INTERVIEW: Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins on CYBER FORCE

If you’re a child of the early ’90s, you most likely read Cyber Force, the brainchild of writer/artist Marc Silvestri, and one of the Image Comics launch titles. 20 years later, Silvestri and Top Cow President Matt Hawkins are bringing Cyber Force back to comics, but with a relaunch from the ground up. Set in Top Cow’s revamped Rebirth universe, the series promises to bring a fresh take on the Cyber Force concept for the 21st century and beyond. Not only is the concept new, the way it’s being brought to fans is as well. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the first five issues of Cyber Force will be absolutely free to readers. Top Cow is also experimenting with some unorthodox delivery methods for their free comics, as you’ll find out in my interview with Marc and Matt below, where they discuss their plans for Cyber Force, as well as some other notable projects Top Cow has in the works. Enjoy!

iFanboy: What is the concept behind this new incarnation of Cyber Force?

Marc Silvestri: It’s really kind of topical stuff. When the original Cyber Force came out 20 years ago, it had a lot of cool ideas that never really made it into print. And a lot of those ideas were science-fiction, and theory, and stuff that could happen and might happen. Today, those things are happening. And Matt’s like a big research guy, and he’s online and looking at what technology is what and what it’s going to be. We’re living in this really scary time, and basically, the time we’re living in now is much more relevant to what Cyber Force is than it was 20 years ago. People can understand paranoia better than they could 20 years ago. With social networking, privacy is at a premium if it exists at all, really. Our conveniences are growing to be our worst enemy. One of the things I like to say is that for the first time in history, in tens of thousands of years of evolution, our intelligence has outstripped our ability to evolve. In other words, we can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with the things we’re creating for ourselves. It takes thousands of years, if not millions of years sometimes, for nature to adapt, to whatever the changes of the time are, or what have you. Now we’re creating a world, just in the past 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution, that is changing so quickly, that our natural ability to adapt has become limited.

Matt Hawkins: For me, I look at Cyber Force, and I look at what Marc told me it was, and he talked a lot about how back in 1993 when they did it initially, they had all these ideas, and they didn’t necessarily execute… those ideas were not put on the page. I think having heard those ideas talked about over the last 10-15 years, when we sat down to sort of figure this out, with technology where it’s at, and sort of the generational idea of technology and obsolescence and the various factors that go into the building of technology, I think that’s pretty interesting and heady stuff. The one thing that’s sort of at the core of Cyber Force is this corporation that has, through means that we’ll reveal throughout the first arc, figured out that there’s this point at which there’s going to be some sort of an event. Whether it’s an extinction level event, or an apocalyptic event, whether or not that’s really truly going to happen, we don’t necessarily know until we get to that point, but they believe it. They’re spending billions and billions of dollars, resources, to sort of anticipate it. It’s interesting, when you look at extinction level events and humankind, and what would wipe us out? What wiped out the dinosaurs? How would you survive that? And I think that is at the core of what the story is, and we sort of came up with this term that I really dig, technological/biological singularity. When people started talking about “singularity” 10-15 years ago, the idea of when AI would be conscious, and actually maybe exceed man’s own intelligence… the idea here is ultimately what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to create a being that is sort of a fusion of technology and biology that can weather this coming storm, and build a new species. And that’s at the heart of this thing.

One of the things that I’ve always liked about Cyber Force in the way that Marc has pitched the story to me over the years, is there’s great villains in it. And I’ve always been a hater of one-note villains. I like villains that think they’re heroes. To me, the villain… unless he’s a sociopath like the Joker, which is really rare… I always use the example of the Smoking Man from the X-Files. There’s a guy that thought he was a patriot. He thought he was doing the best for his country. And I think those are the kind of villains that define your hero, and it’s important to really put time and energy into building them up. And we had this generational model outlined with Aphrodite IX, and then in the Artifacts miniseries we introduced Aphrodite IV, as a character. And that sort of opened up a doorway, especially with the Rebirth, for us to be able to work this generational factor… if you are an earlier generation, are you obsolete? It really gave us an interesting way of working with some powered beings that is not really “X-Menish.” You know what I mean? Every other superhero is either found power, like Spider-Man, or it’s a genetically engineered thing. And this is different. It’s technology-based. So that’s really what we’re trying to do.

