Writers Kelly Bender, Camilla Zhang, and Paul Penna
Artists Francesca Aureli, and Jim Towe
Colorists K Michael Russell and Chris Northrop
Cover Khoi Pham
Letterer Troy Peteri
Editors Ryan Cady and Ashley Victoria Robinson
Cyberforce Created by Marc Silvestri
Artifacts created by Ron Marz
Design by Erika Schnatz
For Top Cow Productions Inc.
Image Comics; the pinnacle of creator owned and the closest competitor to the big two. Top Cow; one of the first and best production companies that helped to launch Image. This combination of creation, production, and publication has become iconic; and for good reason, their products have become some of the best in comics. Top Cow is responsible for titles such as Witchblade, The Darkness, and Cyberforce; all titles that have been established for a long time and are rich with their own mythologies and extensive worlds built by some of the most creative minds in comics. All of this makes Top Cow a highly sought after place of employment for up and coming comic creators, and with that said, they have been bombarded with inquiries and submissions from thousands of different people all vying for limited spots on the creative teams. So what does a top notch company like Top Cow do when they have thousands of submissions and people basically begging to be a part of the team? Well they have a talent hunt of course.
Cyberforce: Artifacts #0 is a three part collaboration between the talent hunt winners and is a serious adventure for not only the original creators but these talented contest winners. These winners have put their all into this book and the good folks at Top Cow have been gracious as always in allowing the creators liberty with their property. I have enjoyed the introduction to the newest Top Cow creators, both writers and artists, and I feel like Cyberforce: Artifacts has been the perfect way to ease them in.
The first story is called “Enemy Mine” is written by Kelly Bender, someone who’s work I’m very familiar with, and his style is certainly prevalent right from the beginning. I must admit that I’m not overly familiar with either the Cyberforce or the Artifacts universes and character base but I do recognize Aphrodite IX who just happens to be the main character in the first story. The reason why I say I’m familiar with Bender and his style of writing is because this story reminds me of another few properties of his where he uses the artist’s interpretation to tell the visual story and isn’t reliant on heavy dialog. From what I”ve read of the IX series there are times when dialog is short and the visual story is what drives the book. As a comic writer Bender knows what he’s doing and it’s no surprise to me that he finally cracked the ranks of Top Cow. The Top Cow folks in charge of the artist and writer match up know what their doing because Towe has done Bender’s script well and they seem to be a great fit together. Towe tells the visual story with ease and it’s no surprise to me that he ended up being selected because his art is done very well and Northrop’s color are complimentary and round out the first story nicely keeping it on par with all other Top Cow Products.
The second story “Force in Mourning” is centered around characters I’m not familiar with but Zhang gets me in the feels right away. Zhang wastes no time weaving a tale of morning and getting me to care within the first page or two. The main characters morning is perfectly displayed by Aureli but it’s the combination of exposition and visual that really makes this impressive. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Aureli made the cut because her style is very much like Towe’s and as I said the art is done very well and is made of the stuff that I feel deserves to be part of something big like Top Cow.
The final story, “Weaponeer” is written somewhat like the others and I can see why they went with these three stories. Towe is the artist for the third act and it’s fitting because it’s another Aphrodite IX tale. I like the way Towe portrays Aphrodite IX and I really like the way Towe collaborates with Penna. This story is perfect for a seven page feature; it has a quick beginning, middle, and end, that are all satisfying in their own way. Penna uses a little more dialog to move his story along but the contrast to Bender’s first Aphrodite tale is seen and appreciated, it’s just enough different to showcase Penna’s skills but similar enough to be in the same book.
Cyberforce: Artifacts #0 has done it’s job; I’m ready to see these creators take up their own mantles and introduce something of their own. All of the artists are similar in styles and deserve the chance to create something of their own. The writers have proven that they can write comics but what I want to see from the writers is something new and something fresh, I want them to get the chance they deserve as winners and instead of seven pages they should get seven issues or more of something all their own. I know what they’re thinking at Top Cow, it’s a risk to reach out and give people the chance, but luckily this step with Cyberforce: Artifacts #0 they have proven that they’re up for the task.
Cyberforce: Artifacts #0 is available 12/28 and should be on the shelf of most comic shops or on Image’s website.