Top Cow comics can be an acquired taste. I had mostly written them off as quasi grimdark stories with a side of good girl art fanservice, until Top Cow started doing their Talent Hunt competition a few years ago. Eager to follow in the footsteps of my revisionist heroes like Grant Morrison and Alan Moore, who started their careers putting their own post modern spin on seemingly outdated characters, I read huge swathes of back issues dedicated to Top Cow’s winding continuity. Some did turn out to be ham fisted pandering to the trends of the 90’s, but others, especially those that developed it’s mythos under the guidance of Ron Marz, turned out to be really interesting, establishing it’s backstory around 13 fabled artifacts. Not being half the writer that those mentioned are though, I ultimately wasn’t able to turn in anything I felt would be worth someone else’s time to read.
Previous Talent Hunt winner Tini Howard is a perfectly competent writer however, having had her winning story published last year. Here she brings us a new story that spins off from Top Cow’s more recently established Aphrodite IX series. Set in a far flung future where a race of androids modeled after the Greek pantheon (because of course all utopian super scientists bow a knee to neo classical mythology) have survived the decimation of the human race. As befitting the Greek gods, they quarrel amongst themselves, some forming alliances with others, only to undercut the rest. Howard’s installment focuses on the android Poseidon, ruling over his appropriately aquatic kingdom.
Rather than focusing on the conflict between godbots as the main Aphrodite IX book does, a cthuloidesque remnant of the former world rises to threaten Poseidon’s palatial fortress. It’s a fairly straight forward adventure yarn from there with a twinge of pulp horror that puts a spin on the traditional conflict narratives of man vs machine or man vs nature as machine man vs nature. There’s even a hint of a bent of towards the female gaze in a few scenes that makes for a fun balance to a publisher than has so often catered to the male gaze.
The art, provided by Phillip Sevy, while not overtly bad, is still only OK. It does a fine job of depicting the story without being sloppy, and does feel like it’s displaying the same world established by Stjepan Sejic in Aphrodite IX, but I can’t help but feel that a more experienced artist could really take Tini’s storytelling to the next level. Comics is a visual medium more than anything, after all.
Still yet, if you like Aphrodite IX, are interested in the books that some have said will be essential to the Talent Hunt this year, or are just looking for a fast paced sci fi one shot, it’s well worth the price of admission to see 2 up and coming talents in the comics world cutting their teeth.