First off I dropped the “John Byrne’s” from the title so it would be somewhat shorter, and I really don’t like it when a creator’s name is inserted into the title. I had heard Byrne was picking up with the Next Men, fifteen years since the last issue was released by Dark Horse. Now at IDW John Byrne’s Next Men Volume 1: Scattered collects the first four issues.
A new chapter begins in the lives of the survivors of Project Next Men. New friends, new foes, and a tale that literally twists time itself out of joint. When the thirty-issue story took a “time out” 15 years ago, it looked like John Byrne may never conclude his infectious tale. But now, after a long wait, we’ll learn what happened that fateful night when Santhana’s master plan took shape within the walls of the White House.
I vaguely remember reading the original series but came to this book with no memory of characters or story. That’s just fine since you don’t need any prior knowledge of the book or characters to jump in, as it’s a mystery to the characters as well. Members of the team are scattered around history, each trying to figure out what’s happened. We’re only treated to the first four issues of the series so it ends with us not knowing much more than when we started, but there are enough hooks to keep us interested.
Our main characters end up during the civil war in the south, Nazi Germany, Victorian England, prehistoric, slightly in the future and far into the future. Each presents its own challenges that we learn a little about and get a feel for our characters through snippets of history and how they deal with their dilemma. A black woman in the south, a mutated man in Nazi Germany, a penniless woman in Victorian England: underdogs to the end.
Dialogue and facial expressions keep us engaged and rooting for our heroes as they face mystery upon mystery. I would have appreciated this collection going beyond the four issues so I felt like some resolution could take place: as it is I’m engaged and wanting more which certainly isn’t a bad way to leave a reader.
Art as you can see if classic Byrne. A little scratchy and rounded but you know what you’re getting from the cover alone. Actually I’d say you’re getting more since Next Men Volume 1: Scattered is some of the best Byrne art I’ve seen in years and is a real treat for long-term fans and new readers alike.
For extras we get an introduction from Byrne, original covers in colour and inked, two inked interior pages plus a colour pin-up for the last page. It’s not much but I always appreciate something from the creative team to give some background to the material. The book feels light on value since it’s $22 for 104 standard sized pages, but the material is engaging and allows for multiple readings.
Originally published at Comic Book Daily.