CYBER FORCE #1 by Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill, and Atilio Rojo
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
A brilliant reimagining of Marc Silvestri's original series, CYBER FORCE #1 digs deep into transhumanism. With great pacing and interesting characterization, this is a nearly perfect reboot for fans to jump on to.
93 %
Strong Start!
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CYBER FORCE first launched as Marc Silvestri’s flagship series for Image Comics. Meant to represent the future of Top Cow Studios, the series focused on a band of cybernetic superheroes fighting against their creators. Fast forward to the present day, and fans are celebrating the reboot of the reboot. That’s right, folks. After Top Cow reunited the team in CYBER FORCE: REBIRTH, his comic book universe has rebooted again thanks to some time-traveling shenanigans. But with so much rampant continuity, should fans really jump on board for the new CYBER FORCE #1 by Matt Hawkins and Bryan Hill?

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Despite the new continuity, CYBER FORCE #1 starts with a fresh slate. Less than a month ago, a technology firm in Cupertino, CA was destroyed. A mysterious assailant in high-tech battle armor killed all but one of its employees. The sole survivor, Morgan Stryker, has only one chance to live. Through a series of cybernetic implants, Stryker has become a new breed of American super-soldier. However, he wanted none of this. He stands at the apex of technology, afraid that he has lost his humanity. Stryker only has one option left to him. If he works with his new “employers,” he can find and stop the killer that destroyed his life.

Kinetic Storytelling

CYBER FORCE #1
CYBER FORCE #1, Page 1. Courtesy of Image Comics

I didn’t know what to think when I opened CYBER FORCE #1. Having been a fan of CYBER FORCE: REBIRTH, I had so many questions about what had happened to the story. Characters like Velocity and Stryker appeared so different than the last time I saw them. However, it works surprisingly well as an intro. This is due in large part to the reduced scope. Previous incarnations of the team threw the reader into the deep end almost immediately. Ripclaw, Cyblade, and others appeared so suddenly that the reader was bombarded with a lot of new faces and information almost immediately. CYBER FORCE #1 doesn’t do that, though. It instead takes the reader slowly through a new, well-paced version of the team’s origins.

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The story starts off at a very fast pace, and I think this is for the best. The assault on Stryker’s lab is well choreographed and visceral. Hawkins and Hill manage to give the scene some incredible tension. It isn’t a gaudy action set piece. The whole scene feels like a massacre, which it should. This isn’t where the story ends, though. In fact, much of the plot slows down considerably. I am fine with this pacing. In fact, it gives way to some incredible character moments. The moments give the reader a strong jumping on point for the new continuity but also for the story’s potent themes. For example, CYBER FORCE #1 digs deep into transhumanism constantly, but never in a way that feels pompous or overdone. Also, it helps that these character moments are very well-written pieces of dialogue and mystery.

The Human Within the Machine

CYBER FORCE #1
CYBER FORCE #1, Page 2. Courtesy of Image Comics

At its core, CYBER FORCE #1 deals with themes of humanity in the face of evolving technology. I loved the new characterization of Morgan Stryker. In REBIRTH, Stryker was the typical “man’s-man,” the perfect testosterone-fueled soldier. In this reimagining, he feels much more human. He has a deep relationship with his daughter, Carin, that comes out beautifully in the final scenes. More importantly, the cybernetics given to him horrify him. He wants nothing to do with the “upgrades” because he fears that he has doesn’t own himself anymore. Stryker fears that he now belongs to CyberData, and Hawkins and Hill bring that out very well.

I also want to give the writers some kudos for their portrayal of the minor characters. While Carin doesn’t quite have the page time her father does, we still see enough of her to understand her plight. She fears for her father’s life, and now, she has a chance to save him. Who wouldn’t take that chance? Meanwhile, the nameless CyberData employee states a very believable case for cybernetics as a whole. I understand that CyberData in the past has been an antagonist, and if that continues here, the villains have received some fantastic character work. By giving us their motivations so plainly, Hill and Hawkins have forced their readers to question their own loyalties for great effect.

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Rojo Makes Waves

CYBER FORCE #1
CYBER FORCE #1, Page 3. Courtesy of Image Comics

 

The art in CYBER FORCE #1 is the sole creative work of Atilio Rojo. I’ve never seen this artist’s work before. However, keep an eye out for him in the future. His work on pencils, inks and colors wowed me from the first page. That initial two-page splash, showcasing the armored assailant in the midst of her massacre is brilliant. While I enjoyed Khoi Pham’s highly energetic take on REBIRTH, Rojo’s style just feels more realistic. The heavy linework grounds readers in this setting more clearly. His attention to facial expressions helps make every small emotion clear as well. Also, his work on colors really shines through as it dictates the overarching atmosphere. The hospital at the end feels so cold in his muted color palette.

Final Thoughts: CYBER FORCE #1

CYBER FORCE #1 is a brilliant reimagining of Silvestri’s landmark series. Everything from the fast-paced, thematic plot to the balanced characterization made this story feel very satisfying. While the latter half of the story gets a bit dialogue heavy, the dialogue itself is very powerful. It masterfully examines the implications of transhumanist movements and the evolution of cybernetics without going into much unneeded detail. Pair that with art from a brilliant up-and-comer, and you have a recipe for success. If cybernetic supersoldiers interest you at all, you should pick this story up.

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