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In 2005, Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada promised that “Young Avengers,” a series that was generally ridiculed before its release, would be a must-read book and earn a lot of acclaim. And he was right, as a year later, the series is doing quite well for Marvel, both in sales and with critics. So when Quesada told readers to keep their eyes peeled for “Nextwave,” fans took notice and there’s a palpable buzz being created on the eve of the book’s release. CBR News caught up with series editor Nick Lowe to learn more about the book and introduce new readers to the driving concept of the series.
“If every other super hero comic is ‘Die Hard’, then ‘Nextwave’ is a mix of ‘Kramer vs. Kramer,’ ‘Bad Boys 2,’ ‘Parent Trap’ and ‘Naked Lunch,'” explains Lowe. “Seriously though, do you remember the time when you were a kid, reading comics or watching cartoons (for me it was X-Men, G.I. Joe and Transformers) and all kinds of nutty stuff would happen for no real reason, but logic couldn’t get through the ecstatic joy you had reading and watching them? ‘Nextwave’ is an attempt to do that, but with attitude. So many super hero books these days are very, very serious, dark and a bit depressing. ‘Nextwave’ is the tonic for this. It’s full of explosions and kicking and fun, fun, fun!”
Writer Warren Ellis‘ choice for the cast of characters, a veritable “Who’s Who?” of Marvel’s C-List characters, befuddled many and while Lowe didn’t have any input on the character selection, he’s happy with how they’re developing. “Warren had the series fleshed out in his head when we started the book up, but I couldn’t be happier with the cast. I love Monica (Captain Marvel, Photon) Rambeau from back in the day with the Avengers. Boom Boom is my favorite super hero name in the history of comics from its sheer oddness and silliness, and I loved when she was in ‘Uncanny X-Men’ when Joe Mad was drawing it. The biggest surprise for me was Elsa Bloodstone and how awesome she is in this book. She is the coolest, funniest character. Machine Man, as well, has some of the best bits.”
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It’s risky to launch a new superhero comic book in today’s market, which seems resilient to new concepts, and the cast of “Nextwave” isn’t exactly going to light the world on fire, but Lowe isn’t worried about failure. He cites the creative impetus for the series, saying, “This was another Warren thing. He has a history of updating super hero comics (see ‘Authority’) and wanted to take the next step in the evolution. His take was so original that I was onboard from sentence one which was– Nextwave: Healing America by beating people up. And this is so different than all of the humor books out there right now. It is manic and odd and more fun than anyone expects. And more than being funny, it is fun!”
In addition to fun, Marvel’s heroes have been known for their subtext, with the Hulk speaking to the rage within, Spider-Man representing the hero inside and the X-Men being the oppressed minority. When asked about the message in “Nextwave,” Lowe smiles and says, “‘Nextwave’ speaks to the spastic six-year old within each of us. The message is: “BOOOM!” ”
From the preview pages released by Marvel, “Nextwave” seems to have a strong sense of humor and when talking about funny superhero books, there’s always a comparison to the Gifffen/DeMatteis “Justice League,” though in this case, Lowe contends it wouldn’t be an accurate one. “Taking nothing away from Keith, J.M., Kevin and the crew who do ‘Defenders’ and the like, this is a very different book. Much of their comedy is dialogue driven where as ‘Nextwave’ is more situational, insane and visceral.”
“Nextwave” seems to also have a different approach to marketing, with Marvel producing a theme song for the comic and even marketing it on MySpace. “I’ll start off by saying that ‘Nextwave’ is probably my favorite book that I’ve ever worked on (which is saying a lot since I’ve worked on ‘Ultimates,’ ‘Astonishing X-Men,’ ‘1602,’ ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’…). It is the most fun and different book I’ve ever read. It struck me as a perfect concept for a cartoon that would be on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. So the idea of a theme song jumped into my head. So I wrote one, put it together with my genius brother Matt (we are Thunder Thighs) and somehow convinced Marvel to let it out to the public. I spent a lot of my free time obsessing about it, and I couldn’t be happier with it and fans reactions to it. If people like it and want to hear more, write letters in to Marvel or go to the Thunder Thighs MySpace page.
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“13 years ago, I went on a Bulgarian vision quest (weird, because they’re usually Native American, right?) and the song was sung to me by a vision of Maggie Thatcher in a space suit. 13 years later, I understood it.”
While most of the attention is focused on Warren Ellis, artist Stuart Immonen has been winning early acclaim for his art on the series and Lowe is happy to heap praise upon the penciller. “Stuart is one of the most talented people on the planet. He’s also a vegetarian, but I didn’t hold that against him (read: vegetarians are evil incarnate). I’ve been really lucky to work with him since he came to Marvel (on ‘Ultimate FF’ and ‘Ultimate X-Men’) and wouldn’t work with anyone else on ‘Nextwave!!’ He has put his heart and soul into this book and reinvented himself (again) on this book and will prove that he is one of the best artists in comics. The combo of Stuart, Wade von Grawbadger and Dave McCaig will make your eyes smile (after creating a mouth on your eyeball to make that possible).”
While Lowe would love to simply tell everyone to buy “Nextwave” because it promotes world peace and will change their lives, he chooses to be even more eloquent and tell you why, saying “The answer here is eightfold:
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ is the most unique super hero comic on the market.
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ is printed with mother’s milk.
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ will make you fall in love with Warren Ellis (you remember what love is, RIGHT?).
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ is the funniest comic book ever (take that, Dark Knight Strikes Again!)
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ proves that Stuart Immonen made a pact with the devil to make him the most versatile artist in the world.
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ contains subliminal messages that will increase your IQ and lower your cholesterol.
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ gloriously brings four lower tier characters back up into the upper tier while creating a few hilarious new characters.
- “‘NEXTWAVE’ knows where you live. Don’t piss it off.”