MS: Yeah, it’s superhero stuff to a degree… Matt and I like to say they do heroic and superhuman type of stuff, but to a point. It’s not really a superhero book as much as it is sci-fi. And the best sci-fi is always rooted deeply in heady, human questions and ideas, and what we are doing here and such. You ground that into something you can relate to, which is character. Which is persons, which is us, you and I. So you create these characters that take you on this crazy, wild ride, and this is science fiction with a lot of really big ideas, but all those big ideas are integrated and to some extent hidden behind this action/adventure sci-fi that we’re doing. On a really grand scale, because we’re both really huge fans of Game of Thrones, and we love how big that world is, and yet how very small and human it can be. And it’s kind of the model we’re using for this. We’re introducing these big concepts, on a small human scale.

iF: So this is completely different from the original Cyber Force series?

MS: Yeah, Matt and I make sure there’s no mutants in it.

MH: (Laughs) And there’s nobody named “Warbuck” in this version. The first go-round got kind of silly for my tastes. I absolutely believe this book is infinitely better than the original series. With the exception obviously of Marc, I think this would have been better if Marc had drawn the entire thing, but I think with the updating of the coloring and various things, I think this has been a tremendous revamp. The reason why this worked as well as it did for us is, with the Top Cow Rebirth, when Jackie remade the Top Cow universe, and there’s been all these questions of what’s going on, it gave us an opportunity to have a clean slate and just do what we want to do, without having to go back and read hundreds of pages of continuity. I hate that stuff. I know guys like Mark Waid love that stuff. It’s truthfully very difficult. And that’s one of things where I have a lot of respect for a guy like Waid who’s able to write really bad-ass stories in the face of dealing with all that stuff. But continuity is one of those mixed bags. It’s one of those things where it’s something super-awesome for the people who have been there for the 20 years, but it’s something that is really terrible for the people who are trying it out for the first time. So what we tried here is to balance that out. You’ve got familiar characters, you’ve got Velocity and Ripclaw, you’ve got other characters that they’ll recognize from the original series who, as you saw on the last page of the first issue, we had a unique solution for.

MS: And yes, they are dead!

MH: Yeah, so we killed off a few of the original Cyber Force members. And that was sort of a decision where we looked at these characters and said, “Alright, this is the team ultimately we want to get to.” In Cyber Force #1-5, the whole point of it really is to reintroduce this world, reintroduce these characters, and show who the team is. At the end of issue #5, we’ll know who Cyber Force is, what their mission is, what they’re trying to do, what they’re trying to accomplish, and what the real threat is. I think that’s pivotal, and it honestly is a very character-driven story.

MS: We’re really kind of stressing introducing these people, and kind of thinning out the ones that we felt maybe weren’t going to be able hold the emotional weight that we were going to throw onto this version. Like the flashback sequence at the end of this first issue, we’re going to really add a lot of weight to these characters, a lot of humanity, so you really kind of start to feel for them, as these things unfold, and these things happen to them. There’s going to be a lot of drama in this, and there’s going to be a lot of gut-wrenching moments. If you remember the original series, there wasn’t a lot of that. There was a lot of silliness as opposed to genuine threats. And this Cyber Force takes place in a world where there aren’t mutants, but there is technology. And that’s something we can all understand, and I think that grounds it right off the bat, where the original series didn’t.

iF: What sparked the idea to fund the series through Kickstarter?

MH: That goes back to conversations I had with Filip Sablik, who was our publisher for a number of years, back when he was at Diamond, before he ever worked at Top Cow. And if you look back even as far as Witchblade #80, which was the very first Ron Marz book for Top Cow, and that was almost 7, 8 years ago, we gave away 30,000 copies of that first issue through a program I had put together with Filip when he was at Diamond, and between that, and Free Comic Book Day, and various other ventures, we’ve given away millions and millions of comics. And it’s much easier to do now digitally. I personally believe, and there’s some empirical evidence, that if you can condition someone to like something over a period of time, like a podcast, or whatever it might be, that they then will pay for some of it. It’s like getting free music and paying to go see a concert. It’s like getting the Sunday funnies for free, and then you buy the special hardcover edition for the 10th anniversary.

