Sunday, December 19, 2010

John Byrne's Next Men #1

As a big fan of just about every comic John Byrne has worked on, I'm glad to see the long-awaited return of the Next Men.

The group had starred in a 30-issue series back in the early '90s, and when it was canceled Byrne said it would be back... eventually.

So it took a while, but happily that day has arrived. But the long run of the original series and the long gap between means the first issue has to cover a lot of ground - and it does.

Byrne actually manages to condense the original 30 issues of the series into a single story, bringing us up to date and back to the cliffhanger that left the original series hanging.

For those who came in late, the Next Men are five young adults who live in a virtual reality world. When they awaken into the real world, their super powers manifest in a disturbing way.

Nathan (Scanner) has super-vision, but his eyes have mutated so he must wear special glasses to protect them. Jack (Brawn) is incredibly strong, but he is a danger to everyone around him, because he could easily crush them accidentally. Bethany (Hardbody) is invulnerable, but can't feel anything. Danny (Sprint) can run at amazing speeds, but his legs are huge. Only Jasmine (Bounce) seems normal with her amazing agility.

It's a real-world take on super-heroes, and while it can be grim at times, it's also loaded with great stories and characters.

Byrne's art on this series is outstanding. I've been a fan of his art since I first saw his work in an issue of Charlton's E-Man, and he just keeps getting better. His characters are lively, animated and each stands out from the other. His backgrounds and landscapes are incredibly detailed, and his skills as a storyteller are excellent - each panel and page flows into the next.

New readers may feel a bit of whiplash in reading this issue - there's a lot packed in there - but it's an outstanding series and I couldn't be happier that it's back.


Grade: A-



Superman Fan Podcast said...

I subscribed to this title at my comic shop as soon as I heard that NEXT MEN was returning. I'm a big fan of John Byrne's storytelling and art. The only title I thought he fell a little flat on was his run on DOOM PATROL. It seemed that it took a while for him to get going with the story in the first several issues. I can't wait to read the nex Next Men!

Anonymous said...

I felt as strongly about this return to Byrne's Next Men as you
did. The story and art is as accomplished and assured as ever.
The veteran storyteller hasn't missed a beat and continues to GROW
as an writer/artist.
Byrne remains a top talent in the
field; Marvel and DC's loss is IDW's gain!

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Guys, I agree completely!

Superman Fan Podcast said...

Just read it yesterday Chuck, and I was not disappointed. As long as he doesn't take as long to get the story moving as he did on his run of Doom Patrol, I'll enjoy this new Next Men series by John Byrne.