I read all 31 (including #0) issues of John Byrne's X-Men over the weekend, almost accidentally.

I bought the first volume of the Premiere Collection hardcover some time ago, and the second on shipped last week. I was waiting for all three, but I started flipping through and got carried away. I read both volumes, then had to resort to longboxes to finish it off. I've read it all before, parts of it more than once, but this is the first time I've read it all the way through in a couple of sittings. The introductions to the collection and the editorial material in the original issues tell the same story: he's got about 20 more issues worth of stories to tell in the next arc, which will likely (almost "certainly" I would say now) start with a new number one. Perhaps it's too soon to have heard since the third and final hardcover collection hasn't even been solicited yet, but has anyone heard of plans to continue/conclude this series?

One other thing while I'm here... I don't usually comment on the size of a particular collection, but volume two is much bigger than volume one (which is in turn somewhat larger than a standard archive or masterworks edition). Whassup wit' dat? Why not make 'em the same size? (Unless volume three is going to be bigger still...?)

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The pace works for me, but the true test will be when I sit down to read it all at once (which I probably will due when the last issue ships, before I read the last issue, whatever issue that turns out to be). How does it feel compared to the original? I must admit it's different... very different. I'm liking the new series just as much if not more than the original. Having read the original series is not a prerequisite for reading the new, but it adds an additional dimension. Nor do I feel in any "cheated" for having followed the original only to have it change direction in the relaunch. I think the change is justified because 17 years have passed. YMMV

ISSUE #(3)8: Oh! I just re-read what I wrote last month and remembered I left a key plot point unspoiled. That seriously curtails what I was planning to say about this issue. Okay, here’s a hint: the cover itself reveals how the mystery time agent got to the 23rd century. Debate still rages among the characters and between the factions regarding whether or not history can actually be changed (especially given the disastrous results of Thomas Kirkland’s first attempt), but the reunited Next Men are not only going to try a second time to prevent the creation of Sathanus, but if they are successful, Project: Next Men will never have happened in the first place!

NEXT ISSUE: To be concluded!
ISSUE #(3)9: Now that it’s been pretty well determined that history can be changed, the Next Men prepare for their mission, but there is one final hitch in their git-along as they must first deal with a reluctant Jasmine who, frightened that their lives will be wiped from existence should they succeed, flees to the altered reality (the “past” to them, the “future” to us) in which Jack now lives and has grown old. [SPOILERS] Tony decides to return the 19th century in which she saved President Lincoln’s to live out her days, thus bringing about the alternate future timeline. Nathan and Beth’s mission to prevent Sathanas from coming into being apparently succeeds. They do live through it, but their powers fade away. [END SPOILERS] Next Men #40, “Aftermath”, is promoted for 2012.

With all the time travel and whatnot, this incarnation of Next Men is quite different from the original 1990s series, which I liked, but I like the new series more. Byrne has successfully re-invented the entire concept from the ground up.

ISSUE #44:

It has now been 2½ years since I re-read the first 31 issues of JBNM and set about reading the revival, which came to an end (?) this week with the release of issue #44. I’ve enjoyed #32-44, but I’ve read them all only once each. The series came to a satisfying conclusion, but there were so many twists and turns (not to mention all the twists and turns leading up to it), my advice to anyone interested would be not to read it until/unless you have a firm grasp of the story up to this point. I’ll be re-reading these issues in their entirety one of these days, and I know from experience that this series reads better in a single sitting.

I'm holding my breath on this one.... I found the last few issues to be very confusing and not at all easy to follow.  Hopefully, this one will make it all make more sense.

My Head Hurts!

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