Best Shots Advance Reviews: CYBER FORCE, B.P.R.D. 1948


Cyber Force #1

Written by Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins

Art by Khoi Pham, Sal Regla, Sunny Gho and Stjepan Sejic

Lettering by Troy Peteri

Published by Top Cow Productions

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

It's a brand new world for Cyber Force, and while Top Cow's squad of superhuman cyborgs might not enjoy this dystopian future, fans of hard sci-fi and that distinctive Silvestri aesthetic certainly will.

For those who don't know their Ripclaws from their Cyblades, fear not — for better or for worse, Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins have set up a clean break from everything that's come before, dropping us into a grungy metal wasteland that might as well be an alien planet. Following the super-speedster Carin Taylor — or as fans might call her, Velocity — Silvestri and Hawkins wisely open up with action, hoping that the visuals will keep you invested enough to follow the narration, as Carin explains why she's on the run, and what made things go so wrong around the world.

It's those visuals that are the big successes of this book. Comic book art is a team sport, and when he's paired with Sal Regla, Sunny Gho and Stjepan Sejic, well, I could barely recognize Khoi Pham's artwork in this book. That's not a bad thing here — Pham's work looks pretty sweet. His composition is particularly strong, giving us a dynamic first impression as we watch Carin zoom down desolate streets and across tenement walls. His characters do have a little bit of a sketchy feel to them, particularly in their faces, but the excess linework actually does line up with that trademark Marc Silvestri style. There's energy to these pages, particularly at the beginning, and it makes you want to see Cyber Force tear out as a team.

That said, while there's plenty of world-building to this book, particularly in terms of explaining the villains and the catastrophes that hit the world, this comic isn't that forthcoming with the actual character concepts. It's assumed we will learn more about the members of Cyber Force as the series continues, but right now it might be a little too much learning curve to take on faith. Additionally, the action does overstay its welcome just a bit, and that's no good if there's no characterization or sharp conflict to replace it with.

The benefit for readers is, of course, that this comic is free. With Kickstarter having funded the campaign well over its goal, readers have little reason to avoid this book from a financial standpoint. While Cyber Force may be a tougher read than some, just based on the hardcore sci-fi concepts throughout the book, the brisk pace and distinct visuals make this worth a shot.


B.P.R.D. 1948 #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

Art by Max Fiumara and Dave Stewart

Lettering by Clem Robins

Published by Dark Horse Comics

Review by Pierce Lydon

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

The Mignola-verse is a runaway train of unstoppable imagination. While the books that encompass it may vary in quality from time to time, the good far outweighs the bad and B.P.R.D. 1948 #1 represents another excellent entry in a series known for its world building and acute attention to detail.

B.P.R.D. 1948 #1  the beginning of the last entry in the secret origins trilogy. Mignola and company have put us through the wringer, combining their trademark horror and sci-fi with historical fiction that fits into the rest of their mythology flawlessly. 1948 sees Professor Bruttenholm brought in to help the B.P.R.D. investigate their atomic-fueled space program and the horrific creatures that it may or may not be causing in the Utah desert.

The book starts out a little slow, but Arcudi and Mignola use the pacing to build suspense. We already know the kinds of stories that they are known for and it’s the eventual payoff that keeps readers entranced. The writers definitely get a lot of credit for taking a supernatural horror series that has a reputation for freakish characters and building a compelling narrative starring almost entirely human ones. That’s not to say that one of our favorites doesn’t make an appearance, but this comic doesn’t lean on the fact that he appears in the book, and the presence of mostly normal characters makes the revelation of the desert creatures even more effective and jarring.

Max Fiumara turns in an excellent performance. His characters are expressive and their body language is kinetic. Because of the nature of the story, a lesser artist might have just turned in a bunch of pages full of talking heads to fill the space between more action oriented sequences. But Fiumara uses multiple angles and panel layouts to add energy and some excitement to each page. His cartooning does feature of a bit of stylization when it comes to his character designs that will remind some readers of Jeff Lemire’s work but he doesn’t let it distract from the narrative. And when it comes time for him to draw the weird stuff that the Mignola-verse is known for, he knocks it out of the park.

B.P.R.D. 1948 #1 is another great addition to the mythology of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. Some origin stories feel shoehorned in after the fact but the Secret Origins trilogy has continued to build on an almost unparalleled mythology without alienating readers. The dynamic collaboration between Mignola, Arcudi and Fiumara is one that should be kept together even after this miniseries is finished.

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