Matt Hawkins and Stjepan Sejic recent reboot of the Aphordite IX series is a rich treat for the eyes and mind. The story takes place in the far future where humanity is on the brink of extinction. Society has become polarized. On one side lives a genetically augmented civilization who rely on augmentation to perform needed tasks instead of depending on technology or machines. They use their spirituality and tradition for guidance. The technophiles are the other half of civilization. These people rely heavily on technology and have become more like cyborgs. They believe that the diminishing resources of the planet and their need to migrate to another resource rich planet can only be solved through the use of technology. Furthermore, they see the Geneticist as a self-destructive culture who will inevitably die off.
Also, although this story starts off with a tribal battle it quickly falls into politics. This makes sense because Aphrodite is an Assassin who lacks free will; thereby, she is the story’s protagonist and antagonist. This creates a complex character to compliment this complex story.
In the midst of their tribal conflicts, Aphrodite IX who is the perfect bio-engineered assassin wakes up in the middle of a battle. She quickly chooses to fight against the technophiles and their drones because they were posing a threat to her. In the aftermath, the technophiles find and befriend Aphrodite’s handler who can not only upload a hit list to Aphrodite’s mind but he can also determine who she should fall in love with or hate. However, the longer Aphrodite goes on without being rebooted the more freewill Aphrodite has. Matt Hawkins does a great job of showing this through his lavish use of internal dialogue. The readers can see that her inner voice was more stoic analysis and by the end of the run her inner dialogue becomes more emotionally conflicted and self-doubting.
Yes, this is a very text heavy comic book, but there are very few times where it felt superfluous, or they are just slapping script directions onto the page instead of allowing the artist to show instead of tell. Matt Hawkins is using Aphrodite IX to tell a philosophical story about cultures who rely on Religion, Politics, or Technology. It’s also nice that Hawkins backs up each subject with links to his research and brief lectures at the back of each comic.
Stjepan Sejic’s art is mostly hyper-realistic renderings. Because the art is less abstract, it makes the reader identify with Aphordite IX’s world, and helps make the reader believe this is a possible future. Sejic includes Aphrodite’s POV shots which look like an updated Terminator interface. These are nice because it reminds us of what Aphrodite is and keeps us focused on the action. One complaint is that the hand to hand combat is sometimes repetitive or too basic, but he more than makes up for it when it comes to weapon, vehicle, and dragon combat. Yep, this story even has dragons. All the characters are very unique looking and you can tell he had a lot of fun with the various technophiles.
Matt Hawkins wanted to give us a story that was full of everything Sci-Fi nerds love about Sci-Fi, and he and Sejic pulled it off wonderfully. This is a beautiful book for those who love and miss Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov, and Rod Serling type of science fiction.