I blame John Byrne. In 1983, I had managed to distance myself somewhat from comics. Brother Mike was ten years old and so, to keep him entertained I bought some comics from the local newsagents in Bedminster. That’s when it caught my eye: Alpha Flight no. 4 with a character I’d not seen before, Marrina.
Now, yes, I was familiar with Byrne from his Doomsday + 1 and Rog 2000 work for Charlton Comics. He had a style that caught my eye and I fell in love with. I had seen his work for Marvel Comics that included stints on The X-Men, The Avengers, Fantastic Four -what book did he not work on?
But this “Alpha Flight“? What was it? I purchased a copy and was hooked. It took some walking around the various newsagents but I got no. 1 onward and I really hated the wait before the next issue appeared. Ahh, those days when newsagents stocked monthly comics from the US!
Alpha Flight was unlike any team book I had read before simply because the issues featured only one or two characters and never the entire team. I do recall buying the very first issue after Byrne left. Everything we had learnt in 28 issues was completely wiped-out. At a UK Comic Art Convention in the 1980s I remember Byrne joking about thinking it might take a few issues before the new team ruined things -but it only took one!
Of course, Alpha Flight has returned -3 times?- and I think I’ve seen the team killed at the start of at least two Marvel “crisis” series. The writers and artists just don’t seem to get it and the fact that the team is Canadian almost seems to phase creators to the point that it just turns into an American (US) super team.
Seriously, I know Marvel has this block on any creator who is not under 40 but they need to get some fans back and have a good series…they need Byrne back on Alpha Flight.
Naturally, Byrne did a ton of work for DC and there was a bearded idiot in Bristol who scoured the shops for every book!
Probably the best book that I hoped Marvel might develop with Byrne was Marvel:The Lost Generation. I’m still holding out hope!
Byrne works well on projects he tends to have control on. He did a great job on Doom Patrol but then the company jerks cancelled it!
A shining example of Byrne having control of a project is John Byrne’s Next Men. If you are unfamiliar with it:
John Byrne’s Next Men -aka: Next Men or JBNM– is a comic series plotted, written and drawn by John Byrne and ran for some 31 issues plus a stand-alone prequel:2112. The series was published between 1991 and 1995 by Dark Horse Comics. I still haven’t got a complete series yet!
And it was at the 2010 San Diego International Comic Con, that John Byrne revealed he was creating a new issues of Next Men to be published by IDW Publishing. There had been rumours but this was confirmation and it took two hours for me to stop dribbling (though that may have been the new medication). Byrne said that this new series would be both a continuation of the previous series as well as a place for new readers to discover the characters -Byrne has always adopted the creative attitude that “every issue is someone’s first issue. He expects the new series to run about 50 issues.
There’s a good Wikipedia page at:
This should answer any questions you have and help those wondering what the series is all about.
The first issue of the IDW series appeared in December, 2010.
Byrne keeps up his plot twisting and characterisation and still turns out some great work. I love a lot of his comic covers because they hardly need captions. Look at the Next Men #3 cover below!
There are cover variants but it seems I will only see these online. Excelsior! Comics, my local store (other stores do exist), tell me that there are only two standing orders for the book -me and some other guy. Problem is they even get short-ordered on two copies so I have #4 but am waiting for #3!
The Next Men is a great read and visually looks fantastic. I do really hope that this run lasts 50 issues because if I don’t get a complete series this time I’ll dress as a nudist for a week..and no one wants that!
There is an interesting interview with Byrne about Next Men at First Comics News:
Oh, one book I’ve never seen in the shop is the Star Trek Leonard McCoy series. Pity.