I’ve been a fan of Cyborg since his first appearance in DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980, a preview for the upcoming New Teen Titans. As one of the core members of the Titans, at least that incarnation, he’s been among my favorites, largely because he’s a regular guy who responded to adversity, not by feeling sorry for himself, but by adapting to his new reality and using it to better himself. He’s gone through a lot of different changes over the years, from being a lower tier character to becoming one of the founding members of the Justice League during DC’s 2011 continuity reboot. Not bad Vic, not bad.
So he has his own solo series now and I have to say that it’s a bit different than his classic background. Sure, he was still a football hero that got horribly injured in an accident, only to be saved by his scientist father who replaced his mangled parts with cybernetic prosthetics. Sure, at the beginning there was a fair bit of “poor me, poor me, I’m not the man I used to be”, very reminiscent of Ben Grimm as the Thing. He accepted who he was and what he could do pretty early on and I think is a better character because of it. But his cybernetic parts are not the clunky bits that he’s had in the past, but a much more streamlined, techno-organic shell that probably makes him easier to work into a normal human population. Even though they showed that people accept him, for the most part, and even idolize him for his heroism, I’m happy that he’s different enough to be feared by some people, it’s part of what makes his character work.
Anyhow, with this series, an extradimensional threat called the Technosapiens search the cosmos, looking for superior technology to incorporate, thus making them more powerful. Of course, they are focused on Cyborg’s own technology as the next step in their evolution. But unfortunately, the Technosapiens never really came across as a serious threat, they were just mechanical zombies who, while they do some damage to Cyborg, thanks to his newly found “mutant healing factor”, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. And in fact, throughout the arc, whenever Cyborg takes damage, it doesn’t bother him. He goes to his father to help him discover some of the mysteries of his new abilities and when his father discovered that he had actually died, Cyborg really shows no emotions at all. In fact, the only thing that seems to bother Vic is that people talk about him, not to him, like he’s not really there. Being ignored bothers him but having his limbs ripped off or being dead, that’s not a big deal.
Clearly this first arc was meant to introduce Cyborg to new readers, to update his look from the rather clunky machine man he used to be, and to show him as a hard-hitting hero that can save the world on his own. In some of that, they are successful. Certainly he does have a more streamlined look and, at least at the very end, we find that he can look completely human if he wants to, which is handy because he just might have found himself a girlfriend along the way. But where I don’t think they succeeded is in proving him a world-class superhero, not because I don’t think he’s capable, but because instead of showing him doing it, writer David F. Walker chose to have the Justice League tell him how great he is. That is what is called, in writer’s terms, “telling, not showing”. Certainly Cyborg saves the day locally, but we don’t see him doing anything on the larger world stage.
I think this series has a lot of potential, I just don’t think this first arc was the best possible showcase of that potential. On the one hand, it felt like they were trying to get to “world-class superhero” in a single leap, which is entirely unnecessary and on the other, the story was way too padded out, focusing on entirely irrelevant things when it could have spent the time character building, especially the supporting cast who still feel entirely two-dimensional It was a credible attempt but it left me feeling like something was lacking in the end. Hopefully they’ll do better in coming issues and give Cyborg the solo book he truly deserves.