Secondarily, there’s the idea that there’s so many torrent readers. Every comic publisher in the US has always played whack-a-mole with these BitTorrent sites, where they send out cease-and-desist letters, sometimes they go after these guys for pirating the books. But the thing is, and this is what Marc and I have talked about, the genie’s out of the bottle. I mean, you got a whole generation of these guys, that’s how they read these books. And they’re not likely to pay for them. And the thing is, I’ve met enough of these guys who are sort of self-entitled about it, that you wonder… I think if they had to pay for it, they wouldn’t pay for it. So the idea being, I think there’s a nostalgia for Cyber Force, people who may have read it 20 years ago. And if we can get a free copy in their hands, the hope is that they will go into a comic book store and get the next issue, or get the free printed issue if they get the free online edition. And maybe they’ll buy Batman #13, and maybe they’ll buy Witchblade #161. That’s a win for the direct market.

I think a lot retailers were sort of leery about it, but every single one that I was able to talk to understood what we were trying to do and I think we went out with our message, which was that we are going to give away a number of issues for free, and we are going to put a BitTorrent up ourselves. So what you’ll notice is that we have uploaded to all of the BitTorrent providers, and there’s about 120 of them. It’s not a small number. There’s 7 or 8 major ones, and there’s about 100+ minor ones. We’ve got a list of those, and we’re going to be uploading a copy of the torrent ourselves, with a note inside each one of these BitTorrents that says, “Hey, this is a comic book that is being given to you free by the publisher. It was part of a Kickstarter campaign that raised funds so that we can give this book away for free. If you would like a printed copy of this book, go to your local comic shop and check it out, and if they are a participating retailer, they will be able to give you a free printed copy, where there’s actually additional content.” And in the printed books, there’s actually a back-up feature that Marc drew. And since we’re uploading it ourselves, I think some people will be respectful of that, and the retailers will be keep that Marc Silvestri back-up feature at least somewhat exclusive to the direct market.

We’ve tracked some BitTorrents before… on Magdalena #10 or #11, I don’t remember which issue it was, we actually did upload that book ourselves. And we went to the sites that had the counters and the trackers, and we had one of our tech guys create a counter, and just from the ones that had a tracking mechanism, we had well over 100,000 downloads. So from our position in looking at that, if you’re launching a new #1, and you make a big deal out of it, and you sort of embrace it– we’re the first US publisher that actively embraces this torrent community, and says “Hey, we’re giving you this book for free, we’re not coming after you.” The funny thing is, we’re going to upload the book ourselves, but none of the torrent sites– we’ve been trying actively to get them to talk to us, and I think they all think we’re trying to entrap them.

MS: (Laughs)

MH: Seriously. Marc, I don’t know how much of this I’ve told you, but we’ve been trying to actively talk to these torrent sites for a while, and they won’t even return emails. But we have an account, we set up an official Top Cow account, so there really shouldn’t be a reason we won’t be able to upload the torrents.

iF: So it sounds like you’ve really been doing some research into the comics piracy scene, in terms of the numbers, who’s doing it, and why they’re doing it?

MH: Yeah, I’m imagining that Marvel and DC probably have better information, but yeah, we’ve done a lot of research. I’ve talked to a lot of these people, I’ve gone onto these websites, I’ve looked at them myself. I’ve avoided the temptation of downloading free books! It’s an interesting community. There are amazing quality PDFs that are uploaded by 5 o’clock on Wednesday. All you gotta do it pick any book that came out of the comic stores on Wednesday, it doesn’t matter how obscure it is, type the title of that book into Google, and type “RapidShare” at the end or “torrent” and you’ll get 10, 15, 20 links that’ll pop up. Most of those will be the same file, because that’s one thing I’ve noticed, when you do upload something, particularly to the smaller sites, they just grab it and copy it. Ultimately, it’s an experiment. I’ve had retailers ask me, “Why are you doing this?” I’ve had retailers think that the whole point of this is that we’re trying to grab a database of readers and steal their customers. It’s kind of crazy, and ultimately, we’re not a retailer. We have no desire to be in retail. We want to develop and build content, and manage these brands, that’s ultimately what Marc and I do. And one of the things that makes me feel good about what we’re doing is the Kickstarter worked. You know, I am amazed, I’ve been talking to Cindy Au over at Kickstarter online a couple of times, and she’s told me that there have been a rash of Kickstarters, particularly comic-related ones over the last few months that have all failed to meet their funding. Now, no one goes out and publicizes when they’ve failed to meet their funding, but I think that’s getting harder and harder to do. And we raised a significant amount of money. We had 2,200 backers or whatever it was, that agreed to put up an average of $80 a piece.

