web stats

CSBG Archive

Death and sex in comics – John Byrne’s Next Men

Yes, it’s time for another weird stroll through a catalogue of death and sex in comics! IDW recently released the second big volume of Next Men by John Byrne (originally released by Dark Horse in the early 1990s), and it’s time to check out who dies and who gets lucky! Yes, there’s quite a bit of both in Next Men (and I should point out that there’s a scan of someone’s naked butt below the jump, if you care).

I should remind you that this post will contain big-time SPOILERS, because it tells you who dies. It’s inherent in the nature of the post! And I should also point out that this is NOT a review. I like Next Men quite a bit, but I’m not reviewing it here. Keep in mind that at some points in the book, characters reference how many people have died in previous episodes. I will note those, but I’m not counting them. These posts examine who we actually see die (or at least get injured enough to die later, off-panel). As for sex, well, that’s a bit trickier, because we rarely see sex on-panel. But there are plenty of references to sex in the book, and so I’ll count that when it comes up. So let’s check it out!

DEATH in Next Men.

2112 (the “prequel” graphic novel that introduces Sathanas, the big villain): Agent Red (“David Tannen” is his real name) shoots a punk in the face when he busts the minisaur fight. He shoots another punk, and it appears he shoots three more, although I can’t be sure. At Apollyon, Ravak kills the two pilots bringing the prisoner. Sathanas kills the newcomer who doesn’t accept his rule. Two of Sathanas’s minions are killed in Brazil when Tannen’s ship lands on them. Tannen then kills the third member of the team sabotaging the oxygen processor. Sathanas kills Alexi Gargarin when the trainees and Tannen attack the Antarctic ozone generator. Kirkland kills the halfling underneath the structure who comes out of the wall. Sathanas kills Tannen. Sathanas and his halflings are captured, but he blows himself up rather than let them be captured. We learn later that he survived (of course), but 78 of his minions died (we get that number from issue #6).
Deaths in this issue: 89 (I’m not counting the three punks Tannen appears to shoot, because it’s too unclear). Total deaths: 89.

Next Men #0: During their escape, Jack kills two guards by punching them in the face. He’s really strong.
Deaths in this issue: 2. Total deaths: 91.

Next Men #1: Aldus Hilltop shoots Dr. Bremmer in the head. He then blows up the installation. Many people die (128, as we’ll learn later), but remember – this is who we see die. His secretary blows up first. We see five other people caught in the explosion.
Deaths in this issue: 7 (+122 we don’t see). Total deaths: 98.

Next Men #2: Nobody dies. How disappointing.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 98.

Next Men #3: Bethany rips half of Hoagy’s face off, then punches her hand right through his body (because she’s hard-core!). He was trying to rape her, of course, something that didn’t come out at their trial later. Jack snaps Dwight’s neck when he wakes up from his sedated sleep. The vice-president’s plane explodes, and we learn in the next issue that he’s dead.
Deaths in this issue: 4 (the vice-president and his pilot – we don’t see anyone else on the plane). Total deaths: 102.

Next Men #4: There’s a big fire at Hoagy’s Hog Heaven, the bar where Bethany was almost raped. The men tried to set her on fire, but she can’t burn, so they accidentally torch the bar. At the Next Men’s trial, nobody mentions if anyone died in the fire – they just mention Hoagy. So I’m not going to count it.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 102.

Next Men #5: David blows up the underground lair and kills himself.
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 103.

Next Men #6: Sathanas kills Carter when the team finds him in Antarctica. He rips the leg off of another scientist (probably Klein). Eventually, we learn that nine of the ten scientists at the site have been killed (Jorgenson allies himself with Sathanas). I’m not going to count them, because we don’t see it. Hilltop allows Sathanas to drain his wife’s life force. We don’t see it, but I’m going to count it (I make the damned rules around here!). He also gives Rhonda to Sathanas, another death I’m going to count even though we don’t see it.
Deaths in this issue: 4 (+7 off-panel scientists). Total deaths: 108.

Next Men #7: No one dies. Anna Watson thinks about killing Hilltop, though. Too bad she didn’t.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 108.

Next Men #8: The Russian liaison gets chopped in two. So sad!
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #9: Nobody dies! Yay!
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #10: Nobody dies! Boo!
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #11: Nobody dies! Come on, Byrne!
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #12: The Next Men triumph over Ignis and Fleming Jorgenson, but no one dies.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #13: We learn that Tony’s husband died, but Willis tells us without us seeing it. I shan’t count it! Other than that, no deaths
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #14: Nobody dies.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #15: Everyone lives!
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 109.

Next Men #16: Sathanas drains the life out of a hooker. Boo, Sathanas!
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 110.

