In an effort to lay bare all of my reviewer biases, I’ll be upfront and say that this is the first issue of John Semper Jr. and Will Conrad’s Cyborg I’ve read. Despite this, I looked forward to jumping in. While I’m certainly familiar with the character (though I personally will always quietly lament his promotion to the Justice League #TeenTitansForever), it’s a rare treat to just start reading completely context free. Almost immediately, however, the book demonstrated a crucial weakness in a lot of Big Two comics right now. In a simpler time, this Part One of the “Danger in Detroit” storyline would have been a great place to hop on and join in on the fun of a brand new tale. But because of contemporary tastes desiring long-form stories, this is actually just another entry in a larger over-arching plot, and it includes supporting characters, villains, situations, and stakes established in the preceding months. Consequently, the book is a caught between trying to catch up new readers and engaging those who started at issue one, and the resulting compromise leaves little room for good storytelling.
Cyborg #10 (DC Comics)
Along with more scheming and plotting by the evil shape shifting alien Anomaly, The issue introduces two new characters; superhero The Black Narcissus, and villain The Rat Lord. If either were introduced in any previous issue, issue ten made no suggestion that we’ve seen them before, but at the same time doesn’t spend the proper amount of time introducing them. Instead, Semper and Conrad tell rather than show, and we’re treated to a couple flashes of non-descript energy blasts, then forced to sit through a number of wooden monologues that lay out precisely who these people are and what they can do.
Black Narcissus is a generic, gadget-based hero who can gadget her way out of any situation that’s solved with gadgets? She also comes complete with a Goblin Glider to ride on, for an entrance through what must have been a very tight hallway into room that is not very large, so that she can tower over Cyborg by floating what must only be about 3 – 3.5 feet in the air, lest her head knock into the ten foot ceiling.
Like, what really is the strategic value to close-quarters hovering?
Then we have the headlining villain, Rizzo Rattama, The Rat Lord! A character crippled from birth, and confined to a wheel chair, which is a great point for diversity… but then his shtick is that nobody loved him so became an outcast and befriended a hoard of rats, which kinda retracts the point earned. It’s just kind of a bummer that the only handicapped character is considered a lonely freak whose only friends are rodents. Not. Very. Cool. Guys.
Conrad’s art neither redeems nor condemns Semper’s writing. Much like the rest of the book, the art is middle-of-the-road. Conrad competently produces DC’s current, safe, David Finch-equse house style, he knows how to draw backgrounds and certainly knows how to draw rats; no real complaints. But also no real compliments. This book that just doesn’t take chances, and art is included.
In the end, this book was harmless and by no means terrible; if you’re a Stoner (a term for super fans of Vic “Cyborg” Stone that I just came up with. Tell your friends.), you can probably sustain yourself on what is provided. For anyone less committed though, Semper and Conrad are just trying to be too much to too many without committing hard enough to be entertaining. Cyborg #10 has settled down into the middle of the pack, and the title seemingly has every intention of staying there.