If you have kept up with Batman in the last ten years, then you have likely heard of James Tynion IV. I don’t know what the other James Tynions were like, but this fourth one is great at boiling down rather complex plots and distilling them into digestible forms. His writing in Eugenic is thoughtful, but it maintains that piss and vinegar you need in a biting indictment of our very own human race. Tynion puts forth notions that are difficult to reckon with. What is the human race’s responsibility to our own morality? Are we inherently flawed? What would starting over look like? I like Tynion, and I think he captures something unique in this piece. There is an alternate universe where this story takes itself way more seriously, and in my minds eye, it’s much worse.
In the year 2037, Dr. Cyrus Crane responds to a massive outbreak stemming from the southern United States by concocting an antidote that will “save” the human race. But, as it turns out, he is a weirdo. Crane unleashes a genetic malformation that ensures the next generation of our species is essentially wiped out and replaced with a new alternative. These “Numans” are basically monsters. They are all flesh colored and enormous. They don’t have need for sleep. They don’t get sick. Each one of them is facially unique; however, their faces are randomized in a way that could be described as Toxic Avenger-like. In fact, the way Tynion sets up Eugenic feels like the beginning of a Troma film. A cartoonishly mad scientist does something insane with very thin reasoning behind it, and, honestly, I love it. You do not need much more than this to get plenty of sci-fi horrific mileage.
Eugenic does not stay in one place, but moves on rather quickly. I believe the book spans over 500 years, give or take. That’s neat! It shows confidence. It keeps the mystery of the previous story alive by not needing to revisit it. One might say there was never enough depth to any one story to warrant continuation, but I actually felt the worlds they built in each section to be vast and fascinating. Each one is melting with details. Together, they complete a story that is more about thematic horror when it is all said and done. The fear is not coming from our concern for one person, or a group of persons, rather the whole of existence. Eugenic reminded me of Dr. Stangelove in a weird way, because despite the juiciness of each character, it is the whole human existence that is at stake. One might say that humanity is the main character. Wow, that’s both pretentious AND true.
Eryk Donovan is the artist on the project, and, from the looks of it, he had a blast! All of the futuristic environments and monstrous imagery are just as gorgeous as they are disgusting. Faces melt clean off human heads. Arms are ripped from human torsos. Numans have eyes that sit underneath their mouth. To read this is to run through a nastiness gauntlet full of fleshy pools of human syrup, and upon finishing, you are rewarded with a box of guts. If exploitative horror is your biscuit, then Donovan’s art is a thick jam made of human remains.
You will likely enjoy this read if you are fan of sci-fi horror and/or The Twilight Zone. You will likely not enjoy this read if you are squeamish and hate thinking about heavy concepts; however, I must warn you, that second sentence also describes the Numans. So, maybe just situate your own eye back above your mouth for a change and read the book anyways.
Creative Team: James Tynion IV (writer), Eryk Donovan (art), Dee Cunniffe (color)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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