Rating: 4/ 5 – John Byrne doing John Byrne things in a non-powered world that suffers a terrible catastrophe
There is a comforting level to a known quantity and at this point in time, many things about a John Byrne comic are going to be known ahead of time. John Byrne cut his teeth as Marvel was coming into its second big wave and even oversaw a well regarded Superman reboot at the DC. He exited the Big Two to create his Next Men franchise at Dark Horse and has since moved it and newer properties over to IDW. This comic is written and drawn by John Byrne with colors by Leonard O’Grady. Some people prefer Byrne with a separate inker but it seems that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. I am sure it is a conscious decision but one cannot ignore the fact that the apparent level of sales of his recent books do not make the addition of yet another expense a welcome addition. Still Byrne continues his characteristic art style and story telling.
Here we have an international space station members preparing a return voyage. There is some tension amongst the members as one would expect with a crew of the top professionals in their field. One scientist notes that an enormous solar flare has erupted from the sun. Normally those would burn themselves out but her calculations show it will destroy most of the earth. They communicate the information back to the US and the president releases the news to the world. We see some reactions from those on the earth. The space station inhabitants have a chance to make it, if they time their shuttle launch but at a cost. I won’t spoil what happens but there is some suggestion that the earth is mostly destroyed. So we are left with a post-apocalyptic tale but we don’t see the devastation visually depicted in this first issue but there is a graphic description of the predicted destruction.
Full disclosure, I have no science background. Well, I did finish high school, but my knowledge of astrophysics, climatology, and helioseismology leave me in no position to opine on the accuracy of the material presented. However, for my level of understanding, it passes the “feel” test. He gives enough plausible detail that my suspension of disbelief is not overly taxed. Certainly, I would say it is better executed than most summer blockbuster action movies but those scientists out there may find some error oblivious to me. Please let me know. The action does seem a little compressed but I am fine with that as I did not need the introductory issue dragged out. The compression was not so unrealistic to bother me.
The book does answer another common pet peeve of mine in many of these scenarios, namely that our protagonists are actually qualified individuals. They are top minds and in top physical shape which means they are more likely to survive and improvise solutions. It can get to me when ordinary schlubs somehow have unexplained physical and mental gifts that allow them to conquer impossible obstacles.
I am on board as this is something different for me. I am enjoying that it is apparently a world without super powers, magic, or fantastical creatures but still has exciting elements. The only concern would be how some of the recent Byrne works have not lasted very long but as long as this stays as good as the first issue, I am on board. If you like Byrne, I would imagine you would like this as well.
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