John Byrne’s ‘Next Men’ (1991)

Re-reading this right now. My memory could be awful or I could have missed an issue or two back in ’91-’93 (me:DC-Chicago-DC-Paris). But, WOW! Byrne’s been keeping me guessing here, down to the last 2 chapters: I have a notion about where it’ll end up, but things are proceeding in a good, unpredictable pace.

The series is only about 35 issues long (#0-#30, plus the graphic novel 2112 ), but Byrne does a very good job of turning it from a Clonus Horror tribute comic into a story that eats time-travel, holodeck incidrnts and alternate-reality tropes alive. In fact, it’s elegant in a way that I wish ‘Inception’ (2010) had been.

Unlike every other comic book property out there, I doubt that Next Men will be made into a movie anytime soon. That, because the studios have utterly failed to get past the Superman idea of comic book heroes in capes and tights to bother with the concept of character-driven, often literary aspects of Bronze Age and Modern Age comic books.  The reason that Alan Moore’s masterpieces, Watchmen (published 1987) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (published 1999) failed as movies is that both were part of a period of postmodern thinking in American comic books that the movies have yet to catch up with.

JBNM is like one of those wtf?! moments in Season 4 of Farscape where the bottom keep falling out and the rabbit-hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

For those  interested, Next Men is supposed to be revived as an ongoing title this Fall.

If anyone is thinking of trying to do a catch-up with the Next Men , IDW sells them both as a pair of bande-dessiné style black-and-white books ($18/per) and a 3-volume color edition ($33/per) that I presume is printed on better paper with a nice semi-gloss finish. There are at least 6 trade paperback volumes of the original run, but those cost about $16/per and the trades above are the better value. If you hunt them out, you can probably find the b&w volumes for as little as $11.25/per +shipping on Ebay or Amazon, slightly used.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

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