Everyone has bad days at the office. Just imagine that your job is killing people and the next thing you know, you wake up in the far future where humans can no longer breathe out in the open and you have to make your way in an unfamiliar world. That's the basic concept behind Top Cow's upcoming relaunch of "Aphrodite IX" by "Think Tank" writer and Top Cow President Matt Hawkins and "Artifacts" artist Stjepan Sejic.
Created in 2000 by David Finch and David Wohl, the original Aphrodite IX was a green haired cyborg assassin with memory problems branching out on her own and trying to figure out her past. The character -- and her other various Roman numeraled incarnations -- has popped up at various times in the past 12 years, most recently in the reality-altering "Artifacts" series where Aphrodite IV fought the combined efforts of Witchblade, the Darkness and Cyber Force. The character has not been seen since the entire Top Cow Universe experienced a rebirth with "Artifacts" #13.
Hawkins intends to use elements of the original character in his new series, which launches with a free first issue during next year's Free Comic Book Day, March 2, 2013. CBR News talked with Hawkins about creating his futuristic world, developing a new version of a well-known character and the decision to launch an all-new series via FCBD.
CBR News: How did you decide to launch this new "Aphrodite IX" series with a Free Comic Book Day issue?
Matt Hawkins: I think "free" is a strong incentive for people to try something. In an age where people are looking to cut series and not add them it's important to do something to stand out. But free is only a part of the equation; the book has to be good. I like FCBD, think it is a great thing and am very excited to launch my next thing out of it.
What kind of connection, if any, does this new book have to the Artifacts books or "Cyber Force?"
"Aphrodite IX" will take place in the future. There will be connections to the stories Marc is telling with "Cyber Force" but it will be loose and no one will be forced to read both books to understand the stories in each.
Loose connections to "Cyber Force" make sense given that they take place in different eras, but will there be any with the original series by David Wohl and David Finch?
I'll be tweaking some of her character and origin so some of what you say here will no longer apply. Primarily in that she is no longer an android. We've also seen countless cyborgs and that's more of what "Cyber Force" is doing so I'm going to try to do something a little different with "Aphrodite IX."
What kind of strange world does Aphrodite IX find herself in when she wakes up? How different will it be from what she's used to?
I'm going to be playing with things more in the vein of what Arthur C. Clarke did with the "brain boxes" and full neural integration. We're 10-15 years from a singularity where a computer will be smarter and be able to hold more data than the brain. Imagine what another 100 or so years will do.
In the future the atmosphere is no longer breathable so how does that impact humanity, genetically altered humanity and other beings? I'm kind of "aliened" out with so much of it in entertainment so this will still be centered on humans and the good and evil we can do. I'm very excited about this story and hope that people will enjoy it. At its core, it's about a woman who doesn't really understand her place in the world and wants things she can't really have. I think that's a pretty universal storyline and hope it resonates with some people.
What can you tell us about the factions warring in the future and what they're fighting for?
There will be the original humans who now are forced to live in artificial environments and containment suits to survive. Think of the freedom we have being able to breath the air and drink the water without much effort. Now imagine that freedom is gone and the basics of survival are again the foremost concern. Also consider how that would make you feel about others who have been altered to survive this new world and have the freedoms you don't. Lots of factions, lots of opportunity for fun conflicts.
I know from speaking with you about "Think Tank" that you're a big science buff, is that what influenced you to write this book? Are there other influences at play here as well?
Science will be a huge factor in this, but more as a basis for science fiction riffs than anything. I won't be doing huge appendices here explaining how this tech works as most of it will be made up, but I like those back-up features so I'll do something.
I have been scouring futurist blogs, books and podcasts for ideas of what people think the future will really look like. Part of that research has amazed me at how many morons are out there who claim to be "futurists" to try and get some speech gigs, but there are a few who are godlike. Ray Kurzweil and Michio Kaku are the two best. I recommend everyone read them, so kick-ass.
For me, the chief component in building the world is believability. I read and watch a lot of sci-fi and I tune out on a lot of it pretty quickly because it's kind of silly. Science fiction is still a realm of wonder and I've heard scientists tell me directly that they've been disappointed in a lot of it lately because it's actually not all that forward thinking. In some cases, sci-fi things come out that feel dated and not really all that futuristic and that is sad. Sci-fi is also a great medium for social commentary and I am, at my core, a humanist and will be using this book to tell some very "human" stories in some fantastical settings.
What made Stjepan Sejic the perfect artist for this project?
He's the reason I'm doing the series at all. He told me he wanted to do some over-the-top sci-fi storyline where he could really unleash and we started talking about this. We'll be mixing in some fantasy elements as well as he is just so damn good at that stuff (see "Ravine").
"Aphrodite IX" #1 by Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic hits stands in May for Free Comic Book Day with #2 dropping in June.