I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 6 comics last week: Old Man Logan #3, Cyborg #1, We Are Robin #2, Grayson #10, Uncanny X-Men #35 and Star Trek #47.
There is a significant nostalgic resonance for me with the character Cyborg. As a young man, I grew up reading his early adventures as scripted by Marv Wolfman (and others) and drawn by George Perez (and others). Victor Stone was a central member of the New Teen Titans and he was, to me, a unique creation. Part man/part machine/all attitude. He was also appealing to me because he was a teen and, when Cyborg was introduced, I was, too.
As the years have gone by, and as DC has rebooted their universe, many things have happened to Cyborg – most of them bad. My take as I watched what had happened to the character was, was he broken? What was wrong with the approach that needed a significant change in direction?
Apparently, at this point in the character’s history, DC agrees. The “new” version of Cyborg echoes the character’s roots. Again, Victor Stone is a high school athlete whose body is all but destroyed (this time by Darkseid’s forces) and Stone’s father is force to graft experimental technology to his son to save him. In the new 52, this event is part of the origin of the Justice League and Cyborg becomes a founder.
Now, he’s got his own ongoing title and, if the first issue by writer David F. Walker and artist Ivan Reis (assisted, as always, by Joe Prado’s inks) is any indication of where the series is going, count me in.
It’s not a perfect issue -comics new-comer Walker can lean a little more into the “showing not telling” element of the medium and his villains are a bit one-note – but it’s a fitting opening chapter for Cyborg. The story hits the right notes from Vic’s relationship with his father to his interactions with the other characters at STAR Labs. Rooted in Cyborg’s history, the plot also shows us that Walker has more on his mind than superheroics.
Cyborg, when written well, has been a noble character who, by the very nature of his own origin as a hero, can relate to those who are different. Walker lays solid ground work to tap into that aspect of Cyborg and that’s a good thing. The character stuff is so well done here that the scenes concerning the villainous Tekbreakers are utterly secondary. That’s okay. They are a set up for future issues.
Ivan Reis has proven himself a top DC artist. This is his first regular gig since Justice League and he’s more than up to the challenge. One can see that he really has an affinity for Victor Stone and he knows how Cyborg’s powers work. He is one of my favorite artists – the kind I follow from title-to-title – and he’s perfectly suited to Cyborg.
Welcome to the big leagues, Victor Stone. I hope Walker and Reis are on the title for a long run.