Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Doomsday + 1
A typical post-Doomsday scene in New York harbor. Artist: Tom Sutton.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1975
Creators: Joe Gill (writer) and John Byrne (artist)
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Since the middle part of the last century, all children have grown up knowing that the world as they know it could come to a sudden end at any time. If they don't know it from the headlines and from serious discussions in school, they know it from the popularity of science fiction such as On the Beach or Alas, Babylon, in which a post-apocalyptic near future is described in vivid detail. Oddly, except for the occasional isolated non-series sci-fi story, comic books …

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… tended to avoid the theme until the 1960s Atomic Knights and Mighty Samson dealt with that frightening possibility, and the exotic world that may result, on a series basis.

Both series were long-over, tho Samson was running again as a revival, by the time Charlton Comics, which had dabbled in borderline sci-fi from Space Western to Gorgo, launched is post-apocalyptic comic book series, Doomsday + 1, in the middle of the 1970s. The first issue was dated July, 1975. It was written by Joe Gill, who had done everything from Black Fury to Peacemaker for Charlton, and even scattered non-Charlton heroes like Nukla. The artist was John Byrne.

Byrne later achieved fame among comics fans for his work on X-Men, Fantastic Four and other Marvel properties, and still later for his revamp of Superman. But he was unknown at the time; and in fact, except for a few Hanna-Barbera adaptations, had practically no professional experience in comic books. Of all his creations or co-creations, from Alpha Flight to The Next Men and points beyond, Doomsday + 1 was the first to debut in its own comic.

In this scenario, the nuclear bombs that brought on the damage were flung in response to a South American dictator named Rykos fooling the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. into believing each had attacked the other. By the time the ruse was discovered, unrecallable automatic weaponry had already assured the world's destruction. Three astronauts, Captain Boyd Ellis, his fiance Jill Malden, and Japanese scientist Ikei Yashida, escaped the carnage by being in orbit when it happened. Upon landing, soon as radiation subsided to safe levels, they were joined by Kuno, an ancient Goth who had been frozen since the 3rd century, back in the land of the living as a result of the upheaval.

With the disaster results as its backdrop, the small band had one adventure after another, six in all, until the cover date of May, 1976, Two more stories, each half-length and printed in black and white, appeared in the fanzine-style Charlton Bullseye, dated April and September, 1976. Gill wrote the stories in its own title. Byrne did all the art, plus scripts for the stories that appeared in Charlton Bullseye

A couple of years later, the regular series was reprinted, but with issue numbers continuing from before, rather than starting over. Doomsday + 1 #7 was dated June, 1978; #12 was May, 1979. Additional stories were created by cartoonist Tom Sutton (Vampirella), who also drew the only non-Byrne cover, that of #1, for a planned but unpublished 13th issue.

The series never did find its niche among 1970s comic book readers. But Fantagraphics Books (Prince Valiant, Red Barry) acquired the rights in the following decade, and reprinted all six issues, plus colorized versions of the Charlton Bullseye material, as The Doomsday Squad, starting with the date August, 1986. Back-up features included Dalgoda, Captain Jack, Kief Lama and other sci-fi stars Fantagraphics has published.

Since then, the property has remained dormant.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Charlton Comics.