What's a superhero to do after the end of the world? That's the basic hook behind Catalyst Comix, a distinctly wild-eyed new Dark Horse miniseries written by Joe Casey (Sex, Gødland, Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker) and split into three distinct serials illustrated by Dan McDaid, Ulises Farinas and Paul Maybury. On sale July 3, each section of Catalyst #1 depicts a different view of what happens on December 12, 2012 -- the much hyped end of the world, per the ancient Mayan calendar -- as seen from a disparate group of extraordinary individuals.

The setup may seem familiar enough, but as with most cape comics written by Joe Casey, the execution is very distinct. Indeed, each the four Catalystcreators has longtime fans at ComicsAlliance, and their collaboration here doesn't disappoint.

Some readers may recall the "Catalyst" name from Dark Horse comics published in the early 1990s. I didn't, but my diligent research (i.e. Wikipedia) reveals the characters in Casey & Co.'s new work first appeared way back in Dark Horse's "Comics' Greatest World" line, a superhero-based imprint from which the recent Ghost and X revivals also originated. After reading the new Catalyst Comix #1, I can assure you that this knowledge is trivial at best, as I had no previous awareness of any of the characters and found myself completely onboard anyway. 

The three components of Catalyst Comix break down thusly:

Frank Wells: Drawn with great fervor by Dan McDaid, we meet this Superman-like figure on the front lines of a violent battle with an extradimensional threat that's already obliterated most of New York City. Anything but a typical superhero slugfest, Frank endures a kind of psychic, existential torture as he fights to save the world from a grotesque horror from beyond the stars.

Amazing Grace: Elsewhere on the same day, the city council of what's left of a once utopian but ultimately failed city discuss their options while their leader makes an impossible cosmic journey into the heart of the cataclysm. Best known for the unfinished underwater epic Aqua Leung, Paul Maybury's artwork is just as pretty with outer space as his inspiration. If Joe Casey's script direction read something like "Panel One: the cosmic mother of all threats -- only very beautiful," then Maybury and colorist Brad Simpson pulled it off.

Agents of Change: Drawn by Ulises Farinas, this story takes place at the same time as Frank's, but all the way on the West Coast. A man who's something of a cross between the mysterious Agent Graves of 100 Bullets and Avengers' Agent Coulson is recruiting dormant superheroes for a new team with an allegedly altruistic purpose that can finally begin now that the world's suffered this apocalyptic event. We're used to seeing Farinas draw incredibly big things, but here Casey offers the artist a chance to show what he can do with characters mostly talking in a room. Which is not to say this vignette does not feature meticulous detail, explosions and kinky sex.

Here's an assortment of pages from Catalyst Comix #1, as well as the cover by Rafael Grampá.

Catalyst Comix #1 goes on sale July 3 in print and digital, and can be pre-ordered now at finer comics stores and from Dark Horse.

More From ComicsAlliance