Aphrodite V Volume One Presents A More Mature Look At Top Cow’s Cyber Force

Aphrodite V Volume One collects issues one through four from Aphrodite V. Which is the most recent series featuring the green-haired robot assassin. While this character has bounced around in various Top Cow/Image Comics series, she has also had several solo series. Most of these involve the Aphrodite IX version and are set in the strange but interesting cyberpunk future of Cyber Force. This is not the case with Aphrodite V, which is a good thing.

A Prequel That Fixes Problems Instead Of Causing Them

Aphrodite V is set in the near future of Los Angeles and acts as a prequel to the Top Cow universe and Cyber Force as a whole. As a result, it’s a great jumping on point. I can speak from experience, as I have read little of the classic Image/Top Cow properties as I always found them a bit problematic when it came to the portrayal of female characters.

Bryan Hill and Jeff Spokes go to great lengths to take what worked from previous Aphrodite comics while making something wholly original and fun. Aphrodite, herself, keeps the main components of her design but is tweaked slightly to make her less overtly sexualized. I always thought Aphrodite was a cool concept, and now I have a comic that makes her cool without being problematic.

Aphrodite V
Aphrodite V; Image Comics 2018

Worth noting is that at the end of the book, we are given an eighteen-page excerpt from Cyber Force: Awakening Volume One which acts as a reboot of the Cyber Force continuity. In these eighteen pages, we get the origin of the Aphrodite project which includes how her personality was formed and the like. It’s an intriguing story that adds additional layers to the story of her fifth model, which is the main feature of this trade.

Crisp Writing That Makes Each Character Stand Out

Bryan Hill has a remarkable sense of natural dialogue and characterization. The three major characters, Martin, Hui-Men, and of course Aphrodite, speak with clear and distinct voices. Martin is too smart for his own good, pontificates often, and overreacts to things like a child. Hui-Men is strong, firm, and has to act as both the bodyguard and surrogate parent to Martin in a way. Meanwhile, Aphrodite’s speech pattern is very strange, almost stilted, but intentionally so.

She’s a robot with enhanced senses, reflexes, strength etc. As a result, she is constantly processing the world around her, trying to understand. On top of that, she has her own developing personality, that is not certain of who she is and can be rather naïve but also incredibly intelligent. She is a bundle of wonderful contradictions that cause her to speak in a very matter of fact, well composed and bluntly honest manner.

Aphrodite V
Aphrodite V; Image Comics 2018

Within these distinct characterizations, we get different viewpoints on a very topical issue. Martin is a businessman who wants to do the right thing the wrong way. As I mentioned he almost has the mentality of a child due to his privileged upbringing. He wants to privatize the police by funding them with his tech and money. And Aphrodite’s need to find her identity falls right into helping him sell this idea. It’s a scary concept, and one Bryan Hill uses to add depth to his sci-fi action story.

Fun Action Ultimaltly Has Diminshing Returns

Aphrodite V is first and foremost a sci-fi story with lots of action. It’s based off a character that grew out of the early Image Comics days, so that’s only natural. There are some beautifully written and drawn action sequences, however, by the end, this comes to be a hindrance. The final chapter of this story feels very rushed. The pacing is all over the place, and the terrorist organization of Basilisk and its leaders feel very undeveloped. This made me yearn for more sequences just between Martin and Aphrodite as those were the strongest parts of the earlier chapters.

Art That Conveys The Cold Efficiency Of A Robotic Assassin

Jeff Spokes’s art is beautiful, gritty, realistic, and everything I wanted for this comic. The action sequences are fantastic because he keeps the camera tight on our characters. It’s a blur of confusion, blood, and violence, and that fits perfectly with the tone of the story. The moment that I think demonstrates his work the best comes in the second chapter, in which there is a ten-page infiltration scene. Watching as Aphrodite quickly, efficiently, and lethally, takes out her targets was breathtaking to watch unfold. And to end it on a near full-page shot of her intimidating the final guard is perfect.

Aphrodite V
Aphrodite V; Image Comics 2018

If there is one problem with Spokes art, and it’s the only one, in my opinion, is that his characters sometimes have faces that are just a little too similar. There is a sequence in which Aphrodite, Hui-Men, and Caitlin Campbell are talking, and if it wasn’t for the subtle visual cues they would look identical. These visual cues being Aphrodite’s green dot on her cheek, Hui-Men’s scar on her face, and Caitlin’s short jacket and earring.

Considering this is Jeff Spokes first mainstream interior work, it’s amazing that it turned out as well as it did. He knocked it out of the park. I hope to see more of his work in the future.

Aphrodite V Volume One Changed My Perception Of Top Cow’s Comic Offerings

Aphrodite V Volume One is a good jumping on point for those interested in a cyberpunk action comic but doesn’t want to be confused by years of continuity. It takes a character that was always cool and makes her even more awesome. Congratulations to Bryan Hill and Jeff Spokes, you made this man a new Aphrodite fan as well as someone that will finally give Cyber Force a chance that he wouldn’t have otherwise.

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