Man or Machine: Inside DC Entertainment's 'Cyborg'

A quick guide to the hero of cartoons, video games and now, finally, his own comic book series.
Ivan Reis/DC Entertainment

DC Entertainment's Cyborg is a character that might well be described by a variation of the "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" truism. Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez for the critically acclaimed, best-selling The New Teen Titans series in 1980, he has gone on to feature in a number of comic books, animated series and video games … and yet, it's taken 35 years for him to get his own monthly series.

Victor Stone was one of three new characters created for the successful 1980s reboot of DC's Teen Titans concept (The others were Starfire and Raven; all three would go on to anchor Cartoon Network's Teen Titans animated projects), a teenager maimed by contact with an inter-dimensional portal and rebuilt as … well, a cyborg, by his robotics-scientist father. Initially portrayed as a bitter, angry teen at odds with his father and almost everyone around him, he quickly came to terms with his disability, new powers and role as a superhero.

Being an African-American hero — something that DC was woefully short on in the 1980s — Cyborg quickly made the jump out of comics with 1985's The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, the final incarnation of Hanna-Barbera's long-running animated Super Friends series. His inclusion alongside the Justice League in the show came with a fringe benefit; Cyborg also received his own action figure as part of Kenner's Super Powers line.

Despite this boost in profile, the character fell back into obscurity in the 1990s following the cancellation of the New Teen Titans series; by the time the series ended, not only had the series been retitled New Titans, but Cyborg himself had gained a new name — Cyberion — and a new mission, leaving Earth to teach a race of alien machines about humanity. When the series was revived in 1999, Stone returned to Earth, and to the "Cyborg" name, going on to mentor a new generation of teen heroes using the Teen Titans moniker.

While the comic book version of the character served as the mature voice of reason, Cartoon Network's Teen Titans animated series offered up a much younger version, voiced by Khary Payton, who'd also voice the character in the spinoff video game. That was just one of many video game appearances for Cyborg, who'd also show up in DC Universe Online, Lego Batman 2 and 3, Infinite Crisis and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Meanwhile, the character would also make his live-action debut in a fifth season episode of the WB's Smallville, played by Lee Thompson Young, returning multiple times before the series' end.

When DC Entertainment relaunched its comic book line in 2011, Cyborg was pulled from the Teen Titans and given a place in the Justice League, a promotion that meant that he was a big name, in theory — but, as the only founding member of the team without his own monthly comic book, one that was difficult to argue in practice. That finally changes with this week's launch of Cyborg, by David Walker and the former Justice League art team of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado — and the character's announced solo movie, scheduled for 2020 and starring Ray Fisher in the title role; Fisher will also appear in the Justice League movies in 2017 and 2018.

For now, the future looks bright for Victor Stone — and why not? He is, after all, a hero who is literally built for upgrades when necessary.

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