iF: If it hadn’t worked out, did you have a back-up plan?

MS: Yeah, working at the local Buffalo Wild Wings!


MS: No, we were pretty much committed to this. You can’t announce something like this and not do it. But it would have been much more difficult for us. We would have obviously had to alter a few things. But we felt pretty good that we had a good idea here with the fact that it was free. I think if it wasn’t free, we would have had a problem, but I also think we wouldn’t have done it.

MH: With Kickstarter, you need a reason. If you’re just using it to raise money so you can sell your book, I think the people that are on Kickstarter are savvy enough at this point that they’re like, “Well, fuck you.” That’s why you’ve got to have a reason.

MS: And doing it for free, that’s a pretty solid reason. And if this works, we’ll maybe visit it again. Ultimately, none of this is going to matter if we can’t deliver a good book. And that’s what’s going to be telling about issue #6, if people buy it or not, and pay money for it.

iF: The two of you are co-writing this book; how do you collaborate?

MS: Ha ha! That’s a good one. We’re just kind of two creative guys who throw ideas back and forth. One of us will take a pass, toss it back to the other guy, the other guy will look over it and go “Oh, what if we do this?” or “That idea sucked.” So we go back and forth, and we wind up with the end result. Matt’s a really good writer; he’s proven that with Think Tank. And Matt’s more the grounded guy, and I’m more the guy whose ideas are way out there. It becomes a good combination.

MH: If you talk to most writing teams, in almost every situation, there’s one guy who takes the lead, the pole position on this, and I think the way this is working is this is obviously Marc’s baby, and he’s been working on this for a long time. And a lot of this initial arc is him spearheading this, and I’m helping facilitate that, and working with him on the dialogue, and the plots, and tightening up the bible of the mythology of the characters, and trying to make it make sense. And Cyber Force is fun; I love the science and stuff. Think Tank is a very hard book for me to write, because all of that technology is possible. That is hard to do, and get across in an interesting way. The great thing about Cyber Force, and why I realize some of these comic writers are able to write 5 titles a month, is we just get to make shit up. Some of the fusion of tech in Cyber Force is not really possible right now, but we’re at a point now with these added limbs where you can control them with your brain through a brain chip. So some of this cybernetic stuff is certainly possible.

MS: Yeah, we’re just taking those things and ramping them up a little bit, to have fun with the wish-fulfillment aspect of this book. Because yes, there’s a lot of drama, and a lot of scare tactics and paranoia, but ultimately, if we do our jobs right, the reader’s gonna go, “You know, I kinda want to be this Ripclaw dude. Yeah, he just lost his kid and his wife and that sucks, boo-hoo for him, but ultimately he’s kind of a bad-ass and he can do bad-ass things because of technology.”

iF: Khoi Pham is going to be the artist on the book; what does he bring to the book?

MS: Khoi brings a humanity to the book which I think is pretty important. Because we’re dealing with some pretty high-concept concepts here, so it’s good to have a guy who can draw people, and people doing people things. Khoi brings a real sense of grounding to this. And I think it’s a really nice match. And you’ve got Sunny Gho doing the colors along with Stjepan Sejic. I think we have a really solid art team.

MH: The other thing is, Khoi has been a Marvel exclusive guy for almost 5 years, and he’s worked on a lot of high-profile ongoing Marvel books, and I think he’s got some visibility from those, and we’re happy to try and play on that.

iF: Marc, you’re doing covers and concept art, but you’re also playing the role of art director. What does that entail?

