Saturday, August 17, 2013

Doomsday Redux!

Doomsday.1, the limited series from IDW is a curious homage to a classic Charlton sci-fi comic by that comic book's very creator. Odd indeed. John Byrne revisits the concept of post-apocalyptic survivalism, which he and Joe Gill realized so vividly decades ago.

This time there's a rugged realism to the proceedings. Gone is the zest and zing of sci-fi romance as well as the rapidly paced rush to jam in every classic science fiction trope possible into a mere comic book. That abundance as well as the unbridled enthusiasm of the young Byrne makes the original Doomsday +1 one of my all-time favorite comic books. This new one, less so.

The tale begins at the end with a giant sun flare which scorches the Earth. Out heroes are an international team of scientists and astronauts aboard a space station who find a way to elude the lethal effects of the flare, but at great cost.

The  story shifts ahead and we find our survivors in Southwest America and confronted with a ferocious gang of murderous prisoners. Again we are presented with a grim situation which has definite costs.

As the story continues to shift forward in time, the survivors meet up with a U.S. submarine crew and they proceed to New York City where they find only vermin, at least that's what most of them think. 

The tale ends up in South America and our hearty band run up against a jungle danger which takes the story in a whole new direction.

Greg Boyd, Hikari Akiyama, Richard Benning, Yulia Alexivitch, Pascal Brussard,  Gordie West, Yuri Alexivitch

Doomsday.1 is not as vibrantly thrilling as the Charlton classic. But it does have a greater gravity, as the story is more realistically developed. The lead characters are less classically heroic, but nonetheless demonstrate bravery and increasingly a comradery which allows the reader an eventual rooting interest. Byrne sets them up early in the story as distinctly unlikeable, but they are changed by the devastated world they find. That transformation seems ultimately to be the point of the story, as despair is ultimately replaced.

I came to this tale with a nostalgic ardor for the original which perhaps limited my ability to fully appreciate what Byrne was trying to accomplish with this version. But after reading the whole shebang, I have to grudgingly admit that I found the story a reasonably worthy successor to its Charlton inspiration.

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  1. didn't the original have, like, a caveman in it? or a barbarian warrior? something like that? I remember liking it, quite a bit. haven't seen anything by Byrne in, at the very least, about twenty years that has even remotely peaked my interest, which is a damn shame, because there was a time when he most definitely ruled.

    1. This is the most interesting thing I've seen from him since Next Men. And the original did indeed feature a giant Goth named Kuno who became a regular cast member. Nothing that offbeat in this modern story alas.

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