Thursday, February 06, 2014

Comic Book Finds: Cyberforce (2013)

Riplcaw does his thing in Cyberforce (Vol.4) issue #2 by Marc Silvestri and Khoi Pham.
While definitely not a new set of characters, Top Cow Production's most recent iteration of their team book Cyberforce is new to me. When the Witchblade-Darkness-Cyberforce wave of popularity hit in the 1990s, I never checked it out. As a collector, comic books had lost any sort of allure, and having been raised on the stylings of John Byrne, the "giant-gun-claw-and-pouches" product popular at the time resulted in my stepping away from collecting. Even during the past decade (as I have been wooed back to the hobby), I rarely find a "superhero" book that sustains my interest long enough to warrant a trip to the back issue bin.

Then, last year, I noticed that the Top Cow Universe books from Image Comics had experienced a line wide soft reboot titled "Rebirth". Though I had previously dismissed most books in the line-up as being too cheesecake heavy in their artistic direction, and for fear of too much back story--over a decade--I took a leap and jumped on board the reboot with Witchblade #151. My appreciation for writer Tim Seeley's Revival led me to Witchblade that then prompted a peak at Artifacts and so on down the line-up. This inevitably brought me to Cyberforce which was re-imagined and redesigned by the characters' (actually the whole Top Cow Universe's) original creator, co-founder Marc Silvestri.

Though the team and it's various members have been in publication through three previous volumes dating all the way back to 1992's first volume, I was able (through the help of the fantastic employees at my local comic shop) get my hands on the eight issues which comprise the to-date run. Even after only eight issues, it occurs to me that Cyberforce is a book that seems to read more clearly in multi-issue runs. After reading the first two issues, I was a little confused as to just what was happening, but having stayed with it, by #5, the narrative had smoothed itself out in such a way that I was in for the duration. I have zero insight into any previous characterization of the leads in this fourth volume, so any background (or baggage) is lost to me, which is probably just as well.

Some observations:

  • While reminiscent of other in line characters (Killjoy from issues 6-8 of Cyberforce (V4) possesses a very similar facial design to a recent Witchblade villain) the overall character design's are solid. 
  • The organic technology (which others suggest is reflective of artist Koi Pham's--and later Marco Turini) scratchy artistic aesthetic) which each of the heroes has integrated into their body visually makes sense. Not too "shiny-Colossus-y" metal, but something extra that distorts what would otherwise be a normal epidermis.
  • Their is action, sophisticated narrative (newbies to Top Cow such as myself just need to be patient), sensible payoffs--writer Silvestri leaves just enough dangling to prompt one to come back next issue.
  • The bargain is pretty exceptional at $2.99 an issue (the first few issues weer only $1!). Hero/sci-fi action books of this quality don't come anymore inexpensively.
From an online preview for the premier issue of Cyberforce , Volume 4.
As always seems to be the case, the highest praise I can make is that the series has motivated me to begin looking into the back issue bin for previous volumes, if only to have a broader sense of changes made in characterization. Without any of the Big Twos (though Image is beginning to make it a Big Three (qualitatively if not quantitatively) hero books on my weekly pull list, I was glad to stumble into the Top Cow's unique supernatural/sci-fi hero universe of which Cyberforce is a part.

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