Cyber Force is back once again!
A staple of the Top Cow line, Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force originally debuted in 1992 and introduced comic book readers to the team of mutants who were turnd into experimental weapons by the shadow corporation Cyberdata. Turning on Cyberdata, the group christened themselves Cyber Force and planned to take out their former oppressors.
The series has had its share of facelifts through the years, but its most recent will come March 28th as Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill, and artist Atilio Rojo relaunch Cyber Force as a 25-issue series.
Hawkins and Rojo spoke to Newsarama about the relaunch of the series, the changes that come with it, and what they hope to achieve this time around.
Newsarama: So Matt, this Cyber Force reboot was announced last year and has hit a few delays, is everything getting on track this time around?
Matt Hawkins: It was delayed only because we wanted to get more issues done before we launched. We're planning a 25-issue consecutive issue run with no breaks so when we mapped that all out we had to adjust the schedule. We didn't solicit it, pull it and resolicit it - we just changed the release date.
Nrama: Why did you feel like rebooting the franchise instead of continuing it?
Hawkins: Actually this is both as this story, although a reset, is in continuity with Cyber Force Rebirth and the Aphrodite IX/IXth Generation books we did from 2011-2015. At the end of IXth Generation V2 there's that classic question of "if you could go back in time and kill someone you knew would become a monster, would/should you do it?" And what would the ramifications of that act be? We've designed this so readers can simply read this and not go backward, but for the people that did read those series they'll see right away how they're connected.
I've worked on these characters for years now so I don't feel any real pressure other than the normal question of whether these are good comics or not. This was Top Cow's first comic series and we'll likely continue to play with these characters indefinitely.
Nrama: We get something of an origin story here with Stryker and his daughter, who is a familiar face to fans. What made you want to start here?
Hawkins: I'm a fan of localizing and grounding giant epic storylines. The father-daughter dynamic of Morgan Stryker and Carin Taylor makes for a solid foundation for building the characters out. How do these epic global events affect this small unit? How do they get involved, and ultimately what does it mean to them individually? They're the heart and core of the team and that was Silvestri's intent from the original run, so we’re continuing that tradition.
Nrama: What will be the biggest change from when they were first introduced to now? For example, will they still be mutants or will the SHOC nomenclature return?
Hawkins: I'd have to go back and reread all the original stuff but I don't think we ever called them mutants. They never had genetic mutations to give them their skills, they were always cyborgs. That was what Marc wanted to use to differentiate them originally from the X-Men and other teams like that. I think the difference in how we approach it is much more obvious today in what we did in Rebirth from 2011-2015 and this run. All of the characters have had their costumes updated and tweaked a bit, but they're all still recognizable.
Nrama: Atilio Rojo is joining you this time around for art duties on Cyber Force. What made you want him on this title?
Hawkins: I've been working with Atilio Rojo for years now. He did my Samaritan run with the characters from The Tithe and he also did IXth Generation with me after Stjepan Sejic left the book. Rojo is really fast and amazingly talented and he'd already drawn all these characters in IXth Generation so we saw what his Stryker, Aphrodite, and Velocity looked like. I think Rojo and I met through the internet, I can't recall if he reached out to us or we found him and inquired.
Nrama: Speaking of, Atilio, tell us a little bit about yourself and your influences for the aesthetics for Cyber Force.
Atilio Rojo: Well, I was born in Argentina a long time ago and I studied in a secondary school with an artistic orientation. Later I studied with a comic artist and I still continue training and doing studies both comic and illustration. Despite being born in Argentina, I started to work periodically in comic books when I moved to Barcelona and I have been living here for 16 years. It was here that I started to doing the art of comic books and later also scripts and art. I started in the American market working with IDW for some years, did some work for DC, and the last few years continuously teaming up with Matt and Bryan in several series for Top Cow such as IXth Generation, as Matt mentioned.
So for Cyber Force I prepared a lot, looking at the last editions of Cyber Force. I already knew the originals and I even drew them more than once! Since I was a fan of the series at the time, I added some of the latest design and the concept of organic metal with a little more realism in the designs (somewhat closer to what exists in current technology) and my own ideas. I am also a fan of science fiction, so I wanted to bring together the best I could and came out with some interesting designs that later evolve a little bit, as well as evolving technology in the series.
Nrama: Will there be any other revisions of classic teammates like Ripclaw or Psyblade?
Hawkins: Yeah we've revised all the characters and will be introducing most of them in the first 12 issues. The first four focus on Stryker, Velocity, Aphrodite V, and Killjoy.
Nrama: What are you hoping fans will get out of this vision of Cyber Force that they might not have before?
Hawkins: Thematically, we're really hitting on a few things I think will resonate with today's readers - that central question of whether technology can make us less human. Would the world be better off without it? Yes we live longer but are we happier? How do technology and social media affect our relationships with other people? Our romantic entanglements? I love new tech and this isn't a pro-Luddite campaign story, it's more of a cautionary tale.
With my physics background, I pay a lot of attention to the changes in tech and we've tried to stay current with that stuff in these series. We're at an interesting time in humanity. Will transhumanism be a force for good? The central theme of Aphrodite IX was that technological enhancement might spawn a species change. Rich people will have access to it, most people won't. Those rich people will live longer lives and control artificial intelligence. If these people are living hundreds of years and the rest of us die at at much younger ages you'd see a significant change in these two groups over long periods.
Today if you strip a rich guy naked and stick him next to a blue collar guy naked, it'd be difficult to figure out who was who. With cybernetic augmentation in health, fashion and every facet of life these people will be different. It'll be obvious and I doubt they'll intermingle with everyone else. It's an interesting thought exercise.