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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I'll likely pick up the trade on this. My LCS is small enough that it doesn't buy everything  every month (not even all Marvel and DC), so issue 1 was the only issue I've seen on the stands (at Jim Hanley's in NYC). I picked it up and was on the fence about it, so pre-ordering the rest didn't seem wise.

 

I hope it's a satisfying conclusion, and I hope it does well enough in the marketplace to get Byrne to try more new things. 

ISSUE #5: I'm completely caught up in this story. I can't decide which character is worse off, nor can I see how, after the events of this series, the team can ever return to anything resembling the previous status quo. Judging by the cover of next month's issue, Byrne's going to be tackling a prototypal time travel trope (and the prototypal scenario as well), and I'm looking forward to how he handles that.
I'm curious how things are going to wrap up, but all this mutilation and torture is wearying, and I don't want more of it. If this wasn't a six-issue miniseries, I'd have dropped it.

...

 

It's a mini-series? Does it say that anywhere on or in the comics?

It's been solicited in Previews as a twelve-issue mini-series. (See my February 11 post on the previous page.)

Twelve issues? I thought it was only six ... 

 

In that case, I fear I've read my last one. But I can trust Jeff to read it so I don't have to. 

I'm trade-waiting this. Mind you, eagerly trade-waiting, but trade-waiting nonetheless. As I think I noted waaaaay up-thread, I read the original JBNM as it was published. It's been something like 18 years; what's a few more months.

 

As I recall, when JBNM went on hiatus after issue 30, Byrne thought he would return in six months for the concluding 20 issues. But he has decided to tighten things up. As Jeff noted, he has seen 12 issues listed for this run. On Byrne's message board, I'm getting the impression that it may be nine issues. Sometime after JBNM, Byrne will move on to a sequel-type series set in the Next Men/2112 universe.

I can trust Jeff to read it so I don't have to.

I'm in for the long haul... however long (or short) that turns out to be.

I'm trade-waiting this.

I'm trying not to be too "spoilery" on this thread, directing my comments toward those who have read it without being too specific for those who haven't. It's not everyone's cuppa tea (as you already know if you've read this entire discussion). It is one of the grimmest comics I've read in quite some time.
Nah, be spoilery if you want. It really won't affect my enjoyment. Anyway, I'm a little curious.
Okay, b_dog… because you requested it, the SPOILERS are on!

ISSUE #6: Last month I said, “Judging by the cover of next month's issue, Byrne's going to be tackling a prototypal time travel trope (and the prototypal scenario as well),” by which I meant we’re going to see, in John Byrne’s fictional universe, whether or not history can be changed, specifically, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The American Civil War has just ended, but word hasn’t yet spread across the entire country. Tony Murcheson takes advantage of the situation to turn the tables on her owner and run away to Washington. Accompanying her on the trip is the master’s granddaughter, who wishes to live with her aunt in Philadelphia. Travelling in disguise on horseback, they make their way to the nearest town where they sneak aboard a boxcar to ride the rails. After riding for hours, the train is stopped by a Union raiding party. They slip out the far side, and by sheer luck find Tony’s weapon, dropped and left behind when she first arrived in this era. Stealing a horse and buggy at gunpoint, they ride most of the rest of the way into Washington, D.C, before their horse gives out.

She manages to get an audience with President Lincoln, but when, after several attempts, she fails to convince anyone of his danger, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Making her way to Ford’s Theatre that night, she sneaks backstage and up the stairs to the hallway behind the President’s box where she waits. Soon, John Wilkes Booth arrives, but doesn’t take her seriously. As he reaches for the doorknob, she fires, but the bullet does not hit! It seems to be travelling in slow motion as her own movements seem to slow. “What… the… …” she says, as she stares incredulously at her gun and the bullet hangs in the air.

It looks as if we’re going to have to wait at least a month (probably more, judging by next issue’s cover) before we find out whether or not history can be changed. I should also mention that Byrne did his homework in researching what the Washington of 1865 looked like, the White House, the Capital, the Washington Monument, Ford’s theatre, the city itself.
ISSUE #(3)7: I have liked this series right along, but with this issue the story really picks up speed and moves to a different level!

[SPOILERS]

The Next Men have been split and shunted to different eras, perhaps different realities, when all of them have endured horrific experiences. Bethany, for example, was buried alive for 200 years. She was, however, able to go back in time to prevent herself from suffering that fate, thus proving that the past can be changed. Her futuristic allies are against the notion of attempting to alter the time stream, however, because when they tried to assassinate Aldus hilltop before he became Satanas, all they did was to cause the next step in Satanas’ evolution.

Tony Murcheson, too, evidently created a divergent reality, too… one in which Jack lives in the 21st century, but not the one from Bethany’s future. Her allies set about assembling the scattered Next Men, curing them of their physical injuries by reversing the aging of their bodies to a time before they sustained their respective injuries, and preventing Tony from altering the past by preventing the assassination of President Lincoln.

Among the tools they use is a displacement suit with a chameleon field, which works a little like a TARDIS combined with “psychic paper” from Doctor Who, except it’s a suit of clothes that alters perception and blends in with the surroundings of a given time period. (Pretty cool.)

We learn that the reason the bullet Tony fired at John Wilkes Booth slowed to a stop last issue is not because history can’t be changed, but rather because of the machinations of the rest of the Next Men. Tony, however, remains unconvinced that preventing Lincoln’s assassination is not the proper course of actions, and one of the future people actually agrees to help her! If this action seems extremely out of character for an agent charged with protecting the integrity of the time stream, it is soon revealed that he’s been working from within against his groups’ stated goals all along.

Tony and Jack’s experiences took place in a divergent timeline, but maybe Jasmine and Nathan’s did, too. (I rather like this explanation, given Byrne’s theories concerning Edward de Vere and the works of William Shakespeare.) Bethany created an alternate reality, and Danny is still lost in the primordial past. It’s unlikely they’ll ever be able to restore [what they think of as] the “true” reality, i.e., the reality of the original series. It’s in their memories, just as it is in ours (those of us who read it), but it’s inaccessible.

[END SPOILERS]

There’s also one additional surprise regarding the true identity of the time agent who’s been helping hem which I will leave unrevealed. I know I haven’t done a very good job of explaining what’s going on, but I hope I’ve said enough to drive b-dog crazy with anticipation. If the Next Men is going to turn into a time travel book, Im all in favor of that, especially if the stories are going to be as good as this one is shaping up to be.
How is the compressed pace working? I'm eager to see how this concludes, but after 30 issues, a 17-year wait and a complete change in direction, I'm wondering how this feels compared with the original.

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