Doomsday.1 tells the post-apocalyptic tale of seven venturesome astronauts in the International Space Station who are forced to watch as a massive solar flare annihilates most of the Earth. Inspired by Joe Gill’s “Doomsday + 1” which was released nearly four decades ago, this four issue miniseries is brought to life by IDW Publishing and original series illustrator, John Byrne; but without the fantasy elements of the original series. Taking the reigns as both writer and artist this time around, Byrne delivers an honorable, though inordinately exhaustive, opener to the series.
WRITTEN BY: John Byrne
ART BY: John Byrne
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
RELEASE: May 19th, 2013
As far as monotonous scenarios go, “The End of the World as We Know It” trope is very commonplace in fiction, but there is a copious amount of ways in which apocalypses can actually manifest. Moreover, the magnitude of these apocalypses can be measured on two sliding scales of scope and severity. The former deals with the size of the destroyed “world”, and the latter determines to what extent the world actually “ends”.
In John Byrnes “Doomsday.1” #1, the narrative begins high up in the International Space Station as astrophysicist Dr. Hikari Akiyama discovers that a massive solar flare is heading straight toward the blue planet. Minutes before the flare’s impact centres on the Indian Ocean, the ISS crew launch their shuttle away from the station and orbit the Earth until the firestorms, which are completely engulfing it, burn out. They finally land “home” where the scope of the destruction is on a planetary level, in that the vast majority of planet Earth is destroyed. The severity of such a catastrophe results in species extinction and physical annihilation. Most species are almost completely wiped out, save for a low population of people.
This installment weighs in at 32 pages, and offers an extensive amount of explanatory and descriptive dialogue that lays the foundation for the overall narrative and introduces a huge cast of characters. This level of comprehensiveness in a single issue seems overwhelming considering the common decompressed style of storytelling in comics, but it does make for a complete reading experience, regardless of the fact that at times it feels like the characters are just being made to spit out information for the readers. But, Byrne writes a secure and established story with four interesting side-plots that steal the issue, and will surely weave their way into the main storyline.
These side-stories take the readers to Washington where the President breaks the news to the American public. We go from the Vatican where the pontiff and his men are fleeing, to Southeast Texas where a violent prison riot seems to be in its early stages, and finally to a submarine crew attempting to wait out Armageddon at the bottom of the ocean somewhere near New Orleans.
The artwork by Byrne is reminiscent of old-school comics of the 70’s, and while his style is not something that seems to go hand-in-hand with this particular subject matter, his impressive attention to detail makes up for it. His work is so thoroughly detailed when it comes to the background that the foreground sometimes plays second fiddle to what’s behind it. His knack for nailing facial expressions and perfectly executing body language to convey certain emotions effectively is commendable. And his recreation of the Vatican is stunning; even more so thanks to the colours by Leonard O’Grady. Overall, O’Grady seems to have chosen a light colour palette which doesn’t necessarily go with the feel of the series. If he follows suit with the colouring job he did on Byrnes regular cover for issue #1, it would have been a huge improvement.
All in all, “Doomsday.1” #1 doesn’t offer much in terms of innovating the End of the World trope, but it has the potential to take readers on a dramatically engaging adventure with all the stories it’s weaving. Cliché as they may be, the characters are surprisingly, and refreshingly, diverse. Readers will be looking forward to discovering more about them, as well as what remains on post-apocalyptic planet Earth.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd