Comic book publisher Archaia had numerous announcements coming out of San Diego Comic-Con. The one that caught my eye was their bringing Cyborg 009 to western audiences in a new series guided and written by F.J. DeSanto, co-written by Bradley Cramp, and illustrated by artist Marcus To. Trevor Hairsine was originally attached to the series but had to bow out at which point Marcus came on board.
I got a chance to talk to DeSanto on the floor of the convention. Not much knowing much about the series I got some inside scoops on what to expect in the series as well as a preview you won’t find anywhere else. But first, some background.
Cyborg 009 follows nine normal humans kidnapped from around the world to become unwilling test subjects by The Black Ghost Organization, a secret society that provides weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder. The nine victims are put through a series of extreme experiments that transform each one into a unique super-powered weapon. With the help of a compassionate project scientist, these living weapons rebel from their captors and set off on a mission to stop Black Ghost from plunging the world into a perpetual state of war.
Created in 1964, Cyborg 009 was Japan’s first and most popular super-team, quickly becoming one of the most influential manga series of all time. The original manga has been published in over 250,000,000 copies of weekly comics and comic books worldwide. Being around since 1964 puts the series as a contemporary of other popular comics like Spider-Man, the Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men, but unlike those books, the series remains relatively unknown to western readers.
But Desanto wants to change that by introducing the series and characters to those outside of Japan. A long time fan of the series, he decided to reach out to the rights holders, Ishimori Productions and work with them to bring the series he loved as a good to a new audience. Archaia was part of the reason we’re seeing this actually happen. Desanto explained the quality of product they produce is partially what sold Ishimori Productions and helped lead to the deal and in their eyes, it matched the quality of the original product.
With co-writer Bradley Cramp, Desanto is on a mission to figure out how to introduce the heroes to a modern audience. Desanto explained that growing up he was a fan of manga and anime and living in New York City he was able to get copies of the comics. The “positivity” and “stressing of teamwork” is what stood out to the writer. Something he plans to keep and emphasize in the comic. Though they may be weapons of war, they’re working to do good, a theme and plot he feels resonates in today’s world, just as it did then.
With a launch in the 1960′s the series was published during the height of the Cold War, the world feared destruction at the tip of nuclear annihilation. Much like then, today we’re also presented with a sense of unease from unknown terrorists threats to the dread of an economic meltdown. Situations are similar, allowing for an easy modernization of the series and a “good franchise for today’s audience.” Much like Marvel did with their relaunch of Iron Man, DeSanto plans to keep the feel of the original, but update the surroundings of the series without losing it’s core spirit.
The plan is to have the new series ready to launch for San Diego Comic-Con 2013 as well as bring the original work to the digital realm on comiXology.
DeSanto hopes today’s modern audience will dig the series and is making sure that fans of the original will enjoy the winks, nods and Easter eggs he’s included throughout it.
A new 3D CGI animated theatrical feature film, 009 RE:CYBORG, produced by Production I.G, will be released in Japan this October. DeSanto is currently attached to produce a live-action feature film version of the property.
Hairsine original sketches:
Marcus To Design:
Old Team Vs. New Team: