Sunday, September 13, 2015


by John Byrne

Like any comics reader about my age, I have been a big fan of John Bryne's work over the years, although that has not always translated into my enjoying his more current work.

Doomsday.1 was a four-issue miniseries published by IDW a few years ago.  It stars a group who were on the International Space Station when a massive solar flare erupted, sending a ball of plasma larger than the Earth crashing into our home, burning and destroying much of the planet.  Our main characters managed to avoid the destruction, and make their way to the planet, where they spend the rest of the series trying to put together a new life.

The concept is a good one, and Byrne has taken some pains to try to keep his story within the confines of what would have most likely happened, but he's chosen to structure the story rather strangely.  Each issue after the first one features the dwindling group of survivors through some episodic adventures.

In Texas, they come across some prisoners who have taken over a penitentiary.  In New York, they find rats and badly burned people.  In Brazil, they find a wild tribe of indigenous people, who are being led by an English-speaking Dutchman.  This issue is pretty unfortunate on a whole lot of levels, the most egregious being the overly stereotypical portrayal of the tribe.

I wonder if Byrne had perhaps intended for this to be a much longer-running series, and then just decided to focus on a few chapters, but the jumping forward in time, and the way in which characters are introduced and then abandoned (like the Cuban kid the group rescued in Miami and took with them to New York, who was never seen again).  There is little in the way of sustained character development, although I did like the fact that Richard Branson was used as a model for one character.

This is not Byrne at his best.  His Cold War series at IDW was a better read, but there is something that I will always find comforting about reading pages of his art.  He still draws the most recognizable rubble in comics.

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