At last summer’s San Diego Comic- Con, Archaia announced they would publish an original graphic novel based on Shotaro Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009. While people may or may not be familiar with Cyborg 009 (it was originally released in 1964), Ishinomori’s other creations are household names (Kikaida (a.k.a. Kikaider) and Kamen Rider just to name two). But, Archaia is not releasing an adaptation of Ishinomori’s work. Instead it is “an epic re-imagining” of Cyborg 009.
The story of Cyborg 009 revolves around a group of people from different countries who
have been kidnapped by The Black Ghost, a sinister organization of arms dealers. Through
The Black Ghost’s scientists’ experiments, these nine people have all been transformed into
super-powered cyborgs, designed to become weapon-warriors whose services will be sold
to the highest bidder. But when Cyborgs 001–009 escape, they unite with a single goal: to
destroy The Black Ghost. It won’t be easy, because their former masters have vast resources
and numerous assassins who are out to recapture the fugitive cyborgs.
What is being released today is a specially prices ($1.00) teaser designed to get people excited about this summer’s release of the full graphic novel. Since this was not the full book, I cannot comment on the entire storyline. However there were some things in these 24 pages which raised some concerns.
First is the story itself. While the basic set-up read like a combination of The Matrix and Harbinger, it started to unravel in the panel progression. People started speaking and reacting to things which either occurred off panel, or were not explained making for a confusing read. There were many times where I went back several pages to make sure I had not missed something (I hadn’t). It was almost as if there were a few pages which had been cut in order to make the initial set-up fit into the allotted number of preview pages.
The dialogue feels a bit clunky. I am willing to spot some bombastic dialogue as a nod to its manga origins. However the majority of the dialogue was stiff and did not read as natural. Maybe a younger audience will be able to overlook that dialogue (the book is rated E for everyone), but it was almost painful at times for this adult reader.
The art also leaves a bit to be desired. It starts off with a wonderfully rendered dream sequence, but then quickly devolves into a bland and forgetful series of images which cannot decide if they want to be Western or Manga. Instead they settle into an uncomfortable style which resembles some of the anime of the early to mid-1980′s.
Archaia has such a strong track record, and the creator is known for strong concepts, I wanted to like Cyborg 009. Unfortunately this preview chapter does not give me high hopes for the rest of the book.