- Kick the Dog: "Flash-fry the Dog" in Monica's case.
- Killer Rabbit: Drop bears. "Widdle cuddly bears of DEATH!?"
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Tabitha.
- Leet Lingo: Tabby often uses Net acronyms when speaking out loud. "'Zomg'?"
The Captain: Beats the pus out of me.
- Lethal Joke Character: Meet Forbush Man. He wears a pot on his head and red jammies, and is capable of shattering your mind by trapping it in a horrible alternate reality with a different art style.
- Looks Like She Is Enjoying It: When Dirk Anger accidentally hanged himself in his private chamber on the H.A.T.E. Aeromarine, two female attendants listening to his strangled grunts thought he was looking at pornographic websites.
- Made of Explodium: "Oh my God, they explode. My life has taken on new meaning."
- The Man Behind the Man: Number None, really a baby M.O.D.O.K. in disguise, was the Giant Floating Head Behind The Man for Dirk Anger... And then he turned out to be an underling of Devil Dinosaur.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: Done very bluntly for laughs in issue #12:
"You people will by God act like a team, or at least like people who know each other, or I'll incinerate the bunch of you here and now."
- Monster Modesty: Fing Fang Foom's shorts are a subject of extensive derision.
- Ms. Fanservice: Elsa and Tabby. Especially Elsa.
- Narrator: The captions served mostly to hang a lampshade on the tropes being employed here. The captions also have No Fourth Wall — at one point, they pop up to indicate that the current panel showing the Shockwave Rider was inserted precisely so people could crop it out and use it as signature/avatar images on message boards. Ironically, it's remarkably difficult to find a scan of.
- "Unless you stole it off the internet."
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The third story features such wonderful creations as the man-eating drop bears and samurai robots. Bloodstone destroys an army of the latter with a shovel.
- The second-to-last issue's splash pages feature a cavalcade of nonsensical monstrosities, such as Elvis Impersonator MODOKs and chimpanzees dressed as Wolverine.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Forbush Man, originally a mascot for Marvel's Not Brand Echh Comics, eventually becomes a significant threat to most of the Nextwave squad and (if his "World of Cardboard" Speech is legitimate) one of the most powerful entities in Marvel continuity.
- Plant Person: The Nextwave squad actually debate this about Beyond's Human Resources operatives, who are based on genetically-modified kelp, grown in gardens, and driven by software. Their level of sentience is left ambiguous.
Monica: But they're alive, right?
Aaron: Depends on your definition of alive. They have more in common with broccoli than they do with you. Or me.
Monica: I hate broccoli. Let's kill 'em.
- Also, the superhero squads summoned by Number None turn out to be disguised broccoli people.
- Power Walk: The Nextwave team does this at the end of one comic.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Dirk Anger.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Number None assembles several teams of second-rate supers to fight Nextwave.
- Reality Ensues: Lampshaded when Elsa runs out of bullets. Hollywood lies to you constantly.
- Reconstruction: Ellis' earlier The Authority was basically the JLA without all that pesky Thou Shall Not Kill nonsense. As indicated by the page quote, Nextwave is pretty much that, except with lots more irreverent parodies of the Marvel universe and many more explosions.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: Nextwave, once they discovered H.A.T.E. was working for the Beyond Corporation.
- Robot Buddy: Aaron would be a subversion.
Aaron: I could make you pregnant.
Elsa: Not unless you could do it from over there, Clanky.
Aaron: I am full of very useful devices.
- Rule of Cool: When the aforementioned samurai robots appear, Elsa Bloodstone realizes that her handguns aren't nearly cool enough to defeat them, so she drops them and fights with only a shovel.
- Rule of Funny: The comic runs on this.
- Rule of Symbolism: All the time, and usually hitting the bullseye. To get an idea, the opening definition of the superhero genre is: "HEALING AMERICA BY BEATING PEOPLE UP!"
- Science Marches On: Elsa lampshades the fact that calling Alternate Universes "dimensions" isn't really accurate anymore.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the Broccoli Men had a very intelligent reaction to Elsa Bloodstone.
No no no not doing this this is my special run away song so I do not get killed by scary girl.
- Second Law My Ass: Aaron Stack.
"Biological systems are hideous. I can't believe they have all this garbage inside them and not want to kill themselves."
- Secret Identity: Averted with a vengeance. Except for The Captain, none of Nextwave really use their code-names at all; in Monica's case, this is probably a blessing, since as they point out, there's been way too many Captain Marvels.
- Keep in mind that the only reason The Captain uses his code name is that he can't remember his real name.
- Serial Escalation: Put it this way: if a Nextwave animated series were to be made, it would be Western animation's answer to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Except funnier.
- Senseless Violins: Elsa Bloodstone keeps her arsenal of guns in a guitar case.
- Shout-Out/Take That:
- Spoofing a previous bit in The Ultimates by Mark Millar that insulted the French for being Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys, the British Elsa Bloodstone at one point yells "VICTIM? VICTIM?! DO YOU THINK THIS LETTERnote ON MY CHEST STANDS FOR AMERICA?!"
- Also the memorable "Mark Millar licks goats."
