John Semper Jr. (W), Paul Pelletier (P), Sandra Hope, Tony Kordos (I), Guy Major (C)
Cover by Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes
Publisher: DC Comics
Now that my love of Cyborg has been well-established, let’s talk about his Rebirth title that just came out this past week.
I must admit that I was a little wary of it, as I am wary of any major creative team shift. Especially since the previous two writers on this title were the talented David F. Walker and the legendary Marv Wolfman. John Semper Jr. has some big shoes to fill in telling the story of the world’s premier cybernetic superhero.
The issue begins with someone spying on our hero. Cyborg himself is battling a massive nanotech monstrosity calling itself Malware. The creature is attempting to break into S.T.A.R Labs and shows great power through laying out Vic Stone a couple of times. The fight between Cyborg and Malware is interspersed with narration and flashbacks to the history of Cyborg’s parents, how they met, and the origins of Cyborg, as the observer analyzes that history.
These narrations reveal that Cyborg’s mother had developed cancer, and this is what led to his father, Dr. Silas Stone, to taking a job at S.T.A.R Labs as well as his frigidity towards his son while the child was growing up. It is also revealed that it is the cancer that took his wife, Ellinore’s, life. This observer is also the one who sent Malware to S.T.A.R. Labs.
The clash between Cyborg and Malware goes through S.T.A.R Labs, the Red Room, and into a deeper chamber within the Red Room. Cyborg halts the monster here, but not before learning what is inside this hidden room. It holds information on Cyborg, and it causes him to question his humanity more than he ever has before.
This is a fine first issue. I can’t say it’s necessarily ambitious or exciting, but it is functional. If anything, it is a promise that this comic is not likely to go too far outside the themes that have been explored by the previous issues and writers.
Cyborg has always questioned his own humanity. It’s one of his defining traits, and it is one of the themes commonly explored by stories that deal with the “singularity” where machine and man meet. This issue does how, however, that this comic will have less fun with it.
Walker and Wolfman did take the subject matter seriously when necessary, but it balanced it out with Victor’s attempts to stay upbeat and positive despite his self-doubts (like your Spider-Man and Flash-type characters). Here, Cyborg does belt out a couple of one-liners, but they are drowned out by the dower tone that keeps things from getting too fun.
To move into spoiler territory, the information that he finds out is that his father questions his humanity as well, and it is possible that the cybernetic enhancements attached to Vic may have simply created a replication of his mind and personality. For all intents and purposes, Victor Stone may have actually died the day he became Cyborg. This is an interesting plot development, but it doesn’t seem to be taking the character arc of Victor anywhere new. He is simply questioning his humanity again, and it just seems to repeat the same theme of previous stories. Not every Hulk story needs to be about the balance of man and beast. Not every Batman story needs to be about his dead pare…never mind.
The big bad villain is a machine being that resembles Silas Stone. He is planning an uprising of machines. Yeah, that doesn’t really break new ground either. Maybe this comic will play with the idea in new ways. I suppose we’ll see where that goes. I can see it interacting with Cyborg’s intensified self-doubt in interesting ways. He may even find kinship this villain now.
One bizarre detail of that reveal at the end is that the machine being is watching a number of monitors that have other machine-themed characters displayed on them. Among them are Steel, O.M.A.C and Robotman Those heroes aren’t technically machines. Steel wears a suit, O.M.A.C is a man who transforms into a machine hero, and Robotman has a human brain and not a processor. I may be splitting hairs on those last two, but, I’m just saying, Steel is closer to Iron Man and War Machine than Cyborg and Red Tornado.
The art is really good in this issue. The faces are very detailed, the colors are vibrant, and Cyborg and Malware both look very cool. Hope and Kordos have brought the technology-themed characters of this book to life in a very visually appealing way. The emotion in the faces of the characters is very visible, and it allows the comic to show without telling very well.
I will admit that this review has been a bit harsher than I had in mind. That’s why I do want to stress now that this comic wasn’t bad. The action was exciting, Cyborg’s personality is on display in parts, and the art is great. If you haven’t read Cyborg up until this issue, it’s a great point at which to join. However, if you have read Walker and Wolfman’s Cyborg issues, you are going to be getting a little déjà vu.
Final Score: 7/10