In this comics world of heroes, mutants, aliens and cyborgs, it’s tough to stand out. But Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force did that from day one when it launched way back in October 1992. And now twenty years later, Silvestri is aiming to do that once again as he reboots his hallmark title.
Joined by co-writer Matt Hawkins and artist Khoi Pham, Silvestri will act as co-writer, cover artist and art director of this new Cyber Force series which debut this October. Silvestri’s sleek cybernetic soldiers are revamped for a modern age and rounded out with a dose of what the comics’ giant calls “cybernetic steampunk,” with influences rangng from Syd Mead to H.R. Giger.
In addition to pushing the edge of innovation in terms of story and art, Silvestri and his Top Cow team are also doing it with the release of the book. Every new Cyber Force issues will be available to readers for free similiar to Free Comic Book Day, with retailers paying a small fee and receiving variant covers whose sales will offset the expense. In addition, Top Cow will be collecting some of the classic Cyber Force stories from the past twenty years to be offered during the expected renewed interest in the series.Velocity Newsarama spoke with Silvestri and his co-writer Matt Hawkins, who also serves as Top Cow’s President, for more on this Comic-Con announcement.
Newsarama: The big question everyone is asking after hearing the announcement: what prompted Cyber Force to return here and now in 2012?
Marc Silvestri: Well on the surface, one could say that it’s to celebrate Image and Top Cow hitting the 20 year mark which isn’t a bad reason but celebrating anniversaries isn’t enough. To warrant bringing something back and in turn retooling it, you’d better have something new to say. And that thing you want to say needs to be relevant and organic to the concept/characters. Thematically, the ideas for Cyber Force fit in today’s world much more fluidly than they did 20 years ago. The literal fusion of nature and technology is a future we can all see coming and the doors that open because of it are as interesting as the doors it will close.
Matt Hawkins: We knew with the “Rebirth” of our universe titles we had a good reason to be able to completely relaunch and reground the concept.
Silvestri: The big idea is that for the first time in history, mankind and his intelligence is outpacing evolution. It takes nature thousands of years to adapt to changes and the things we’ve accomplished technologically in just the past 100 years have thrown our ability to evolve, and in turn survive, completely out of whack. In other words, we’re creating a world of wonders and conveniences that we could never hope to survive. This dilemma is at the heart of what Cyber Force is all about.
Nrama: How long would you say you’ve had this in the works?
Silvestri: A lot of what we’re going to explore in this reboot are things I’ve wanted to do from the beginning but the initial series took a left turn somewhere. So I guess you could say it’s been in the works for 20 years. And like I said earlier the stories that are going to be told are far more relevant in 2012 than they were in 1992. But eh, really about a year.
Hawkins: Loosely for a year, more concretely over the past 5 months.Ballistic Nrama: Cyber Force was the key launch title for Top Cow and for you at Image, but after the success of Witchblade and The Darkness, Top Cow’s been about more supernatural forces than high-tech. How do you see Cyber Force fitting into the mix of characters in the Top Cow universe now?
Silvestri: I grew up on Sci-Fi and fantasy but I’m also one of those believers in how the supernatural and the mysteries of energies, spirits, and forces blends perfectly in. I absolutely love the juxtaposition of the hard-edged analytical nature of science and technology and the gooey center that resides in the human belief of a soul and or a higher power. So yeah, I think Cyber Force fits right into the Top Cow universe.
Nrama: Marc, what are your goals with this new Cyber Force series?
Silvestri: What I really want is to do is provoke thought while telling a thrilling, character-driven adventure story. Wish fulfilment with a message if you will. And I wanna blow stuff up.Stryker Nrama: In addition to doing covers and co-writing, you’re also acting as art director. What are you aiming for with the designs of the characters and the book?
Silvstri: I’d describe the characters and the world in general as beautiful and at the same time disturbing, calming and yet filled with tension. Like a fine watch, all the pieces press and move against one another but fit perfectly and move everything forward. Kind of like nature itself but in this case, man-made and somewhat twisted by our need to improve what needed no improvement. Plus I just wanted it to look cool.
