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Cyborg:

by Andrew Pellerito

Robot To Ruin

It's a fact of life; people change over the years. In comics, that change either rarely happens or goes full force, modifying the character to an almost unrecognizable level overnight. I've been reading comics for over 25 years so I'm getting to be one of those seasoned readers who fondly remembers when . . .

I'm getting to where I can tell you what happened the first year of the All-Star Squadron but couldn't tell you where I set my keys an hour ago. While I ponder those keys and think about change, I come to the actual point in my article (those of you still reading this are gasping "at last!") regarding one of my favorite robots with a human brain, Cyborg of the New Teen Titans.

The character of Cyborg was about overcoming: overcoming disability, overcoming prejudice, overcoming your own doubts and insecurities. In the early issues of the New Teen Titans, he was a bitter, hurt, young athlete facing a new reality. Nearly killed by a strange creature from another dimension, Victor Stone's body was severely damaged, forcing his father to replace most of his body with cybernetic replacements.

The replacements provided him with greater strength and a useful assortment of gadgets he would later use to fight crime. It also made him different and most considered the new metal man to be slightly ugly. He was gifted with his parent's genes and was quite the intelligent boy. Hardened by a tough childhood and then the accident, Victor really wanted nothing to do with the judging "real world" and focused on helping others with handicaps overcome their difficulties.

Throughout the years, the character grew and much like Marvel's Thing, maintained a rough and tough exterior to help cope with being dealt a difficult hand. Letting his guard down to a select few, he became close friends with his fellow Titans and grew extremely close to one green shape-changer named Garfield Logan. The Changeling, as the young Gar was called, and Victor hit it off and the friendship allowed Victor to realize what he was missing.

As the issues went on, time-and-again Victor grew as a person.

In issue #77 of the New Titans, Victor was lost in a crash in the Soviet Union. You knew of course, the Cyborg would return. When he next appeared different, he was even less of a human and more robot in nature. The character had seemed to lose whatever progress he had made over the years. I, surprisingly, liked this move, for while it was a step back for poor Cyborg the person, it was a change that made sense and advanced the character without changing his theme. Victor again had much to overcome.

He remained this way for some time, showing new improvements in power but less in intelligence. He was basically a Frankenstein monster with large weapons coming out of his chest. While I missed the driving mental battles Victor used to take, I knew this was probably only one more step for him to eventually find himself again. It was then that his character took a turn for the worst. As the book he was in started gasping for breathe, some writers in my opinion lost the essence of Cyborg. An essence I am still waiting to return to this day.

Since that time, Victor has absorbed an alien metal, becoming machine looking and called himself Cyberion. He's been reabsorbed by some other alien metal/life-force and turned human looking but with a gold metallic sheen, and his last metamorphosis was to be cloned from his original body but with powers similar to all his previous incarnations.

And there in is my problem. Now, don't get me wrong. I think the end of the Cyborg character saga SHOULD be that he returns to a normal form and live out his days. What he shouldn't have is powers when that happens. I like the character, I really do, but what does this current version of Cyborg have to overcome (which, as mentioned previously, is the driving force of the character)? What really makes the character interesting now that he has no imperfections and no cause to struggle? Can he still overcome prejudice? Sure, but that's about it.

My suggestions to fix it are simple. Either sideline Victor Stone, having finally deserved the normal life, or if writers want to use him as a headliner, change him back to the struggling, half-metal man that longs to be accepted in a world that judges him unfairly based on looks alone.

What writers have done to this character is make him so unlike that which made him real and interesting. Could he be interesting this way? Sure, a talented writer could create new things to challenge him? Does that still make me miss the old Cyborg? Yep, and I miss the old Firestorm too. Don't get me started. Man, I'm getting old . . .

 
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