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AICN COMICS Q&@: Russ Sheath interviews CYBER FORCE writer Matt Hawkins! Plus AICN & Top Cow brings you CYBER FORCE #1 in its entirety, FREE!

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Q’s by Russ Sheath!

@’s by CYBER FORCE’s Matt Hawkins!!!

Russ Sheath here again. Top Cow hit the headlines earlier this year when they announced their Kickstarter project to put 5 issues of their reimagined and relaunched classic series CYBER FORCE in stores and to download, completely free of charge. Available this week, CYBER FORCE #1 begins a bold new experiment from the publisher that bought you WITCHBLADE and THE DARKNESS, reintroducing the characters that launched the publisher in the early days of Image Comics.

Top Cow President and co-writer of CYBER FORCE, Matt Hawkins talks about the Top Cow Talent Hunt and the companies mission to give you one of their most loved and recognizable properties, free. Check out the issue in its entirety interspersed throughout this article.

RUSS SHEATH (RS): Matt, What does the re-imagining of CYBER FORCE mean to Top Cow and what does it mean to you as President of the company?

MATT HAWKINS (MH): For me CYBER FORCE defined Top Cow back in 92, 93 and 94. It was defined as slick looking art and great visuals but even Marc Silvestri has admitted to me that there were many things that they wanted to do with CYBER FORCE, but that were never executed.

A lot of people look back on those books with nostalgia but I look back on them and realize how much better they could have been and I remember going to Marc and saying that I have an idea for CYBER FORCE, we could launch it around the 20th anniversary and that we do a more grounded version of this team.

Originally it was about this group of cybernetically enhanced humans, a group of 6 Million Dollar Men and Women and to have it not be about super heroes, that was my original pitch. Marc and I spent 9 months with Filip Sablik involved in some of that, just talking about what we wanted to do this series.

If you take a look at Think Tank you can see what I like and I wanted to do a grounded version of CYBER FORCE and Marc wanted to do a heightened version and what we ended up with was something in between and I am actually very happy with the result. It’s the first time I have ever co-written with anyone and I think that ultimately this is Marc’s vision that I have helped him execute, its been an interesting collaboration and I’m very proud of it.

RS: Can you tell us a little about the world of CYBER FORCE as it exists now?

MH: Sure - and right off the bat I will have to go into spoilers because I can’t really answer that question without going into spoilers, so ***spoiler alert***.

Marc Silvestri talks about how, for the first time in human history, our advance in technology is outpacing evolution and that quandary is where we find ourselves in the story line.

If you remember in the original CYBER FORCE there was a company called Cyberdata which we have updated and called CDI, which sounds more nefarious. CDI is this multi-national conglomerate who have a science division and build weaponry and things like that and they realize that in 2047 there is going to be a major apocalypse.

CDI discover it and that its going to happen and while they don’t know how its going to happen, they do realize that humanity is going to be wiped out for the most part in that year.

With that knowledge they decide to do a couple of things. Firstly, they decide not to reveal it to the public and secondly, they decide that what they want to do is populate the earth with beings of their own creation. What they are trying to do is create, in essence, a new species by merging technology and biological mass to create a version of a human being that will survive this impending apocalypse.

CDI has bought most of Pittsburgh and rebuilt it into this shining metropolis and redubbed it Millennium City. The characters that are known as Cyber Force aren’t known as Cyber Force off the bat, they are either freedom fighters or terrorists depending on how you look at them.

RS: Were there any challenges in bringing the project back?

MH: The easiest part of re-imaging CYBER FORCE was the Top Cow Universe Rebirth. We had a clean slate so we didn’t have to worry about continuity and all that crap. You don’t want to offend anyone who has been reading it for 20 years, but, at the same time you don’t want to be beholden to that because new readers are never going to jump on.

There’s a whole rogues gallery and character roster in Cyber Force and I think that’s cool. For us its challenging but I think its fun.

RS: I gather that while CYBER FORCE can be downloaded online, the physical edition that will be available in comic stores, also free, and will have exclusive Marc Silvestri content, is that right?

MH: Yes, it will be exclusive in the paper copy. The idea is that Marc is doing these back up features and the one he did in the first issue is unbelievable. I worked with him over the course of a number of days trying to script that and ultimately we decided to strip off most of the words and let the art speak for itself.

If you look at the the first issue its Ripclaw, Cyblade and their son, thats what the two pages are about. Its sweet and cute on one hand but horrifying on the other, dealing with these crazy events and childbirth at the same time.

RS: For fans who are hoping to participate in Top Cow’s other unique opportunity, the Top Cow Talent Hunt, what could they pick up from CYBER FORCE?

MH: I think that CYBER FORCE is probably the wrong book to look at. A better book to look at would be Artifacts issues 19-21. With the talent hunt we are looking for character based stories about a single person dealing with this artifact and how it affects the people they know. Do they understand what it is and how to work it? How does it affects them on a personal level? Keeping it simple I think is smart.

RS: There’s a great deal of commentary about the resurgence that Image has gone through. I do wonder if we are at the point where we are at the next evolution. Do you get a feeling of ‘change in the air’?

MH: I do feel that there’s an energy and that’s part of the reason we are giving so many things away for free, we realize that now more than ever we need to grab people attention.

We have always cared about the quality of our books but right now we realize more than ever that with everyone concerned about money, the economy and the price of comic books going up, there are so many reasons for people to not try new comics.

Whenever I have spoken to people over the last couple of years they have told me ‘Hey, we are looking for reasons to drop a series, not to pick one up’ so on that level we realize that we have to be better than we’ve ever been.

My fear is that when buyers quit having been a Marvel Zombie or a DC Zombie they just quit reading comics, but, I think there are people who are looking for something different and for those people I am hoping to tantalize them with CYBER FORCE and the stuff that we are doing.

At the end of the day we are trying to do something with these characters where they reach the largest possible audience and our hope is that people will pick up the book online and it will get them to go back into a comic book store, thats what our goal is.

I am calling it a free comic book event! For five months we are going to release a free copy of this book and we are trying a lot of different things to get people to pick up the first five issues and then want to pay for the next issue. It’s an experiment and we are trying it.

RS: If you like what you read here, CYBER FORCE is available in print form next Wednesday!

You can follow Russ Sheath's blog Russwords here and on Twitter here.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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