I SUPPORT BLACK SUPERHEROES [Belser-Verse, Part 15.1]: Boo-Yah!!

Part Man! Part Machine! All Hero! No, I’m not talking about Robocop (but it’s damn close). Today’s article is about a young wonder of science who has forged his own path to become one of the most prominent black superheroes out there right now: CYBORG!

Creation and First Appearance

The character was created by writer Mark Wolfman and artist George Pérez and first appears in a special insert in DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980).

Origin

A look into the world of CYBORG!

Victor Stone is the son of scientists Silas Stone and Elinore Stone. As a young boy, his parents use Victor as a test subject for various intelligence enhancement projects. While these treatments were successful and Victor’s IQ subsequently grows to genius levels, Victor grows to resent his parents for using him as a guinea pig.

Victor strives for independence, engaging in pursuits of which his parents disapprove, such as athletics. Victor’s life is forever changed when he visits his parents’ lab while they try to access another dimensional. At that moment of his entry, a hostile gelatinous creature was accidentally pulled through and attacks them. Victor’s mother is killed by the creature and Victor himself severely injured before his father was able to send it back to its native dimension.

With his son mutilated, unconscious and near death, Silas Stone uses prototype medical prosthetic equipment to treat Victor. Victor regains consciousness after the extensive artificial limbs and implants were installed  onto his body without his consent.
Victor was horrified at the discovery of the metallic components, which involve most of the left side of his head and face. He screams that he would rather have died than be such a victim of his father’s experimentation.
He found himself rejected by the public because of his appearance. His most painful revelation came from his own girlfriend, who thoughtlessly blurted out that she would prefer he had died instead of being in his current state.
Although his bitterness remained for some time, Victor eventually calmed down enough to successfully adjust to his implants physically.

However, Victor’s heroic side came into prominence when an old friend of his, Robert Evers, tried to manipulate him into participating in a terrorist attack on the United Nations. Victor decided to equip himself with his weaponized attachments and stop Evers on the top of United Nations Headquarters.

The New Teen Titans

Victor finds a new home and a new calling with a group of young superheroes called The Teen Titans. This run of Teen Titans became DC’s best selling title of the early 80’s.
When Raven assembles the Teen Titans, Victor joins initially for the benefit of a support group of kindred spirits and freaks, and has remained with that group ever since.
In addition to the Titans, Victor eventually find acceptance and new civilian friends. In particular, he hangs with a group of kids who are adjusting to their own prosthetics. They idolize him because of his exciting adventures while being like them. It also turns out that their beautiful teacher Sarah Simms, who has often assisted Cyborg and the Titans, admires him as well.
Another person who sees past the cybernetic shell is a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist named Dr. Sarah Charles, who often  helps him with his cybernetic parts. Cyborg and Dr. Charles date for some time.
Vic has gone on to mentor the new incarnation of the Teen Titans, consisting mainly of sidekicks, most of whom have taken over the identities of former members ( like Tim Drake, the third Robin, and Bart Allen, the second Kid Flash),

The New 52

In August 2011, Cyborg is chosen as one of the main characters in a new Justice League ongoing series written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee as part of DC’s The New 52 relaunch. Johns has said of Cyborg, “He represents all of us in a lot of ways. If we have a cellphone and we’re texting on it, we are a cyborg—that’s what a cyborg is, using technology as an extension of ourselves”.

The new storyline takes place five years in the past and features Victor ” Vic” Stone appears as a high school football star who is heavily sought after by a number of college scouts, but has a distant relationship with his father, Silas. After winning a big game, Victor calls his father and angrily telling him that he broke his promise and missed yet another one of his games.

Later, Victor appears at S.T.A.R. Labs where his father and other scientists appear to be working on a Mother Box from Apokolips that Superman came in contact with. Victor has another argument with his father and tells him that many college scouts were at the game to give him full scholarships . When asking if his father will ever appear at any of his games, his father coldly replies “No.” 

After the father and son finish their argument, the Mother Box explodes and kills the other scientists. Victor’s father looks on in horror as the Mother Box destroys most of Victor’s body.

Silas, along with Dr. Sarah Charles, and T. O. Morrow go in “The Red Room“, a special room in S.T.A.R. labs which contains every piece of exotic technology from around the world. Silas attempts to treat Victor with something that has never been attempted before. Silas injects Victor with experimental nanites and has Dr. Morrow put various robotic pieces on Victor including:

  • A skin graft made of the invincible metal Promethium
  • Doctor William Magnus’ responsometer
  • Anthony Ivo’s A-maze operating system
  • Ryan Choi’s White Dwarf Stabilizer

He sees himself for the first time with his robotic parts and is panicked by his new body. Suddenly, Parademons burst into the red room and leap toward Sarah Charles.

The Parademon attack causes Victor’s defense systems to react, automatically weaponizing his arm into a sound cannon from which he fires his powerful white noise cannon, disintegrating the  Parademons.

Soon, Vic sees a woman being set upon by a group of Parademons. He leaps to the woman’s aid and Vic inadvertently absorbs some of the Parademon’s components giving him access to Boom Tube technology.

This new ability automatically teleports Victor to where Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman are fighting the Parademons, moments before Darkseid arrives. Cyborg fights alongside the other heroes against Darkseid and his Parademons

It is soon discovered that the energies from the Mother Box are incorporated into his new form. This allows Victor to access the vast New Gods data library and discover Darkseid’s true invasion plans. Vic is able to reverse engineer the alien boom tube technology and teleports all the invading aliens including Darkseid off the planet, saving the Earth. With this act, Vic helps to found the Justice League, adopting the code name Cyborg.

