Sunday, February 13, 2011

John Byrne's Next Men #3

For his first story arc in the newly-revived Next Men series, artist and writer John Byrne is walking along a very tricky line.

He is (basically) putting each member of the team through hell. All but one member of the team has been (apparently) scattered across time, where they have spent years in a different time period.

As a result, one member has been killed, another terribly brutalized, one faces torture or death, and the other is trapped in Shakespeare's time (which might not seem so bad, but there are ill signs...). One is seen as an older man leading a peaceful life in the future.

The one left behind is the invulnerable Bethany, who sees the plight of her friends but is (apparently) unable to help them. We meet the mysterious armored figure who is behind the events, but the reasons for all this is still unknown.

The reason I say Byrne is walking the line is because the opening issue revolved around dream images - and the origin of the team started with them in an imaginary world.

So are these horrific events actually happening, or is it another illusion? It's the kind of story that can captivate, but leave the reader feeling let down at the end.

But I find that I'm not worried that the answers will hurt the story - Byrne is a pro at both writing and illustrating, and both work together to drive this comic.

The art is fantastic - dynamic and loaded with details, with each character distinct and unique.

The writing is just as captivating, and I'm anxious to see where it all goes from here. As I've said before: I'm so glad to see this issue back and in peak form, and Byrne back up on the high wire where he belongs!

Grade: A-


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