Last weekend, Top Cow released Rise of the Magi #0 as one of the Free Comic Book Day offerings for 2014. Rise of the Magi is a standalone title that delves into the realm of magical fantasy. Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins, head honchos of Top Cow, aren’t stopping there either, with a Cyber Force/Aphrodite IX crossover on the horizon that is sure to be filled with bullet casings and cyber-punk awesomeness. Be on the look-out; Aphrodite IX #10 hits shelves today.

I spoke with Hawkins and Silvestri to discuss the release of both of these projects.

FreakSugar:  Give us a little set-up for the Cyber Force/Aphrodite IX crossover.  Aphrodite IX has an intertwined lineage with the history of Cyber Force.  How will the recent events of Cyber Force play into Aphrodite IX?

Matt Hawkins: Both stories are integral to the other and are connected via the generational models and the Aphrodite Protocol which is created and engineered in the Cyber Force book and executed in the Aphrodite IX series.

FS:  Rise of the Magi will introduce a new set of characters to Top Cow readers, in particular Asa Stonethrow (and Bloop the Wonder Frog); what is the core theme of the project?

Silvestri: Magi is about assumptions and the danger of having them, not just assumptions about the people and world around but more importantly, assumptions about yourself. Asa’s story is the classic hero’s journey and discovering that when pushed, people are capable of doing much more than they thought.

The broader stroke is about people being married to a particular belief system and showing that until proven otherwise no matter what you believe, you’re wrong.

FS:  Matt, you have recently revealed a couple of new secrets into Aphrodite’s past in Aphrodite IX #9; as a writer, what is your feeling on big reveals as story beats in terms of the scope of an ongoing series?

Hawkins: I think it’s important to toss in a fairly large reveal/twist in every story arc. You don’t need to do it in every issue or they start to lose some of their impact. If you can consciously build to these and have just enough red herrings so it’s not too obvious what’s going on, the better.

FS:  What sorts of developments can you elaborate on regarding Aphrodite IX in the months building towards the crossover with Cyber Force?

Hawkins: Issue 10 is on shelves today and issue 11 wraps the first season of Aphrodite IX.  In these issues, one of the city states will be annihilated and the full scope of the Aphrodite Protocol and how it was managed across 700 years will be revealed.

FS:  Will the Rise of the Magi project have direct implications on other characters in the Top Cow Universe?

Hawkins: Magi is a self-contained storyline, we’re not constraining Marc with continuity!

Silvestri: Not at the moment. We really want to keep ‘Magi’ free from any baggage that having an extended universe brings. So many of these mega crossovers make you feel like you’ve accidently watched the sequel to a movie before watching the original!

FS: Is there an element of comedy in Rise of the Magi?  I mean, there’s Bloop the Wonder Frog.  Or is this lighter littler detail cleverly shrouded by darker themes in this book?

Silvestri:Thematically, ‘Magi’ is actually pretty heavy in terms of ideas and actions and the ramifications of both. It takes place today but in two different realities that though very different, share the same issues caused by the only true wildcard in nature; human beings.

Tonally ‘Magi’ is pure action-adventure/fantasy with a definite twisted sense of humor. The important thing for me though is that the story’s humor comes from life’s little ironies and absurdities rather than one-liners

FS: Can you share any details about the “black ball” found in Rise of the Magi?

Silvestri: The “orb” in ‘Magi’ is pretty much the center of that universe and we don’t have any real plans to cross it over into the Top Cow universe proper. The world of ‘Magi’ truly is magic based – including our reality – so in order not to drive all of our readers nuts, we’re going to keep `em separate!

FS:  Top Cow covers a lot of ground in terms of genre storytelling and even mash-up style genre stories; are there any bases you guys haven’t covered yet?  Are there any types of stories you would like to see more of?

Hawkins: Marc has always wanted to do some children’s stuff and has had some great ideas over the years.  I’ve always wanted to write a hardcore horror book.  We get pitched a lot of projects we decide whether we do them or not based on if we a) think they’ll sell and b) we think they’re cool.

Silvestri: Yeah, one of these days I’m going to write a children’s horror book. I’d also like to do a true Sci-fi/magic mash-up.

FS: Should Top Cow fans make plans to attend any of the major shows in particular in terms of major announcements for the year?

Hawkins: Comic-Con is always the big show with all the major announcements.  We announced at Emerald City Comic Con that the next Talent Hunt will feature the characters on the Cyber Force/ Aprodite IX side of the Top Cow universe.

FS:  Does Top Cow have more plans for crowd-sourced projects like the ridiculously successful Cyber Force project?

Hawkins: We’ve talked about doing a few of these, but have not yet pulled the trigger to do another one.  The Cyber Force one was so perfect and had a great message of giving comics out for FREE!