One of the biggest names in comics the last several decades has been John Byrne, who was an important writer/artist in several big titles, including Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four as well as DC’s Superman. These days, Mr. Byrne has been creating other works, including Star Trek comics for IDW. His latest foray into sci-fi is Doomsday.1.
Here’s the description for the first issue, in stores as of Wednesday, May 15: “The Earth may have dodged a bullet on 12/21/2012, but there are worse things in store for our little blue planet!”
Post-apocalyptic fiction has been a big deal for quite some time, and during this initial issue, Byrne shows us the end of things as we know them. This sets up what will take place in the coming months, which I expect will deal with the aftermath, including the rebooting of the human race on Earth.
The great thing about doing this kind of story in comics is that you don’t need a special effects budget. As long as Byrne can draw it, it takes place.
During a recent interview, Byrne said the following: “I’ve been thinking for some time that I would like to revisit a post-apocalypse kind of scenario, such as was seen in my very first ‘dramatic’ work in comics, but this time without the more obvious fantasy elements of that original series (mermaids, alien robots, frozen mammoths, etc.). When bits and pieces of this new series first started to percolate around in my head, I knew almost at once the shape that ‘revisit’ would take; something in the ‘All-New, All-Different’ vein. And the first time I doodled some images of my ‘crew,’ I knew I was there!”
Much of the story takes place from the perspective of an international space station. We meet several members of the crew, and not all of them survive this issue. But we also see people on the planet attempt to survive, including a submarine crew who decides to nestle itself in at the bottom of the ocean. We observe who’s there and where they go very clearly.
The most poignant moment in the book takes place when we discover the future of the station itself. Suffice it to say that the axiom “the captain goes down with the ship” plays an important part in what happens.
I have to say that Byrne’s art, particularly when it comes to portraying women, has improved greatly over the years. He was constantly criticized for making the fairer sex look like “ugly men” in his earlier Marvel days. That’s changed considerably, and he does a good job of even making the various ladies look noticeably different from each other without looking too masculine.
The challenge for Byrne going forward will be to give readers a story that’s decidedly different from other yarns told in this vein. All one has to do is turn on a cable pay channel to see a constant run of films dealing with the Earth’s demise. Heck, even Will Smith has a movie called After Earth due in theaters this summer. Can Byrne take us where no apocalypse has gone before? The old joke applies: “I’ve seen the end of the world many times, and ‘armageddon’ tired of it!”
Check below to view the cover from the issue: