Cybersix Flashback: Nazi-fighting gender bending vigilante extraordinaire!
While this is primarily a book review blog, the occasional post will be on a different SF topic just to shake things up a little. So I hope this blog becomes a neat place for you to visit whenever you’re looking for some material to feed your e-reader or scratch your SF itch!
This week’s spotlight is on Cybersix.
Cybersix is a 1990s Canadian-Japanese produced young adult animated show and an adult Argentinian comic. She’s a genetically engineered superhero who protects the city of Meridiana from the creations of the Nazi mad scientist–Dr. Von Richter.
Her daytime alter-ego is a male English literature teacher, which means that she deals with the rather awkward situation of her work colleague pining over her superhero moonlit form. At night, she is accompanied by her panther half-brother (long story) and fights crime, Dr. Von Richter’s zombie-like henchmen, werewolves, goblins, and other creatures that threaten the citizenry of Meridiana.
While Superman has his Kryptonite, Cybersix is dependent on her sustenance–a green fluid that can only be supplied by Dr. Von Richter’s creatures. She technically isn’t human. She needs her sustenance like a vampire needs blood because (gasp) she is one of the mad scientist’s escaped creations. This creates the unique and understandably angst-inducing situation where her enemy is also her drug supplier.
I can only view the animated series through the rose-coloured lens of nostalgia, but even now, I’m still happy to watch the series, as this amazing concentration of SF B-movie trope insanity can’t be beat. The treatment of Cybersix as a heroine is both subversive and exploitative, like Pam Grier’s character in Coffy, to the extent that it requires multiple viewings just to make sense of how it fits together.
It’s a fun superhero thrill ride with Cybersix beating the monster of the week, playing the gender-bending dance with the (mostly) unwanted suitors for both identities, and of course, asking–what does it mean to be human?–whenever she sits alone in her garret tearfully choking down the Nazi scientist’s sustenance. What’s not to love?
The other compelling part of the Cybersix universe is how distinct the setting is. Merdiana has a very Old World feel. It’s a place where there are cobblestone streets, the architecture looks like a gargoyle-enhanced Montreal, and people sit at restaurant tables with white tablecloths and watch soccer. Perhaps Carlos Trillo and Carlos Meglia, the comic creators, were influenced by their hometown of Buenos Aires in creating the city’s aesthetic.
There’s something attractive about having a city with a strong sense of time and place. This distinctiveness is what many of the mainstream superhero comics and stories furiously try to erase except for the occasional special treatment of Gotham. Why do all the mainstream superheroes all live in New York or some other pseudo-variant? There’s the whole universe to write about.
The original comic is about as highbrow as Sin City and measures at the same level on the don’t-read-this-in-public metric of tastefulness. Considering the sensationalist and risque premise, it’s surprising that this was ever made into a 13-episode animated show that aired on Teletoon and Fox Kids.
Both the animated show and comic are obscure hard-to-find works in the English speaking SF world. The French and the Italians have enjoyed their translated comics, but not us Anglophones. Which means that of course, Cybersix was destined for cosmic cult status, reaching the rank of “as awesome as it sounds” and “too good to last” at TVtropes. Over here in the SF English-speaking community, we’re lucky to have seen that glimpse of Cybersix while it lasted… but I’d still sign a petition for season two.
How about you? Have you heard of Cybersix? Do you love an obscure SF creation? Hit the comments and share.
You might like this if you like…
Superheroes, gender bending, Sin City, genetically engineered monsters, nazi mad scientists, telepathic panther half-brothers, other 90′s animated series like Batman Beyond and Gargoyles
Watch the first episode on Youtube.
A fan by the name of PharmaDan has been translating the comic to English. If you have issues 35-40 of the Italian release, please get in touch with Dan and help bring Cybersix to us English-speakers =)
(P.S. I think A Cyborg’s Manifesto should be on Cybersix’s to read list)
Posted on April 29, 2011, in Batman Beyond, Carlos Meglia, Carlos Trillo, Cybersix, Gargoyles, Pulp, Science fiction, SF Chatter, Sin City, Superhero and tagged animation, comic, gender bending, genetic engineering, Latin America, mad scientists, nazis, robots and cyborgs, scenery porn, secret identities, zombies. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.