MS: Well, I have a pretty specific vision. I have a pretty specific way of translating the tech that’s in my head onto the page of a comic book. There’s always going to be something a little different in translation, but the spirit of what I’m trying to do, that’s what I’m trying to get across to Khoi. And hopefully the book is so successful, that we have spinoffs in the future of favorite characters and what have you. I came up with this term “bio-cybernetic steampunk” which is a mouthful, but it really was the only way I could describe the look of the Cyber Force world. It has this aesthetic to it that is not quite steampunk, because I love steampunk, but I think the audience is relatively specific, and not everybody gets steampunk. And the bio-mechanoid look that was used in the Alien movies, that stuff is done a lot, but again I’m a huge fan of it. So I thought, why don’t we try something that’s kind of a combination of both? So I slapped the two aesthetics together, and that was something I was going to have to put on paper, because you can’t really describe it to somebody. Plus the fact that I just love to draw shit like this! So it gives me the chance to have fun at the drawing table, and make my own rules as I go along. I can say “You know, that’s pretty crazy looking, and it kind of looks functional!” But at the same time I can throw in my fetish for clockworks. I have a watch fetish. I love skeleton watches, and I love the way things work inside there. I love creepy organic things. If you saw the original Thing by John Carpenter, they had these really great disgusting things moving around that were living tissue! I kind of want to take that and make some of that mechanical, and blend and blur the lines. So it’s kind of hard to explain, so I’m showing it, and giving my notes, and getting stuff back, and keeping in mind the style that a particular artist has and what their abilities are, and how they could translate what it is that I’m putting on paper. Matt mentioned he’d like me drawing the book, and I’m like “Well, that’s not gonna happen!” But I can do the covers, I can write, and I can do those pages in the back, which I’m having a lot of fun with.

iF: Top Cow is also holding a Talent Hunt, to discover new writers and artists. What led you guys to try that?

MH: I’ve had a million writers come to me and say “How do I break into the comic industry?” Marc and I started talking about this about a year ago. We both had people who gave us a chance. We’ve done art talent hunts. A lot of companies have done art talent hunts. We really had to sit down and do one that included writers, because from a legal standpoint it’s much more difficult. But it’s been spectacularly successful thus far. I’m anticipating we’re going to have about 300 people participate, and I think for two slots, that’s pretty amazing.

iF: What do you think of what you’ve received so far?

MH: Well, I have not read any of these things yet. We’ve gotten about ten. One of the things that I did when I wrote up the rules was I put in pretty clearly, the thing runs from September 1st to December 31st. So you have that entire time period in there to develop your story, and to submit it, and part of the reason is between the Cyber Force launch and all these conventions, I honestly just don’t have time to go through and read all these things right now. So part of my thought is, I’ll just do this the first week in January, I’ll sit down and read all these things, we’ll pick a couple of them, we’ll find a couple of artists, and we’ll do a couple of one-shots or minis or whatever it ends up being. So I’ve encouraged people to take their time.

People always ask me about the writing process, and for me, writing is more about rewriting. I’m a firm believer in writing quickly, writing multiple drafts, and then rewriting those to figure out exactly what it is you’re really trying to do. In some cases with Think Tank, the printed draft is the seventh or eighth draft of the script. So yeah, I encourage people to take their time… a lot of the characters included in this contest are not our well-known characters. We’re doing this as a win-win for us, because we’re getting stories for people that will help flesh out our second-tier characters that we can then do something with in the universe. And it’s also unique in that since we just did this Rebirth, writers have the opportunity to kind of do what they want. They can do kind of what was done in the old universe, they can try something new, they can add their own signature flair to this thing. I don’t know that we necessarily know what we’re looking for. I know more of what we’re not looking for. We’re not looking for super-long stuff, we’re not looking for epic crossovers. I think what we’re looking for are character stories about a single character who gets one of these artifacts, how it affects that character, why that character was chosen or wasn’t supposed to be chosen, how it affects the people around them, do they understand how the artifact works, and ultimately, what is the resolution of them having all this going on with the artifact? I point to Artifacts #19-21 as a better example… I was asked in an interview earlier if Cyber Force was a good thing for people to read for the Talent Hunt, and actually, no, it’s not. Cyber Force is a team book with a bunch of different concepts, and it’s not really artifact-based either. The Talent Hunt is very specific to four or five of the artifact bearers, and if people want to submit, keep it simple, make it a character story, and make it interesting.

iF: One of the books that is part of the Artifacts storyline and part of the Rebirth is The Darkness. I know you guys are very proud of that book; if people are not reading that, what are they missing out on?

