In just under two weeks, James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan will introduce the comics world to Eugenic, the third installment in an "apocalyptic trilogy" assembled by the pair, which also includes 2014’s Memetic and 2015’s Cognetic.
The series centers on a post-apocalyptic world created when a pandemic sweeps the globe, and the miracle cure developed to arrest its progress turns out to be far, far more dangerous than expected.
"A few years ago we put back a book called Memetic, which was the first entrance in the apocalyptic trilogy," Tynion told ComicBook.com. "It all sort of came together with three rough pitches that I started throwing together s a challenge for myself because I knew I wanted to do some horror stories and I wanted to do them in interesting formats, not just the standard 20-page comic, and I knew I wanted to speak to some more contemporary fears than I felt a lot of contemporary horror comics were speaking to."
This third installment was the first time the apocalypse came as a direct result of something humanity perceived as good, versus Memetic and Cognetic, where outside influences were pushing on the world.
"I wanted the call to be coming from inside the house," Tynion said.
For that same reason, it was important that Cyrus -- the man who developed the "miracle" cure and serves as the root of all Eugenic's evil -- wasn't a mustache-twirling villain or a corporate robber baron.
"I wanted to reflect that with his design," Donovan told ComicBook.com. "He’s kind of young, kind of cool-looking, clean-cut, smiling. You don’t look at him and think this guy is a total douchebag."
"We set out from the beginning that his goals are altruistic," added Tynion. "He wants to save the world, and he’s seen how dark the world can get, and he believes he has the way to save it. Ultimately I think that’s one of the things that Eugenic comments on: there is a drive in us to save the world that can be incredibly destructive because any one person’s idea is a singular being trying to inflict their world on everybody else. We wanted a very sympathetic character because all of us think that 'if only they would put me in charge, I could make the world so much better.'"
While Tynion and Donovan acknowledge elements of the political in the story, and the influence of the toxic political culture that has taken over discourse in the United States in recent years, one of the things they wanted to accomplish by having Cyrus be "likable" was to veer away from the archetypal profit- or authority-driven fascist who will often be the villains in a story like this. Cyrus is a young, gay man with a high IQ and an easy demeanor.
"We wanted it to be a little bit closer to us and to see how we might be the ones that overstep and end the world. We thought it would be more uncomfortable to build a character that did reflect that," Tynion said.
The first issue centers around Cyrus, although each subsequent one will jump forward in time, making each issue of Eugenic its own stand-alone one-shot.
While the election has become a go-to talking point for American artists struggling to express themselves in an increasingly isolationist and authoritarian political landscape, Tynion said it was not those events that gave birth to Eugenic as a concept.
"The core idea is something that pre-dates all of this. It’s something that always was going to be a story about a human ugliness, and the potential of us creating our own apocalypse," he said. "I think as a whole it says something about our society at the moment but the other thing it’s saying is that there come these moments when everyone recognizes the ugliness in the world but the ugliness is still there even when people don’t recognize it."
"There were other non-governmental things that we were seeing on social media or whatever, and we wanted to make sure that we were finding the fine line between having a challenging, dangerous story that’s going to make you think but at the same time being very intentional and cognizant about the pieces that we’re putting in there," added Donovan.
Eugenic #1 is on sale October 4th at comic shops and digitally. Check back here at that time for a look inside Donovan's artistic process.
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