Special forces cyborgs called SHOCs are sent around the world to accomplish missions for CDI, the company that transformed them into the perfect killing machines. But, something is amiss at CDI; SHOCs are going AWOL and only a girl and her dog are in a position to uncover the truth.
For a little background, this is not the first iteration of Cyber Force, as it’s, in fact, the fourth volume intended as part of Top Cow’s rebirth line funded through Kickstarter. As far as brand new takes go, Cyber Force works about as well as the New 52, which is to say it provides a solid starting point but has entirely too much carry over from previous series with some truly confusing changes for fans of the older material. Take, for example, the old Cyber Force team members. This first arc takes the time to introduce them, their abilities, the particular model of cyborg they are, even establishing new relationships and dynamics from older runs of the series but presents all of this information in an overwhelming blob of names and facts that don’t matter one iota outside of acknowledging the roots of the original run. Perhaps the biggest adjustments have been made to Carin Taylor, a.k.a. Velocity, who resembles her original character in name, appearance, and abilities but not much else.
Putting to the side the history of the characters and the title for a moment, this new Cyber Force suffers to find its footing in its first few issues. Writer Marc Silvestri makes use of time jumps back and forth, sometimes over the course of years without any aid informing readers that they are now looking at an event from “Five years ago.” Without these little queues, the story is impossible to follow. I found myself flummoxed about the location and condition of Carin at least five times in the first two issues. Even now I could not tell you what the timeline looks like in those first two issues. Near the end of issue #3, the series corrects many of these errors, having narrowed its focus to a couple of characters in the modern day and finally implementing notes on where in the time frame flashbacks and hypothetical futures take place.
These frustrations aside, let’s talk cybernetics. A pair of extra arms, throwable body knives, running super fast, and highly advanced sensors are just some of the abilities SHOC troops have access to with each soldier possessing a different set of implants to suit their natural inclinations. The implants’ abilities border on superpowers in many cases, but their abilities are pure, ridiculous fun to see in action, which is one thing Cyber Force excels at. The combined artistic talents of Khoi Pham, Sal Regla, and Sunny Gho have created a visually striking book, a unique setting in the form of Millennium City (today’s Pittsburgh), and some great action scenes that make full use of the characters’ extraordinary abilities.
While Cyber Force is largely a dark and serious book, it’s a series that isn’t above introducing something a little silly to lighten the mood, like a cybernetic dog named Ninja or having the characters be a little immature on the battlefield. While CDI is a bit stereotypically evil, Silvestri does a decent job explaining the master plan and the logic behind their actions by the end of this first arc. I’m left uncertain on how the story will continue.
I’m not sure how useful the characters will be in setting the course for future issues either. Thanks in part to all of the time jumps and perspective changes, little time is spent with the main cast. By the end of issue #5, I could name a few characteristics of each of the main characters, but couldn’t sum up their personalities. Cyber Force makes some bold decisions to change character relationships, but the results are cliché at worst or untapped at best, both lacking in enough material to carry the series forward into the next arc or to entertain as a part of this first arc.
Neither perfect for fans of the old Cyber Force series or for fans brand new to the material, this new Cyber Force is still trying to find its place in the Top Cow hierarchy.
Two and a Half Ninja Cyborg Dogs out of Five