MS: We’re really, really proud of that book. Jeremy and David are doing this really twisted, perverse version of Jackie. David has really written a fully-realized Jackie Estacado; all of his actions make sense to the situation that he’s in. All his desires and all the ways that he’s fumbling to get those desires… it kind of reminds me of Breaking Bad. Constantly making the wrong decisions for what he think are the right reasons. I love it. It’s my favorite book right now, and I wait every month to read it.

MH: Here’s the great thing about The Darkness, and Witchblade as well; these books are self-contained, you don’t need to read 50 issues of anything. I think Darkness #101 is a great jumping on point. There’s only one trade [of this new arc] published to date, so you can get up-to-date very quickly. You don’t need to read the first 100 issues if you never have. If you read the first few trades fifteen years ago, and haven’t read it since, I think you’re really missing out, because this is some pretty awesome stuff. And what I’ve told people is Darkness #101 is available online for free on, and it will be available on Comixology for free too. Go download and take a look at the free book, and give it a try.

iF: And as you’ve mentioned Matt, you’ve also got your new series Think Tank. How did you wind up writing this book, and having it published by Top Cow?

MH: I’ve had a number of different ideas over the years, and in most cases I haven’t written most of them. Alibi was mine, Crosshair was Marc’s… we have ideas all the time that we hire other writers to execute, because we just don’t have the time. I think Think Tank was something that was so specific to my knowledge base, and something that I was so interested in, that I couldn’t see another writer writing it. I think Jonathan Hickman has a great science flair, but I don’t think he would even do it in the way that I did it. I’m sure there are people that could, I just had a very specific idea, and I could so see this character in my head. It’s very therapeutic to write Think Tank, actually. I think part of this is, I went through a divorce three years ago, and that’s a very emotionally conflicting time, and I sort of created this character as someone who’s got a lot of conflicted emotions. He wants to do this, but he doesn’t want to do this. You’ve got this guy who’s in an incredible environment, he was recruited at such a young age, and he’s dealing with enormous stakes of life and death. It’s a fun book to write, but it’s also very hard to write for me, with all the research that goes into it. But it’s a labor of love. I’ve been given opportunities to write at other companies, and I’ve turned them down. I’ve been at Top Cow working with Marc for almost 13, 14 years, and I couldn’t imagine publishing anywhere else. Why would I, really? I have the unparalleled opportunity to do what I want, how I want. And you don’t get those opportunities very often.

iF: So let me ask you; were you inspired at all by the movie Real Genius with this series?

MH: Not initially. People have certainly made those comparisons to me, especially when I talk to the film people. They’re like “Oh, it’s Real Genius, but years later.” And I see that now, but for me, this was based on people I know, real people in real situations, and like I said, I’ve loosely based some of the character’s personality on myself. I’ve gone back and watched Real Genius, and Real Genius is a comedy. This is not. And I have a unique perspective; I was a military brat, I was raised on military bases all over the world. I have an engineering and science background. My father was an engineer, my sister was an astrophysicist. I have a very interesting worldview. And I was raised as a staunch Christian, and by age 28 I became an atheist, to the consternation of my parents. So I think that worldview is what I’ve layered on this character. I’m a big fan of what Rahsan is doing, and I think it works really well in black and white. Some people have argued with me about turning it into color, but I actually think it works better in black and white. It’s sort of this hyper-realistic series that looks sort of illusory with the black and white.

iF: You’ve got one of the antagonists of the series, Dr. Sejic. Is he named after Top Cow artist Stjepan Sejic?