- The art styles in the alternate realities are based on the art of Jim Starlin (Monica's), Daniel Clowes (Aaron's), Paul Pope (The Captain's) and Mike Mignola (Elsa's).
- I'm pretty sure Monica's is based on Gene Colan, not Starlin.
- A lot of Monica's alternate reality, especially "General Zo" and the odd spelling of "Qrii", evokes Marvel Boy.
- The giant revolver that Dirk Anger is sitting on is directly based on a panel from Elektra: Assassin by Bill Sienkiewicz and Frank Miller where Nick Fury is doing target practice in a very similar weapon; the major difference is that Axe Crazy Anger's uber-revolver has its barrel bent back towards him so he can use in a very over-the-top game of Russian Roulette.
- "Huh. I thought when you hit leprechauns on the head they turned into gold coins. What a rip."
- The Ultra Samurai Seed takes the form of a small housepet-sized animal that eats metal and eventually forms a giant, gun-wielding robot who at one point attacks a protagonist by catching them inside the gun's barrel, then firing it.
- Number None's rant before he introduces the enemy super-teams is a reference to Marvelman.
- The Captain's origin is a Bizarro version of the origin of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner.
- At one point, the team ends up fighting a slew of enemies for multiple panels. One group of enemies consists of a gaggle of snakes, piloting planes.
- The team's vehicle, the Shockwave Rider, shares its name with a John Brunner novel.
- The Mindless Ones engage in various wacky shenanigans, like fingersnap-heavy dance routines in the middle of the street.
- During Monica's hallucination in issue #10, she mentions becoming "a Ghost of Space."
- The names of the aliens that empower the Captain — Spa-Fon and Squa-Tront — are references to EC's 1950s science fiction comics by Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood.
- The Captain's internal monologue about learning to hate "the hissing" is a reference to Peter David's story and later comic book Hulk: The End.
- Signature Style
- Small Reference Pools: Played with when Elsa makes a reference to Andrea Dworkin, and Tabby doesn't get it.
- Don't make fun of Tabitha, she growed up in a trailer park!
- Splash Panel: A page from the penultimate issue is used as an example of the trope.
- More precisely, six pages, every one of them as magnificently absurd as the one before it.
- Spoof Aesop: "No good can come of a robot in a bra."
- "When [Monica Rambeau's] mother died, she went to Hell and is used as a bucket by giant weasels dressed as cheerleaders. And that's what happens when you tell your kids to get a proper job."
- Squirrels in My Pants: Attempted invocation by Fin Fang Foom when he tries to put Tabby in his pants.
- Stay in the Kitchen: In a quick flashback to Monica's Avengers days, a bunch of nude minotaur Mooks appear, causing Captain America to tell Monica to...
Captain America: Cover your eyes, go back to Avengers Mansion, and make my dinner.
- Stern Chase
- Stuff Blowing Up: This is the job description of the Nextwave squad, and they love it.
Elsa Bloodstone:"They explode! My life has taken on new meaning!"
- This is exactly the author's description of the comic, too.
: "It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode."
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dread Rorkannu, Lord of the Dank Dimension, is summoned by the Beyond Corporation to supply them with Mindless Ones. As opposed to Dread Dormammu, Lord of the Dark Dimension.
- Take That: Loads.
- Taking You with Me: Zombie Dirk Anger attempts to kill the Nextwave squad by crashing the Aeromarine into them. He destroys the Shockwave Rider, but fails to kill Nextwave themselves.
Dirk: I have re-invented suicide as a group activity. Go me.
- Toilet Humor: Captain America's urine.
Monica: Is Cap dead?
Tabby: He's farting.
- Training from Hell: Elsa Bloodstone's monster-hunter training, which includes being thrown into monster pits while she's an infant with only a spoon and an adorable pink hair ribbon to her name.
"Now, in honour of your newfound skills ... circumcise the Hideous Felch-Monster of Bihar Province."
- The Undead: Dirk Anger's suicidal retirement is not accepted by H.A.T.E.
- Unreliable Narrator: The characters have several flashbacks which totally violate everything we know about the characters (like Monica flash-frying an annoying yappy dog as a kid; she wasn't even supposed to have superpowers then) but they're all so funny we don't really care.
- Unsound Effect
Monica: Aaron, help them. *Burst of white noise as Monica turns into 120 pounds of photons*
- Villainous Breakdown: Dirk Anger has one that lasts for the entire series.
- Villains Out Shopping: The Mindless Ones. Once they've taken over town they mostly do normal things like taking public transportation, hanging out at the bar, or going for joyrides.
- Will Not Be A Victim: Elsa Bloodstone.
- Writer on Board: Writer Warren Ellis' well known distaste for the Modern Age of comics and the Dark Age of comics is evident, but is funny rather than annoying.
- It helps that he's deliberately going for humor.
- Writer Revolt: Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada declared Nextwave to be Canon Discontinuity, for obvious reasons. Only problem is, the other Marvel writers loved it as much as the fans did, so they went over Quesada's head and incorporated Nextwave into the main continuity anyway (although it's implied that the actual actions were slightly less silly). This goes as far as the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.