By Captain13 31 Comments
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."
-Joshua Hale Fialkov on John Stewart, courtesy of Bleeding Cool
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.