In January, DC Comics’ ongoing Cyborg series concludes with issue #20. This will seemingly end the publisher’s longstanding attempt to elevate Victor Stone’s DC Universe status. DC has been trying to push the character to the forefront of its comic book universe for over a decade now, and what has the character to show for it all? Two failed ongoing series, and a lukewarm reception in Justice League. Now, after years of trying to make Cyborg happen, it’s clear DC blew the whole thing.
Inclusivity and the Justice League
From the very beginning, DC put Cyborg at a disadvantage. In order to make a person of color a founding member of the Justice League — a team historically comprised of five white dudes, a white woman, and their green friend — DC needed to prove to the audience why he belonged. Unfortunately, the publisher couldn’t really do that in a New 52 continuity that was completely devoid of all history.
Casual comic book readers know the members of the Justice League, but they were far less familiar with Cyborg. The character’s longstanding status as a Teen Titan — a junior team, by definition — was all he had to lean on to prove his worthiness on the team. Unfortunately, DC’s New 52 reboot left him with no history to speak of, and no experience to pull from. He essentially joined the big leagues with a blank resume.
It also hurt his chances of acceptance that he actually had to replace a member of the Justice League in order to be considered a founding member. While Martian Manhunter was the easy victim, fans of the character were not happy. This same method worked with John Stewart taking Hal Jordan’s spot in the Justice League cartoon because his status as a Green Lantern put him in the big leagues, but Cyborg wasn’t really anyone of note.
Couple DC’s poor setup for the character with the unfortunate reality of resistance to inclusivity in entertainment, and it’s almost like the publisher never gave him a chance to succeed. He was considered the undeserving usurper from the start, and never managed to recover. In the end, we ended up with the Justice League… and Cyborg.
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