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Review: ‘Cyborg #1’

Cyborg 1Cyborg #1
Written by David F. Walker
Art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
DC Comics; $3
Rated T for Teen

So what we have here is your basic good news, bad news situation.

The good news is that Cyborg, long-time Titan, more recent Justice Leaguer, and maybe DC’s most prominent and widely-recognized superhero of color, is finally getting his first ongoing solo series since his 1980 creation.

The bad news is that this is a newer iteration of the character, one that has only been around about four years, and thus wholly unconnected to the generation or so worth of comics that he appeared in before DC’s September 2011 New 52 reboot—and nothing at all like the character that appears in cartoons like the ongoing Teen Titans Go! or its 2003-2006 predecessor Teen Titans.

That problem is somewhat compounded by the fact that Cyborg was created as a member of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans comics of the 1980s, and because this is his first solo series, he doesn’t have (nor has he ever had) the chance to grow beyond ensemble player.

In other words, a Cyborg ongoing will face the same challenges to stick around that have faced any and all previous attempts to give similar characters from the Titans and the X-Men–who, hard as it may be to believe today, were once upon pretty analogous–their own ongoings. Nightwing, who has benefited from also being a Batman charater, and Wolverine, who has benefited from being Wolverine, have been the exceptions that prove the rule. (That said, it’s interesting to note that DC also launched a Starfire solo ongoing last month; like Cyborg, she was created in 1980 by Wolfman and Perez for the ensemble cast of the very same series.)

These aren’t insurmountable challenges, of course, but it’s somewhat unfortunate that Walker, Reis, and Prado’s first issue of Cyborg is just okay. It’s one more professionally made but unremarkable Big Two superhero comic book series in a market choking on them.

Writer Walker defaults to the basics of the (comic book) Cyborg story: His issues with his father and angst at being more machine than man. So too are the supporting cast-members chosen by default: Cyborg’s cold-hearted scientist father and his friend/romantic interest, Sarah.

Since Cyborg was reintroduced in the pages of Justice League, Walker’s forced to recap several different storylines from that series, which basically amounts to the fact that Cyborg has been destroyed and rebuilt over and over. (In a somewhat surprising show of confidence, he doesn’t rely on the more popular League characters as a crutch or sales hook; their only appearance is in a one-panel flashback.)

What does seem a little different than expected is that Walker has launched right in with an extra-terrestrial threat making its way towards Earth in order to get at Cyborg specifically and, far more interestingly, the parallels that Walker’s drawing between Cyborg and people with more mundane prosthetics (and by “mundane” I mean “can’t teleport or fire concentrated blasts of white noise”). In fact, while Cy’s in the lab getting looked over by super-scientists, there are protesters outside, demanding that the sort of technology used to build and re-build the super-scientist’s superhero son be shared with those who have lost limbs.

It’s a neat reversal of the way Cyborg generally thinks about himself–that having robot parts that keep him alive and give him super-powers is a curse rather than a miracle–but at this early point in the series, it’s just a suggestion of somewhere the series might go.

Of course, that’s the problem with serially published comics—readers are asked to buy them 20 pages at a time, but the stories are only rarely completed in those 20 pages. Judged by itself, Cyborg #1 is a fairly generic superhero comic with nothing to recommend it to readers who aren’t already fans of (this specific version of) the character.

We’ll have to check back when the first trade comes out to see if DC, Walker, Reis, and company succeeded in doing anything worthwhile with the character and the book or not.

J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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