MH: Yeah. He’s a Croatian guy, and I wanted a Euro-snob sort of guy, and I asked him in advance if that would be okay, and he did tell me it would be okay.

iF: I assume the similarities stop at the name.

MH: Yeah, no, no, no, Stjepan is a cool dude. I really like Stjepan. He’s one of these guys that’s a wellspring of ideas and crazy zaniness and he’s just so fast. That Cyber Force cover he did in four hours. That wasn’t originally intended to be used as a cover, but I looked at that, and we picked it because it just worked. He’s just incredibly fast and talented, and we’re looking forward to working with him on a lot of other things.

iF: Does the series reflect your view on the government, and the military, and so forth?

MH: I wouldn’t go that far. I’m not that paranoid, and I don’t subscribe to a lot of those paranoid theories, although I’m certainly playing on them. Do I believe there are people in our government trying to figure out ways to kill people faster? Yeah, I know them. I know some of these people. I know absolutely that’s what they do. There are people in the military industrial complex, that’s exclusively what they do. The second arc of Think Tank deals with genetically-targeted weapons. This is stretching a little bit into sci-fi, but I believe it’s possible right now that we could create some sort of a weapon that could target a racial group, based on genetic splicing. You could drop some sort of a smoke bomb that would have a poison that would only affect, let’s say Arabs. It would be an instant end to the “Palestinian problem.” These sort of things exist in our world, and they’re scary shit. And I think that David is a guy who lives for creation, lives for building these things. He’s in an environment where he has the most sophisticated equipment in the world, he gets to hobnob with people of his own kind, and yet he’s starting to realize that what he’s doing is killing people. The one criticism I’ve heard about Think Tank is that I overnarrate the book. And part of that is by design, because the real conflict is David against himself. I mean, yeah, he’s fighting the military, but ultimately it’s a head game that he’s playing in his own head.

iF: Marc, as you read the issues, do you give Matt feedback on them?

MS: In the initial development we talked about the book, and he bounced ideas off of me, but this is Matt’s baby, and I read the stories and I like the stories a lot, and I tell him “Hey, these are cool, keep going in this direction.” We’ll do that for each other, we’ll bounce ideas back and forth, and see how they fly, and I think we respect each other’s opinions, and it’s always good to have that second sight to make sure you’re not running off in a direction that makes sense only to you. But yeah, Matt’s writing this book, this is his vision, this is his baby, and like he said, there’s a lot of Matt in this character, so I don’t even want to go in there!

iF: Matt, you mentioned that some people said there’s too much narration, but I love it, because it gives me a denser read. I grew up in the old school, Marc, when you and Chris were doing X-Men, and those were dense reads.

MS: You should have seen the scripts!

MH: Particularly now that the cost of these things is more than it’s ever been… and I gotta tell you, I like reading our books on Comixology, but as a creator, I hope that the printed books never actually go away. Because there’s nothing better than making a book that you feel very proud of and then getting the printed copy. If we only had the digital versions of these, I think I’d be very sad.

MS: And I agree. We keep telling this to people; we’re going to support print as long as there’s paper. For us, seeing a PDF of Cyber Force is a completely different experience than holding the book in your hand. It almost reads like a different story to me. But then again, I’m old school. I’m hoping that there’s always going to be a place for the hard copy.


Email Matt Adler with questions or comments.


  1. Finally some Topcow love!!! Great interview.

  2. Love the artwork here and the last comment on digital is spot on.

    Also – the only thing I remember about the original is that it was late late late

  3. Groovy interview, great stuff going on over there.

  4. Can’t see this series surviving any longer than the Grifter series. Cyberforce couldn’t survive during the 90’s when comic sales were at an all time high. Does DC really expect it to survive now with readership as low as it is?

    • Ahm, well this isn’t DC, it’s Image comics. And this comic is being sold on it’s on merits, and with the first five issues being free a lot of people will be giving it a chance. I’d say it’s a very cool comic, and has a good shot at lasting a long time.

  5. Great preview art, interview and nice to see Top Cow getting some love, I think Cyberforce will succeed alongside titles like BOOM’s Extermination and Higher Earth,new reader base wise plus fans of the original.