Next Men #17: Horowitz arranges for a bunch of cars to blow up to force the Next Men to do something heroic, but no one actually dies.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 110.

Next Men #18: This is the trial issue, in which we learn that 128 people died when Hilltop blew up the installation back in issue #1. I’m still not counting them, but I thought I’d mention it. The president dies of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 111.

Next Men #19: Thomas Kirkland and the Next Men effect separate escapes and manage to keep everyone alive while they’re doing it.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 111.

Next Men #20: Once again, everyone makes it through the issue alive.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 111.

Next Men #21: I’m going to count the three people who are crucified in the Jesus fantasy, even though it’s a fantasy. We still see them nailed to the crosses.
Deaths in this issue: 3. Total deaths: 114.

Next Men #22: Bethany slaughters two SWAT guys. To be fair, she’s pretty pissed off at them because they tried to set her on fire. This is also the issue in which Jasmine’s pregnancy is terminated. She’s five months on, and we obviously don’t see anything, and I’m not sure if I should count it. Obviously, some people think it’s murder and some don’t. I’m one of the ones who doesn’t, but she is, of course, further along than most people who get an abortion. As we never actually see anything, I’m not going to count it. You’ll have to forgive me if that offends you.
Deaths in this issue: 2. Total deaths: 116.

Next Men #23: In Thomas Kirkland’s account of the world to come, we see a newborn baby fry a doctor’s head right after it comes out of the womb. The United Nations is also destroyed, presumably with large loss of life, but we don’t see any of it and Kirkland doesn’t mention how many die, so I can’t count it.
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 117.

Next Men #24: Concrete (yes, Paul Chadwick’s Concrete) appears to kill two muggers. This is all part of the weird “comic book characters come to life” theme in the book, and although Concrete presumably disappears soon, I think the people he kills are still dead. So I’m going to count them. We also see Candy die in Dr. Trogg’s origin story, and although that wasn’t “real,” technically none of this is real, so I’m going to count that, too. Sathanas also dies in this issue, but as we don’t see it and he’s soon reborn, I’m not going to count it.
Deaths in this issue: 3. Total deaths: 120.

Next Men #25: It appears that Sally kills Garrison and the girl he’s about to have sex with, but we learn later she doesn’t kill anyone.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 120.

Next Men #26: It appears that Sally kills a ton of people, but we learn that she doesn’t actually kill anyone. Even though we see Action Maxx get blown apart, it doesn’t even look real, so I’m not going to count it.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 120.

Next Men #27: Sally kills herself. She’s a bit depressed.
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 121.

Next Men #28: Nobody dies.
Deaths in this issue: 0. Total deaths: 121.

Next Men #29: Hilltop, who is turning into Sathanas, kills Ducummen and his secretary.
Deaths in this issue: 2. Total deaths: 123.

Next Men #30: Jasmine kills Dr. Axelrod. We see her break his jaw and tell him that he has six minutes to drown in his own blood. Nobody saves him, so we’ll count him as dead. Kirkland dies when he blows up the White House. It’s late at night, so we’ll just say no one else dies. We know Sathanas (Hilltop) survives, even though he appears dead.
Deaths in this issue: 1. Total deaths: 124.

SEX in Next Men.

2112: Thomas Kirkland is about to have sex with Marguerite de Fuego. Agent Tannen is in his room, however, so he is left with a case of blue balls. So sad!
Sex in this issue: Close, but none. Total couplings: 0.

Next Men #0: Jazz and Jack are also about to have sex in the virtual reality world, but Jack “fades,” meaning he wakes up into the real world. It’s strongly implied, however, that intercourse had begun. I’m going to count it. Why not?
Sex in this issue: Let’s count it as ½, okay? Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #1: No sex. Too busy escaping.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #2: No sex. Too busy getting arrested.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #3: No sex. Man, this is ridiculous. Give them some down time so they can get it on!
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #4: No sex. They’re still too busy running from Johnny Law.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #5: More no sex. Still on the run!
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #6: We see Hilltop with Rhonda, and it’s fairly obvious it’s post-coital, but I’m not going to count it.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: ½.

Next Men #7: No sex, although Hilltop has just had sex with Anna Watson. We get this more clearly in the “M4″ back-up story that begins in this issue. I’m going to count it because it’s much more clearly implied than when Hilltop was with Rhonda in issue #6.
Sex in this issue: 1. Total couplings: 1½.

Next Men #8: Another post-coital scene between Hilltop and Anna Watson. I’ll count it. There’s also a full frontal shot of a naked man, for what that’s worth.
Sex in this issue: 1. Total couplings: 2½.

