Best Shots Review: CYBORG #1

"Cyborg #1" variant
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: Will Conrad (DC Comics)

Cyborg #1
Written by John Semper, Jr.
Art by Paul Pelletier, Tony Kordos, Scott Hanna and Guy Major
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Credit: Paul Pelletier (DC Comics)

Cyborg is one of those characters that was wholly a creation of the 1980s, and his continued longevity is perhaps surprising in the wake of multiple line-wide reboots. Most closely associated with the Teen Titans, since 2011 he has become a major part of the Justice League roster, and that seems to be where the wider DC machine seems determined to keep him with his own headlining ongoing.

Yet outside the context of those teams, or at least in this first issue outing, Cyborg offers very little in the way of a decent hook to pull in potential readers. For all of the technological slant, Cyborg feels like a retro throwback to a different way of telling a story. Ladened with explanatory dialogue and narrative boxes, Cyborg spends the first half-dozen pages of his title explaining exactly how he caught the crooks he’s catching, and how he is using their own metadata against them. As you can imagine, it’s about as fascinating as any digital literacy class. The crooks don’t come off much better, with hokey dialogue like “Five-O’s right on our tail, and I don’t think they’re here to sell us tickets to the Policeman’s Ball.”

Credit: Paul Pelletier (DC Comics)

Much of the issue is concerned with Vic Stone attempting to come to grips with the knowledge that his body may be a simple shell without a soul, some kind of “Frankenstein’s Monster.” This is a potentially fascinating narrative, one that has been worked over many times but is still rife with possibility in the Information Age. Yet as potential human connection Sarah tries to teach him about the wonders of improvised jazz on the mean streets of Detroit, it’s a contrived series of events that lead up to the (re)introduction of a familiar villain.

Credit: Paul Pelletier (DC Comics)

On the flip side, it’s those same jazz panels that have an air of energy about them that the rest of the issue is lacking. Where Pelletier, Kordos, Hanna and Major’s obligatory truck-stopping sequence, complete with bullets bouncing off the hero, feels perfunctory and expected, the jazz performance scene is a warm series of wordless horizontal panels that briefly make the most of the confined layouts.

For existing fans, there might be a lot here to love, but as a debut and a potential jump-on point, it’s the kind of issue that would get weeded out during pilot season. There’s undoubtedly some interesting concepts here, some that might even pay out over the course of a full arc. Although as the second issue since “Rebirth" there simply isn’t anything comic book audiences haven’t seen before. Those with only a passing knowledge of Cyborg’s origin will get little more that that in this nominal debut, except for the promise of a big ol’ robot fight in the next issue.

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