Written by: John Semper Jr.
Art by: Paul Pelletier
I gave Cyborg the benefit of the doubt after the Rebirth issue, but after all the same issues being present in this full debut, I don’t think this one will be a Rebirth title I follow. There’s some definite charm in the book, and great potential for interesting concepts, but unfortunately these are buried under some of the clunkiest writing I’ve ever seen and general heavy handedness.
Much like last issue, we get a lot of focus on Vic and his powerset as Cyborg, having some action to show us how his powers can be utilized in some fun ways. This time around though, we get a lot more focus on Vic as a character now as opposed to his history. On paper this sounds great, but Unfortunately Semper Jr. really fumbles a lot of the character moments and exposition leading to some, at times, laughably bad writing. Watching Cyborg look directly at the reader while apprehending two thugs and claiming they shouldn’t commit crimes so near S.T.A.R. labs, his home, strikes me as being so close to the “*record scratch* you’re probably wondering how we got here…” trope that makes the comic feel like a 90s TV Show, and not in a good way. The exposition and set up is handled so poorly I couldn’t believe characters were still talking, it almost feels like parody, or like Semper Jr. is trying to bet how much he can overwrite before editorial complains.
The character stuff is handled a little bit better, but there is some hilarious heavy handedness that trivialize the main themes a bit. One of my personal favorites is a kid getting his picture taken with Cyborg who claims that “cyborg doesn’t have a girlfriend! He’s a machine and has no heart of feelings” while Vic looks on with a broken look. It’s so blunt I actually burst out laughing, probably not the intended response. The latter half of the issue however does admittedly do a much better job, with a scene featuring Cyborg in a jazz club. It’s a surprisingly poignant scene and deals with these struggles with humanity quite well. It’s definitely interesting to see how a character liked Cyborg, literally plugged into every possible means of entertainment, relaxes and experiences art. Like the rest of the issue, it’s pretty heavy handed, but I can’t say that it didn’t at least get me a little more invested in the character and his struggles.
Pelletier returns on art duties, bringing with him a bit of a mixed bag. The action scenes do still have a bit of an old school 90s action feel to them which can be charming, and the scene of Vic listening to live jazz has some real emotion in it, but a lot of sections in the middle can feel forgettable. S.T.A.R. labs has a really white and sterile feel to it which make it feel oddly boring. There are also some really hilariously odd choices, such as cyborg wearing sweatpants during a workout scene. I can’t really explain why I noticed this but… surely I’m not the only one who finds this completely ridiculous. I mean come on! It’s hilarious! Why does he need sweatpants to exercise?? Wouldn’t they get in the way?? It boggles the mind, but part of my is really glad they’re there.
Overall, Cyborg #1 is a pretty mediocre comic, but there’s something weirdly charming about it. I can’t bring myself to hate it in the same why I hate something like Civil War II. It’s got an hilarious “so bad it’s good” type quality that made me slightly enjoy it despite the flaws. I heard a lot of people react positively to the Rebirth special, and if you’re in that camp then feel free to ignore this review. If you liked that you’ll probably love this. If you, like me, were shaky on the Rebirth issue, then you can likely skip this as not much has improved. The most I can say is the issue is weirdly charming in areas so I do have hopes it can improve. It’s just too frustratingly clunky right now for me to properly invest in it.