There are a lot of comics out there, but some just stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we look at “Eugenic,” the final mini-series of Tynion IV and Donovan’s thematically linked “Apocalypse Trilogy.”
Who is this by?
“Eugenic” is a Boom! Studios mini-series, written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Eryk Donovan. Colors are by Dee Cunniffe and letters by Jim Campbell.
What’s it all about?
Following on from “Memetic” and “Cognetic,” “Eugenic” is the final part of the “Apocalypse Trilogy,” three mini-series by Tynion IV and Donovan that are all independent, standalone tales of an apocalypse that share certain thematic links. “Eugenic” follows a pioneering geneticist working in the year 2035 that has miraculously found a cure for a disease that has decimated humanity for over a decade. This cure is successful in one-hundred percent of the cases, and as such is rolled out over the course of the next two years to the sixty percent of the global population that’s affected. As the first issue progresses, however, we discover a terrifying side-effect to the cure.
What makes it so great?
“Eugenic” rounds out the “Apocalypse Trilogy,” and while each of the three series that make up this trilogy are each their own unique take on the end of the world, they all share certain themes and ideas. Each part focuses on a very specific brand of cataclysmic fear, and each of the three tales approaches that fear from a different angle.
“Memetic,” released in 2014, first explored the concept of humanity ceasing to exist through the loss of control and, more importantly for the trilogy as a whole, the loss of identity. Personal freedom and individualism are what’s at stake in this trilogy, as is the concept of our seemingly inevitable trudge toward a homogenous mass of being, all of our identity and sense of self-sacrifice for the grander goal of unification.
In the first chapter, this loss of individualism all started with a simple meme. An image of a happy sloth started working its way around the internet, and in less than 12 hours it had been seen by over 500 million people. The trouble was, this image was a sort of virus that rearranged the chemical processes in the brain. This virus took effect exactly 12 hours after viewing the image, turning the unlucky recipient into a vicious, brainless monster with bleeding eyes.
From there, the series followed a few of the unaffected (or uninfected) as they searched for just who created this image, why they created it, and how it could be stopped. “Memetic” took a darkly satirical look at our obsession with meme culture, and our desire to constantly share and engage with this culture. It’s about how our constant strive for individualism takes on traits that ultimately make us no different to everyone else. It’s also about choice, though, and in the end, it’s about making a conscious decision to follow the path that humans are designed to do: to interact with other humans, to seek that personal gratification from the validation of the larger group. The second part of the trilogy, 2016’s “Cognetic,” is about the loss of that choice.
“Cognetic” looks at a powerful psychic being, hidden amongst humanity for hundreds of years, suddenly returning and jumping from host to host, “infecting” the population and overwriting the individual with his own being. Again, this is a series that takes the real fear of losing yourself, losing your mind, but takes away that feeling of choice that “Memetic” ended on. Here, “Cognetic” follows a being that forces their way into your mind and erases your personality, making you one with itself.
The series opens with the idea of human beings being nothing more than a single cell in this unfathomable cosmic plan and continues this with a very real apocalyptic level threat that plans to encompass all of humanity, converting us all into one huge hive-mind. Both “Cognetic” and “Memetic” explore this idea that humanity was destined for such an ending, that all of our baser instincts regarding community and inclusion would inevitably lead to this. With the third and final part of the trilogy, however, Tynion IV and Donovan explore what would happen if this homogenization was a product of design, rather than destiny.Continued below
Unlike its predecessors, both of which spanned the final few days of humanity, “Eugenic” starts its story seemingly after the apocalypse has been averted. A disease worse than any mankind has faced before ravaged the global population until a geneticist invented a miracle cure. Now, nine months after that cure was widely distributed for free, the first new births are taking place, and there’s a horrific side effect of the vaccine…
Eryk Donovan has the slightly unenviable task of creating what the future of humanity will look like. Each of these tales so far has dealt with body-horror in some fashion, but here it takes center-stage as the consequences of leaving your fate in the hands of one man become increasingly clear. There’s a sense of Junji Ito – masterful creator of some of the greatest horror manga stories – about both Tynion’s script and Donovan’s art. Not only does each of the three stories take a concept that feels almost funny in its absurdity (a common theme in Ito’s work), but Donovan’s pacing is such that the actual horror of a work like “Eugenic” doesn’t rest on the shoulders of a jump-scare, or a full-bleed page turn shock (both of which are nevertheless employed in his work), but in the slow, creeping dread that sets in like claustrophobia around a third of the way through the first issue. His use of tight panels and occasional absence of sound effects draw you in closer to the action, before pulling back with a quiet, devastating payoff.
Going into “Eugenic” relatively cold will provide the greatest reward, as there are at least three major twists before the first issue’s end, and issue two picks up the story in such a way as to make this the most unpredictable of the three stories so far. Both “Memetic” and “Cognetic” followed a loose formula that “Eugenic” eschews, and more than that, this series looks at individualism and identity, not as something precious to cling onto, but something vulgar that blocks our progression as a species. As such, “Eugenic” is a deeply unsettling and extraordinarily unique ride that you don’t want to miss.
How can you read it?
Both “Memetic” and “Cognetic” can be found collected either digitally or in bookstores. “Eugenic” issue 1 was released last month, and issue 2 is released today digitally and in your local comic book store. All are released through Boom! Studios.