Cyborg 009 is one of Japan’s most famous manga series as well as one of its most iconic characters. It’s also getting a new English language adaptation.
Created by Shotaro Ishinomori in 1964, an era under the shadow of the cold war, the manga focused on a group of nine individuals who were made into cyborgs against their will by a shadowy organisation seeking to profit off of the use of cybernetic soldiers in war. Each of the nine cyborgs is armed with individual special abilities that they would use to escape captivity and fight against evil.
Written by F. J. Desanto and Bradley Cramp and illustrated by Marcus To and Ian Herring, Cyborg 009 is a new English graphic novel adaptation of the legendary manga. Kotaku had a chance to interview Desanto about the project.
Kotaku: How did you come to work on this project?
F.J. DESANTO: I had a relationship dating back several years with Ishimori Production Inc. in Japan, mostly in my capacity as a producer, and when we were discussing ways to introduce these characters to a new audience, the idea of producing a new graphic novel came up. I approached my friends at Archaia because of their ability to produce high-quality books and they came on board immediately.
Kotaku: How far are you looking to take the story?
F.J. DESANTO: In a perfect world, there would be an ongoing series of Cyborg 009 adventures. There’s a wealth of material that Ishinomori has left us with that we can mine from. It’s an incredible world.
Kotaku: What do you think is the appeal of the Cyborg 009 story?
F.J. DESANTO: I think it’s very simple: It’s about the human spirit triumphing over adversity. Anyone any place can relate to it and enjoy it. Plus, seeing average people making the most of their incredible powers is the ultimate in wish fulfillment.
Kotaku: What do you hope American audiences will be able to get from this comic series?
F.J. DESANTO: I think we are hoping it serves as a great introduction to Ishinomori and his characters. It has been really important to us to make this graphic novel a new adventure while also being an access point to the legacy of the property and its creator. We always make sure when releasing something new there is some kind of reference that points a reader into the direction of the original manga, a lot of which is now available on Comixology.
Kotaku: Will there be any completely original storylines?
F.J. DESANTO: That’s something we will think about in the future. As right now, we are focused on this initial book.
Kotaku: Are there any other manga works that you are looking/hoping to adapt?
F.J. DESANTO: We are hoping that if Cyborg 009 is successful, we would not only produce sequels, but graphic novels based on Ishinomori’s other characters and do so in a way that builds a potential “Ishimori Universe.” I hope we are just getting started with Cyborg 009.
The new graphic novel covers the initial basic story of the original Cyborg 009. Tidbits and characters from other parts of Cyborg 009 lore are incorporated into the story here and there, updating the plot and logistics for a modern-day audience (All changes were approved by Ishimori Production Inc.).
Overall, the graphic novel pays its respects to the source material and manages to be both fast-paced and exciting while still retaining the fun atmosphere of the original manga. Cyborg 009 is currently a self-contained graphic novel, but with a story as large as the one created by Ishinomori, hopefully there will be more books down the line.
Cyborg 009 is published by Archaia, can currently be bought at comic stores, and will be available in book stores on September 24.