Cyborg: Rebirth

by H├ęctor A on September 07, 2016

Writer: John Semper Jr.
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Sandra Hope & Tony Kordos
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC

 

I think my superhero fandom can be traced back to Spider-Man: The Animated Series reruns on Jetix. That cartoon, like Dini and Timm's Batman, aspired to portray an essential, timeless version of their protagonist. While the former didn't follow that same strict rule against origin stories that the latter's creators set for themselves, they were confident about having Dr. Strange (someone I definitely didn't know about back when I was watching Jetix) around to introduce Madame Web. The episodes from both series feel like issues from an ongoing series in how they hinted at larger universes but they also mostly avoided being over-explanatory.

 

So it does make sense that John Semper Jr., writer and producer of Spider-Man: TAS, would be involved in DC's Rebirth. If you are reading this you have probably memorized the promotional spiel of Rebirth about restoring the characters' essence while remaining accesible to new readers by now. Thus, it's probably for the better that Rebirth has avoided placing a larger focus on some of DC's most confusing characters (Wonder Girl, Hawkman, Black Canary).

 

And I think Cyborg fits in with that group. Not that his story is hard to explain, he was in the Teen Titans but then they threw that out now he's in the Justice League but I feel like both of his ongoings have not tried to appeal to an audience that would care about this. Arguably, the viewers of the Teen Titans show and the kids who read Tiny Titans and Teen Titans Go! would be the target audience for this, but the main character looks and speaks differently than he did in any of those things. Without his relationships to either the Teen Titans or the Justice League grounding him in Cyborg: Rebirth, Victor Stone is reduced to the most basic version of himself.

 

This issue, like most Rebirth specials, is a massive infodump. And that works (to a degree) for Wonder Woman or the Suicide Squad or whoever else because people know those characters and seeing those beats replicated is enjoyable. Cyborg: Rebirth ultimately falls flat for me because the incarnation of that character that I'm familiar with is not here. Semper establishes who Victor Stone is and what his life has been up to this point through flashbacks. As far as the conflict that this issue seems to set up, the question of Cyborg's humanity isn't really that interesting, yet it is what has come to define the character across all of his incarnations, in spite of Rebirth I'd really like to see something different from this title. His relationship to his parents is also a constant and I think the most touching moments here come from that.

 

The approach to narration is very interesting, although it gets confusing some times and it was the best part of the book as far as the writing goes. There's a lot going on but Semper does a good job with the pacing the issue through captions. Cy's voice feels really off to me though. There is lots of quips in what feels like a 70's throwback but that tone clashes with the more modern art style and the unorthodox narration.

 

I thought the action scenes were very striking in their physicality but the villain's design is just ugly. Cyborg pretty much fights a tangled-up mess of cables for 15 pages. Most of the book is colored in grey, black and cold tones which isn't a very appealing or inviting look. It does not bode well that the depictions of technology in the intro to a Cyborg series are so sterile. Cyborg isn't a character that has powers that are particularly compelling visually, I understand he has been leveled up a lot in The New 52 but his powerset doesn't really lend itself to great visual moments.

 

Cyborg: Rebirth tries to do a lot (it has to) but it doesn't accomplish much. There are some interesting fluorishes to both the writing and the art but I just feel like the approach is all wrong.

Our Score:

5/10

A Look Inside