Review: Cyborg 009 – Vol. 1

At long last Cyborg 009 has arrived. This is a title I’ve been waiting for since it was teased with a zero issue from Archaia. If you liked that issue then you should have no doubts in picking up this issue because it’s more of the same greatness. I know some purest probably are against this title, but if you’re like me and never experienced the original Cyborg 009 series then this is a great first opportunity. I think that the creative team did a great job of handling the source material and updating it in a way that respectful and yet fresh. It doesn’t come across as a cheap Hollywood remake, but rather a reboot which is common in the world of comics. To sum up the opening which is basically the zero issue; 009 wakes up after a flash of memory of his old life. Well more like his old life ending as he’s beaten to death. He’s put through a trial run to test his cybernetic enhancements. After defeating his obstacles he’s introduced to the science team that created him and his predecessors 001 through 008. He’s asked to kill them, but this quickly turns into a rouse as 009 helps the other cyborgs along with their creator escape from the organization known as Black Ghost.

They go into hiding and through Dr. Gilmore’s explanation we learn about the Cyborg program and that Black Ghost has been secretly controlling the outcome of wars for years. We also learn about the past of each of the cyborgs and how they came to be a part of the program. Some volunteered unknowingly; most were kidnapped at random by Black Ghost. 009 can’t remember anything about his past, but Dr. Gilmore lets him know that he can override the chip and give him back his memories. When he does he remembers everything including the woman he loves. He wants to go to her and check on her, but the rest of the team tells him that it will expose them. 009 also learns that his name is Joe. The question becomes: will Joe stay and fight with the team or try to get back to his old life?

Cyborg 009 CoverThe story is a bit predictable, but then why wouldn’t it be? There’s enough tragedy in the characters’ lives that you really want a happy ending and even then it’s not an easy road. It’s a strong first volume and the story really plays to its strengths: huge battles with lots of explosions, the underdogs coming from behind for the win and the insane super-villain that kills a lot of people. The only characters that receive any kind of development are Joe, Francoise (to an extent) and Jet (to an even lessor extent). While Francoise is actually pretty bad ass and uses her powers to help them the most, she’s basically reduced to the role of the love interest.

The group of cyborgs are all pretty unique and the fact that they’re from around the world keeps their personalities from repeating. I did appreciate the fact that they were never reduced to the stereotypes of their home countries which would have been a terrible pitfall. The pacing of the story is steady which makes for a very quick read. We’re basically given the conflict of the volume a fourth of the way in and so you can imagine how quickly it wraps from there since the story is just over one-hundred pages.

The visuals steal the show. The art plays a huge role in the character’s personalities as each of them wears their personality on their sleeve. It’s easy to tell what everyone is feeling just by their expression and that’s very useful when dealing with a team based story like this. The character designs pay homage to the original designs, but I prefer the modern version. Their look is very cool and the explanation around why they have to wear them is a nice inclusion. The action scenes are fantastic; not only are they easy to follow, but they’re over the top with explosions and craziness. Joe has a short, but awesome fight with the 0010 cyborgs and it is stunning to look at. I couldn’t get enough of the art and will likely thumb through the book a few times just to soak it all in.

This first volume manages to tell a great story and introduce Cyborg 009 to a new generation of comic readers, but it also lays down the ground work for the universe and characters in a way that didn’t come across as a boring origin story. Really their origins are over and done a fourth of the way in and then it’s on to the bigger conflict. It’s very refreshing to read the first volume/issue of something and not have it be a paint-by-numbers comic origin. If you enjoy manga, tech or just kick-ass action… then you need to check this story out.

Score: 4/5

Writers: F.J. DeSanto and Bradley Cramp Artist: Marcus To Publisher: Archaia Entertainment and Ishimori Production Price: $24.95 Release Date: 9/11/13