Writer: David F. Walker
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Covers by: Reis, Prado & Lucas; Tony Harris
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
“Unplugged” (20 pages)
Three-and-a-half decades ago, Victor Stone made his auspicious debut as the simply but aptly named Cyborg!! Futuristic at the time, he made waves with his hi-tech heroics and nerves of steel [no pun intended!] Fast-forward to 2015. The Digital Age is two decades old and we humans have been able to keep up. Are we an endangered species? Will machines sap our spirit and replace us in mind and body? Never!! As long as we retain the spark we call the soul and fuel it with ambition, we come out on top.
In an unspecified corner of the universe in an unnamed galaxy, two sides are warring with each other: the Tekbreakers and the Technosapiens. The Breakers have a similar appearance to Vic’s hard casing whereas the Sapiens are a cross between Alien and Terminator.
Protestors have gathered outside of S.T.A.R Labs’ Detroit location. Dr. Silas Stone is dumbfounded by their presence since there is no specific rhyme nor reason. His colleague Dr. Thomas Morrow asks him if he is aware of his son’s imminent arrival. Silas responds in the affirmative but brushes it off since everything seems to be important to Victor.
Sarah Charles helps Vic pass the time. A two-page spread highlights recent events Cyborg has experienced from his origin to harrowing NDEs a total of three times. Vic’s new look comes fresh off the DIVERGENCE sneak peek.
Ever the scientists, Morrow and Silas are fascinated and intrigued with the exterior appearance. His regeneration happened two days ago. Vic recorded what transpired and proceeds to show the staff. His father is in complete disbelief that death occurred. Vic sarcastically remarks that there was no white light nor reunion with his dearly departed mother but he confirms he shuffled off this mortal coil.
Vic is very casual about the entire ordeal. Silas and Thomas are downright clinical. Sarah is the only way obviously upset by it all.
The Breakers are on the losing end of their battle. One of the downed soldiers is assimilated by the Sapiens’ symbiotic surgery after a new weapon is found that they will use to their advantage. The Sapiens seem to recognize its design.
Sarah’s reaction resonates with Vic. He recalls being ignored and despises being an unseen entity. He shouts at the two men. He gets their attention only because his body begins shifting on its own. The duo are super excited and begin running diagnostics. A technician asks Victor his emotional state. He is unsure and walks away.
Vic has some alone time with his only friend. They have known each other since childhood. She is the only one who makes him feel like someone.
Sarah recommends they leave the lab for Vic to clear his head and find himself. Sarah forgot about the protest outside. Vic isn’t afraid to confront the common folk. An elderly man approaches him. He chastises Cyborg for not living up to his full potential despite having the bells and whistles in terms of prosthetics. The senior citizen sports a hook in lieu of a left hand and an empty eye socket on the right side of his face covered by a patch.
Another protestor drops in on the confrontation. It’s a football rival from Vic’s high school days: Sebastian Cardona. Vic is so enthused to relives the good old times that he completely forgets about Sarah as he suggests going for coffee to get reacquainted.
The fallen soldier continues to be integrated with the Sapien tech. One of the fighters hears the music behind the weaponry. He believes it will bring hope and salvation to his race. He is determined to retrieve the original components. He takes a menacing stance as he powers up.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, (I love you) tomorrow!
T.O. Morrow (Thomas Oscar) was a Justice League villain before Earth Prime, infamously known as the creator of ‘failed’ products Red Tornado and Tomorrow Woman. His partnership with Ivo makes him most shady. He seems to be a good guy here. For now. Trouble may lie ahead for Vic.
Once, twice, three times!! Vic was at death’s doorstep in JUSTICE LEAGUE #2-3 before he was transformed into an ambulant cybernetic organism. Grid shut him down and tore him apart in JUSTICE LEAGUE #23. The ultimate and actual shutdown occurred during DIVERGENCE.
Cracked shell: Humpty Dumpty was put back together but far from perfect.
Look at me! Vic relates to the Invisible Man treatment. No one wants to be an indiscriminate face in the crowd!
Vic’s new lease on life is about to get more frenzied than dozens of upgrades. He is extremely introspective of his inner being. He knows he is flesh and blood. He accepts the metal and the wiring. His two halves seem to be in synch. Yet, that is not sufficient. He is perceived as a technological marvel, a hero of the highest standing, but not quite human. Besides himself, his lifelong pal Sarah sees the man within and without. The possibilities expand a bit with the introduction of Sebastian. He doesn’t seem fazed by Vic’s outer shell even though he is greatly aware of his exploits as a Justice Leaguer. He sees Vic as a young man who was an all-star athlete. I don’t want to speculate or be dismissive but I wonder if Sebastian has his eye on Vic for another reason.
