Jab’s Image Deep Dive: CyberForce continued!

Of all of Cyberforce, Heatwave was easily the most generic and plain. Hell, he’s virtually indistinguishable from Spartan over on WildC.A.T.s – he’s a Stoic Leader Guy made of technology with a Hair-Showing Mask and Blasts! With a jacket over metal, that damn mask, and his blasty ways, he was as “Captain ’90s” as possible, if not for the fact that three or four members of his team were more ’90s than he was. He has a pretty tragic backstory- a Navy SEAL, he accidentally killed his own brother when his powers first manifested, and his young daughter was killed in a terrorist attack- his marriage then fell apart and his failure on a mission got him and many under his command injured (or killed). Cyberdata rebuilt parts of his body in exchange for him doing missions for them, but Dr. Corben removed his “Brain Box” and taught him the error of his ways. He recanted his killer lifestyle and joined Cyberforce.

In all of the Cyberforce comics I own, it’s clear that Heatwave had the least to do- Ballistic was a bad guy at first, Stryker led the team and did “Hardboiled Detective Narration”, Ripclaw slashed guys up, Cyblade was a sexpot, and Velocity was our “Fan’s POV” character having things explained to them. Between him and Impact, they just seemed to be there because Silvestri needed “A Blaster” and “A Strong Guy” because you couldn’t have an X-Team without either one of those things. I barely even see that he was the leader! He only says the occasional thing. And in at least one fight, he’s taken out immediately and never does anything. He only gets one real “feat”- he overwhelms the villain Psychotron. He apparently sacrificed his life for his team at some point.

Ripclaw was the first and most obvious sign that Cyberforce was just going to be ripping off the X-Men- while “Claw Guy” became extraordinarily common once Wolverine became the most popular character in the industry, this was INCREDIBLY bald-faced, as Ripclaw also sported giant, metallic claws. These were also ludicrous in that they projected in jagged form right from his finger-tips. But the copycatting didn’t end there- Ripclaw also had Animal Senses, as well as a link to Native American stuff. While this doesn’t seem tied in these days, at that time, Wolverine was undergoing a big story with his “lost love” Silver Fox, a Native Canadian woman who was thought dead at Sabretooth’s hands, but later turned up alive. This linked Logan to a lot of that kind of mysticism and “noble savage” stuff (separating him from the Japanese stuff with Mariko and others)- I strongly believe that Silvestri (who was working on Wolverine until he quit Marvel) was deliberately aping that to copy the same “vibe” that Wolverine had.

Ripclaw went from tribe to tribe in his youth, developing very pale skin and the ability to grow claws, marking him as a mutant. Through the mentoring of a shaman and all sorts of mysticism, he learned that he was supposed to “lead the Indian people” back to their true spirit and glory. However, when he attacked a man for raping a Native girl, he was grabbed by Cyberdata, who removed his hands and replaced them with bionic ones- these were also able to gain “bear claws”, because reasons. He had backstory with various Image characters, including Warblade (who had killed Ripclaw’s old love Misery) and The Darkness (he was set to marry Jackie’s old girlfriend). Later issues would have him start a relationship with Velocity, whom he’d debuted saving from Cyberdata.

As a kid, I was totally infatuated with how bad-ass and strong Impact was- as I’ve noted, as a skinny kid, I often loved the biggest, strongest guy on each super-team, and as this was the ’90s, each team seemed to have one. Impact was more or less a total Colossus knock-off, having the same “corded metal” limbs, but he had a TON of extraneous details, like Omega-symbols on his shoulders, Infinity Gauntlets on his hands, and more. I’ll give Silvestri this- he didn’t skimp on details. But seriously, THAT NAME- “Impact” is just bad-ass as hell, ’90s as it is.

Impact, along with Heatwave, doesn’t have anything to do in the opening miniseries of Cyberforce . The Silvestri brothers spend too much time on their “Mother May I”/Cyberdata subplot with multiple teams fighting, and so all Impact’s able to do is smash up the getaway vehicle of the terrorists out to kill the mutant mayoral candidate, then later mistakes Pitt for being the guy who set off an explosion, getting into a fight with him. He gets a few shots, but is handily knocked away before a simple explanation from Ripclaw ends things. That’s like… his entire contribution to three of the four issues I have. He’s probably the most “normal guy” on the team, using modern slang and reacting to things.

His origin story is a little weird, and likely added much later- Boomer O’Shea (… seriously?) was the son of a respected scientist who was contacted by the dismbodied spirit of a huge alien warlord, who was all “BUILD ME A BODY TO INHABIT”, and the desperate man injected Boomer with a growth serum and let this “Korvus” guy seize control of his body. The scientist immediately regreted his actions, and set off an explosion that chased Korvus away, but also left the man dead. Boomer’s own body was horribly burned and disfigured, and rebuilt by Cyberdata with bionics. This seems… very complicated for someone who is part of a MUTANT SUPERHERO TEAM (who have built-in easy origins literally as a defining part of the concept), but whatever: Alien Possession! Dead Father! Growth Serum! Cybernetics!

