As part of the Top Cow Rebirth initiative, Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic join forces to reboot David Wohl and David Finch’s best-selling graphic novel, “Aphrodite IX”; and for new and old readers alike, it’s one series worth diving into. Hawkins’ writing is incredible for its linguistic precision and attention to scientific detail. Sejic’s illustrations are remarkable, not only for the creativity of the universe he’s bringing to life, but for the professionally detailed quality of work he manages to consistently dish out without fail.
Both writer and artist take the fan-favourite green-haired assassin to a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, where she’s caught between two warring factions in a hostile, and unrecognizable new world.
WRITTEN BY: Matt Hawkins
ART BY: Stjepan Sejic
PUBLISHER: Top Cow Productions / Image Comics
RELEASE: July 17, 2013
To shed some light on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy, cyberpunk world in which the story takes place, provided on the opening pages of issue #3 is a basic synopsis of the “Aphrodite IX” universe. For new readers, the Aphrodite protocol was designed to create humans that could survive an extinction level event via genetic enhancement and superintelligence, in order to repopulate the Earth. Two rival factions eventually emerged from the old world after the protocol was initiated, and now occupy the same small strip of land while battling over resources. To the East, in a city called Genesis, genetically enhanced humans live in tribes under a theocratic monarchy. In the West, cybernetically-enhanced humans live under totalitarian rule in the city of Speros. Issue #3 goes deeper into the reasons why both sides are at each other’s throats, and highlights the animosity each faction feels for each other’s way of life.
Regarding Aphrodite as the main protagonist, Hawkins writes the series’ namesake quite differently than the original character. She isn’t an android in this series, but both cyborg and human due to her DNA being genetically modified in utero. She’s a Generation IX, Aphrodite Tracker-Killer, designed to seduce, infiltrate, and kill; and that fact is evident in both script and art. Hawkins highlights her abilities through inner monologues which detail effective ways to slaughter enemies most efficiently.
Aphrodite’s been frozen in a statis chamber for hundreds of years before she’s discovered by Marcus, the heir to a large tribe of genetically enhanced people, in the aftermath of a battle. Unfortunately, her handler, who is able to control her actions given the proper technological equipment, is captured by the cybernetically-enhanced Executor Chronos. A full-scale war between the two conflicting groups is eminent, and now Aphrodite is caught in the middle of it all as she’s programmed to wreak havoc on the ruling family in Genesis against her will, and without her knowledge after the fact.
Hawkins portrays Aphrodite’s lack of agency over her own body and narrative in a way that’s expected—given the dialogue used by her handler who refers to her as his pet and slave—yet it’s still disturbing enough at times to cause discomfort. The battle inside The Temple of Light, in the final pages of the third installment, illustrates this well. Overall, his writing is still very much engaging and smartly penned; that of course can be attributed to the impressive amount of academic research put into the series. His notes and findings are featured at the end of each installment.
As previously mentioned, Stjepan Sejic’s artwork is amazingly detailed, professionally executed and really satisfying to see on paper. It’s not particularly common to see such a realistic technique and style of art featured in comic books, but in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy setting, it works really well. It’ll be hit or miss among comic enthusiasts though. His dragons are phenomenal and fit perfectly with the overall theme, but he shines where the story calls for action; taking up two pages at a time in places, for an epic visual experience.
Three issues into the series and “Aphrodite IX” is gearing up to be a crazy ride. Looking forward to the next installment.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd