There are books and there are clichés that come out between covers. They look very much the same at first glance, and, depending on circumstances of demand and marketing, there is no way to predict which of the two will be more popular or a bigger commercial success. Nevertheless, the two are different things, and Cyborg #1 has every appearance of being a cliché. Specifically, it is a weary retread of tropes concerning loving but cold and neglectful fathers and dutiful but resentful sons that have been played out in multiple forms and variations with nearly every superhero “family” over the last forty years. Bats, Kryptonians, Atlanteans, Hawks, Archers, and others have all gone through this dance. Only the Flashes largely managed to avoid it. Now Victor Stone comes into the fray with his long-delayed solo series using his troubled relationship with his father as the unwelcome organizing principle.
Victor has recently died and mysteriously been resurrected, or in his case it’s probably more accurate to say he has been repaired by some unknown and powerful agency. His father and the other scientists at STAR Labs find this fascinating, to quote the late Leonard Nimoy in his most famous role, so fascinating they tend to regard Victor as a bundle of data more than a human being, as their youngest, and most attractive, colleague predictably, and stereotypically, points out. Victor predictably, and stereotypically, makes a show of noble understanding while making it clear that he is disappointed and seething beneath. About the only original twist is Dr. Stone’s common sense observation that when your son can instantaneously teleport across galaxies, his traveling to visit you doesn’t necessarily indicate any great effort to see you or burning desire to overcome obstacles to be in your presence.
While all this family drama unfolds on Earth, with relatively little else going on, we see a war on an alien world between two technologically sophisticated races. One race is called the Technosapiens. The other are known as the Techbreakers. Exactly what that means we do not really find out. We do find out that at least some of the soldiers fighting for the Techbreakers appear to be human and possibly cybernetic. When they fall into the hands of the Technosapiens, that race determines that they humans and their tech “sing of perfection,” and that the Technosapiens must find the source of this power.
The themes of humanity and technology, perfection and frailty, love and knowledge are all laid out clearly and without any great fumbles. But there is no great panache here, either. We have seen all of this before, and we suspect we know how all of this will play out. We may, indeed, be wrong. The ability to be surprised is a very human trait. But so far, this is a story that might as well have been put together by a very talented machine.