Readers of The Lost Art

Nextwave vol. 1: This Is What They Want

June 18th, 2009



Writer: Warren Ellis

Artist: Stuart Immonen

Reviewer: Louise


Nextwave is what happens when a writer with an urge for satirising the Marvel Universe takes a bunch of Z-list Marvel heroes – Monica Rambeau, Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man, Meltdown, and the Captain, who is the only original character and a pastiche of every terrible Marvel superhero whose name begins with Captain – and villains and decides to use them to relentlessly take the mick out of every superhero cliché in the book, whilst at the same going for the surreal and outrageous at every turn. 

You want Machine Man to be swallowed by Fin Fang Foom? You got it. You want Captain America to fight the Enhanced Bull-Men of Gamma Zeta IV (“…and they’re naked!”)? You got it. You want Nick Fury, ahem, Dirk Anger, to be a vengeful nutjob with an urge to eat Prozac and ice-cream and dress up in his mother’s nightgown? Right there! 

This of course is not new. For as long as there have been superheroes, there have been people taking the mick out of them, because, as we all know, there is something inherently ridiculous about grown men in tights walloping each other. Since this is Warren Ellis writing, however, Nextwave pulls this off with considerably more brio and invention than most. In particular, the Captain’s (“His name is the Captain!”) origin story had several of us crying with laughter.

We also cracked up at Nextwave’s all-out assault on Dirk Anger’s floating HQ and its “drop bear” defences (altogether now, “Ickle cute cuddly bears!… Of death!”) and at the Nextwave theme song, complete with references to the Titanic, Goethe, and gratutious swearing. Yes, there is a theme song, and you can find it online. The artwork is very good too; slightly cartoony in a way that really suits the writing. 

So, Nextwave. Reading it won’t make you a better person. It won’t make you think “Wow, that was one of the most enlightening half-hours of my life”. It will, on the other hand, make you crack up laughing and show it to all your friends. And that’s never a bad thing. 


Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Marvel Comics; Direct Ed edition (14 Mar 2007)

ISBN-10: 0785119094

Love and Rockets

June 12th, 2009

Love and Rockets 7: Amor Y Cohetes

Love and Rockets 7: Amor Y Cohetes

Writers and Artists: Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez and Mario Hernandez.

Reviewer: Louise


As a total “Love and Rockets” virgin, possibly I’m the wrong person to be reviewing this, since I knew nothing about the series prior to reading this book, which is a collection of short stories and one-shots by Los Bros Hernadez from the back pages of the main “Love and Rockets” book. Then again, one of the joys of reading comics is the chance to try something new, and one of the requirements for being a good comics reader (probably the only requirement) is the willingness to try something and make the effort to engage with it. 

With this in mind, I will admit that at first I found Amor Y Cohetes a little hard-going. It takes a while to get into the sheer surreality of the whole thing! However, once you are willing to let go of your brain’s demands to try to make sense of the whole thing and expand your mind to go along for the ride, there’s a lot of fun to be had. The stories range from silly to serious, from the incredible to the everyday, from biographies of Frieda Kahlo to planet-hopping sixteen-year-old girls with talking robots. Best of all, you can dip in and out of it – the longest stories are about 16 pages long, so it’s a good book to pick up whenever you feel like it. 

There is some swearing, sexual references and violence in, although nothing really 18-rated (more like your 15-rating). The only exception to this, and the one story I really did not like, is on p.282. I’ll say little about it except that, whilst I acknowledge that no topic is off-limits to art, if you’re going to write about suicide, the results should justify the topic choice, and this just left me feeling grey and wondering “what was the point of that?”. 

Other than that, it’s a fun and surreal book. Give it a try and see how you go!

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (27 Jun 2008)

ISBN-10: 1845765303

Freakangels Vol. 1

June 5th, 2009



“I’ve written two hundred pages, and I still have no idea what it’s about”. (Warren Ellis, introducing Freakangels.)

Writer: Warren Ellis

Artist: Paul Duffield.

Reviewer: Louise


It’s the end of the world as we know it, and humanity feels fine. 

Or at least, it’s managing. Warren Ellis’s Freakangels webcomic is set in a flooded London in the not-too-distant future, where steam powered ships and flying bicycles have replaced the Tube as people’s preferred methods of transport. The city’s inhabitants have moved upwards to the roofs of the remaining buildings still standing, and are building rooftop gardens and improvising sewage and power systems, whilst trying to fend off the occasional incursions from marauding raiders armed with harpoons. 

Among them are the Freakangels, twelve telepathic twentysomethings with pale skin and violet eyes. Though they keep their powers a secret, they use them to protect their territory by gaining advance warning of raider attacks. The grateful populace keeps them supplied with food and clothing – but, unbeknown to them, the Freakangels have a big secret… 

I really like Freakangels, so I may as well say this at the start of the review. It is, admittedly, a little obvious that, at the start anyway, Ellis didn’t know where he was going with this. On the other hand, the web comic form is rather well suited to this form of storytelling. The audience isn’t paying any money for its fix, so they’re more willing to be patient and go with the flow, so long as the characters and situation are interesting enough (Templar, Arizona, which we’ve also read, is another good example of this). 

The original premise for Freakangels was “What if the Midwich cuckoos grew up?” Fortunately, they grew up into a mixed bag of individuals with actual personalities and just the right mixture of flaws and good points (apart from the one or two villainous ones among them). Watching them interact with each other really does have the ring of truth. They might ride flying bicycles and communicate mind-to-mind, but anyone who’s ever shared a house in their twenties will instantly recognise the mixture of friendly and not-so-friendly banter over whose turn it is to do the chores, who is doing the Morning-After-Walk-Of-Shame, who needs to have a wash, thank you so very much, and who needs to stop moping around pretending to be intellectual and start doing some actual work. The whole series has a very “London” feel to it, from the flooded streets to the weekly street market in Old Spitalfields where the Freakangels pick up supplies. Duffield’s art throughout is excellent.   

It’s also quite realistic about the Freakangels’ role as guardians of their territory means. There’s some action-comic style heroics, but the characters are also seen struggling to find ways to deal with those among them who abuse their powers, and with their guilt over their role in the apocalypse. Both the characters and the author acknowledge that sometimes, there is no good solution to nasty moral dilemmas – but you still have to make a choice, stick to it, and deal with the consequences. Even though Ellis may not have started out with the plot mapped out, there are enough plot threads left tantalisingly dangling to keep the reader interested. The character who (we suspect) is the series’ major villain has yet to put in an appearance, but his presence is very much felt. 

It’s quite an interesting take on the post-apocalypse story. Instead of civilisation entirely falling to pieces, society seems to be adapting well, and there’s the suggestion that the apocalypse might actually be, if not a Good Thing, then not an entirely bad thing. Furthermore, the artwork is very nice indeed, very clear and with its own unique style. Recommended.  

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Avatar Press (26 Nov 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1592910564