Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sex Change

Next Men: Scattered: written and illustrated by John Byrne (2011): 15 years after the last issue of John Byrne's Next Men ended on a cliffhanger, Byrne finally finishes the story, starting here. You'd be well advised to read IDW's two phone-book-sized collections of the original series, and more recently than I did. The first new issue does supply a fairly rapid-fire synopsis of the first run, but even then I was a bit fuzzy on what had come before.

The four issues included here launch the comic into a wild time-travel story that recalls Byrne's brilliant, under-rated OMAC miniseries of the early 1990's in its complexity. It's fascinating and fun and unresolved, partially because some of the story may be a virtual reality fantasy. Other bits may be dreams. And several of the timelines we're shown seem to contradict one another, suggesting that we're looking at multiple timelines created by different alterations in the past occuring at different times. Got all that?

Byrne's art looks sharp, and the writing is solid. Whether or not our genetically engineered superheroes can save the world from the megalomaniacal energy vampire that one of them accidentally empowered through sexual contact remains to be seen. Yes, super-powers are a sexually transmitted disease. Seems reasonable. Recommended for readers of the previous series.

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