Last winter, the video game Cyberpunk 2077 was released and immediately encountered worldwide backlash for being a colossal disappointment. But it was only because the game was so high profile before its release that fans were so upset, and that level of excitement reveals something important: People are really craving cyberpunk stories right now. There’s a lot to like about the genre, but part of the reason it has grown in popularity is that it feels relevant.
Cyberpunk emerged in the early 1980s, portraying a world of high tech and urban misery ruled by divine corporate entities. The heroes of the genre are crooks, hackers, and outcasts, overwhelmed by the vast inequality, targeted media, and corruption that fill both digital realms and meta-space. Today’s world can feel like it’s living in the cyberpunk dystopia predicted in the 1980s. Fortunately, in the literature – and especially in the comics – there are stories that help people confront the themes. that they see in their daily life.
ten Goddess mode combines cyberpunk with magical girls
This is one of the last comics released by DC’s Vertigo imprint before Vertigo’s final shutdown. Written by Zoe Quinn and drawn by Robbi Rodriguez, Goddess Mode infuses the usual grim political themes of cyberpunk with the fun action of magical girl stories.
The protagonist is a data janitor in charge of cleaning up bad code and whose father suffers from a serious illness. She then receives new powers to fight against the malicious forces living within the programs that run the city.
9 Come Into Me combines Cyberpunk, Biotech and Body Horror
Cyberpunk stories have explored body horror since at least the mid-1980s and have explored the nature of human consciousness from the start. Come to me by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and Piotr Kowalski perfectly blend these two genres.
The protagonist, Dr Gillis, has developed a new technique that allows two people to share their consciousnesses in the body of the other. When there is a shortage of funds, a woman promises a large donation if she is allowed to try the process. Her spirit enters her body, but while she is there, her own body dies. Soon she and Gillis are forced to fight for control of her body.
8 Lazarus takes place in a dystopian biopunk oligarchy that becomes real
Written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Michael Lark, Lazarus follows Forever Carlyle, the protector of her family whose body has been augmented with healing abilities. The Carlyle family runs a business-state that controls much of what was once the United States. The fights in this series are some of the best in any comic book, but it’s the characters and the world-building that make the story so compelling.
Rucka said he wrote Lazarus to reflect what current economic and biotechnology trends might look like in the distant future if allowed to continue on their current trajectory. Sadly, all of the dystopian economic and social conditions he feared are already happening – something he wrote on the back of the series.
7 Akira inspired the most important animated film of all time
There are only two manga on this list. The first is Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, who wrote and drawn the comic, and directed the film adaptation. The animated film Akira This is the reason why the anime has become a major phenomenon outside of Japan, but it is also only a small part of the story.
Akira takes place in the future city of Neo-Tokyo where teenagers, deprived of any support structure, join violent motorcycle gangs. Meanwhile, revolutionary cells fight against the city’s totalitarian military police, even as military officers argue with corrupt politicians. Themes of nuclear annihilation, social engineering, religious fundamentalism, and urban misery unfold with unfiltered brutality as the characters succumb to forces beyond their control.
6 Ghost In The Shell Inspired The Look Of The Matrix
The manga of Masamune Shirow Ghost in the shell is a classic. It has been adapted several times, and the 1995 film adaptation directly inspired the visual styles of The matrix. The protagonist, Major Kusanagi, is a cyborg with a full body prosthesis who tracks down a cybercriminal known as the Puppet Master. But she soon learns that even people’s personal thoughts are in danger of being compromised by this enemy.
Readers will be familiar with the philosophical questions raised by this provocative story, as they have become well known in the years since this manga’s debut. However, they are still captivating and the story stands the test of time.
5 Memetic shows how a viral meme can go wrong
Memetic of James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan begins with a meme of a cute sloth, a meme that is quickly becoming the most popular thing on the internet. Everyone shares it with everyone. It is spreading across the world at record speed, and as the meme goes viral, it infects everyone who sees it.
People who have seen the meme begin to bleed from their eyes and attack those around them. The protagonist, Aaron, is color blind and immune to the effects of the sloth. He runs across town to stop his boyfriend from looking at him. It might not seem like a typical cyberpunk story, but the idea of a meme altering the programming of his brain and Aaron’s struggles with social isolation makes it a perfect portrayal of the genre.
4 The Department of Truth is about hacking reality itself
The Department of Truth is a dystopian look at American politics and conspiracy theories by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds. The main character, Cole Turner, is an FBI agent who stumbles upon proof of something impossible and is then recruited to be part of the government’s Truth Department.
The name of the book is a reference to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s book. 1984, invoking the specters of fascism, media control and double thinking. Cole is both part of the establishment and a force fighting against him, even as he tries to figure out who the different parties are in a war waged for the minds of the American people. While most cyberpunks are about hacking into computers, in The Department of Truth, reality itself is hacked.
3 Benjamin Percy’s X-Force sends mutants on high-tech Black Ops missions
Benjamin Percy began to write a new series of X-Force in 2019, in collaboration with artist Joshua Cassara. The team has gone through many iterations over the years, but X-Force is best known for being the X-Men’s black ops group that gets their hands dirty to protect the rest of the mutant genre.
Percy’s run adds unique elements to the team using new biotechnologies and cutting-edge inventions in their missions. Cloning, skin grafts, and the ability to transfer consciousness to a new body have given the title cybernetic and transhumanist elements. It also deals with some absolutely brutal political violence.
2 Bloodshot uses nanotechnology to explore consciousness and war
The Valiant Universe has plenty of heroes, but Bloodshot is a prime example of someone who both embraces and subverts the genre tropes. It’s a living weapon, controlled by the same nanites that gave it its powers, and used by private military contractor Project Rising Spirit to carry out covert operations missions.
The machines in his blood give him increased physical abilities, heal his wounds, and can interface with computers and information signals in the air. Once Bloodshot is freed from his masters, he begins to wage war on the machine, both battling PRS and battling the nanites in his blood that seem to have their own agenda.
1 The invisible are like the matrix … but with magic
Grant Morrison has built a reputation for groundbreaking stories during his four decades of writing comics. The Invisibles was the story where he got to put all his crazy ideas together. The story follows a group of five misfit antiheroes rebelling against the powerful forces that control and wipe out the world.
The main characters use magic, terrorist violence, and even armed pop culture to fight their fascist enemies. The themes mirror those of cyberpunk stories, but replace most technology with magic as a form of reality hacking. While the Wachowski sisters deny being influenced by the comic book when they made The matrix, many people have noticed how similar the two are, including Morrison himself.
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