Writer: David F. Walker / Artist: Ivan Reis / DC Comics
This review is sort of a special moment for my colleagues here at the offices of Black Nerd Problems. Since I started writing here, it’s been a longtime running joke among the crew that I hate Cyborg as a character. I have ALWAYS hated Cyborg as a character. As a matter of fact, one of the things that got me noticed by our collective in the beginning was a rant on my blog about how Cyborg represents everything I’ve loathed about DC’s Black characters over the years. But now, DC has decided to use their big “DC You” relaunch initiative to slap a much needed fresh coat of paint on a character who hasn’t had much solo time over the years. And if they’re taking this book seriously enough to bring in David F. Walker (Shaft) and Ivan Reis, there’s no reason I shouldn’t give it the once-over with an open mind.
One of the problems I’ve had with Cyborg’s character since I was a kid (aside from being how I became acquainted with terms like “quota”) is that, despite his obvious pathos from struggling with his humanity, there’s never been much personality to connect with, really. With Superman, no matter how you feel about him, you kinda know how he’s going to react in most situations. You know that Batman doesn’t really trust anyone and probably has a file on every living organism he’s come in contact with since he was ten. But there’s not a whole lot of personality traits you unilaterally assign to Cyborg. Right off the bat, Walker makes it clear that one of his primary mandates is to change that.
In bringing a lesser known character to the forefront, it’s important to establish a certain emotional conflict and solidify a supporting cast that enforces these psychological archetypes. Walker is effective at this so far with Victor’s father — an aloof, emotionally constipated man of science reminiscent of Dr. Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Then there’s his childhood friend who serves as his emotional anchor to humanity. With the lion’s share of the story so far dedicated to Victor dealing with some new developments in the technology that keeps him alive, it’s a good springboard for offering some insight into Victor’s mental state. It also allows for a look at how he relates to the rest of the world since he doesn’t really have to deal with a dual identity like many of his cohorts on the Justice League.
With all this exposition, Walker still makes sure there’s a healthy amount of action thrown in the mix as the domino chain for a new conflict begins to topple from halfway across the galaxy with a mysterious connection to Cyborg’s tech. My main complaint is that I wish the assumed villains would have been a bit more terrifying or made more of an imposing impression that leaves us more in suspense awaiting their first run-in with our hero. Hopefully, they’ll end up fleshed out a bit more in issues to come. Visually, Ivan Reis was a great choice to handle the artwork. His concepts for Victor’s body transformations are a wonder to marvel at. The new design for his armor work well for making him a bit more human and relatable for readers.
Bottom Line: Definitely a good way to start off establishing a second tier character who has gone long overlooked in the character development department. Great balance of action and exposition? Top notch Ivan Reis? Could have used some better villainy, considering the page time they were given but, yeah… I’ll be back next month. 8.5 out of 10.