Eugenic #1 (BOOM! Studios)
Horror as a whole slides under the radar of a lot of people, who dismiss it as meaningless drivel, but the genre as a whole speaks candidly about the era from which it comes. From fear of nuclear annihilation to crime to death, horror tackles the cold sliver that works its way into every world, every time, and it looks unblinking into the eyes of anyone that dares to look into it.
Yes, horror is scary. It’s full of dread, a sick sense that something has gone very wrong. When done well, it pokes holes in the lying morality of the world and murders the illusions we use to make ourselves feel better. Horror tackles every shadowed corner we don’t want to look at and spits at our fear of doing so. It has no time for polite society, and less for the quiet deceits we use as security blankets in our daily lives.
The trick in writing horror well is to stay true to the story and the theme. Original flavor Death Note, for example, works because the villain is the charismatic leader of his school, the well-adjusted cop’s son that everyone looks up to and expects great things from. The Netflix version fails because it takes that villain and reduces him to an outcast, then deduces him further by taking away his brilliance and agency and giving it to someone else.
It’s an excuse. It’s a lie. It’s the sort of failure you’ll never get from a story written by James Tynion IV.
James has a close relationship with horror: he’s written tales steeped in the chilling shivers from the very start. We’ve waxed long and deep on the Woods, an utter masterpiece in storytelling, but also on his work with UFOlogy, Constantine, Detective Comics, Batwoman… horror seeps its way into everything he writes, gropes with terrible intent through his stories towards the reader, and Eugenic looks to be the next step in that strange labyrinth.
Here, we are given a world ravaged by plague. People the world over are dying, helpless before a microbe that renders all humankind has wrought to nothing… until a single scientist comes up with a cure. He distributes his findings and humankind is saved, but then the people who took the cure have children and the children, well, the children are born different.
Mutants, but not the kind with powers. Disfigured and horrific, the cure has changed humanity into something it was never meant to be.
James brings artist Eryk Donovan over from his time on Constantine, inviting him to dig deep into the disturbing, the troubling, the monstrous. We’re going to get into some serious body horror here, kids, so this is not for the squeamish, but if you dig, say, American Mary, you’re going to love this.
Get in now, and remember: Happy Halloween.