Cyborg #1

CYBORG #1 cover by Joe Prado, Ivan Reis

CYBORG #1 cover by Joe Prado, Ivan Reis

David F. Walker (writer), Ivan Reis (penciller), Joe Prado (inker), Adriano Lucas (colorist), Rob Leigh (letterer)
DC Comics
July 22, 2015

Plenty of fans will recognize DC’s Cyborg from the Cartoon Network Teen Titans series from the 2000s. As a comic book hero, he’s been around since 1980, a member of Teen Titans and eventually the Justice League. We’ll see Cyborg in 2016’s Batman v. Superman, the Justice League movies after that, and a solo film slated for 2020. But if 2020 is too far away, you can get your Victor Stone fix now in his own solo comic, post-Convergence. Cyborg #1 hit shelves in late July, offering fans new and old a chance to jump into his story.

In the preview for Cyborg, the Justice League faced off against some particularly nasty enemies, and Vic was brutally killed—only for his machine half to override his death and regenerate his body, complete with arms that no longer appear mechanical. The pilot issue picks up after that, where Vic reports back to his father, a scientist for S.T.A.R (Scientific and Technological Advanced Research) Labs, recapping his own death and the unexpected side effects.

Cyborg #1 doesn’t quite give new readers all the context of his back story. Victor Stone has one of DC’s darker origin stories. The son of two S.T.A.R scientists, Vic grew up as his parents’ favorite test subject for intelligence-enhancing experiments. Though these were a success, Vic resented that his parents never put him before their work and fell into criminal behavior. A horrific experiment gone wrong resulted in the death of his mother and nearly him as well. His father made him Cyborg to save his life, putting Vic through excruciating pain and leaving him more machine than man. Vic wished for death until he learned to control his new robotic parts and discovered that his abilities allowed him to be a hero to others. Originally, Cyborg teamed up with the Teen Titans; in the New 52 reboot, he was a founding member of the Justice League.

His strained relationship with his father comes across loud and clear in Cyborg #1. When Vic’s anger at his father’s negligence explodes, his arms shift between their newly human appearance and mechanical pieces, a technological freak-out of sorts. Vic is horrified at the latest change to his body, but all his father sees is something new to record and analyze.

“It’s better to be the monster in the room that everyone fears or pities than to be the thing they don’t even see,” Vic narrates. “I hate being invisible.”

Visibility isn’t a problem when he encounters S.T.A.R. protesters in the street. Though the issue doesn’t quite make clear what the people are protesting, they are seen with signs condemning the company’s “lies.” A man among the protesters points to Vic as part of the problem, complaining about how much top-notch technology went into Cyborg’s body when his own prosthetic arm wasn’t enough of a priority to warrant anything more than what looks like a two-pronged claw. The underlying theme of inequality is present but commented on from a plot-relevant perspective, keeping it in the readers’ minds without feeling like a moral. In fact, the moment seems designed as a reminder that “good” and “bad” aren’t always the only options for categorizing people and actions, particularly with regards to political and social issues.

Cyborg is one of the more prominent non-white comic book heroes and also represents people with disabilities, prosthetics, or other visible handicaps. Sure, his robotic parts are meant for firing lasers or taking a hit from a crazy super villain, but his being mostly-machine sometimes causes other characters to think of him as not human. In both the DC comics and the animated Teen Titans, when addressing that having mechanical parts or looking different from others didn’t make Cyborg less of a person, the writers clearly aren’t just talking about robotics.

Vic Stone has always been a superhero with compassion at his core. Whether as a member of the Teen Titans, the Justice League, or operating on his own, Vic takes up the mantle of Cyborg to prove that preconceptions have no place in a just world. Already this issue is tackling fairness for Cyborg personally and for his world at large. I look forward to the direction the creative team takes us.