The Human Race #1 (May, 2005)
“The Awakening, Part One”
Writer/Co-Creator – Ben Raab
Penciller/Co-Creator – Justiniano
Inker – Walden Wong
Letterer – Clem Robins
Colors/Separations – Chris Chuckry
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $2.99
Here’s one from the… huh? Department. The Human Race is a book I’d never heard of… and when I recently came across it in the cheap-o bin thought it must be some out-of-continuity thing.
My actual initial thoughts were that it must be part of that short-lived DC Focus line… ya know, “superpowers in the real world” or whatever. Boy was I surprised to learn that this actually takes place in the DC Universe!
So, let’s crack this thing open and try and solve it… whatever it is.
We open in Shuster’s Glen… a quiet suburb of Metropolis. It’s the morning of Ulysses Adams high school graduation, in which he will be speaking as Valedictorian. His parents head toward his bedroom to make sure he’s getting ready… and find something rather troubling. Instead of their Son, she finds a disgusting burst cocoon! It really is gross…
We jump ahead to the graduation ceremony where we learn that Ulysses is kind of a success story at Siegel High School. He started off a pretty horrible student before dedicating himself to his education. The Principal (I’m assuming) scans the crowd for him… but he doesn’t appear to be present. There are a few more interested parties there however, and they seem to be just as annoyed with Ulysses absence.
We shift scenes to a Metropolis bus terminal where a young man is boarding a bus bound for Star City. He is dressed rather warmly for the middle of June, big coat and a winter hat. He takes a seat next to a techno-loving bad girl.
Along the way, we get a really wonky DC Universe geography lesson. The bus passes a sign which reads: Gotham City: 113 miles, Star City: 253 miles, and Keystone City: 372 miles. Huh? I always pegged Star City as being in the Pacific Northwest… and isn’t Keystone supposed to be around St. Louis? Oh well… just thought it was interesting to mention.
Inside the bus, the young man… we’ll just call him Ulysses… is being small-talked-to-death by his new lady-friend. She is able to get him to discuss how weird his day has been… ya know, waking up in a cocoon for starters. He lifts his hat and removes his sunglasses to reveal… a rather unpleasant metamorphosis had occurred.
The gal then makes a reveal of her own. She knows who Ulysses is… and is there to protect him. She shows this by… er, triggering an explosive that sends a bus-full of people flying into the nearby woods?
In the woods, she tells him he needs to save the people on the bus… which seems really dumb. He hems and haws, knowing he’s not strong enough to do so… but she convinces him nonetheless. He is surprised to find out that he is much stronger than he thought… tearing through the bus as if it were paper.
Before he can save anybody, however, he is nyoinked away by some unseen force. These are, of course, the bad guys we met at the Graduation. They cause his transformation to get even more disgusting… and inform him that he is now property of an organization called the Omega Concern.
Well, not if the good guys have anything to say about it! It’s here that we meet our team… and, lemme tell ya, they’re kinda bland. Like, Sovereign Seven bland.
This triggers a battle to begin… and we learn that one of the members of the “good” side is an artificial intelligence woman named Delphi… which, for all I know will become an important piece of information later.
The third member is a three-hundred year old man called Sensei… who has some sorta plasmatic powers which tap into his Qi. He pulls Ulysses from his new cocoon.
The battle soon ends… with a bang. It’s revealed that the baddies were Bio-Borgs created at a Eugenics Research Collective (the Omega Concern)… they are led by a man calling himself Paracelsus. Ulysses is, as you might imagine, quite annoyed by all of this nonsense… and wants to know what this has to do with him. What he gets instead… is drafted into a war.
It’s explained that there is an extinction-level event on the horizon having to do with a Xeno-Virus… heyyy, ya don’t think… nahhhh. Their little group calls themselves Delta Chi Delta… and that gal from the bus (who may or may not have gotten a name here) shows off her fraternity tattoo.
We then get the quick and dirty on Paracelsus… and Ulysses new state of being. Delta Chi Delta believes he might be something of a “missing link” in evolution… and one that the Omega’s wouldn’t mind snuffing out.
We close out with Ulysses, realizing he really doesn’t have any choice… joining up.
This was… weird.
I didn’t go into it with any real expectation… which really helped.
I wanna start by mentioning how happy I am to see Ben Raab get a “number one” issue. Poor fella always seemed to be brought on a title just as it’s circling the drain… resulting in some rather “lame duck” runs. It’s a shame, because I’ve always dug his work… just seemed to get pigeonholed as the “wrap up guy”.
I gotta say, it’s unfortunately also affected the way I view his work. When I’d see him announced as taking over a book… I figured it was just a matter of time before it would be announced as cancelled. It’s really not fair to him… so, I’m happy to see him get to do his own thing here.
… even if, I don’t really dig what he does here. This was… I dunno, bland. From the threat to the character designs… it just didn’t “hook” me. Looking back, this really doesn’t feel like a book from the mid-2000’s. I mean, this hit the very same month as Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern #1. This book does not feel like a contemporary to that.
What this does feel like is a late-90’s Marvel book. From the designs… to the art… hell, even to the paper-stock. This feels like an anachronistic relic of the previous generation.
I will say… this is the sorta book I had in mind when I started this blog several hundred
years days ago. It’s an oddity… and a rarity that I’m taken by surprise by a book’s very existence. So, in that regard… this was pretty fun. Is it worth tracking down and reading? Well… if you do come across this, it’ll very likely be in a cheap-o bin of varying denomination… and if that’s the case, sure… give it a look-see. I don’t think I’d pay cover-or-above though.