Friday, June 12, 2015

Comic books can be great, and here's why

I like bombastic things. You want me to watch Rocky Horror Picture Show? I'm down. You want me to read a book about inter-dimensional brain parasites and the idiots who let them loose in the world? Count me in. You want to write a song that's angry, weird, full of animal growling and suddenly swells into headbanging awesomeness? I will listen to the shit out of that song (and so should you, it's amazing). I like things that make you want to throw your fist in the air and shout "FUCK YEAH" in inappropriate places. Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. is like a comic book version of all of those things. It's raucous, over-the-top, unexpectedly hilarious, and batters you over the head with it's own awesomeness on every page.

My friend Rob lent the book to me after I laughed hysterically for three minutes when I saw a page of General Dirk Anger whining about girls having soft bits and only liking hard bits. I know that's out of context and doesn't make sense, but trust me it was hilarious. There are dragons in underpants. There are broccoli men who pose a threat to the world. There's a superhero team that's full of idiots, all of whom can't really stand one another. And it works and it's fucking great.

Also, let's talk about representation in comics for a second here. I know a lot of comic geeks hate it when people bring up that they wish they were represented, and this book is everything that proves those asshole geeks wrong. The Nextwave team has three women, one man, and one robot on it. The leader of the team is a woman of color with badass superpowers and no one gives a tinker's damn about her race or her gender, they just want her to stop bringing up that she used to work with the Avengers. The team has a sexy-dressing English woman on it who breaks a Jeep in half with a guitar. Sure, she looks great, but she never looks like she's not having fun and kicking ass. There is a stupid heroine who spends a lot of time chewing bubblegum, fiddling with her cellphone, misspelling her own name, and blowing things the fuck up - it's never implied that her airheadedness is based on femininity, or that the same airheadedness is ever a problem. Can I express to you just how great it is to see a character who not only isn't a genius but who really ISN'T smart still kicking ass? Do you get how fantastic that is? None of us are ever going to be Tony Stark - there's no way that I'm going to be able to develop a new element to make a supersuit, and I bet you can't either - so many of the supers aren't just strong or invulnerable, they're also the smartest people who have ever lived. Not Nextwave. Monica's pretty clever but Tabby and the Captain are idiots - and they're idiots in a lot of the same ways that I can be. They don't know what the fuck they're doing, they don't really understand their powers, they're just trying to get by and maybe stop some terrorists in the process.

And, again, IT FUCKING WORKS. The white male isn't the leader of the team and it's a great comic. The team has more women than men and it's a great comic. The women aren't there just to show skin and it's a great comic. There is a woman of color in charge of a group of idiots and she cajoles the idiots into performing better than they ever thought they could and, you guys, IT'S A REALLY GREAT COMIC.

This book is funny, it's sad, it's full of action and has a great page-turning pace. It's everything that so many people look for in a comic book while also having very little of what we've been trained to expect when reading comics and I love it.

Please read Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. It's fantastic.

     - Alli

Ellis, Warren. Pencils: Stuart Immonen. Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger. Colors: Dave McCaig
     and Paul Mounts. Editor: Nick Lowe. Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. Ultimate Collection
     Marvel Entertainment Inc. New York: New York. 2010. (2006-7).

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