By Matt Hawkins & Stjepan Sejic
It feels like it’s been too long since we got a new issue of Aphrodite IX, but the day is finally here! This rebooted title has been astonishing and brilliant since issue #1. The latest installment starts the next phase in Aphrodite’s saga as she has now been exiled from Gen.
Beginning in the Desolate Zone, the protagonist sets off with her drake, not knowing what she will do next. We still see some events involving the Gen and the drones doing their own thing, but this aspect of the story has become less clear regarding how it will continue to fit into the main plot. The bulk of the book was devoted to the real goods as Aphrodite discovers an important ally who should be able to shed some light on her past. This interesting new development also introduced an unexpected turn in the story, as there are apparently more than the initial two subspecies of trans-human that survived the extinction-level event in the past. This was really exciting to discover and should lead into some great new territory. Matt Hawkins’ writing is always incredibly intelligent; the highly introspective nature of Aphrodite’s ongoing dilemma makes for some very thought-provoking moments and really adds a lot of substance to an already deep story.
The artwork, as noted in Hawkins’ column at the end of the book, has changed quite dramatically. Stjepan Sejic’s work in the first five issues was nothing short of revolutionary. Each panel featured a jaw-dropping realistic image with the most beautiful colors in any comic book. While the visuals in issue #6 were clearly quite good, the abrupt shift in tone changed the overall feel of the book slightly. The current style is much more cartoon-like regarding character renditions, although the attention to detail and facial expression is still present. However, the main gripe with Aphrodite IX #6 was the visual inconsistency. While much of the issue looked really great, there were also a number of panels with odd looking inks that didn’t feel like they had been finished properly. Similarly, there were moments where the colors seemed “blocky” and not quite complete. Luckily, this minor annoyance was far from overshadowing the otherwise fantastic work accompanying this latest installment. In particular, the title character looks phenomenal during her fight scene, as does the cyborg-engineering page. Furthermore, the layouts and paneling are brilliant and help add another layer to the story-telling vehicle. It’s also great to see so many little details bordering the images, such as the night sky transitioning into many gears on one page.
After such a long break, Aphrodite IX #6 felt slightly underwhelming. The story was further developed into some interesting areas, but there were moments of the book that didn’t feel entirely relevant. While the artwork was definitely well done overall, it’s difficult not to make comparisons within the series; the first few issues were astonishingly breathtaking in their realism and beauty. Overall, though, this latest installment was an enjoyable read with some great visuals. It’s exciting to have a radical shift in the apparent plot direction and the next issue is something to look forward to.