Next Men #9: Nathan and Jasmine do the nasty. It’s fairly explicit, actually. This will have some consequences for everyone, as Jasmine was digging Jack and Nathan was digging Bethany back in the virtual reality world.
Sex in this issue: 1. Total couplings: 3½.

Next Men #10: A post-coital scene between Danny’s mother and one of her fuckbuddies. I’ll count it. Hilltop is about to have some kinky sex with Sally. I will count that too!
Sex in this issue: 2. Total couplings: 5½.

Next Men #11: No time for sex, man!
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 5½.

Next Men #12: The Next Men are too busy saving the world to have sex.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 5½.

Next Men #13: Jack gets a bit peeved when he finds out that Jasmine and Nathan got it on, but there’s no sex.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 5½.

Next Men #14: There’s no sex in this issue.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 5½.

Next Men #15: Sally deflowers Danny in this issue. We don’t actually see anything, but the sex has some major consequences for Sally in particular, so I’ll count it.
Sex in this issue: 1. Total couplings: 6½.

Next Men #16: We learn that Jasmine is pregnant (because whenever you have sex once, you must automatically get pregnant), but no actual sex occurs in the issue.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 6½.

Next Men #17: The Next Men are too busy saving people from Horowitz’s stunt to have sex.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 6½.

Next Men #18: The Next Men are on trial, so there’s no chance for hanky-panky!
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 6½.

Next Men #19: No sex. So sad.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 6½.

Next Men #20: Cornelius van Damme has a naked servant, but there’s no sex.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 6½.

Next Men #21: Sally is in bed with Garrison after having sex with him. Go, Sally! Mark IV has sex with at least two different women within the space of four panels. Whoo-hoo, Mark IV!
Sex in this issue: 3. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #22: There’s no sex in this issue.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #23: There’s a distressing lack of sex in this issue.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #24: Things are getting too weird for there to be any sex in this issue.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #25: Garrison is cheating on Sally, and it’s more of coitus interruptus like we saw back in issue #0. I’m not going to count it, though, because it’s less along than the sex between Jasmine and Jack. Sally implies that this isn’t the first time he’s cheated on her, but I can’t say that.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #26: Sally is too busy destroying New York for anyone to have sex.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #27: No sex this time around.
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 9½.

Next Men #28: I’m going to count the “virtual sex” that Jasmine has with Hilltop. We see them kiss and then we see them in bed after the fact. It’s in the virtual world, but why shouldn’t I count it? [Edit: it's been pointed out in the comments that this is probably "actual" sex, as Hilltop has been lusting after Jasmine. He wouldn't pass the chance up!]
Sex in this issue: 1. Total couplings: 10½.

Next Men #29: Nobody has time to stop and have sex!
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 10½.

Next Men #30: Once again, no one has time for nooky!
Sex in this issue: 0. Total couplings: 10½.

So there we have it. Let’s break it down!

Number of people that are killed or die (the president dies a natural death): 124. 129 more people are known to be dead, but we don’t see them. Remember, 89 people die in 2112, so the numbers are a bit skewed.
Average per comic (32 issues – 2112 is a bit longer than a regular book): 3.875.
Number of sex acts seen or heavily implied: 10½.
Average per comic: 0.328.

Next Men isn’t as bloodthirsty as Conan, of course, but it’s still not bad. Let’s add up the totals so far! The breakdown of Conan is here, by the way.

Number of people that are killed or die: 534.
Average per comic: 6.512.
Number of sex acts seen or heavily implied: 22.5.
Average per comic: .274.

Death is so much healthier than sex, isn’t it? Next Men, despite being incomplete (Byrne says he has about 20 issues left, and he knows the entire story), is a pretty good comic. It veers around a bit in the second volume, as several comic book characters come to life (Mike Mignola even draws a few pages that feature Hellboy; others include Concrete, elves from Elfquest, and Monkeyman and O’Brien) and Byrne even, weirdly enough, ties the comic into his novel Whipping Boy (which I’ve read, by the way). It’s still a pretty good comic, and for 45 dollars (or less on-line), you can buy both trades and get a nice superhero epic.

So that’s all the death and the sex in Next Men. We’ll see what’s next on the death and sex comics carousel!

19 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 6, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Mr. Burgas, thy name is “bodycount”!

You really have sex on the mind, don’t you?

Maybe John Byrne will have lots of sex ‘n’ death in the next new NEXT MEN series.

If there is any new series from the Byrne.

I have all of the Next Men trades, and I sure would be thrilled if Byrne would finish the story…

Having read the first Next Men compilation, I wish it would return as well; it could go from being a flawed masterpiece as an incomplete creator-owned experiment to a full masterpiece, if revisited by Byrne with proper care.

