For most of us, he’s been a smarmy, almost doltish, cartoon character on Teen Titans. Those of us who appreciated DC Comics canon, Cyborg was always supposed to be more than that.
When you can interface with any technology known to man and most of your body is cybernetic–as in, a living extension of your body–you know limits are not your weakness. Apparently, vision was. No, not the all-seeing eye Cyborg has. Rather, what DC Comics wanted to do to bring him to life.
A few years ago, Cyborg appeared in the 15th episode of Smallville’s fifth season. We waited until some nerd named Snyder considered him for the big screen. Oh sure, it took a while (and a movie that gave most people issues in their lower GI tract than fond memories), but there he was.
Ray Fisher crushed it. He was partly the connective tissue in the Justice League, and partly trying to figure out his place in this world. His presence on the screen demanded an origin movie, and well, there’s time to discuss that later.
What’s important is that Cyborg is no longer a trivia question of “Who were the founding members of the Justice League.” He is now front and center, where he belongs.
Today’s Black History Month profile is…
Name: Victor Stone
Creators: Marv Wolfman (writer), George Perez (artist), DC Comics (comic)
1st Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (1980)
Backstory: An excellent high school athlete, Victor is raised by two scientists. One day, while with his father in the lab, he was caught in the middle of a freakish explosion. Through advanced cybernetics, his life was saved but not much of his body. A father’s love and a child’s will keeps him alive. Now as a humanoid, Victor’s life begins to become a quest for meaning.
Powers: Large portions of Victor Stone’s body have been replaced by advanced mechanical parts, providing him superhuman strength, speed, stamina, flight, and technopathy.
Medium: For a while, it seemed that Cyborg and Victor Stone wouldn’t see the light of a headline comic, much less a TV screen. With a little bit of success and intrigue, Cyborg became a member of the Teen Titans, which was followed by the animated Justice League. Did you know Cyborg has been voiced by notables like Shemar Moore, Khary Payton, and oh yeah… this Michael B. Jordan guy.
His story attracts the minds of actors, and when Ray Fisher got a hold of him in Justice League, we were convinced Victor Stone was here to stay (because he was that good as Cyborg). Then, Justice League disappointed so the verdict is out, but what’s important is a young black man on a quest for justice, for liberty, for himself is no longer resigned made-for-TV movies.
Impact: What makes Cyborg stand out in a sea of superheroes and villains is his internal struggle to matter. He is forced to learn again how to do many things. And as his cybernetically advanced body evolves with the technology it is around, his mind is playing catch up to learn who he is, while trying not to lose who he was.
The cartoon never delves that deep into his character, but the story we touched upon in the movies is where we learn the most from Cyborg. His struggles–sans technopathy–are familiar to most young men, which is why the story that could be told would be one of the most powerful in DC’s history.
Culture: If look hard enough, and a tad metaphorically, you can see many connections between Victor Stone and his relation to being Cyborg and young black men and their relations to being young black men in America. Some, and not just the ones in the news, feel disconnected from a sense of family. They often struggle with finding their purpose, sometimes shying from leadership.
Victor Stone did much of the same, largely because he was debating who he was before he could be anything in public. (Yeah, now you see it.) But, look who he became in canon. When Superman was down, it was Cyborg that recruited Shazam. He was the leader, the uniter, the champion of the Justice League. Essentially, he was everything he used to be, then didn’t think he could ever be, followed by all that he was destined to be.
I’ve known several young men — black, white, and brown — that fit that bill. Do you? To quote one Me. Fisher, that’s just a day in the #BORGLife.