Eugenic #1 from BOOM! Studios by James Tynion IV, Eryk Donovan, Dee Cunniffe and Jim Campbell is the third and final in the creators’ apocalyptic triptych. A set of three, three part comic series that looked at different horrifying ways the world, or rather humanity, could end, starting with Memetic, followed by Cognetic and now ending here with Eugenic.
For those unsure, eugenics is the principle of improving the human genetic ‘quality’. There have been many folks who’ve put forward theories as to how, ranging from using selective breeding practices to culling of ‘deleterious’ aspects of the genome. As I’m sure most of you have realised, this is a deeply problematic and socially repugnant concept.
But this is the science-fiction horror apocalypse presented to us in Eugenic #1. In the near future, a new illness sweeps the world, not only killing vast swathes of the population, but also seemingly leaving carriers sterile and unable to carry pregnancies to term.
This is not the worst of the horror.
In fact, this is merely the setup. What is a key moment to really understand the crux of the horror and the reasoning behind this issue’s protagonist Dr. Cyrus Crane (each issue is set centuries apart, following the progression of the end of the human race, with a unique protagonist each issue), who has created a cure for the sickness that has swept the globe and an answer to the human birth problem, is the difference between his mother’s experience and his POC husband’s experience post-9/11.
Because what really informs the horror of Eugenic #1 is the bad side of the human race, especially in the face of a disaster.
Just as much as there are stories of coming together, there are equally stories of communities torn apart, as the public decides to lay blame, or lash out. These actions are the horrors at the heart of Eugenic, as they ultimately bring around the horrifying end of the human race. That’s not a spoiler — that should be obvious to anyone.
However, that also leads to another way in which this horror is disturbingly relevant. In a modern world where people seem at each others throats over any perceived difference, from physical differences, to social ones or especially lately political ones, Eugenic focuses on how this constant division can be seen to start the driving force that leads to humanity’s end.
And with genetic technology and understanding where it is now, the means and extent of which a concept like eugenics can be taken now is truly terrifying.
Eugenic #1 feels disturbingly accurate to the modern world we live in, which makes the horror all the more, well, horrifying. Even more so than Donovan’s twisted artwork at its most grotesque scenes, it’s more the grotesques of humanity that leads to the horror of Eugenic that brings the real chills.
And distressingly, this is perhaps the one of the teams apocalyptic titles that feels the most hauntingly plausible.