I’ve been a fan of cyberpunk – that’s with a small ‘c’, as in the genre – since the late 80s, when the term first came to my attention. I’ve been a fan of Cyberpunk – capital ‘C’, as in the RPG – for almost as long, having played it for the first time with friends back in the early 90s. Though pen and paper contemporaries such as Shadowrun – with its fantasy/cyberpunk mashup – have long been available in video game form, Cyberpunk has, until now, remained on the tabletop.
The long in gestation Cyberpunk 2077 video game from CD Projekt Red is finally nearing release, though as of yesterday has been delayed once again – albeit briefly. It’s highly anticipated, not least because it’s an RPG set in a still reasonably under-utilised setting for the genre, but also because CD Projekt Red are responsible for the highly acclaimed Witcher RPG titles.
As part of the push to get Cyberpunk 2077’s setting and lore beyond players of the tabletop game, Dark Horse Comics have licensed the property and have already published lavish hardcover The World of Cyberpunk 2077, along with the first comic book series based in the world of the franchise.
Trauma Team follows a paramedic named Nadia, who works for private medical corporation Trauma Team International, who specialise in sending fully armed operatives into combat situations to extract injured clients. When a mission goes wrong, Nadia is left with PTSD – but is nobly determined to get back to work and help people. Yet her returning mission sees Nadia tasked with extracting a client with links to her traumatic, recent failure…
Cullen Bunn writes the series and the first issue is an excellent introduction to the deadly situations the Trauma Team constantly find themselves in. Bunn gives us a sympathetic and relatable character with Nadia, in a world that doesn’t often see the spotlight shone on people who want to do the right thing. Going from the evaluation of the previous mission in voiceover while recalling the action is a smart move, bringing us up to speed with the situation in an economical way; the build up to – and fallout during – the next mission is also impressive; it feels like we have a lot more story here than its slender page length would indicate.
The art – by Miguel Valderrama – is gritty, gory and always clear in terms of storytelling and choreography. One area in which it does fall down – which isn’t the fault of writer or artist – is the fact that, aside from the names on their helmets (which aren’t always visible), the Trauma Team operatives all look exactly the same. Given the helmet designs that completely hide their faces, this is unavoidable – but it does lead to a bit of confusion in a few panels as to who’s speaking, or even who’s been injured or killed. I really enjoyed the colouring too; there’s a great showcase of the neon-drenched colours in the city and an awful lot of blood splattering the pages, giving the visuals a gritty but colourful feel. The overall art is very retro and feels like classic, early 90s cyberpunk.
There’s a great cliffhanger too; I can’t wait to check out the second issue of the four issue mini series – with the Cyberpunk 2077 game delayed until December, the comic will allow me to spend some time in Night City before I become a resident there myself…
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