Seventeen years ago, Top Cow launched its first title, Marc Silvestri's "Cyberforce." Over the years, Silverstri's team of cybernetically enhanced mutants have starred in number of ongoing series, most recently the 2006 Ron Marz penned "Cyberforce" Volume Two. A year before that, Mark Waid teamed with Silvestri to create "Hunter-Killer," a series about a team of genetically-engineered "Ultrasapiens" who hunt down their rogue brethren for the same government that created them all.
Top Cow's 2009 summer event, "Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer," features the long-awaited return of both teams, brought to you by the creative team that rounded out "Hunter-Killer" Season One, writer Mark Waid and artist Kenneth Rocafort. The book will be preceded by a Free Comic Book Day preview in May, and CBR News caught up with Waid to get all the details.
At the end of "Hunter-Killer" Season One, the team's newest recruit, Ellis, went AWOL to track down the person or persons who had been nefariously manipulating his team. Ellis' ability to sense and track other Ultrasapiens proved indispensable to the Hunter-Killers, and in the three years since Ellis' departure, the team has been lost without him.
"There's been a general sort of decay that has happened to the operation because they really needed Ellis," Waid told CBR. "So now they're sort of working on a shoe-string budget, and they're out there hunting other Ultrasapiens without the benefit of his ability."
The upcoming crossover with Cyberforce is the first time Hunter-Killer has interacted with any characters from the Top Cow Universe proper, which begs the question, did the two series always exist in the same universe? "When we created 'Hunter-Killer,' in my own mind, they were very much in their own universe, only because I really wanted to spend the first batch of stories setting them up as characters without having to worry about having to integrate them in," Waid explained. "In retrospect, there's no reason that they aren't in the rest of the 'Top Cow Universe,' and in fact that's what we're going to reveal, is that they always have been."
Unfortunately for Cyberforce, without Ellis around to identify the subtle distinction between mutants and Ultrasapiens, the Hunter-Killers mistake Cyberforce for the latter, and chaos ensues.
Ever since "Hunter-Killer" Season One wrapped, fans have been clamoring for the team's return. "Every time I go to a convention, every time I sign books, every time I go somewhere, somebody somewhere is asking about 'Hunter-Killer' Season Two," Waid said. "Which is really nice and really flattering, but it's always been hard to coordinate my schedule around Marc Silverstri's and Top Cow's in general, so it's kind of laid dormant for a couple years."
Mark Waid always hoped he'd have a chance to revisit the "Hunter-Killer," and believes the book is as relevant now as it ever was. "One of the hooks of 'Hunter-Killer' was always the notion that what we read in the newspapers and what we see reported to us is always just the tip of the iceberg, there's always machinations on a global scale behind it that we don't know," the writer explained. "And if you're not convinced there's global machinations going on right now, with the economic crisis that's happening, then you've got your head in the sand. I don't mean to sound like I should be wearing a tin foil hat, I just mean it's easy to be paranoid in this day and age given how out of control we seem to be of our own destiny."
When Filip Sablik became Publisher of Top Cow, one of the first things he did was meet with Waid and editor Rob Levin to discuss the possibility of re-launching "Hunter-Killer." "We talked in general terms, and then at the Baltimore Con last year, I sat down with the two of them, and we talked more specifically for the first time about how we could piggyback that onto a Cyberforce project as well, and basically re-launch two franchises with one miniseries," Waid said. "I thought that was a really good idea, and when they told me that Kenneth Rocafort was lined up to draw it, then I was in at that point, because I love Kenneth's work."
Rocafort penciled the final four issues of "Hunter-Killer" Season One, and as good as he was then, the artist has only gotten better with age. "The trick with Kenneth is to make a point without jeopardizing the story, catering to the stuff Kenneth does really well," Waid explained. "Kenneth does action shots really well, Kenneth does character acting really well, so the challenge with something like this is to tell a story with a dozen characters in it, and yet not cram them all into every panel, giving Kenneth a chance to do what he does well."
Mark Waid takes pains to make every comic he writes new-reader-friendly, and "Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer" will be no exception. "I'll be perfectly blunt with you, I didn't know much about Cyberforce before I started writing this thing," Waid admitted. "So that works to the reader's advantage because if I catch up, they catch up."
If the fans demand it, there's a good chance that both Cyberforce and the Hunter-Killers will find themselves with new ongoing series in the not too distant future. "I can't speak to whatever Top Cow's plans may be for Cyberforce, but if this is well-received, I wouldn't be averse to playing around in the Hunter-Killer universe again," Waid said.
"Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer" #1 hits stands in July, but fans will get a sneak peak this May in Top Cow's "Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer" Free Comic Book Day preview on May 2.