This week, Top Cow continues its Pilot Season initiative with "Pilot Season: Cyblade" #1, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and penciled by Rick Mays. For the uninitiated, Pilot Season consists of six one-shots pairing top industry creators with under-utilized Top Cow characters. When all is said and done, fans will have the opportunity to vote on which character(s) they'd like to see get their own ongoing series. For the third part of our Pilot Season coverage, CBR News caught up with Josh Fialkov to get the skinny on "Pilot Season: Cyblade" #1.
Fialkov's installment of Pilot Season differs from those of his fellow creators in several respects. For one, his Cyblade story is a prequel to the Marc Silverstri "Cyberforce" comics in which the character first appeared. As a young girl, the French born Dominique Thiebault first manifested her ability to generate electromagnetic blades during an armed attack on her school. Years later, Dominique became a SHOC trooper for the evil corporation known as Cyberdata, who provided her with the cybernetic upgrades that turned her into Cyblade. It wasn't until she left Cyberdata to join Cyberforce that she realized the extent of the atrocities she'd committed in Cyberdata's name. Fialkov's story is set in the early days of Dominique's career as a SHOC, as the hero gradually becomes aware of her employer's discretions.
Many of Fialkov's Pilot Season contemporaries have erred on the side of making their installments done-in-one, standalone stories, in the event that their series is not one of books that get picked up as an ongoing. But Fialkov went with a different approach. "It is very much a traditional TV pilot, complete with a balls-to-the-wall cliffhanger that slaps you in the face while punching you in the balls (and possibly stealing your wallet)," the writer said. "I figured if I was going to win this thing, I'd have to go in strong and give people a reason to vote for the book. Plus, it's more or less a spy book, and what good spy story doesn't end on an 'Oh, fuck, the world's going to explode if I don't stop it' style cliffhanger?"
Fialkov told CBR News he has several years worth of pre-"Cyberforce" era Cyblade stories mapped out in his head. "I think one of the joys of Top Cow is that the continuity is there if you need it, but, you're not a slave to it," Fialkov said. "So if I want to take what was a few months of Cyblade's life and turn it into a good long run of the book, I don't reckon it screws anything up too badly." Fialkov said that none of Cyblade's Cyberforce teammates would appear in the pilot issue, but that he expects them all to show up at one time or another if the series gets picked up as an ongoing. "Why should Jason Aaron get to have all the Ripclaw fun, right?" Fialkov joked. Aaron penned the first installment of Pilot Season, "Ripclaw: Pilot Season" #1.
To ensure that "Cyblade" gets picked up as an ongoing, Fialkov is willing to fist fight any of the other writers. "Except for Joe Casey, as he looks like he could do some damage," Fialkov said. "So, essentially, any other writer who's smaller than me, or, who has never met me and knows I'm just a big pussy. Also, via MySpace."
Fialkov met Top Cow VP of Editorial Rob Levin at Comic-Con International in San Diego two years ago, which was when the writer first got wind of the Pilot Season initiative. "I think the core idea was to really show that Top Cow has some great characters that are really open to both reinterpretation and very much able to compete with the modern market," Fialkov said. "Having come through the meat grinder on a lot of indie books now, the idea of a company with some heft trying to actually do something different was really interesting to me. And I think the idea of a series of pilots is actually a stroke of brilliance. One of the things in mainstream comics that drives me crazy is the idea that the first arc can be the hook, rather than the very first issue of a series. With this, our issue is all you get, unless you vote for more, so it really does have to be filled with hooks, twists, and, at the same time, be the perfect example of what an average issue of the series would be like."
When Fialkov came on board, Levin provided the writer with a list of available characters, and he chose Cyblade. "It's one of those things where, for me, her origin is actually radically different from anything else in comics, but, I think in most of her appearances thus far, you don't really get much sense of where she came from," Fialkov said. "Powers aside, the origin of the character really is something unique, and a tribute to some of the inventive work Marc and the gang were doing back in the day."
Fialkov did his homework on the character, but insists that readers need not be well versed in "Cyberforce" continuity to follow "Pilot Season: Cyblade" #1. "There was an earlier attempt to do an origin issue for her which I read, but, essentially, this is a clean start," Fialkov said. "You can come on board with page one, and whether you've read every issue of 'Cyberforce' or never heard of it, the book is just as accessible. I'm really proud of that."
While discussing the project with Rob Levin, Fialkov realized the dense storytelling he planned for the issue required an artist whose crystal clear storytelling could handle pages with as many as thirteen panels. The artist they arrived at was Rick Mays. "Rick was just the perfect guy for the story," Fialkov said. "Plus, he's so damn charming. I hope, if the book gets to continue, Rick will get to be involved."
"Pilot Season: Cyblade" #1 hits stands today, September 12.