Impact stays with the team for a while, but seems to enjoy a more peaceful life, and reluctantly goes with the rest of the team when aliens invade Earth- he bravely sacrifices his life to hold off the bad guys and let everyone else escape as the mothership crashes, saving “millions of people”.

HAHAHAHAAHAHAHA OH COME THE FUCK ON! I mean, this is a whole team of rip-offs, but just… jesus. Cyblade at first appeared to kinda just be Psylocke-Adjacent- as the ranking babe in comics in the early 1990s, Psylocke’s looks were copied a lot- many women with long, dark hair, spines with 10,000 vertebrae, miniscule waists and spherical breasts were populating the comics pages. So aside from the name (“CY-blade” vs. “PSY-locke”), she didn’t seem overly bad. She was a standard-issue sexpot, doing a back-arching pose. But then various artists (including Silvestri, I believe) started actually MIMICKING THE GODDAMN PSYCHIC KNIFE, which is like… something that only Psylocke does, and immediately becomes very, very clear who you’re ripping off when it’s seen. Yeah, like a spike of glowing energy coming right out from the back of the wrist? COME THE FRIG ON.

So Cyblade debuts in Cyberforce #1 , and is immediately just “hey, look at my make an S-shape with my back”, sticking her ass out while wearing what looks like a black g-string over… a skintight metal bodysuit (it’s the ’90s, yup), taunts the bad guy, who shouts “I’m not paid to think!” and shoots at her- so she blows up half of his body with a single blast (Cyberforce are very, very willing to kill), saying “Then I guess you’ll get a big bonus for THIS!” and then adding “try not to spend it all in one place…” with a sexy close-up over her red-lipped face. Like, this is cross-hatched to hell, and it was supposed to be Fap City if you were a pre-teen. I mean, I guess it worked, but even then, I wasn’t quite THAT taken with her. I was too loyal to My Betsy, I guess, lol.

In any case, Cyblade was used by Cyberdata as an assassin, mind-wiping her by day so she didn’t know about her secret life. She was actually a member of the royal family of “Chalenne” in Europe. Her mother died in childbirth, and she manifested powers when attacked by potential abductors while at school. She was trained in the martial arts under her father’s orders, but he tried to put a stop to it when it created a “darkness” in her- but before he could, he and Cyblade’s brother were killed by Cyberdata and she was brainwashed. However, she would find that her brother had survived and was turned into an evil cyborg, too, and was freed by having her “Brain Box” removed- she joined Cyberforce. In the opening Limited Series, she really only just stands there and looks sexy- she doesn’t beat any villains, and only takes care of the Mooks- Killjoy kicks her during one of her only fights against a named character. She would eventually become the field leader of Cyberforce until the group disbanded.

Velocity was the first character seen in Cyberforce #1 – a teen runaway who was being chased by evil Mooks, and had to be saved by Ripclaw. With a white face and a black lightning bolt across one eye, mixed with red hair and a green costume, she was quite visually striking- Silvestri did good here for sure. The Silvestris even kinda pulled off making her seem sympathetic- she has eyes as wide as dinner plates, is shown crying with fear against the C.O.P.S. (the name for Cyberdata’s Mooks), acts nice to a little boy robot, and obviously has an abuse-related backstory. This makes her roughly the only character in the opening Limited Series with any real characerization, but it works.

Stryker is COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS, and easily the character most people think about when they riff on Cyberforce . He essentially just takes Rob Liefeld’s Cable and makes him even more ridiculous, making one half of his body cybernetic… but also giving him TWO EXTRA ARMS… but on the SAME SIDE! So you have this lopsided guy with three goddamn arms, all of which are made of metal coils and have guns in them, Because Image. It’s a completely preposterous look.

Stryker is so ’90s he’s also a grizzled, cynical, burned-out mercenary sporting permanent stubble. He was a mutant born with three arms on one side of his body, and when he was crippled, Cyberdata… just replaced those three arms with cybernetics instead of something more practical. He was the first member of Cyberforce to lose his “Brain Box”, after a surgeon took it out following an injury while on a Cyberdata mission- he formed Cyberforce after freeing several others. He was one of the central characters to Cyberforce (given a lot of “First-Person Detective Narration”), yet was inexplicably a complete loner on a team book, going off by himself, protecting the mutant mayoral nominee Bluestone, then hooking up with Mother May I as a means to get into her organization- it’s implied he’s hired by some government guys to infiltrate her organization, and he’s given a device to render him immune to her Mind-Reading and give “subtle hints” at how to impress her, but this device literally never gets mentioned again, so haphazardly this book is written.

In addition to Cyberforce, Stryker formed a mercenary outfit called “Strykeforce” as a means to earn more money. This team (in the book Codename: Strykeforce ) didn’t last long- it caused tension with Cyberforce that he’d often bail or use their gear on missions, and he disbanded Strykeforce following an alien invasion storyline that involved both teams.

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