Writer Matt Hawkins, artist Stjepan Sejic and letterer Troy Peteri introduce readers to a post-apocalyptic, cybernetic dystopia in the pages of “IXth Generation” #1. A concise text page facing a nine-panel grid showcasing the dramatis personae gives readers absolutely everything they need to know to immerse themselves in the weird worlds shown in this comic book. As indicated by the image on the cover of Aphrodite IX bearing the Witchblade, “IXth Generation” #1 is an amalgamation of the Top Cow stable.
Widescreen panels and infodump text boxes override any true storytelling in the first page, but from there, the action follows Aphrodite IX as she interacts with her eight “siblings,” the other members of the IXth Generation. Front-loaded with exposition, the story really gets rolling past the staples at the comic’s center as Aphrodite IX and Hephaestus IX journey to the moon to look for answers. The IXs, cybernetic beings that leap from one body to the next as circumstances demand, afford Hawkins the opportunity to investigate the relevance of life and the reality of consciousness. “IXth Generation” #1 doesn’t lose itself to navel gazing, but it encourages readers to ponder existence in much the same, safely-distanced manner as “Blade Runner.”
Stjepan Sejic’s art is ethereal and sketchy yet completely formed and brilliantly colored. He exhibits a strong sense of depth and distance in his coloring and effects, and provides readers with slick visuals throughout. After the expository imagery on the first story page, the storytelling hits an effective clip and Sejic opens up the panel and page design, giving readers a wonderfully playful range of character sizes, poses, expressions and actions. The confrontation between Hades IX and Aphrodite IX is magnificently choreographed, dynamically shifting distance and perspective throughout, giving readers a true sense of extreme motion. The IXs are, for the most part, human in appearance, and idealized at that, designs Sejic uses to his advantage throughout this adventure. Peteri provides a nice range of lettering, from the cool, corrupted mechanical captions for “Mother” to the slick, hand-written word balloons of the IXs to the well-placed sound effects. Hawkins’ tale comes through those balloons and captions as effectively as it does the drawings from Sejic.
“IXth Generation” #1 is a fun read that had more packed into it than I initially expected. It’s nice to see the Top Cow universe expanding its own legacy into the future, and this story feels packed with potential for exciting reads beyond this first issue.