Multimedia Appearances

The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985)

Cyborg’s very first multimedia appearance was on the ABC cartoon The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (the final incarnation of Hanna-Barbera’s long-running Super Friends franchise).

This version of Cyborg was voiced by actor Ernie Hudson ( Winston Zeddemore from ” Ghostbusters”). Hudson has made other appearances in DC properties like ‘ Superman: The Animated Series” and the CW series ” Arrow” as John Diggle’s stepfather Roy Stewart

Cyborg’s origin on the series was told via a medical journal read by Dr. Martin Stein saying Cyborg was a promising decathlon athlete until an accident destroyed most of his body and his father replaced part of his body with machine parts. Cyborg mentors handicapped children with prosthetic limbs like in the comics and has been using his abilities in secret due to his low self image. He becomes fast friends with teammate Firestorm due to their similar age.

Cyborg as a member of The Super Powers Team on ABC

Cyborg debuts in the episode, “The Seeds of Doom“, when he stops a plot by Lex Luthor using a giant mechanical spider. Luthor is embarrassed by his defeat at the hands of ‘a teenage Tin Man‘. The victory impresses the Super Powers Team (in particular, Wonder Woman and Firestorm). Cyborg abruptly leaves and Superman explains that Cyborg has been offered membership a number of times only for him to refuse.

Cyborg’s abilities help save Earth from the monster seeds of the villain Darkseid. Superman warns that Cyborg has made a dangerous enemy in Darkseid. With encouragement from Firestorm, Cyborg finally accepts the offer and becomes a valued member of The Super Powers Team.

Smallville (2006)

Cyborg as he appeared on ‘Smallville’.

Cyborg’s first live action appearance was in the WB/CW series Smallville, which followed the life of young Clark Kent on his journey to becoming Superman.  Vic debuts in the 15th episode of the fifth season, entitled “Cyborg”.

Played by the late Lee Thompson Young, this version of Victor is a former wide receiver for the Metropolis High School football team who played against Clark Kent (who was the quarterback for Smallville High at one point). He is involved in a car accident that kills him and the rest of his family. However, scientists at a tech company called Cyntechnics began to do cybernetic experiments on humans. Vic’s body was found and is secretly rebuilt by Dr. Alistair Krieg.

Of a group of test subjects, Victor was the only one to survive the experiments. Locked up in a secret facility, Victor escapes captivity and has a full-on vehicle collision with Clark’s girlfriend Lana Lang (he is unharmed; she is injured).  Soon, Cyntechnics was bought up by Lex Luthor who wants to turn Victor into a mindless drone.

Victor’s cybernetic enhancements are entirely endoskeletal instead of exoskeletal as they are in the comics.  One shot of Clark Kent’s X-ray vision reveals that Victor’s cranial armor covers the same-shaped area as it does in the comics.

Victor never referred to by the name “Cyborg” in his first appearance. Instead, Victor refers to his enhancements as “bionic” as the episode explicitly references the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man. The final shot of the show has Victor reuniting with his girlfriend Katherine.

Victor is shown to be a founding member of Smallville’s teenage version of The Justice League

Victor returns in the Season 6 episode “Justice”, which features Green Arrow gathering together a group of past allies who have encountered Clark Kent to combat Lex Luthor.

In this episode, Victor finally takes the name “Cyborg”, as Green Arrow’s team uses code names. Victor also explains that his mechanical parts put a strain on his relationship with Katherine. After their break up, Victor states that it was Green Arrow who kept him from committing suicide.

The episode also shows Cyborg wearing something of a costume (a stylized silver vest), and utilizing further enhancements Green Arrow gave him. One of his new functions allows him to hack into and disable security systems.
One of his new functions allows him to hack into and disable security systems. While connecting to machines, Cyborg’s left eye glows red, another nod to his comic book incarnation.
Cyborg gets mentioned by codename in the season 9 episode “Checkmate” by Amanda Waller and is last seen in the season 9 finale titled “Salvation”, reporting in to Watchtower of the battle against the Kandorians.

Teen Titans (2003- 2006)

Cyborg was one of the main characters on the Cartoon Network animated series, Teen Titans. Voiced by actor Khary Payton, this version of Cyborg is very similar to his comic book counterpart. His nickname is ‘Cy’ and, like most of his teammates, he is never referred to by his given name. However, he does take the alias ‘Stone’ (based on his real last name) in the Season 3 episode “Deception”. 

The two main differences are his design and that he is more easygoing than his comics counterpart. His head is considerably more rounded and bald (based on his Titans Hunt counterpart), and his mechanical parts are bulkier. His primary weapon is a sonic cannon housed in his forearm; initially he uses only his right arm to fire, but later episodes reveal that his left arm has an identical cannon built into it as well.

Cyborg is the Titans’ chief technician and gadgeteer. He is responsible for the construction of Titans Tower’s electronic and security systems and the team’s main vehicles. His most dominant personality faults featured in the series are his enormous appetite and a tendency to be overly vain about his work.

On occasion, Cyborg acts as the team’s second-in-command, but he tends to butt heads with Robin on rather trivial matters. He also is best friends with Beast Boy.

In “Deception” it is revealed that he never had a chance to finish high school due to the circumstances that made him what he is. The only time Cyborg’s personal history has been discussed is in “Deception” in which he discusses his involuntary cyborg status with Starfire.

NOTE: This series establishes Cyborg’s catchphrase ‘ Boo-Yah’, a phrase made popular by the late Stuart Scott on ESPN SportsCenter. Every subsequent multimedia version of Cyborg  has used the catchphrase including Ray Fisher in Justice League.

-JaDarrel Belser

Stay tuned for the second half of Cyborg’s legacy next week!

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