Or – “Let’s See How I Like It This Time…”
It certainly doesn’t SEEM like two years since I last picked up an issue of Aphrodite IX (pronounced, at least in my head, “Aff-Roe-Dight-Icks”), the girl with the shortest skirt in comics history. Although I wasn’t entirely certain of the original material, the alternate covers for this issue were attractive enough that I decided to give our Miss Icks another whirl and see what her new series has going for it. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Some interesting conceits.
Extensive design work is evident in the finished product.
Long-winded and pompous.
The character’s juvenile robot-cheerleader design undermines the drama of her situation.
Previously in Aphrodite IX: “The Aphrodite protocol was initiated in an attempt to save humanity from a predicted extinction-level event. Its mission was to engineer humans that could survive via technological singularity and genetic enhancement to repopulate the Earth.” This probably explains why she dresses like a cheerleader from ‘Tron’, but with two splinters of the lost human population ready to go to war, will Aphrodite IX end up saving the world or dooming it?
THE FULLY-PAINTED WORLD THAT’S COMING.
I know that Jack Kirby didn’t invent the concept of post-apocalyptic fantasy, but when I read a book that’s set the metaphorical twenty-minutes-into-the-future with a ruined Earth, I can’t help but compare it to Kamandi. (It’s the old-school comic nerd in me.) This issue kicks off with our hero taking a shower while her internal monologue fights with itself. There is a nice visual effect that details her conflict, with the red-on-black text boxes representing the programmed murder-brain and her conscious though processes represented by white-on-green lettering. As nice as the contrast is, both end up being hard to read, a problem exacerbated by small lettering and endless walls of angsty text. Aphrodite and her “seduction target” end up setting off together, riding on the backs of dragons (or dragon-adjacent creatures, at the very least) into the ruined wasteland of Earth. The color and texture of the quasi-dragons’ scales is lovely, possibly the best overall work of the issue.
PRETTY PICTURES, CONFUSING LAYOUT.
Sadly, though Sejic has a flair for texture and facial expression, his layout is still somewhat clumsy throughout the issue, which is kind of a shame. The villains of the piece are a group of cyborgs (and their designs achieve that rarest of states in comics, in not looking like any of the hundreds of cyborgs that have come before) and one of their number, the not-particularly-menacingly-named Helen, engages Aphrodite and Marcus in combat. The layout problems are particularly notable during this sequence, as our hero, Miss Icks, quickly dispatches Helen in a battle that seems choppy and static, with the actual killshot both anti-climactic and inexplicable. There’s a clear attempt to mimic cinematic storytelling (especially since, in order to read the small, strangely colored text, I used the dynamic “guided view”) which is unsuccessful more often than not. Still, it’s a pretty issue on a panel-by-panel basis, and the final moments, wherein Aphrodite’s killer-robot side comes out is appropriately creepy, given her demeanor in the first half of the book. The final page, showing her with her eyes glowing red, walking away from the body of one of her friends works very well in conveying horror and discomfort.
THE BOTTOM LINE: HYPER-VIOLENT, QUASI-RELIGIOUS, BUT INTERESTING…
There’s a LOT of discussion about God in this book, with a cyborg taunting Marcus about his devout nature, and Aphrodite murdering a woman in cold blood as she is praying, all of which left me cold. The visuals never quite marry with the dialogue (of which there is a LOT), and they never quite get the fluidity that could make this story breath-taking, but I have to admit it’s a good-looking issue. Successfully navigating the difficulties of its main character, Aphrodite IX #3 gets a lot of things right, and is visually impressive, and even though it doesn’t quite stick the landing, it ends up being a better-than-average reading experience, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. I have to admit, I liked it a lot better than the original collection, too…