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PopCultHQ Comic Book Review: ‘CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS’ #0 from Top Cow Productions

by Jason Bennett
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PopCultHQ received a preview copy of CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS #0 from Top Cow Productions. Hitting newsstands this New Comic Book Day (NCBD), Wednesday, January 4th, the creative team for this series features writing from Camilla Zhang, Kelly Bender, and Paul Penna, interior art by Francesca Aureli and Jim Towe, colors by K. Michael Russell and Chris Northrop, lettering by Troy Peteri, with cover art by Khoi Pham.

Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS #0.


Story: Camilla Zhang, Kelly Bender, Paul Penna
Art: Francesca Aureli, Jim Towe
Colors: K Michael Russell, Chris Northrop
Lettering: Troy Peteri
Cover: Khoi Pham
Diamond ID: OCT160561

CYBERFORCE: ARTIFACTS #0 delves deep inside the secret world of CyberForce with three stories. “Someone is dealing in Protocol tech, and it’s up to APHRODITE IV to stop them dead.” “Velocity mourns the supposed death of her father, Stryker, the only way a super speedster can.” …and more!

Digital : $3.99
Print: $3.99

PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:

Top Cow Productions, an imprint of Image Comics, held a talent hunt in 2015 for up-and-coming and/or aspiring creators to work with two of their most recognized brands and develop short stories on them: CYBERFORCE (created by MARC SILVESTRI) and ARTIFACTS (Created by RON MARZ). This is their story. Well, stories. Three of them, but in one book. Based off two properties. Wait, what? Oh yeah, the review. Since this is three stories within one title by different creative teams, I’ll break them down by story. One thing to note: Quite possibly the biggest obstacle in these creators’ way, especially the writers, is to put out their story and best efforts within a mere 8 pages. It can be truly difficult to really be able to showcase your talent or range in such limited capacity. Surprisingly, each team was able to pull it off in some degree of fashion. Hats off to all for that!

The first story, “Enemy Mine,” opens and the first things that hit me were the colors and lettering.  Bold, sharp, and crisp on both counts. The lettering by Peteri is tight and beautifully done throughout the entire book. The story itself immediately immerses you into intense, action-filled adventure with fantastic appeal. Writer Kelly Bender delivers a nice progression, an attractive premise, and a sweet assassin-like main character in Aphrodite IX, all of which make for an engaging short story. Good, strong artwork from Towe, especially in close-up shots. Layout is done very well and a nice overall package.

Pros: Solid output by creative team, Northrop’s colors a huge asset, Bender’s intriguing story

 Not long enough – I want more!

Rating for “Enemy Mine”:
 4.5 out of 5 Stars


The second story, “Force in Mourning,” though part of the same self-contained anthology, is a departure from Bender’s action tale and takes more of an introspective approach ripe with emotion. Writer Camilla Zhang does a terrific job at expressing young Carin’s processing of grief risen from the loss of her father, Stryker.

Artist Francesca Aureli impressed the hell out of me in this story with her intricate detail, even on what most artists may consider afterthought backgrounds or unimportant/irrelevant accessories and additions to each panel. I also enjoyed the coloring from K. Michael Russell. While not as bold as in “Enemy Mine,” it didn’t need to be. It was striking while at the same time subtle. He’s skilled at knowing what to accentuate, which areas to highlight, and is superb at his blends. Loved the look of the panels seen through Ballistic’s cybernetic eye!

Pros: Elaborate detail on secondary and tertiary art, unexpected but refreshing reflective piece, Ballistic looked badass!

 While a great short story, people unfamiliar with CYBERFORCE don’t truly get to know Velocity, whereas they are learning about Carin Taylor unaware of her alter ego. That would help new readers truly grasp her speedster ability and the analogy of her running whilst dealing with grief. Oh, and not enough cowbell.

Rating for “Face in Mourning”:
 4.5 out of 5 Stars


The third and final story, “Weaponeer,” featured a marvelous look into exactly who, or what, Aphrodite IV is in the Top Cow universe. Writer Paul Penna gives a great amount of background on the character while advancing his own story. Also, nicely done on capturing the essence of Aphrodite, primarily her cunning and craftiness.

On the art side of things, Towe continues his welcome rendition of these Top Cow characters.  Northrop’s colors continue to impress. This story’s art and locale called for a colorist with a strong sense of light sources, shading, and shadows. Chris has them all nailed down and compliments Towe’s illustrations splendidly.

Pros: Perfect short-story introduction to Aphrodite IV for new readers, prime example of a routine “mission” for Aphrodite.

Cons: Following the artwork from Aureli in the previous story, I found myself wishing for more of the detail she included. Granted, in the first story it wasn’t even a thought of mine while looking over Jim’s work. You may have spoiled me Francesca!

Rating for “Weaponeer”: 4 out of 5 Stars


PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:

What January 4th’s release gives you is an incredible value for your money. Three writers and five artists (lettering is an art) clocking in at 32 pages and for just $3.99! It’s great for new readers or those unfamiliar with the CYBERFORCE or ARTIFACTS properties. But what I appreciate most from CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS #0 is its promotion focuses more on the creators attached to the project above anything else. It’s a means to showcase just a sampling of the talented creators in the indie world. CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS #0 is the epitome of the widely-circulated hashtag in the comic book community #SupportIndieComics. That hashtag doesn’t simply mean publishers; it’s the writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, letterers and all who contribute to the industry.

Since this was a result of a talent hunt, all the creators are on the top of their respective games. What makes CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS #0 appealing is its culmination of talent, the self-contained anthology approach to the issue, a fantastic introduction to these decades-established properties, and its overall feel of people in the indie comic book community coming together to support and promote one another. Top Cow/Image has produced a comic that is an asset to the indie comic book industry and best exemplifies an indie publisher seeking to put out quality material, even if it’s not someone currently under their label. Me, personally? Though I have a digital review copy, this is a book I will definitely be picking up at my LCS this Wednesday. It even screams to get signed by all the creators. Looks like I’ll be taking my physical copy on the road to all the conventions I attend in 2017!

PopCultHQ’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

CYBERFORCE ARTIFACTS #0 can be purchased now on ComiXology,
or at your local comic shop and various online retailers on January 4th.

Be sure to follow the creative team(s)!


Writer – Camilla Zhang





Writer – Kelly Bender





Writer – Paul Penna




Artist – Francesca Aureli





Artist – Jim Towe






Colorist – K Michael Russell





Colorist – Chris Northrop





Letterer – Troy Peteri





Cover Artist – Khoi Pham




Publisher – Top Cow Productions

Google +https://plus.google.com/+topcow

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