I thought I’d have a short story ready today, but it’s clearly become longer than I can satisfactorily complete in time to post. So it’s comic review time!

The cover to my copy of The New Humans #1 (1987)

The New Humans is the tale of four people waking up in a post-apocalyptic future after being placed in hibernation chambers to test the technology for long-term space flight. A more typical example of a 1980s scifi team could hardly be assembled. The test subjects consist of;

Duke Goldberg (far left on cover) – the “military guy”
Roger Brunner (right, crouched on cover) – the “science nerd”
Calvin Gordon (right, standing on cover) – the “ambiguously African-American character”
Kelly Brock (center on cover) – the “hot chick”

And, like some 80s scifi, if you want to enjoy issue one of The New Humans you just sort of have to shut off your brain.

Let’s get to my usual spoiler-filled summary and I’ll explain.

Things start out in 1986/87 with our four protagonists expositioning about the hibernation chambers they’re climbing into within a deep underground science lab. No explanation is given as to why these four test subjects have been chosen, the only clue about anyone’s involvement with the project is when Kelly implies that she and Roger had something to do with the tech design. All four go to sleep and of course civilization is soon destroyed. The pods run on battery back-up for 30 years before activating the wake-up sequence when the power nears its end.

All four climb out of their pods completely unchanged from when they climbed in; not a bit of extra facial scruff, and Kelly’s 80s poof of hair hasn’t lost any of its body. It’s also revealed that Ms. Brock decided to test the experiment in high-heeled boots (I’m talking, like five inch heels) and is wearing what looks to be Kelly LeBrock’s shirt from her first entrance in Weird Science (except with even less material and definitely sans bra). The usual “where is everyone?” “what happened?” “why are my cigarettes stale?” questions get thrown around, and eventually the group realizes how much time has passed and that all the base personnel have degraded to skeletons.

The New Humans’ understanding of the time they now live in is assisted by the arrival of two young mutant children. The base is located in a forbidden zone in this time period, and when the parents of the children (which includes a pretty fine looking lady mutant) realize where their children have gone they attempt to retrieve them. Before they can a band of violent mutants capture them and stake out the ruined base’s exit.

After learning all they can from the two mutant children the humans and natives part ways and Duke leads the team deep into the facility to the surviving Challenger II – a miracle nuclear-powered maintenance-free prototype space ship the team decide to make into their new portable base. Loading it up with what supplies they can find the group takes off (supposedly for England based on the tease for the next issue), and as the New Humans fly away we see that the two children mutants have been captured by the violent group and skewered on pikes.

Although this ends the tale of the New Humans in this issue, the remaining pages of the 40-page special reprint contain previews of other Malibu/Eternity Comics books.

The first is for Outlander #3, where we’re given three pages to consider. The first has character Cassandra stripping down to her bra and skirt. The next page features a man in a muscle bar mocking the body-builders, and the final page has a biker calling into a pop-psych radio program to admit he’s murdered his wife and is a little down about it.

The second preview is for The Verdict #1, which is actually pretty boring even though the last page has a picture of a dead woman who’s been head-asploded.

The final segment of the issue is An Illustrated History of the ExMutants. ExMutants was an Eternity Comics series fraught with legal trouble, and is actually the series that the New Humans debuted in (the two books take place in the same timeline/universe). Once horrible mutants like the rest of the 2016 population, five characters were returned to the pure-human forms by a triple-eyed scientist. Of course, it was four women and one guy who were reverted back to perfect human form, and the segment is not shy about explaining that some of the ex-mutant women are more willing to help repopulate the Earth than others. It’s actually a fairly interesting read. Of the three preview/back-up segments it has the best art.

THE FINAL VERDICT: If you’re a fan of 80s spawned scifi you’ll get a kick out of this issue, but other readers will be groaning about story and dialogue so much the fairly pretty art won’t be enough to justify the purchase.

I honestly believe that a sub-genre of literature should be “supposedly brilliant characters as written by certainly not-brilliant writers.” It frustrates me to no end when an author says to him/herself, “I want the audience to know this character has brains, but instead of trying to write them with above-average intelligence – which is beyond me – I will throw in moments where everyone else is just so dumb that this character looks brilliant in comparison.”

Unfortunately, this is a flawed idea, and was clearly the thinking behind much of the interaction between Kelly and the three male protagonists. Our 80s-haired, cut-off sporting, high-heel baring, initially-braless male-demographic-reader guarantee clearly had the writers worried they’d dropped her too far down the slut hole with her outfit so they worked to make sure people knew she was in the comic for her mind, and not just her body.

Okay, yeah, that was partially pulled off by her statement that implied she built the hibernation chambers. But as the story goes on her accomplishments – and in comparison the IQs of her companions – start to slide down the scale. When they wake up to an abandoned facility she’s the first to realize they may have overslept. She points out that piles of skeletons may mean the outside world is a bit dangerous. She notes that post-nuclear war batteries are a little weak. She deducts that an unlocked door opens in, not out. She realizes they can go find more food…where they all used to buy food. That after 30 years, and a nuclear war, their families are probably dead.

If anything is made clear by the issue’s events it is that the hibernation chambers do have a side-effect – making men really really dumb. Of course, if I woke up after 30 years and realized that quite possibly the only women left on the planet is an iconic 80s bombshell in tight lycra pants only a few feet away from me and two other alpha-males I may not be concentrating much on which way a door opens, either.

We know I love a strong female character as much as anyone else, but the problem is that instead of all of this making Ms. Brock look like the capable and proper space-age scientist we’re supposed to perceive her as, she ends up being Miss States-The-Obvious. Not being as dumb as the dumbest person in the group does not mean you are smart. What this all implies is that future issues may be little more than her following around three sub-intelligent men and opening a lot of doors. It’s not a compelling reason to pick up issue two, and indicates that the writers simply weren’t smart enough to give their female character properly intelligent things to do to show how awesome she clearly was meant to be.

Anyway, those of you only interested in the art won’t find any panel featuring Kelly disappointing. For those who prefer the exotic, the mutant mother is drawn with some nice lines, and lacks a nose, pupils, and a few fingers, but still looks pretty attractive. The fact that she wears a house-dress and hair style straight from the 50s doesn’t hurt. The purely black-and-white comic is generally easy to read, but there were one or two sequences I had to reread a couple times to make sure I followed the action.

As far as the extra material after the comic is concerned the only thing that stood out was the ExMutants piece, but it runs along similar themes as the New Humans story. As I mentioned earlier, if 80s scifi kitsch isn’t your thing than I don’t think the art will make-up for the silly simpleness of plot and characters. This issue appeals to a very exact readership, and you very likely already know if you are part of that group or not – this certainly isn’t going to win over anyone to the genre.