Doomsday.1 #1 Review

The end of the world seems an ironic time to launch a new mini-series, but that’s exactly what comics legend John Byrne and IDW are setting out to do — and they’re doing it well.

Here’s the official description from IDW:

IDW Publishing is happy to announce DOOMSDAY.1, a new four-issue miniseries coming in May from legendary comics mastermind John Byrne! Harkening back to Byrne’s earliest days in comics,DOOMSDAY.1 tells the thrilling tale of seven adventurous astronauts, who watch in horror, aloft in the International Space Station, as most of Earth is annihilated by a titanic solar flare.

Let’s start with the bad news: the planet earth is toast, and only a small fraction of the human race is expected to survive.  But here’s the good news: John Byrne wants to tell us all about it.  Illustrated and penned by comic heavyweight John Byrne, Doomsday #1 is a nearly pitch-perfect introduction to what’s shaping up to be an epic morality play.

And Byrne has set the stage well — we got a group of seven astronauts floating in space, helplessly narrating the end of human civilization like a greek chorus, and an engaging swatch of characters on earth, trying desperately to shelter-in-place as a ball of fire engulfs each continent.  It’s way too early to tell where this run will go, but Doomsday #1 is so well told that I suspect most readers will go along with it.

Byrne’s art is well known and well documented, and you won’t find anything in Doomsday #1 that will either surprise you, or let you down.  He’s got a steady hand, and a trusted style, and if you spent the ‘80s reading fanboy comics there’s a good chance you’ve been trained into thinking this is what comics are supposed to look like.  Yes, it’s a tremendous compliment, but it has its drawbacks, too: Byrne’s art has become so “normal” looking that his craft becomes almost invisible; it doesn’t stand out or detract.  Whether this invisibility is good or bad is ultimately up for debate, but it certainly puts a lot more pressure on the story.  Luckily this script delivers.

Doomsday.1 #1 is an an especially promising launch.  And with John Byrne already clearly giving it his all, I have no doubt it’ll be fun to watch the world end.