Cyberpunk 2077 has made an impact since its release in December 2020. The video game is based on a tabletop roleplaying game designed by Mike Pondsmith, who was involved in the video game. While the video game has had a few problems since release, it is popular. And when something is popular, it gets adapted.
A quick bit of history on Cyberpunk. The first edition of the RPG, Cyberpunk 2013, was released in 1988. 2013 had four supplements, including Hardwired, written by Walter Jon Williams, basing it on the novel he wrote. It was followed up two years later with the second edition, Cyberpunk 188.8.131.52. 2020 expanded the setting, the character roles, and the mechanics; the game was rereleased in 2014. The third edition, Cyberpunk V3.0, released 2005, wasn’t as well accepted; changes to the setting left the fanbase cold and the artwork was controversial. Finally, in conjuction with the video game, Cyberpunk RED was fully released in November 2020, a month before 3077‘s release. The RPG is seeing a renaissance, complete with new miniatures including one of Pondsmith and his dog.
Going back to Cyberpunk 184.108.40.206, the game made Night City the default setting, where the city was a supplement for 2013. Night City was very much inspired by William Gibson’s Chiba City, with dashes of Hardwired and other cyberpunk works plus other sources such as Blade Runner. Night City became a living, breathing city, with gangs and gang wars, corporate headquarters and corporate wars, besieged citizens, besieged cops, and many ways to escape, some of which are legal. Life is cheap, cybernetics expensive, and going about daily business without a subscription to a paramedic service.
In the Cyberpunk setting, there are a few subscription emergency services. The services’ contracts lay out how a recovery team will retrieve the wounded subscriber, though there are added costs to that on top of the monthly subscription fee. Reviving a clone costs even more on top, plus the fees for making a memory backup. They’re the US health care system expanded as US gun violence also expanded. Trauma Team International is the largest of these subscription emergency services, but not the only one. REO Meatwagon, also mentioned in the core rules, is one competitor determined to carve a slice of the pie, even if it means shooting down a Trauma Team aerodyne.
The day-to-day job of a Trauma Team crew sounds like it would make for drama, whether in game or in an adaptation. One part paramedic, one part combat recon, all dystopia. Thus, in September 2020, Dark Horse Comics released the first issue of Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team, then released issues 1-4 as a trade paperback in March 2021. The series was written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Miguel Valderrama, colours by Jason Vordie, and lettering by Frank Cvetkovic.
The series follows Nadia, a young medtech who joined Trauma Team International out of a sense of duty. Even after two years of service, she still had some idealism. However, when a heavily cybered solo manages to kill everyone on her rescue squad except her and the client, she’s taken off duty for psych eval. Her first response after returning to duty is to retrieve a client in an apartment block in gang-controlled territory. The platinum membership client turns out to be the solo who killed her previous team wounded and pinned down by gangers, leading to Nadia having to make difficult choices.
Night City in the four issues is a neon-filled grime even in the nicer parts of the city. The apartment block looks like it should be condemned, except that would mean someone in the city government cared. The solo’s abilities may seem superhuman, but that’s what cybernetics can do in the game. Enhanced reflexes, enhanced strength, and a lack of empathy for humanity; medical science in 2077 has made amazing advances.
In terms of appearance, the comic takes queues from Blade Runner, with neon lights and rain, masses of people wandering through the streets, the forgotten dregs in a desperate fight, and corporate negligence. Nadia’s Trauma Team is kitted out for a war zone, which describes many parts of Night City too well. In game terms, Nadia is a medtech, the client is a solo, the rescue squads are composed of medtechs and solos, and Nadia’s psychologist is a corporate. The story definitely fits in the setting.
Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team fits right into Night City and the Cyberpunk franchise. Idealism is the first thing to die in a dystopia, something Nadia finds out the hard way. While playing a Trauma Team employee is out of the scope of the video game, the comic expands the setting for fans, showing what happens when a rescue squad encounters resistance.