Saturday, June 23, 2012

Next Men: Aftermath #44

This is (apparently, presumably) the final issue of John Byrne's Next Men - and it makes an odd ending for an excellent series.

This is a title that has played fast and loose with reality from the start, sending the characters on adventures through time, into alternate histories, virtual realities and world-changing events. But this final story tops them all.

It finds the Next Men in a strange, dream-like reality where monsters roam freely, where World War II-era soldiers run into '50s teenagers, where aliens team with space explorers, superheroes fly across the sky, and characters who are dead come back to life.

Unfortunately, it seems like a step too far, as things just seem too crazed to be properly sorted out. The reason for it becomes clear by the ending (which I won't spoil here), but it was a bit of a struggle getting to that point.

As always, Byrne's art is exceptional, with creative layouts, emotional portraits, fantastic landscapes, always perfectly married to the imaginative story.

It's sad to see this series end - it's been unpredictable, creative and entertaining from the start, and it didn't lose a step during its long hiatus. Wonderful that Byrne was finally able to bring it to a conclusion that's satisfying, but in keeping with the fast-and-loose grip the series has had on reality.

Grade: A-


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