John Byrne’s Next Men Issue #1 (January 1992) (Dark Horse Comics)

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TITLE: John Byrne’s Next Men Issue #1

YEAR:  January 1992

COMPANY: Dark Horse Comics

Story & Art: John Byrne

Colors: Matt Webb

Executive Editor: Randy Stradley

Managing Editor: Barbara Kesel

When it comes to comic book artists and writers, if there was an artist that I grew up reading and respecting his work as a child, it was John Byrne.

May it be his work from Marvel’s “Fantastic Four”, “Uncanny X-Men”, “The Sensational She-Hulk”, “Alpha Flight” and his work on DC’s “Superman”, John Byrne releases are what I look forward to reading.

And sure, the Internet tends to bring up John Byrne, the individual who speaks his mind and whether you love him or dislike him, I grew up during a time where Internet forums were not common place.  And because I never went to a convention to get an autograph from him as a fan or interview him as a professional, I have no experience meeting with John Byrne or hanging out with him.

My ’80s and ’90s John Byrne experience were strictly based on his comic work and I am a fan.

So, when John’s work for “John Byrne’s Next Men” was featured in Dark Horse Presents (and even earlier with his graphic novel, “2112”), there was no doubt excitement for his work for independent comic book publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Prior to purchasing “John Byrne’s Next Men”, Dark Horse Comics was one of my goto’s for Japanese manga releases, as they and Viz were one of the few releasing manga ala comic book-style in the early ’90s.  So, I really had no familiarity with Dark Horse Comics outside of that.  So, when I purchased the first issue of “John Byrne’s Next Men”, it would be my introduction to comics from Dark Horse Comics and as for John Byrne’s latest series, I was in it for the long haul.

For the first early storylines of “John Byrne’s Next Men”, they were published in Dark Horse Presents #54-#57.  Those stories were featured in black and white and would be later released as “Next Men” issue #0 in full color.

So, the first issue starts out with Bethany, Danny, Jack, Jasmine and Nathan escaping with investigator Tony Murcheson from “The Greenery”, an agricultural research lab project authorized by the government.

These five individuals did not know their lives inside “The Greenery” was just an illusion and now that Tony has broken them out, they have become targeted by the government, specifically project head Senator Aldus Hilltop.

Unfortunately, Tony has been shot and is badly wounded but she is determined to escape with these individuals who happen to have special abilities.

And because the five escaped, Senator Aldus Hilltop wants them all dead and will do anything to destroy all evidence of the project.

As for the series, “John Byrne’s Next Men” would last for a total of 30 issues and as John Byrne took a 15-year hiatus from the series, he returned in 2010 with 14 more issues with IDW.

What I find interesting about the “John Byrne’s Next Men”, starting with the first appearance of Hellboy in issue #21, I found that the series was literally impossible to find in comic stores.  Having had success of finding issues 1-17, anything later proved to be difficult.  But fortunately, “John Byrne’s Next Men” has been released in numerous TPB’s, covering the classic Dark Horse releases and the IDW releases.

Overall, “John Byrne’s Next Men” was personally one of my indie comic favorite purchases of the ’90s and if you haven’t had the opportunity to read the series, I recommend it!

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