Nrama: Drawing this new Cyber Force series is longtime Marvel artist Khoi Pham. How’d you enlist him, and how are you trying to calm him down and not try to be you in drawing this book?
Silvestri: Khoi is a huge talent and a genuine pro so there’s no need to calm him. My designs are meant to be a guide and to plant ideas but it’s up to khoi to translate them using his unique style. My work (including tech) is very organic and once an artist gets that in my concepts, it’s easier for them to interpret me without losing who they are as a creator.
Nrama: Another interesting facet of the Cyber Force relaunch is that you’re going to be using Kickstarter to fund the production. I may be misreading it, but your plans are to use to funds to allow you to “produce the first five issues for free”. Does that mean the comics themselves would be free, or just that you’re hoping to pay all the creators, editorial, publishing and printing for free?Hawkins: The comics themselves will be available for free through comic stores in the same way that Free Comic Book Day books are. Retailers will have to pay a small amount to the books and we are giving them incentive variants that they can sell to offset this cost and offering the Cyber Force backlist some of which has never been reprinted. So please thank the retailers who participate in the program!
Nrama: One of the things that makes Kickstarter so enticing for would-be supporters is the incentives offered at different pledge levels. What kind of incentives will you have for the Kickstarter?
Hawkins: The main pledge drivers will be the exclusive hardcover and the sketch black and white variants of the 5 issues that will only be available through Kickstarter. Marc is also offering the Cyber Force #1 original art and some commissions as well for some of the top tiers.
Nrama: And what is the funding goal you’ll set with the Kickstarter?
Hawkins: $75,000 in 30 days.
Nrama: Getting back to the comic itself... Marc, co-writing this with you is your long-time associate and current Top Cow President Matt Hawkins. I’ve seen him write comics like Lady Pendragon, Pilot Season: The Test and the forthcoming Think Tank, but this is without a doubt his biggest comic writing gig yet. As someone who’s a veteran and an icon in the industry, what assured you he was ready to do this?
Silvestri: We’re screwed.
Nrama: [laughs] You’ve been friends for awhile now, so I just want to assure our readers you’re joking there.
Silvestri: Yeah. Seriously though, I’ve been spit balling ideas with Matt for years and I can attest to the man’s talent, but with all the responsibilities of running Top Cow he’s just never had the time to show it.Hawkins: This is Marc Silvestri’s train that I’m just hitching a ride on. He created the concept and had some specific ideas of what he wanted to do. Marc and I work very different creatively and the merger has been fun. I guess the proof will be in the reaction to it, heh.
Silvestri: Matt and I work really well together and have a great “writing partner” approach to our stories. And the best part is we can tell each other when an idea sucks. Then we strip down and fight.
Nrama: Wow, you two are intense. In the press materials released, it says this new series will be updated for a modern audience with “bio-cybernetic steampunk”. Can you describe that aesthetic?
Silvestri: I’m a huge fan of industrial steampunk , the sleek futurist design of Syd Mead, and the techno-organic aesthetic of H.R. Giger. But obviously that stuff had been done so I needed to tweak things a bit. Plus I didn’t want Cyber Force to be locked into any one visual genre so I created a hybrid of the three of them. Once I saw how the combo was taking shape the best term I could come up with was “bio-cybernetic steampunk”. The end result is a look not too chunky, not too slick, and not too squishy. The color pallette was crucial as well and Sunny Gho (as always) nailed it.
Nrama: Last question, guys -- will people need to know anything about the previous Cyber Force stories to jump on here in October?
Hawkins: Nope. This is a complete relaunch and will not be in canon with any of the previous material. With the Top Cow Universe “rebirth” through Artifacts and the other books were rebooted we’re doing a similar thing here. Readers will NOT have to read any of the other books either, this is self contained and will not bleed over into anything else for at least the first year or so.
Well I can tell you that Cyber Force will be ever evolving and full of shocking turns. Velocity and Ripclaw are definitely there though. Oh, and we kill some.