Book of the Day - 3/23/04

Doomsday +1 #1 Jul 1975

- Overstreet 2006 (9.2) NM- Price: $25 -



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John Byrne is regarded (rightly in my opinion) as one of premier artists of the Bronze Age.  Today's Book of the Day harkens back to the start of his comics career before he became famous drawing X-Men.  While Doomsday +1 #1 wasn't his first work in comics, that would be Skywald's horror magazine Nightmare #20, or even his first output for Charlton comics, this was Byrne's first regular series.  Technically, the ROG-2000 back-ups story in Charlton's E-Man could be considered his first "series" but this title was the first all-Byrne issues in a single run.

The story itself is the typical "doomsday" scenario.  In 1996, a rogue third world tyrant with nuclear weapons destroys Moscow and New York setting off a nuclear world war resulting in the apparent destruction of all humans on Earth.  While this is occurring, three astronauts, a male and 2 females, watch helplessly from orbit as the bombs pop off.  Afterwards, they land in Greenland to find an Ice Age era caveman, named Kumo, thawed out and apparently perfectly healthy.  Other similar era animals have also been awaken from deep freeze and are wondering the landside.  The astronauts and Kumo become quick friends and the journey to rebuild civilization begins..... 

It's immediately apparent that Byrne was still developing his style in this issue.  While completely competent and better than most Charlton art of the era, it looks rough in places.  Regardless, you could see the potential he would exhibit later.  Especially his use of different angles.   By the time he moved to Marvel, he was a more polished artist and would continue to perfect his style while teaming with writer Chris Claremont on Marvel Team-Up, Iron Fist, and later, their acclaimed Uncanny X-Men run.  And to give credit where it's due, Terry Austin's inking of Byrne's pencils seemed the perfect match and highlighted the great art in those X-Men issues. 

Doomsday +1 would last 6 issues, all with art by Byrne, before being canceled.  Charlton restarted the title with #7 two years later with reprints of #1-6 after Byrne became famous.  Not a bad comic at all and quite enjoyable.  Definitely better than the bulk of Charlton's output during the mid-70s.  And it's always interesting to see an artist's early work with the knowledge of how well they would evolve over time....