You know what came out around the same time period and I liked a lot better? Danger: Unlimited. I was almost convinced that Byrne had made some kind of turnaround in his slide into shittiness with that book. Then he cut it ridiculously short by preemptively cancelling it and devoting his energies to stuff that didn’t grab me, like this.

And Byrne is one of the first creators to talk about how bad it is that comics are now all full of adult level themes and stories.

Funny, that.

That’s better, it wouldn’t let me change it the first time. Yeah, I was gonna make some comment about Next Men, but now I can’t remember what it was.

Cory – in fairness to Byrne, Next Men was a comic published by a smaller publisher marketed to an older audience. I don’t think it’s that inconsistent to be ok with adult-level themes in books like that while still objecting to adult-level themes in Big Two books that have more widespread distribution and have traditionally served as the gateway for new, younger comics readers.

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 7, 2009 at 6:31 am

@Jack Norris:

I think you might be pleased to know that IDW is reprinting DANGER UNLIMITED/BABE in an upcoming tpb.

I think there’s even a possibility that there may be a NEW Danger Unlimited series (mini?) out this year too.

Think you might be able to push the death/sex balance the other way by going through “Elementals”?

On the one hand, I loved Next Men and I’d like to see it return. But Byrne’s been really … off .. for a while now, seemingly fixated on the idea that comics achieved perfection in 1969 and anyone who messes with that might as well pee on Jack Kirby’s grave. I don’t think he’s the same artist he was when he was doing the book.

Besides, the ending is pretty great, and that “Next issue…” picture with the dinosaur is awesome. I don’t know if you could top that. A bit like the Angel finale, actually – and it turned out that yes, in fact, everything after that really is anticlimactic.

Blackjak: Possibly. I want to do complete runs in these posts, and so far I don’t own all the issues of Elementals, but when (or if, I suppose) I get them, that would be an interesting series to check out.

The difference is that six death scenes an issue is pulp, while six sex scenes an issue is smut.

Was Sally the girl working at the comic company? I don’t remember Hilltop having sex with her (see “Next Men #10″). And I don’t think the sex Hilltop had with Jazz in #28 was “virtual.” It was real; he was just lying to her and saying that everything before that was virtual.

Felicity: Whoops, I forgot to mention the discrepancy. Byrne names TWO characters “Sally.” The first Sally, the one with whom Hilltop has sex, is the lady who leads Danny to the computer so he discovers that his mother is still alive. She doesn’t appear after we learn that she’s a mole for Hilltop. The later Sally is the girl who works at the comic company. Byrne likes the name Sally, apparently.

You’re probably right about Hilltop’s sex with Jazz. I should change that.

I like the stories and own the Dark Horse TPBs but I find them so depressingly dark that I have a hrd time re-reading them.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 14, 2009 at 6:48 pm

for a while now, seemingly fixated on the idea that comics achieved perfection in 1969 and anyone who messes with that might as well pee on Jack Kirby’s grave.

YOU ARE SO WRONG!

He thinks anyone who messes with that, except for him, is pissing on Kirby’s grave.

Check out his board – you change a character slightly from how they were originally, you’re wrong.
You change a character back to how it was from a change he made, you’re wrong.

Hilltop and Jasmine definitely had actual sex. In fact it was a plot point. Superpowers were sexually transmitted in the world of Next Men. The whole reason Hilltop turns into Sathanas is because he had sex with Jasmine.

In fact, I believe Hilltop even mentions that Sathanas told him to have sex with Jasmine. He mentions it to his aide and when his aide questions it he says something about “assuming it is a reward” or something. In reality, Sathanas was merely assuring his own existence.

Point of order: Ms. Tolliver, the artist at Dollar Comics, has a first name of “Sandy,” not “Sally.”

Back in the early ’90s I managed to pick up three issues, and couldn’t go on because of my personal financial situation. Fifteen years later, I get a chance to pick up the entire series. I and a few of my family members like what was produced and would like Byrne to finish the story, but we have serious doubts that he ever will.

The amount of time that has passed is a factor. Another is the state of the monthly-produced comic. All of my purchases have been solely directed to the trade paperback during this decade, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (I await a certain Perez-drawn “Final Crisis” collection that will be published later this year.) I’m not sure whether Byrne or his publisher would have the patience to wait for a customer like me to open my wallet.

Great list, but you missed a death. In Next Men #22, a baby trapped under rubble gets incinerated by SWAT flamethrowers. Bethany struggled to free the infant, yelled “NO!” at the approaching SWAT guys, but still got blasted with fire (which cooked the baby). Bethany then killed the two SWAT guys in retaliation.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives