REDEFINING PERFECTION: EUGENIC
When a plague ravages the world, one scientist discovers the cure and saves everyone. What nobody realized is that this scientist didn’t just set out to cure an illness—he decided to cure mankind of all differences, setting humanity on an evolutionary path that forever alters the definition of “normal.”
Critically acclaimed writer James Tynion IV (The Woods, The Backstagers) and artist Eryk Donovan (Quantum Teens Are Go, Constantine: The Hellblazer) present a dark vision of humanity’s future.
Your first two apocalyptic series had specific forces that ended the world—a killer meme in Memetic and the psychic super beings in Cognetic. What do we have to fear in Eugenic?
TYNION: Well, in a word, we have to fear ourselves. The first two chapters in our Apocalyptic Trilogy, Memetic and Cognetic, were always about using a kind of external trigger to set the end of the world in motion. Both stories lead to a realization that humanity always has and always will be small in the face of a kind of higher purpose that doesn’t care about us one bit.
In Memetic it was that a single image can be posted online and set off this internal response that would have had to be built in us from the beginning of our species. It was this silly little Sloth picture, but it was also proof that we had a cosmic destiny that didn’t care about us one bit. Cognetic approached the same concept, the end of individuality, from a different angle. That we as a species are kind of crawling towards becoming a kind of hivemind superorganism, and that our individual choices don’t matter, it’s just our societal choices. Eugenic takes that same fear of smallness, and kind of turns it on its ear. There’s no “other” to blame. There is just ourselves. Our own choices, and our desire to save ourselves that really doom us.
DONOVAN: We’re all alive in very polarizing times. The world seems mad and many of us, myself included, like to think we have the answers for why that is or what it would take to change things for the better. We have someone who sees the pain we cause ourselves, decides our differences are the issue, and takes drastic action that has ramifications which reverberate out over centuries. At the end of the day, I hope people who read Eugenic will fear that instinctual part of self that instantly cuts out and categorizes people in our minds; that thinks we have all the answers.
What inspirations are you drawing from for the “Numans”—these genetically-altered, new humans?
DONOVAN: It came from a lot of places. Definitely some body horror classics, movies like The Thing, Akira, and pretty much any Cronenberg film. When I first began the design process, I went out, got some coffee, and just started sketching weird stuff in my sketchbook, anything that came to mind. I think the first part that I hit was the creepy smile. From a body horror perspective, mouths are very unique in that they are so versatile in function to us as humans, so there’s a lot to tilt and twist and instill fear with.
It all began to really come together when I drew the baby. Initially, I had been focusing hard on what an adult version of such a creature would be, making strides, but once I looked at what an infant would look like, everything began coalesce. We are instinctively defensive of our young, and finding a way to turn that on its head into horror and make us reject it set the tone for the Numans perfectly.
What do you hope fans take away from this series?
TYNION: I know there are a lot of people out there who look at the world and all its troubles, and think that if only they had the chance to enact what they believe to be the path to a better life, that the world really could be saved. I want those people, most of whom live their lives in immense privilege, to take a step back and realize that any one person’s path to utopia is another person’s path to dystopia.
I want people to see that we’re all contributing to an ongoing apocalypse in a lot of ways, an apocalypse of ego on a singular and cultural scale. I want everyone to put down the comic and see that they could end the world just as easy as any of our protagonists, and that they might die with a smile on their face that they saved the world, when they really doomed it. Basically, I want people to walk away questioning their place in the world, and maybe even start thinking about how to build a better one without forcing any one vision of the world on anyone else.
DONOVAN: I hope fans enjoy a wild ride, and leave it thinking more about themselves. Hopefully Eugenic will give them reason to pause and think twice about who they are, the decisions they make, and to look at the world and themselves in a full, open way.