Cyberfrog: Unforgettable Tales #1 Review - Ethan Van Sciver's Take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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When I first saw Cyberfrog advertised in Wizard Magazine (circa 1998) I remember thinking that the character looked cool. At that point, he promptly fell down the memory hole until Ethan Van Sciver reintroduced him to the world with 2018's Cyberfrog: BloodHoney.
Flash forward to today and Cyberfrog is arguably the hottest character in indie comics and EVS is at the forefront of the comic industries push from a Direct Market Model (Local Comic Shop - Diamond Distributor) to the model of Direct to Consumer (Crowdfunding, Ebay, Print on Demand, Etc).
The demand for Cyberfrog has exploded exponentially. The franchise is currently the most successful comics IP on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. Blood Honey and Cyberfrog 2: Rekt Planet are respectively some of the most successful crowdfunded comics ever. These are huge accomplishments considering the lack of mainstream support that Ethan receives due to his affiliation with the consumer-driven movement known as #Comicsgate.
You'd expect Ethan to fail due to the constant attacks from activist creators and the shadowbanning by mainstream comics journalists. Despite all of the hate, Ethan has succeeded and that success has afforded him the opportunity to create new content as well as revisit past material bringing it to fans that more than likely missed it the first time around.
The presentation of Unfrogettable Tales is God-Tier. The simple image of Cyberfrog sitting in the rain is elevated by the raised foil embossed cover. Pictures do not do this cover and paper stock justice as it's one of the most beautifully presented comics I've ever owned. I showed the book to my wife who isn't even into comics and even she was impressed.
Unfrogettable Tales #1 reprints and remasters Cyberfrog's earliest adventure. These were written and illustrated when Ethan was 19 years old. Colors have been added by superstar colorist Kyle Ritter. The lettering has also been updated by Eric Weathers. The inclusion of Kyle and Eric bridges the gap between the original adventure and modern Cyberfrog. Their contributions also add consistency to the creative direction of the franchise.
There is no supporting cast to speak of. Cyberfrogs personality is a bit rough around the edges but it's still there. What we're left with is Ethan Van Sciver's take on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles style character.
Using the TMNT model isn't a slight on EVS as a creator. During the '80s and '90s, there were hundreds of takes on the Turtles, serious and parody. My favorite being Dark Horse Comics, Boris the Bear who in his first adventure brutally murdered hundreds of TMNT knockoffs in a single issue.
Beyond the obvious TMNT influence, it becomes apparent very quickly that Ethan was still working on finding his art style. I can definitely see Todd Mcfarlane's influences in the comics villain, Deathfly. Deathfly is one step removed from Spawn's Violator. I also see some Kevin Eastman in some of the linework.
None of this would work if Cyberfrog had a lame or generic design. Cyberfrog looks cool and part of the reason Blood Honey blew up the way it did was that the original design was already pretty dope. The character resembles an armored Battle Toad which was another notable TMNT parody from the era.
The story itself is pretty dark. I wouldn't even call Cyberfrog a hero at this point. He's more of an anti-hero and If Cyberfrog 2020 encountered Proto-Cyberfrog he'd probably see him as a villain.
Aside from those observations, the comic features what I'd consider a day in the life for Cyberfrog.
Cyberfrog kills in the same way that Batman used to lynch criminals and fly around with them hanging from his Batwing. It's a little jarring to see Cyberfrog flagrantly murdering in the comic but it fits with the era that the character was created in. Anti-Heroes were big in the '90s and the moral flexibility of characters like Wolverine, Spawn, and even early TMNT was part of the appeal of those characters.
The story is decent but nothing really stood out aside from the novelty of seeing young EVS play in his sandbox. The comic basically boils down to seeing Cyberfrog brood, kill bad guys, hate Greenday, and nap between subplots.
What else could you ask for?