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The Next #3

Posted: Saturday, September 16, 2006
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Tad Williams
Artists: Dietrich Smith(p), Walden Wong(i), Chris Chuckry(c)
Publisher: DC

"I'm the Sheriff of this particular space/time continuum, and I'm here to run you out of town."--Superman

With that one line, Tad Williams proves to the reader that he has a better understanding of how to write Superman than most, and if Kurt Busiek decides to leave one of his Superman titles, Williams would make a good successor. In fact this particular art team would also make good successors in their field. Their unique take on Superman sticks to the archetype while giving the reader fresh visuals to consider.

Williams gives Superman a very meaty role in The Next. He characterizes him as super-smart, and reading his dialogue where he figures out the nature of his problem is a delight. His comprehensive skills almost seem like a brand new power.

While the Man of Steel hasn't much "screen" time, the characters make a point of talking about his absence and talking about whether or not he can escape whatever predicament he may be facing. Make no mistake. The Next are the stars of their own book, but the discussion gives Superman a unified presence throughout the story and reminds the reader that The Next are anchored in the DC universe.

Williams brings a scientific smartness to dialogue that really hasn't been experienced in comics before. Even Grant Morrison doesn't comprise this much amount of researched information in one issue, and this may be the only drawback for some readers. The Next is a thick read within a brevity of pages. However, each word is the result of careful consideration, and each word does more than just inform, it characterizes. Only Tweet occasionally spouts nonsense, but this is because of his free-form nature. Consider these snatches of dialogue:

"...Unless Superman comes up with a solution, we might as well resign ourselves to complete chronodysplasia and eventual destruction of dimensional cohesion."

I love this sentence. It rolls off the tongue, and it describes the situation. "Chronodysplasia" is a coined term to describe a breakdown in time. The loss of "dimensional cohesion" requires no explanation, and even "resign ourselves" is a beautiful couplet of English language use.

"Tweet creates morphic conceptions and the Radix allows him to move enough energy and matter to make them happen. Ben's connections have more to do with high-speed calculation. Slam channels force..."

Williams offers succinct explanations of the Next's powers, but he does it through playful dialogue so it doesn't sound like exposition.

Williams' smart, scientifically mellifluous dialogue is like candy for the ear. His plot reads as a nice bit of science fiction that allows for a very nasty antagonist to appear and draws Superman naturally into the fray.



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