Story: Keenan Marshall Keller
Art: Tom Neely
Letters: Tom Neely
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: December 3, 2014
So, The Humans is the story of a buncha’ apes, Charlton Heston be damned. It takes place in an alternate 1970s America, an America peopled by the aforementioned intelligent apes. More specifically, it is the story of The Humans, a biker gang that does a lot of kicking ass and taking names.
This book is punk at its finest. No, check that. Given the era that it takes place in, it’d be more appropriately labeled proto-punk. The mix of real history and social movements juxtaposed against the absurd backdrop of talking apes that keep humans as pets (read: sex slaves) is impressive.
Take for instance Johnny’s bus ride home to Bakersfield after being discharged from the Marine Corps after serving in Vietnam. Here he is, dealing with God knows what demons and beside him sits a bible-thumping Jesus freak all too ready to expound on the love of Christ. Well, Johnny boy is really in no mood to hear any of it and lets the guy know in no uncertain and butterfly knife-emphasized terms.
Keller doesn’t tell the story of The Humans so much as allow it to unfold, page by page, before the reader’s eyes. Minimal narration enhances the mood, and we get all of our our information from a third person perspective, via Johnny’s interactions with the townsfolk. His encounter with two of the local cops is natural, if somewhat intense, and captures succinctly the nature of the conflict surrounding Johnny’s return.
It’s hard to find anything not to like about this book. It’s a love song of sorts to Silver Age comics, in terms of artwork, seen through the lens of maturity gained over the past several decades. A lot of the panels capture Johnny’s state of mind extremely well; his uneasiness with his service, his mixed feelings about being home. Take away the primates and this is just a good old fashioned drama.
Humans is a winner in every sense of the word and should be a must have for any true fan of comics.