By Matt Hawkins & Stjepan Sejic
The revamped Aphrodite IX title is one of those golden books that blows you away with every issue, yet somehow manages to just keep getting better. This series has been incredible straight away from the first installment, but issue #5 introduces some relatively drastic story developments which really open things up for future arcs.
Always very intelligently scripted, the latest installment was presented with the depth and philosophical bent that has become typical for this series, while overlaying the brilliant internal monologue of the protagonist over plenty of action. The pace of this first arc has maintained a fantastic consistency, which made it even more pleasantly surprising to see this kicked up a notch yet again so early into the run. There is no sign of this book slowing down with Matt Hawkins at the helm. The major battle between the Gen and the drones has been built up to since issue #1, and Aphrodite IX #5 sees this confrontation fully realized with some surprising results. However, one of the strongest points of the series is its introspective and existential nature concerning the title character. This aspect is brought to new heights in the latest issue, as Aphrodite has finally broken her handler’s control over her, and memories of her previous life have come flooding back in an unorganized cacophony of sensory noise. Eventually having to leave Genesis really opens the story up to some interesting potential new directions in future arcs. There are some other exciting hints at future plot developments, but you can read the issue yourself to check those out!
One of the more remote aspects that have been integrated into the plot with Aphrodite IX #5 is that of belief. Although one of the central story elements in this series concerns transhumanism brought to its logical extent, with a large ideological rift between two opposing major factions of these new transhuman species, this has tended to focus on the physical differences inherent to these groups. However, this latest installment has introduced the difference of belief systems between the separate factions in a much more prominent way. The cold, cybernetically-enhanced drones have constructed an authoritarian system which focuses on a detachment from the non-physical realm, while the genetically-enhanced Gen reside within a tribal society focused on spirituality. These opposing belief systems have quite contrasting results for each side in the battle that follows, and it adds yet another layer of depth to an already terrific story.
It has been said before, but should never be neglected: the artwork of Stjepan Sejic is revolutionary. His work in Aphrodite IX is absolutely astonishing, with every panel possessing fully-realized attention to detail, depth of creativity, and pure realism. The characters look like photos of real people that have been painted over with brilliant colors and even the fantastic creatures and technologies found throughout the series somehow look like the real thing. It isn’t just the phenomenal realism employed by Sejic that makes his art so special; he’s also profoundly capable of conveying emotion through accurate facial expression, and equally talented at illustrating dynamic action sequences that make the reader feel like they are being pulled into this wild ride.
Aphrodite IX #5 won’t change the landscape of the medium, but that is a lofty bill to complete. However, it is the product of two individuals who are clearly very passionate about the story they are telling and the work that they do. This translates to the page, as this latest installment of an already incredibly interesting series takes readers into some exciting new territory, while providing a whole lot of action and intelligent, thought-provoking material.