I have yet to read anything by John Byrne that has impressed me. It seems like everything he writes (and draws) is simply average. It's never totally bad, but it's never very good either. Before I even delved into this series, I was guessing that the combination of this being a John Byrne project AND it being a high concept project, I was probably in for a whole lot of sucktacular reading. Damn you instincts for being right!
First, here's the concept of this 12 issue maxi-series from Marvel circa 1999: Before the days of the Avengers or the Fantastic Four there was a lost age of Marvel heroes and this series is here to tell their story. It's also told from issue 12 counting down to issue 1 so you get the end of the story first and then work your way back in time. Sound like it could be really, really lame? Well, after the first six issues I can say that so far, yes, it is totally lame.
Apparently all of the heroes and villains from this "lost" age were killed by a Skrull invasion that they managed to stop. They had to sacrifice themselves to save the earth. Frankly, I could care less if they all died choking on popcorn while watching Star Wars. Byrne throws a ton of brand spanking new characters at you and in doing so doesn't have time to give you much information on any of them. After the first few issues I could only remember the name of one character and the powers of a few. All I did really remember is that there were tons of lame superheroes (some being blatant rip-offs of other characters) that formed The First Line (their team name) to protect the US and the world.
Throw into this mix a time traveling woman from the future come back to examine all of this as it happens (the reason for this series to exist, I'm guessing) and you have one big clusterf*ck of a mess. Each issue attempts to be a self-contained story, yet at the same time relate to the overarching plot, but most of the stories just come off as lame and showing little relevance to the big picture.
After six issues I really don't want to keep reading because I honestly have no personal investment into the plot, the characters, or the ugly Byrne pencilled art. This series is a gigantic mistake and waste of time. Thankfully, I picked it up on ebay for less than 10 bucks.