This post is a follow up on my previous one that may or may not have influenced DC Comics's decision to promote Cyborg in the first place. I'm happy that DC promoted Cyborg, but I don't think that they're doing enough to make the character likable or popular. That's why I've created this list of 5 things DC Comics should do to make Cyborg an A-List character. This is not only for fans like me, but also for the creators and the business people out there.
5) Make Him A Fighter
Since his introduction into the DCnU two years ago, Cyborg has only fought some parademons and minor minions. The fans are itching for Cyborg to step up and get his hands dirty. They want to see amazing feats of strength and power. Combat is one of the simplest draws to superhero comics, so having Cyborg on the sidelines doesn't make much sense if you're trying to make him popular in the genre. Even more intellectual members of the Justice League, like Batman, find themselves in fights every month. This one should be a simple fix in a book like Justice League. Just pit Cyborg against some more serious bad guys like Dr. Light.
4) Create a Mythology Around Him And Treat Him Like A Man
Cyborg debuted 31 years ago in 1982. Since then, he's amassed bits and pieces of a mythology that should be expanded upon. Before Flashpoint, Cyborg was created after an creature horrifically maimed Victor Stone. That also happens to be the premise of Cyborg's origin in the New 52. The inter-dimensional aspect of Cyborg's history could and should be played up for future stories--especially since his father and Professor Morrow are engaged in inter-dimensional research at S.T.A.R. Labs. Speaking of S.T.A.R. Labs, the home of many of the world's most brilliant minds, Victor could easily come into conflict with mad scientists like T.O. Morrow, Anthony Ivo, Will Magnus, and Arthur Light. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for Cyborg to fight their creations like Amazo, Tomorrow Woman, and Red Volcano either. He could also come into conflict with member of the military industrial complex who may want to exploit his power like Mr. Orr, Amanda Waller, Equus, and the Phantom Limbs.
Before the New 52, Cyborg was once re-built by Russian scientists. Having a Cold-War-like race for extra-dimensional technology could create serious political conflict in the DC Universe. There was a period of time when Victor Stone was known as Cyberion and worked for an alien race called Technis, a cyber-alien collective that explored and cataloged data throughout the galaxy. In the New 52, the Technis could be tied to inter-dimensional travel in some way. This would allow for plenty of large inter-dimensional crossover stories DC could make money from involving inter-dimensional aspects of the DC Universe like Earth 2, Darkseid, and maybe even the Anti-Monitor. The sci-fi story-telling possibilities are nearly limitless.
He should also be given a chance to show initiative in this new universe. In Flashpoint, Cyborg was a government agent and America's premier superhero. He was like Captain America and Iron Man wrapped up into one package, which allowed him to show initiative and keep the Earth from the brink of annihilation. He rounded up other heroes and villains to save the day. He implanted spies like Steve Trevor, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen in politcal hotspots around the world. He was just an all-around awesome character. It would be great to see this side of cyborg return. It would be preferable to his junior Justice League member status any day.
3) Make Him A Better Avatar and Stream Line His Look
"I think John Stewart is one of the most important characters in comics. Number one, he’s the most notable African American character in all of comics who also, and this is maybe a funny corollary, is the only black character a child can easily dress up as. Maybe Luke Cage but Luke Cage isn’t as well known. Black Panther, that’s an elaborate costume. Cyborg, that’s an elaborate costume. Green Lantern, they go to their costume store where they have all the costumes from the Green Lantern movies and cartoons and they’re John Stewart. That’s the level of empowerment that’s really important."
Escapism is one of the most important parts of superhero comics. Empowerment is another. Whether people realize it or not, having comic book characters that look similar to oneself on the printed page makes escapism easier. It makes empowerment feel more real. On the founding roster of the Justice League, there are 5 incredibly heroic and handsome characters for white males to choose from to act as their avatars. I'm not knocking it, but it's true. On the other hand, women only have one representative, Wonder Woman, and people with brown skin only have one representative, Cyborg. This automatically puts more pressure on these characters to be spokes people for their demographics and to fit a certain ideal that empowers a large and diverse swath of people. Again, I'm not knocking it, but its true. For a lot of readers, the founding members of the Justice League are the only characters they will ever know or will ever be concerned with. That means that Wonder Woman and Cyborg are message-loaded characters. I won't be talking about Wonder Woman in a Cyborg blog, but I hope you see the parallels that I'm drawing here.
