The Humans #1 is about apes, apes in a biker gang called The Humans. It’s a low-down dirty throwback to the exploitative biker films of the late 1960s and 1970s, and posits the question: why couldn’t they have been made with apes?
Warning: The Humans #1 is clearly modelled after the grindhouse biker films of the 1970s. What you’d find in those movies, you’ll find in these pages, including scenes of violence, drug use, profanity, and an explicit sex act or two, so don’t be surprised.
“LAY DOWN SOME POETICS”
On first glance, you might think that The Humans draws its inspiration from that crown jewel of simian films, Planet of the Apes. But The Humans is much more akin to a different late 60s classic, the Roger Corman-helmed biker exploitation flick The Wild Angels. It’s about apes who drive motorcycles who call themselves the Humans, who like to drink, drug, fight, drink, ride and drink. Everyone (so far) is some sort of ape in this world, but otherwise it seems pretty much like our own human 1970s.
The Humans #1 drops you into the middle of a funeral ride for the departed Human Mojo, who is lovingly propped up in a casket mounted on a motorcycle’s handlebars. What follows is your usual biker revelry in the form of sex, drugs, and a surprisingly touching poem (really!) – and, of course, an interruption from a rival biker gang. A brawl ensues. It doesn’t feel so much like a complete first issue as much as it does the first ten minutes of a bonkers movie. With a few lines (and some of Neely’s excellent art), the characters are clearly sketched out. The bad guys are introduced and some stuff gets set on fire. The Humans aren’t good apes, so to speak – they’re drunk, sexist, violent outlaw bikers. But they’re perfect for this sort of exploitation genre exercise. There’s an issue zero that was self-published, which probably sets things up better, but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by not reading it. This issue did make me want to track it down, though.
“A PROCESSION OF CHROME AND RAW POWER”
The story is a bit on the slight end, so the art in Humans #1 has to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Neely and Collantes kill it. The coloring is fairly simple, which meshes well with Neely’s cartoonish art. The era is evoked through Collantes’ use of that peculiar orange shade so particularly popular in the ‘70s, and a lot of muted browns and greens. Neely’s apes are great. We got chimpanzees, organutans, gorillas, all with beautifully animated, emotive facial expressions. His page layouts bring so much energy to the page, from the title spread that lays out all of the Humans’ horrible antics to the splendidly drawn fight sequence. He also handles the little details, like the bits of belt buckles, tattoos and patches that help inform and identify the characters.
BOTTOM LINE: HUMANS FOR LIFE, HUMANS TILL DETH
I didn’t see any particular reason for the bikers to be apes in this comic, other than the visual novelty, but that ended up being reason enough. True story, I hate apes. Growing up with the last name Chimples, you might wonder why that is. I’ve always hated ape gimmicks in comics, and most ape characters. I love The Humans. It’s my kind of trash. The Humans #1 is drive-in fare, pure exploitation and pulp. It’s loud, dumb, stupid, fun, and clearly made with a lot of love. I have a soft spot for any comic that is willing to write its back material in character, and also provides an original soundtrack to boot (only two songs, but they’re both very dope). If you’re looking for a comic that hearkens back to the grindhouse biker flicks of the 60s and 70s, if you’re a little sick and weird, then The Humans is for you. Check it out.