David F. Walker has made it his mission to put a young African-American man at the foreground of the comic world. In several interviews, he has stated that real-world issues will be addressed. The mild protest is the first example. The cause is unknown but it is reflective of the current era where entitlement is confused with basic civil rights. Mr. Walker gives a detailed, heartfelt, universal description of the complexities of familial relationships. Vic wants to be accepted, appreciated, loved, recognized, and valued just like EVERY OTHER PERSON on this planet. Our actions define us. Our accomplishments distinguish us. Our relationships solidify us. Vic wants his life to follow one simple rule: to be close with his father and establish an unbreakable bond with him. He remains optimistic in achieving this goal. The ones we love (may) hurt us but we can never truly discard them. They remain integral to our identities.
This first issue serves as an allegory to our increasingly isolating, socially awkward society. How ironic that the more tech-savvy we are the less human we become. We are emotionally detached and distant. The interface with the screens from our devices are favoured over the face-to-face interactions. Simple dialogue is replaced by texting and typing. The Technosapiens view machinery with religious appeal. The same goes for digital citizens. When one becomes completely dependent on gadgets and equipment, it is nigh impossible to regain the biological, motor-functional skills developed and harnessed by our environment and upbringing. Simply put: we are not machines nor will we ever be!
The cover image has Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man in the background. The Roman architect Vitruvius saw man as flawless in its corporeal design. Leonardo expanded on that by blending art and science, drawing perfect geometrical proportions. Victor Stone is a product of modern science despite originating from the art of conception. He wants to attain an equilibrium, a symmetry. Vitruvius had very specific notions of man’s body parts with precise measurements that are too technical to measure here. Leonardo simply incorporated his ideas. [Sidenote: the same drawing was supposed to be the regular cover for MARTIAN MANHUNTER. I am curious as to why it was changed.]
Victor is Latin for “winner”, “conqueror”. From that, we also get the words victory and victorious. The father’s son feels anything but this. His heroic deeds pale in comparison and outnumber his significant relationships. Stone is appropriate for Silas. He is the ultimate scientist: cold and critical. Facts over feelings. Data over desires. Empiricism over emotions. Vic says it best: “And I know that he loves me. He just has a difficult time showing it.” This is something we all crave as social creatures. It should be the little things that mean the most; the daily mundaneness that should be noticed, not the special occasions.
I see a new trinity emerging here: Vic is the body, Silas is the mind, Sarah is the heart. There is no whole, only holes. Vic needs to be retrained in the ways of the real world, Silas needs to be more man and less machine, Sarah needs to express her true feelings towards Vic.
Ivan Reis has had a long tour of duty at DC. He has been the centre of many major events these past eleven years thanks to writing partner Geoff Johns. Mr. Reis’ art is hyper-realistic — the skeletal frame of the merged Technosapien is sinew and metal combined. Vic’s arms bulge through with the protruding veins running from the deltoids to the anconœus. Vic’s facial expressions from sheepish to dejected really bring out his humanity and hit the heart.
Joe Prado has worked with Ivan for so long know that the two are a well-oiled machine [natch!] Their joint efforts are seamless. Mr. Prado’s interpretations of the alien technovores gives me the willies!! He sets the pace for both plots and establishes an easy but enjoyable read.
Adriano Lucas gives exquisite detail to the flashbacks depicting Vic’s recent travails. The tone is subtle yet poignant. The shakiness to express Vic’s agony leaves a haunting holograph. Full-on black is unnecessary since a darker grey envelops the illustrations. This is seen in the ridges along Vic’s neck and shoulder piece as well as the helmets worn by the Tekbreakers. Aside from the DIVERGENCE preview, this is Mr. Lucas’ first rodeo at DC Comics.
Rob Leigh gets unlimited praise for the rune-like glyphs expressed by one of the Technosapiens. Who knows what he’s babbling. Even with a magnifying glass, it’s hard to make out! The word balloons determine who is superior among that marauding tribe. Vic’s thoughts are laid out in plain Courier font (my least favourite). It is the mainstay of computer language.
Since his ground-breaking premiere 35 years ago, Victor Stone has undergone numerous changes which is to be expected since he has to go along with the passing of time. Some were radical; others were ridiculous. Through it all, he has returned to his humanity. Even before the New 52, he was briefly put in the big League [pun intended!] but was poorly utilized. It wasn’t until FLASHPOINT and the subsequent line-wide reboot that he truly came to the front of the line. Even then, it took almost four whole years before the tease, the promise, the realization of an on-going series materialized. Mr. Walker is determined to make this character as well as title socially relevant and universally appealing. I praise him to high heaven for this endeavour.
In acknowledgement of the Vitruvian Man, I give this book 7 out of 8 limbs (87.5%)
Tags: Cyborg, David F. Walker, DC Comics, DC You, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Justice League, Victor Stone