Whereas James Tynion IV and Erik Donovan’s previous collaborations, Cognetic and Memetic, have been structured around a three-issue story arc that was confined to a specific time and place, their new three-issue story, Eugenic, reads more like Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. It sets up a specific event and then hops to different points in time with different characters to further the world and themes. I want to see more stories set in this world even though I feel this third issue didn’t quite capture my imagination and emotional involvement like the first two issues. Its heart is in the same place as we jump into the future again with some big ideas. It’s depressing and sad, but not in a way that struck chords. If anything, this third issue seems more like a pitch for a much larger story – one I’d like to see.
The first two issues struck me emotionally, as each dealt with different periods of the end of the human race as we know it through the journey of one character, and their actions were widely felt. This hasn’t been your typical armageddon story, but one dealing with genetic altercations, making us all the same and taking away our identity. Numanity – a purple-hued, monstrous-faced being – has become the predominate race. Tynion and Donovan’s theme is pretty apparent: It’s what makes us different that makes us special and important as a human race. This third issue continues that conversation, but in an intensely less active way. A literal conversation occurs. That conversation doesn’t create a memorable conflict. It reads a little more like the instructional chapters of War and Peace when Tolstoy is addressing the reader directly.
It’s a lesson. A lesson we all need to hear, especially in this day and age when white supremacy is on the rise again and our own government won’t condemn it. We need to make the decision to be better as humans and that isn’t done by everyone being in the same way. The third issue doesn’t balance between story and moral play as well as the previous two issues. My first instinct would be, since the story takes place in a museum preserving what humanity was, we see one of those beats play out in more detail. The caretaker of the museum tells the story of the final human to have lived. The young Numan girl asks, “Why should I care?” Why should we care about what happened to Native Americans? Why should we care about what happened during the Civil Rights movement? Why should we care about the Holocaust? About the assassination of Harvey Milk? Why should we care about the death of diversity? It’s a big topic. I wish Tynion and Donovan had broken from their three-issue structure to delve into it more, specifically in this world.
In its ambition, the third issue of Eugenic spreads itself too thin, covering too much story for me to completely grab hold of, but it’s still more original and far more important than most comics out there. The creators are trying different ways to tell their stories and impart their ideas, and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from checking it out on their own or taking these same risks as creators. At their best, comics have the ability to explore and experiment in ways films simply can’t do, and I wish there were more creators like Tynion and Donovan out there, willing to take these risks and deal with these themes as directly as they are.