Aphrodite IX #11 (of 11) Review

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The solicit for this issue promises that “One of the two established City States, Speros or Genesis, is completely annihilated. Death, death and more death!”  Can even our hero survive such chaos?  Your Major Spoilers review of Aphrodite IX #11 awaits!

AphroditeIX11CoverAPHRODITE IX #11
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Colorist: Stjepan Sejic
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Betsy Gonia
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Aphodite IX:  From The Wikipedia: “Aphrodite IX is a female android who suffers from amnesia shortly after being sent on undercover missions. This leads to ongoing confusion about what she does and for whom. Although she becomes aware that she is intended as an assassin, she finds the idea increasingly distasteful and experiences dreams and desires like a human. This begins to undermine her morale but not her efficiency, for her conditioning takes over as her masters or survival circumstances require. When she seeks out clues to her past and true identity, she stumbles onto a conspiracy involving a secret society of cyborgs attempting to undermine the legitimate government.”  Her latest series has her awakened in a strange future world, her memory gone, but the familiar story of people trying to manipulate her for their own ends still very much being told.  Now, she’s come “home”, but things may not be back to normal just yet…

THE SECRET ORIGIN OF APHRODITE IX

There’s an old tendency in the comic book industry to go out with a bang.  Teams break-up, members die, headquarters are destroyed and things blow up (or, as was the case with the finale of Volume 1 Defenders, all of the above) and the final issue often ends with the story equivalent of salted Earth.  When I picked up this issue, I expected nothing less, especially given the apocalyptic pronouncements of the solicitation, but what I actually found was a weirdly hopeful, vaguely-cyberpunky wrap-up.  Aphrodite has finally been brought back to the satellite where her fellow androids live, far above the world, and finds that her worries about being a broken AI are groundless.  In truth, she is implanted with the emotions and mental framework of her creator, Francesca Taylor, a futurist who predicted a world-shattering event, and took steps for herself and humanity to survive it.  Aphrodite gets a new look (with a cheeky nod to her old “slutty cheerleader” costume) and sets off to Earth in what she is surprised to find it her own ship, to seek out the man that she now realizes she legitimately loves.  Things are chaotic, as the two city/states, Speros and Genesis, are locked in warfare, with her beloved at the front of the Genesian armies.  Aphrodite’s arrival sets off a chain-reaction that, as promised, leads to the destruction of an entire culture (thanks to her fellow cyborgs in their metaphorical ivory tower.)

IT’S PRONOUNCED “ICKS”

The art is this issue is top-notch stuff, with a very soft, almost pencilled outline, but still great detail in facial expressions, technology and dragon anatomy.  (Long story on that one.)  The complexity of the story is welcome, given my clearly out of date expectations of Aphrodite IX as a cheesecake story without real stakes, and the central core of the story is actually really gripping stuff.  Aphrodite is forced to make some hard decisions that affect the entirety of her world, which is pretty impressive.  The downside of all of that comes at the end of the issue, as the season finale transitions into an upcoming Cyberforce/Aphrodite one-shot, which will lead to a new ongoing series set in this continuity.  On the one hand, I’m happy to see that all this world-building isn’t going to be utterly forgotten and destroyed, but on the other, it always irks me when a series promises a big bang-up ending that really isn’t an ending at all.  Still, it’s a minor piece of a pretty strong issue, and the main character comes across as strong, smart, and finally gives up her pleated skirt for a kickass superhero uniform.

THE BOTTOM LINE: PRETTY COOL STUFF

I’ve been shocked at how good this series is before, mostly because of my grave dislike of the original material (which I didn’t read until a year or so ago for the Major Spoilers Podcast trade paperback discussion), but I’m really impressed with the work here.  The creators have put together a believable future world, with realistic consequences and a decent set of antagonists, while making our cyborg protagonist relatable and interesting for perhaps the first time (for me, anyway.)  In short, Aphrodite IX #11 is a good’n, putting a new spin on the old concepts, with attractive art and some major steps forward for Aphrodite herself, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.