Above is a redesign of DC Comics' Cyborg that I helped to design with the help of deviantartist aeolus06, who also drew the piece. My goal is to petition DC Comics to change Cyborg's current look to be more like our redesign. I LOVE Jim Lee's work—including some of his redesigns like the DcnU Superman and Supergirl. And I mean no disrespect, but I think that he fell a little short on Cyborg's design. And he's not the first artist to do so. I think that a new design can further revitalize the character to the point where he can carry his own book and franchise. There is SO much potential in the character for great stories and for DC's profit.
Who the hell do I think that I am to tell DC what to do? Newsarama.com has already published an article about how comic book fans want a bigger say in comic book properties than movie fans want in movie properties or music fans want in music. This sort of falls in line with that, but who cares? A good idea is a good idea, and I want zero credit. Really.
Artists draw their inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes it's even from the fans. For example, Superman's DcnU design is very reminiscent of the redesign that Wizard Magazine published in their “Ultimate DC” article a few years ago.
Sometimes comic book companies draw inspiration each other. Has anyone heard the terms “Superman Analogue” or “Superman Rip-off”? Or have you noticed the similarities between Iron Man and Steel? The fans aren't bothered by these things to any great extent, so DC shouldn't be offended by my boldness. I really mean no disrespect. I see great potential in Cyborg that I want to see met.
Purely Marketing: Some of the best marketing tools for DC's properties are their superhero logos. Think about it. DC can just print a superhero logo on a poster or a shirt, and millions of people will buy those shirts and posters. The most popular members of the Justice League outside of comics have memorable logos—Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman. During Flashpoint, we saw Cyborg get a memorable logo too.
Logos may be helpful in making a hero “iconic.” So it doesn't make much sense to keep Cyborg's logo off of his costume if the logo alone could make you money. And the power core alone doesn't cover it because power cores—at this point in time—are heavily tied to Iron Man.
I also believe that the test of a good character design—especially for a hero who operates independently of a team—is asking if the design of that character would make a good video game lead. Video game properties have to attract new players all the time. Many of them don't have a long history of brand familiarity to fall back on, and the look on the box plays a factor in attracting new players. I don't believe that Cyborg's current design would be that alluring to video game players or to people who don't read comics. I believe that a redesign like ours is more likely to attract new readers and viewers who know nothing about Cyborg than his current design.
Purely Practical (Movies and Television): Last year we saw DC push for aBlue Beetle television program when test footage for the special effects were released. Unfortunately, it looked like the special effects budget couldn't really accommodate a television program with a fully CGI hero. Cyborg could potentially be a popular television or film property. It would lower costs significantly for both mediums if the titular hero had a practical (effects) costume. A redesign like ours should be easier on illustrators, costume designers, animators, etc. It just makes more sense in terms of cost, and there's beauty in simplicity.
Also, actors are notorious for needing to have their faces seen in the movies. Iron Man is always losing his helmet, and Captain America fights without his mask from time to time. Our design is more movie friendly in that regard.
Purely Story-Telling: There have been many interpretations of Cyborg. His earliest interpretation was similar to Marvel's The Thing or DC's Martian Manhunter. He was an outsider who longed to be a normal human. He longed to pursue his dreams of competing in professional sports. He was a heart-breaking character. In other interpretations such as Geoff Johns' run on Teen Titans, Cyborg is a mentor with a heart of gold. In the animated Teen Titans cartoon, Cyborg was a big, jokey, loveable guy. This redesign works for all of those interpretations. His mechanical eye, facial scarring, mechanical arms, and public identity keep him separated from fully connecting with normal humans as well as he used to. He has to deal with shattered dreams and his need for affection from his father. He has greater responsibility that weighs on him so heavily that he's a hero 24/7. But he's also got a sense of humor and a big heart. In our re-design, he looks modern. He's not only a tank but also an iPad. He's not from the early days of technology. He's from the future. And in our re-design, he has MORE story telling possibilities. Some people may complain because the believe that Cyborg has to look like a freak for his character to make sense. Not true. We all believe that the insanely handsome Barry Allen is a dork who is not constantly pursued by women, so doesn't it make just as much sense that a handsome Cyborg can still brood? And he doesn't even have to be a brooding, one-note character.
Anyhoo, the colors on his costume play up Flashpoint's interpretation of Cyborg as America's top cop. And because our design is so simplified, a creative team could decide to tell a story in which Cyborg wears Jim Lee's design as an armor modification over a design similar to ours.
Representation: This part of my argument may be the most hotly contested.Let me start by quoting the great Bruce Timm on the reasons that John Stewart was chosen to be in the animated Justice League instead of the other human Green Lanterns.
Bruce Timm: He’s the most controversial character so far from what we’ve been gathering on the Internet. When the show’s lineup was first announced, there were a lot of people saying, “Why aren’t they using Hal Jordan? No, it’s got to be Guy Gardner. No, it’s got to be Kyle Rayner.” Obviously, we picked the wrong one, but the reason we did choose John Stewart are various—I think they’re all valid. Right off the bat, I’ll just say it: you know we did need ethnic diversity in the Justice League. We felt that the show is going to be seen worldwide and I think having a member of the Justice League who is not just “Mr. White Bread” is a good thing.
If the Justice League's most prominent non-White member is going to be Cyborg, then doesn't it make sense that he should look appealing? Having your only representation on the team of the world's greatest heroes look unappealing is really discouraging. Especially when people bring up the fact that he's also neutered in some designs. Every other member of the Justice League could walk down a run way. Why not the teams only Black member? I don't want to dwell on this too long, but it would be like only having one female member on the Justice League and that female member is Cassandra Nova in a Wonder Woman costume. Do you think that DC would draw in as many female fans?