Cyber Force #1
Writers: Matt Hawkins & Bryan Hill
Artist/Colors: Atilio Rojo
Letters: Troy Peteri
Cover artists: Marc Silvestri and Atilio Rojo
Editor: Elena Saldeco
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow Productions
Price: $3.99 US
I wasn’t a fan of the original Cyber Force series back in the early 1990s; like most of the other fare from Image Comics in its infancy, it was all about Kewl super-hero action, with ridiculous large guns and extreme violence. It was supremely popular with many readers (and notably collectors), but creator Marc Silvestri’s style wasn’t for me, and neither were the characters. When I learned Image and Top Cow Productions were relaunching the property and reinventing it in the process, it piqued my curiosity. I was pleased to find writers Matt Hawkins and Bryan Hill (who have impressed me as late with their Postal one-shots) offer a much more grounded take on these extreme characters. The plot and character reactions here feel a little familiar, but the execution is solid and much more inviting than the original book.
Morgan Stryker is critically injured when an anti-technology terrorist strikes at the high-end R&D facility where he was working. He should have died, but his employers use cybernetics to save his life and to enhance him. He’s horrified to discover what he’s become and convinced his ethically challenged benefactors plan to use him as a weapon. But an even greater fear is realized when he discovers what has become of his daughter, Carin.
Artist Atilio Rojo appears to have a diversified approach when it comes to comics storytelling. During the opening, explosive scene in which Stryker’s body is torn asunder, he boasts a dynamic, angular approach that reminds me of the work of Norm (Batman, Prime) Breyfogle. When Stryker rages against what’s been done to him, I was put in mind of the style of Dale (Villains United, Fantastic Four) Eaglesham. And when 18-year-old Carin is the focus of a scene, there’s a significantly softer, more realistic look at play, not unlike the art of Nicola (Black Magick, Wonder Woman) Scott. It doesn’t make for the most consistent of looks for a single issue, but the shifts weren’t all that jarring either.
The most compelling aspect of the book is the incredible burden placed on Carin and how she’s manipulated to do what her father’s corporate masters want of her. She’s just a kid who wants her dad to be OK. Now, it’s painfully clear she’s being manipulated — and maybe she even sense it herself — but her decisions, both about her father’s care and herself, certainly make sense. Stryker’s anger at those manipulations works as well. He’s portrayed as a regular (if badass) guy who feels cursed.
Big Bad Corporation experimenting on regular people to advance its own agenda is just such a familiar science-fiction trope that I couldn’t help but feel I’ve read and seen this story a few too many times. Aside from the daughter’s role in the story, this feels like Robocop and any other such cyborg stories. I also found it odd that the villain at the outset of the story, who’s railing against a world too reliant on and immersed in technology, is clearly empowered by high-end tech herself. It doesn’t jibe, so it suggests either a setup by the real corporate villains or a clunky bit of hypocrisy in the character. 6/10