Next Men was John Byrne’s first creator-owned series. A bleak sci-fi political suspense thriller, Next Men dealt with the survivors of a top secret genetic engineering project masterminded by Senator Aldus Hilltop. By this point in time the corrupt, ruthless Hilltop has ascended to the Presidency itself. Bethany, Nathan and Danny, three of the surviving Next Men, have learned that Hilltop is Danny’s biological father, and have traveled to Washington DC hoping to confront him. They are intercepted by Thomas Kirkland, a time traveler from the 22nd Century.
Over coffee at an all-night diner, Kirkland reveals to the Next Men that Hilltop is destined to become the vampiric cyborg despot Sathanas, who nearly conquered the world in the year 2112. Defeated, Sathanas traveled back in time to 1955 and met up with the young, ambitious Hilltop, advising him, giving him knowledge of the future, directing him to establish the Next Men project, all of this to ultimately insure his own creation. Kirkland has traveled back to the end of the 20th Century in an attempt to break this predestination paradox by assassinating Hilltop before he transforms into Sathanas.
Next Men was an intriguing and ambitious series. I consider it to be one of John Byrne’s best works from his lengthy career. The series went on hiatus with issue #30, ending on an explosive cliffhanger. Byrne initially planned to return to Next Men just a few months later, but the implosion of the comic book biz in 1995 delayed this indefinitely. Byrne at long last concluded the Next Men saga in 2011 with a 14 issue series published by IDW.