What does all this have to do with Cyborg and John Stewart? Well, being good-looking and relate-able on a visual level is one of the things that I think has made John Stewart more popular than Cyborg even though Cyborg has gotten a big push from DC in various forms of media, John has been largely ignored since his cartoon days, and both characters have been on well-known animated series. It's an escapism thing. It's a visual thing. Why do all of the white founders look like heroes and models while Cyborg looks like a monster and a villain? Shouldn't we trying to be moving away from a fear of black men? Cyborg has to look cool. He has to fit a certain ideal and be relate-able visually. Does that mean that we should get rid of the half-face? No, it is iconic. But it can be made to look better. And it doesn't necessarily have to be permanent. You can tell great alien stories with Superman, even though he doesn't look alien at all. You can tell great merman stories with Aquaman, even though he doesn't look fish like at all. The same is true with Cyborg. You can tell great machine stories with him without him looking like a monster. Personally, I think his half-face should look more like a techno-organic addition. It helps to keep a human figure to him. It's easier for artists to draw correctly. It allows him to look cybernetic and handsome. And it looks more advanced than what he has now.
I would also streamline the rest his costume to make it look more advanced, while still retaining his large stature (6'5") and frame (385 lbs).
The current design is too clunky. It looks like something from the 1980s. He looks slow and like he has little range of motion. And I can't see a little kid dressing up easily as Cyborg for Halloween. There's a reason that he looks different in every form of media--his look is just too complicated, clunky, and over-designed.
2) Give Him Some Personality
The most well known version of Cyborg has a jovial, boisterous, friendly personality most of the time. He's supposed to be humorous and funny. He's the kind of guy you want to go to party with or the kind of guy you want to watch a game with. His charisma is supposed to be infectious. But for some reason, the New 52 version of the character is quiet, meek, weak, and a huge sad sack. No one likes a sad sack. This should be corrected immediately.
1) Give Him The Back-Up Pages in Justice League/Do Something With Him
The biggest problem with Cyborg is that he does not get much time centered on him in the DCnU. He doesn't have his own book, and he rarely makes appearances in other books. DC hasn't given him much to do or say in Justice league besides exposition. The only way for Cyborg to get fans is to have him sold to the fans. I say that after Trinity War, Cyborg should get the back-up pages in Justice League. There he could have an epic centered on him, and if the fans like it, DC may be able to give him his own title. I strongly believe that he could be a huge success if he were given the chance and packaged correctly.
Why It Would Be A GREAT Idea To Give Cyborg an Ongoing Series
With the restructuring of the DC timeline by the events in Flashpoint, there have been numerous changes made to the DC Universe--including the addition of Cyborg to the origin of the Justice League. His inclusion as a founding member has added a wealth of story-telling possibilities to the DCU.
Cyborg was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, and he debuted in DC Comics Presents #26. In every interpretation of his origin story, Victor Stone has been a character blessed with immense potential and cursed by great tragedy.Victor’s parents experimented on him when he was a young child so that they could find ways to enhance human potential. Their experiments were successful, but Victor did not want to follow the path that they set out for him. Instead, he pursued his own dreams of achieving athletic greatness. In the DCnU, we see Victor on the way to attaining success before his entire world is torn apart by Darkseid’s invasion of Earth. Caught in a blast of Boom Tube energy, Victor slowly begins to die until his father saves him with an experimental procedure involving extraterrestrial technology. Despite being faced with shattered dreams and a new reality, Victor becomes a shining example of perseverance through adversity. He rises from the wreckage of tragedy to be reborn as Cyborg—a hero for those in need.
So Why is Cyborg Such An Interesting Character?
Cyborg’s story is one of post-humanism, heroism, and love. After his accident, Cyborg grew distant from humanity. Half of him yearns to walk among normal humans and to be accepted by them, while the other half of him knows that he is no longer one of them. Half of him yearns to reconnect with his estranged father Silas Stone, but the other half of him knows the Silas is more interested in his mechanics than his humanity. This leaves Victor with low level depression, which he masks by going through life as a workaholic. He’s a hero who’s always online—and that’s not always a good thing. Cyborg’s journey revolves around him once again finding love—for his father, for Sarah Charles, and for himself.
Why Is He A Prime Candidate For An Ongoing Series?
Cyborg has a fascinating supporting cast. We’ve seen glimpse of them in the new DCU. His father works in the Red Room, where scientists study alien technology that has been recovered from around the world. Silas Stone works with Sarah Charles (a rising star in Star Labs), T.O. Morrow(creator of Tomorrow Woman), and Anthony Ivo (creator of Amazo). His cast also includes Mr. Orr (founder of the Phantom Limbs). And that's probably just a fraction of the characters who are tied to Cyborg.
