REVIEW: ‘Cyberforce,’ Issue #9

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cyberforce #9

Cyberforce #9 is a transhumanist thriller published by Image Comics, written by Bryan Hill and Matt Hawkins, with illustrations by Atilio Rojo, and Troy Peteri on letters. I’ve been following this series since issue number one, a time-traveling sort of rebirth for the Cyberforce Universe. Since the dawn of the new series, Hawkins and Hill planted the origin seed for the cyborgs who would form the team known as Cyberforce. From the blackout around the world to an artificial lifeform trying to rewrite history, they have shown two main points with this book. One, ruthlessness and bloodshed by the villainous Cyberdata and our heroes. Second, some very nice threads about transhumanism, artificial intelligence, and living in a technologically dependent world. Dependency…and rampant abuse.

Cyberforce #9 gives us equal parts of the first and the second. Having been sent to retrieve an evil tech cartel lord from South America, Matthew Stryker, his daughter Velocity, both cyborgs and agents/pawns of Cyberdata, along with the cryptic android Aphrodite, found another victim of Cyberdata’s malicious experimentation: Ripclaw. Ripclaw became something of a local legend, a killer of drug runners and bad men in horrible decapitations. Stryker and his team spend as much time trying to get Ripclaw on their side as they do attempting to ensnare the cartel lord, who turned out to be a smarmy little boy.

Issue #9 brings us to the culmination of this mission. The blackout has subsided. The warchild is caught. The battle is over. Ripclaw proves once more he is a killer without regret. What remains is Stryker’s team tying up loose ends, attempting to get Ripclaw fully on their side, and figuring out how to become free from Cyberdata’s all-encompassing grip.

There’s a lot of maneuvering in the shadows this time around. It’s no secret Matthew Stryker doesn’t trust Cyberdata, but he feels he needs to gather together all of the company’s misfit cyborgs to pull off a victory against the conglomerate. But there are shady changes going on within the company as well, a broader, more sinister goal mentioned though not revealed. Apparently, the global blackout was just stage one of a bigger plan. As if being rebuilt and owned by an evil corporate foe wasn’t enough bad news, Aphrodite, the android giving Cyberforce a much needed assist, catches a case of glitches. Can she be trusted? Heck, if Cyberforce teaches anything, it’s that trust is never an absolute or even a partial support. It’s taken with a grain of salt, every step along the way down a dangerous path.

Cyberforce #9 completes the South American story and Stryker’s first mission. It also lays the groundwork for the next story arc, where the war between Cyberdata and its manipulated creations blows wide open. As such, issue #8 served as a setup piece, offering nice short vignettes about Aphrodite, Velocity, Ripclaw and Matthew Stryker and the poor, unsuspecting world they live in.

This also showcased the good doctor who’s been around since issue 5, although she too has suffered the fate of losing humanity via being made into a cyborg. Her reaction to it Cyberforce #9 is really heartfelt, and I have a feeling she may prove invaluable to the team as time goes on. But for now, we get the depths of despair from her resulting transformation, and it ain’t pretty.

I’m a sucker for cyborgs, and stories of heroes against impossible foes who seem to control everything. Hill and Hawkins deliver that, every month. Back in the 90’s, Cyberforce was a great creation by Marc Silvestri that played off more as a slasher flick with over the top, flashy characters. I liked it then, even though it seemed as if something was lacking. I believe the current writers have hit the mark, showing a world where the elite can craft incredible pieces of technology, but also exploit them.

This addition of cyberpunk style intrigue ups the stakes, and sets this universe along a more real-world agenda than most superhero comics on the stands. Every character comes across as human, not instantly noble and heroic, just fighting to find their way in an ever more tangled situation. The only comment I have is that Stryker and Velocitya could have used a bit more character development. It is the ninth issue, and we’ve gotten more about what Ripclaw and Aphrodite think and feel than we have about the two characters who have been here since the first issue.

I’m still loving Atilio Rojo’s artwork. It’s smooth and open, without too many lines or hatches. The bioware/cyberware looks like a combination of tech and healed third-degree burns, making the main characters appear at once powerful and horribly wounded, a great visual to mark people damaged from without and within.

The big, wholesome eyes of Velocity are great. My only hangup: the cybernetics implanted on the doctor, especially around the eye, don’t look so hot. I guess it could be attributed to a field job in the jungle, as opposed to cyber-surgery in a state-of-the-art lab, but it didn’t have the same appeal to me as on the others.

This is a tight story, moving a fine clip towards an inevitable showdown. I have no clue how Stryker can possibly free himself, his daughter and the others from Cyberdata’s nefarious grip, but I’m eager to find out.

Cyberforce #9
4

TL;DR

I’m a sucker for cyborgs, and stories of heroes against impossible foes who seem to control everything. Hill and Hawkins deliver that, every month. Back in the 90’s, Cyberforce was a great creation by Marc Silvestri that played off more as a slasher flick with over the top, flashy characters. I liked it then, even though it seemed as if something was lacking.