My Arm Is A Weapon
Greetings and jamutations! We’re here with another dose of the Tin Foil Spec! I want to thank everyone who read my first article. The response I got was amazing, and I was even able to have great discussions with fellow Tin Hatters. I also want to give a huge shout out to the CBSI team. The welcome I received was exceptional; the CBSI team is most definitely a family, one that continues to grow. Now, with all that stuff out of the way, grab your favorite tin foil hat as we dive into this week’s article and learn about Biopunk!
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard of the two most popular “low-lifes” genres, steampunk and cyberpunk. While there are a plethora of even more –punk cultures, one that is certainly gaining notoriety is Biopunk. Biopunk involves biology of course, but mainly synthetic biology and the possibility of hacking such technology. David Cronenberg is probably most famous for bringing many of these elements to the big screen, as many of his works involved DNA manipulation and body transformations (Jeff Goldblum in The Fly).
A very recent film example (in my opinion) is the movie Upgrade which came out earlier this year. A quick rundown of the film is that a group of baddies perform modifications on themselves, tampering with their biology as they aim to become the perfect weapon. Our hero undergoes emergency surgery, receives an OS upgrade (get it?) and proceeds to do heroic deeds like break a man’s jaw with a kitchen knife. The ending is a nice gasp moment, too.
Now, what is the point to all this, and what does it have to do with Tom Cruise? Well, Tom Cruise funds this article, but I believe that we are on the brink of a biopunk wave. Upgrade was well received, had a small budget, and ended its box office run as a profitable film (am I shill for this movie? Maybe…). However, I believe we may start seeing more and more films based on this subgenre (is Venom a biopunk flag bearer? Let’s let the jury decide.)
In this age of indy titles being optioned left and right, I believe stories will eventually go the way of biopunk to make them stand out from the rest (I think there’s a lot of exploration and uncharted territory here), and to let studios become tempted of making another moderate success like Upgrade. Let’s look at a couple of likely candidates.
The first one that comes to mind is Image’s Prism Stalker. This book is just straight up biopunk. Refugees work on an alien planet where creatures and overlords yield the fruits (or harvest) of their labor. One refugee in particular tries to find a way to help her family and friends and stumbles upon a mysterious adventure.
Some of her adventures involve her body twisting and evolving and becoming water; it’s definitely a story to read with an eager mind. The art is surreal, the characters are designed with utmost creativity, and while the story can be rapid at times, the entire package allows readers to get immersed into a world they may be unfamiliar with (especially in our minds).
A lot of the action is reminiscent of Fantastic Voyage (which I think is a movie with biopunk elements that were way ahead of its time). I can see a studio trying to quickly make an adaptation about Prism Stalker, especially when the story concerns refugees working as indentured servants.
It’s a shame it has gone on hiatus. I tried to do some quick Google-fu to see if it has been announced to return but couldn’t find info. Please let me know if you’ve heard otherwise.
The other book I’ll quickly mention is a personal favorite of mine, Eugenic from BOOM! Studios. I believe this was marketed as a horror book (definitely a sci-fi book), but it is another book that can be considered full on biopunk. A plague is wiping out mankind, and one man finds a cure. However, the cure ends up mutating people as he gets revenge on the world.
This is something that could be out of an 80s Cronenberg movie. James Tynion IV doesn’t get a whole a lot of love for his recent DC runs, but he really knocked this story out of the park. It’s an amazing, beautiful journey with a very fitting ending. We even got some sweet, spooky variant covers by Robbi Rodriguez which are definitely drawn differently from his usual style.
Something else to take note of is that Eugenic is the third entry in Tynion IV’s and Donovan’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” series. Be sure to check the other books out as they are also Black Mirror worthy stories (those books are Memetic and Cognetic by the way). I’m not sure how Boom!’s deal with Fox works now that Disney owns Fox, but it’s still not a bad idea to pick up this series (or the whole trilogy). If anything, maybe Black Mirror can adapt them.
Biopunk is an emerging force, and we are on the verge of seeing a wave of media wash over us. While it’s not an entirely new concept (H. G. Well’s wrote The Island of Doctor Moreau back in 1896), it is certainly an untapped market. While the genre waits for its own cult break out film à la Blade Runner for cyberpunk, there are comics that are already diving full force into those themes (or maybe the biopunk break out film is already here in Upgrade? By the way, go watch Upgrade).
What other biopunk comics are out there?
Let’s start scouring these potential lost art and stories. You’ll never know what we find, and you’ll never know what the future brings! Until next time Tin Hatters, check the skies, look out for needles on the beach, and double check your Airbnb’s host for L. Ron Hubbard books on their bookshelf.