Transhuman #4

by Chad Nevett, Reviewer |

Story by
Jonathan Hickman
Art by
JM Ringuet
Colors by
JM Ringuet
Cover by
Jonathan Hickman
Publisher
Image Comics
Cover Price
$3.50 (USD)
Release Date
Nov 26th, 2008

Wed, November 26th, 2008 at 7:18PM (PST)


“Transhuman” has been a series detailing the two approaches to creating “better” humans as filtered through the lens of corporations. With genetic engineering, we have Chimera, which has lost out to Humanics’ mechanical engineering and its huge rise to power. This final issue takes place ten years after the folding of Chimera and finds Humanics in such a state of power that it is its own nation state.

The focus here, though, is on how small and petty everyone involved with both companies are, really. The documentary on the two companies catches up with everyone involved ten years later. Few of them are worth anything as people. Most admit that it was greed, not the chance to change the world that motivated them. Most are still hung up on old grudges. Most are just as small and petty as they were back during the competition between Chimera and Humanics.

Not only that, but Hickman is merciless. One of the participants in Chimera’s tests is now an overweight, powerless has-been still clinging to the remnants of fame by squeezing herself into her old costume and signing old toy packages. The scene is cringe-worthy, particularly because the man she signs an autograph for treats her with such disdain, but also hints at the point of view of the comic.

By the end of the issue, the true nature of the documentary is revealed and Hickman calls into question everything we’ve read by hinting that the editing together of the film/comic presents things in a certain way to satisfy the agenda of the filmmaker. However, the world shown here is so sad and pathetic that the bias doesn’t explain everything away.

JM Ringuet’s art has a very gritty quality to it that suggests just how un-shiny this future is. His character’s appearances match Hickman’s words with them all ugly and disgusting in their own ways, even the supposedly attractive ones. He also has fun with a visual gag involving a flying Segway as a personal means of transportation. His use of negative space is reminiscent of Hickman’s own art, which only adds to the final pages and their “big reveal.”

There are some issues with the lettering, particularly in a scene where former-spouses-turned-business-rivals Dave Apple and Janice De Augustino reunite on a TV show to look back on their respective competition. Often, in this scene, word balloons are attributed to the wrong character, and that becomes quite distracting.

With a title like “Transhuman,” you’d expect people that rise above the fray. Hickman chooses, however, to show how altering the physical bodies can’t change how rotten and cruel people can really be. In short, instead of the optimism one might get with a Warren Ellis comic on the same subject, we get a vicious attack upon humanity that, sadly, rings all too true, but may cross the line between justified criticism and flat-out misanthropy.

(See a vision of a possible future by checking out CBR’s preview of “Transhuman” #4!)