Long before Warren Ellis blessed the world with the Netflix animated series Castlevania, he was behind a comic for Marvel by the name of Nextwave. Similar to Castlevania, it's violent, flashy, and witty enough to poke fun at itself and genre. It’s also equally entertaining and full of characters who are uniquely memorable in their own right.
Nextwave was a 12-issue limited series that began its run in 2006 and features an interesting cast of Marvel characters who surprisingly work well together, including Monica Rambeau, Elsa Bloodstone, Tabitha Smith, Aaron Stack, and the newly-introduced Captain. They form a team assembled by H.A.T.E., the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, tasked with fighting Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction. When the Nextwave crew find out the H.A.T.E organization is funded by the Beyond Corporation, an organization formerly known as terrorist group S.I.L.E.N.T, they leave H.A.T.E. In the Shockwave Rider, a vehicle stolen from H.A.T.E., the Nextwave team begin destroying the Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction that the Beyond Corporation and H.A.T.E. have hidden around the United States. Some of these U.W.M.Ds include a hangry Fin Fang Foom and androids called Broccoli Men. They are also pursued by H.A.T.E. director Dirk Anger, a barbershop bootleg copy of Nick Fury.
Nextwave definitely feels removed from most traditional Marvel comics. The characters in the series act differently than they would in other Marvel titles, and the overall tone is very satirical in its portrayal of a group of superheroes. Everyone is grumpy and having a case of the Mondays, but it works so well. Monica Rambeau, once Captain Marvel and leader of the Avengers, is irritable and basically over her teammates, a stark departure from her typical demeanor. Warren Ellis does a great job of keeping the essence of characters and turning them on their heads, however, which somehow makes them still feel familiar. Captain (insert your favorite four-letter dirty word), is an entire joke himself. Unlike Captain America, Captain Marvel, Captain Britain and anyone else who has the prestige that accompanies that title, he obtains his powers because aliens happened to stumbled upon him while he was drunk, bestowing him with abilities he uses to beat them up — before puking on them, too.
Elsa Bloodstone and Tabitha Smith don’t hesitate to hit things or blow them up, while Aaron Stack, formerly Mister Machine, refers to everyone as "fleshy ones," to Monica’s annoyance. In the very first issue, the team takes on a hungry and horny Fin Fang Foom sporting purple drawers.
Elsa Bloodstone gets to kick, shot, and punch her way through Broccoli Men, Ultra Samurai, and Mindless Ones. The monster hunter is just as annoyed as Monica about the whole situation, making their interactions with one another thoroughly entertaining. Tabitha Smith, formerly of X-Force, also rounds out the group by getting to blow things up — all things, really. It could be argued that together, Elsa and Tabitha account for about 60% of the violence in the series.
The members of Nextwave behave like a group of individuals who work together but definitely don’t hang out outside of the office, which is highly relatable. No trips to eat shawarma together after saving the planet from destruction. Rambeau might be the leader of Nextwave, but it's nothing like her time spent with the Avengers — a time in her life that is often brought up throughout the series, time spent with chauvinistic male superheroes, which isn’t a whole lie. Ellis took just enough from Marvel history so that Nextwave still feels like its own world within the bigger universe. There really isn't much of a huge, complicated plot either; in fact, it’s pretty straightforward, making it pure comic book fun.
Similar to Castlevania, Nextwave is also full of stylized action moments. There is a number of splash pages in the second to the last issue of the series that shows the team fighting against the most outlandish bad guys — everything from Elvis MODOKs to a King Kong-sized Wolverine gorilla. The very last big bad in the heroes face is as far left as anyone could go. Like most things in this series, you don’t see the reveal coming; it just happens, and it works.
Nextwave is a comic that could easily translate to an equally great animated series, especially with the proven success of Ellis’ work on Castlevania. It could even work well as a feature film, given how the similarities of its satirical nature to the already-successful Deadpool franchise. In the end, either would be a great opportunity for characters like Monica, Elsa, Aaron Stack, and Captain to finally get the on-screen time they've always deserved. Hopefully, a Nextwave on-screen adaption happens sooner rather than later, but until that happens, it's a series that is worth your time.