There are also several Cyborg-related questions that haven’t been answered yet. Why did Victor’s parents feel the need to experiment on him? What happened to Victor’s mother in the DCnU? What happened to Ivo? Can Morrow be trusted?
Finally, with no Oracle in the DCnU, someone needs to fill the role of chief information broker.
With his Mystic, Cyber Ninja Army, Silver Samurai creates a criminal Empire in Japan. He sets his eyes on further expansion by taking over criminal enterprises and sending his ninjas out to search for the Cosmic Cube. He recruits criminal mercenaries into his empire.
SHIELD gets wind of the Silver Samurai's expansion, and Captain America sets up a task force to go to Japan to stealthily take out Silver Samurai. He recruits Daredevil, Spider-Man, Power Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Wolverine. Unfortunately, once they're in Japan, their shield contacts are all killed, and their transportation is destroyed. Trapped in a foreign, shadowy, and hostile underworld, these seven must rally together to save the world.
DC Comic's top tier heroes usually have a wide number and variety of spin-off and supporting characters. Some heroes have so many spin-off characters working together that they've essentially become a working team and family. These teams are not as widely recognized as teams like the the Justice League or the Justice Society, so my goal is to draw attention to DC's Top 5 Super Families. A super family, for the sake of this article, is defined as a group of characters whose origins are linked to one head character. Usually there are some mantles that are passed from one generation of heroes to another. The group usually has a common crime fighting theme, and the head character usually mentors other members of the family. Families have a wider variety of ages than standard teams usually do because families incorporate sidekicks. So every family is a team, but not every team is a family.
I took into account several factors to decide which families were the top 5. Because family/spin-off characters are created to broaden the demographic appeal of a book, diversity was taken into account. The more diverse the better. Teams got bonus points for also having diverse powers instead of copy/paste ones. Group cohesiveness was also looked at. How closely do these heroes actually work together? Do they just have a similar theme or are they actually a well functioning group? Status symbol was taken into account. More well known families are more likely to make it onto the list than less known ones. And finally one of the biggest factors was team numbers. Bigger families (like the Arrow Family are more recognizable than smaller families that only consist of two members like the Martian Family, the Hawk Family, etc.)
5. The Arrow Family
Members: Oliver Queen, Dinah Lance, Roy Harper, Connor Hawke, Mia Deardan, Sin Pros: Successfully integrated a non-Arrow character into the family, Racially Diverse, Gender Diversity, Passing of mantles, Character Growth, Close Team Dynamic Cons: Roy Harper's fall, Not as high cultural status as other teams on the list
4. The Flash Family
Members: Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen, Iris West, Jay Garrick, Jesse Chambers, Max Crandall, Jai West, Iris Allen, Linda Park Pros: Actual Genetic Relationships, Racially Diverse, Gender Diversity, Passing of mantles, Character Growth, Close Team Dynamic Cons: Little Power Variety
3. The Super Family
Members: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Conner Kent, Kara Kent, Karen Starr, Christopher Kent, Krypto Pros: Actual Genetic Relationships, Gender Diversity, Pet, Very High Cultural Status Cons: Little Passing of Mantles, Little (if any) Racial Diversity, Looser Team Dynamic than other Families on List, Little Power Variety
2. The Aqua Family
Members: Arthur Curry, Mera, Garth, Jackson Hyde, Lorena Marquez , Dolphin, Vulko Pros: Racial Diversity, Ethnic Diversity, Gender Diversity, Passing of Mantles, Close Team Dynamic, Power Diversity, Character Growth Cons: Not as high cultural status as other teams on list
1. The Bat Family
Members: Bruce Wayne, Richard Grayson, Timothy Drake, Alfred Pennyworth, Damian Wayne, Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, Kate Kane, Cassandra Cain, Helena Bertinelli Pros: First Sidekick, Racial Diversity, Sexual Orientation Diversity, High Cultural Status, Disabled Member, Passing of Mantles, Close Team Dynamic, Character Growth, Actual Genetic Relationships Cons: Little Power Diversity, History of Previous Member Going Rogue/Insane
Honorable Mentions: Wonder Family, Marvel Family
Rules: The character can't have any powers and must have done good at least once. He/She should get along at least moderately well with Batman. He/She cannot have an origin involving Batman, Superman, or Green Arrow.