Among the more intriguing announcements last October at New York Comic Con was the unveiling of the H1 Universe, the first foray into superhero comics by Humanoids, the venerable publishing brand associated with Métal Hurlant (which reached American readers as Heavy Metal and inspired the namesake 1981 animated movie).
Humanoids has filled shelves with essential works by Moebius, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and other European masters, so publishing heritage alone made the initiative interesting. It was the announced creative team, however, that added the real intrigue: Mark Waid (Kingdom Come), John Cassaday (Planetary), Cara Speed McNeil (Finder), Kwanza Osajyefo (Black AF), and Yanick Paquette (Wonder Woman Earth One) were presented as the auspicious architects of a new shared-universe mythology that would begin with a monthly series called Ignited.
Today, we have the exclusive first look at the inaugural issue of that brand-launching series, Ignited issue No. 1. Written by Waid and Osajefyo with art by Phil Briones (Aquaman) and covers by Cassaday and Paquette, the upstart series will hit store shelves on June 5th.
The story is modern-day and presents a world where nature is behaving strangely with major consequences, but human population continues to expand sharply. As earth’s countries become more and more densely populated, a percentage of the people start manifesting strange abilities Here’s the official first-issue synopsis from Humanoids: “It’s the first day back at Phoenix Academy High, but this year there’s no back-to-school excitement in the air as returning students and faculty are haunted by memories of last year’s horrific attack. So many friends and colleagues were lost, and some of those who survived underwent changes; they “ignited,” gaining supernatural abilities they barely understand. Little do they know: this is just the beginning!”
The H1 Universe will be built initially around six titles: Ignited, Omni, Strangelands, The Big Country, Meyer & Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen. Together they will “forge a universe with real consequences that is relevant to today’s readers,” according to Fabrice Giger, Humanoids CEO and Publisher. The Ignited writing team, Waid and Osajyefo, say they are looking to ground the new mythology in a restlessly relevant, trope-challenging, risk-taking manner.
“With H1, we’ve set out to create a shared comic book universe that reflects the world around us,” Osajyefo said. “Anonymity is impossible. Capes are conspicuous. And heroism isn’t without cost.” His collaborator, Waid, who is also the Humanoids director of creative development, weighed in further: “No story has a lasting impact unless it’s provocative, Unless it skirts right up to the edge of dangerous — and sometimes steps over. Those are the stories you remember. Those are the stories we’re promising to deliver.”
Fans will be able to see more from the H1 Universe on Free Comic Book Day (May 4) with a special release that sets the stage for the events of Ignited No. 1 and previews the half-dozen titles launching the H1 Universe initiative and imprint.
Below, an excerpt from Ignited No. 1 from Humanoids…