The first two issues of Matt Hawkins’s IXth Generation established the basic premise. Hundreds of years after an extinction level event, 9 cyborgs designed by the Aphrodite protocol each rule one of the surviving cities. These Cyborg siblings, each named after a Greek deity, are in a state of conflict over ruling styles and overall goals. Aphrodite IX generally tries to stay neutral, but with Hades IX actively scheming behind everyone’s back, she can’t any longer.
More so than the last two, this issue is political. It touches on Aphrodite’s freedom-based leadership, but mostly focuses on how most of the others use their power to enslave their cyborg subjects. The bickering in the meeting is intense, highlighting the growing distaste Aphrodite has toward most of the others.
Beyond the central conflicts, this issue explores the theme of science vs. magic with a famous Arthur C. Clark quote “Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet.” Top Cow’s artifacts of power are portrayed in ways we haven’t seen before. Everything here is fascinating, and Hawkins uses flashbacks to before the extinction event to great use, but not as much happens in this issue than the last two. By no means does that make this a bad comic, but it’s not as great as the last two. The intense cliffhanger helps make up for that though.
Stjepan Sejic’s art is fantastic. The opening scenes where the leader behind the Aphrodite protocol in 2102 is full of lighting effects, big environments and fancy looking machinery. The detail continues in the “present day” setting of 2827 with the well-detailed wastelands and Aphrodite’s ship full of holograms. Sejic makes great use of character expressions, whether it’s the smug look on Artemis’s face, the proud grin on Hades’s clone before she makes her move or the suspicious looks Aphrodite gives the other leaders. But perhaps the best looking page is the final one, where a mysterious force is approaching Earth fast.
This comic’s only problem is that it’s really not new reader friendly. Even with recap page and the exposition within, you’ll be lost if you didn’t read Hawkins’s Aphrodite IX run or you don’t have at least some familiarity with Top Cow’s artifacts. That said, it’s well worth it. Not only is Top Cow’s Artifact mythology fascinating, but Hawkins has created a fantastic world that meshes them with science fiction in brilliant ways. This and Aphrodite IX is an easy recommendation for science fiction fans.