New kid on the block: Cyborg’s journey from Teen Titan to the Justice League
Cyborg will be finally hitting the big screen in this November’s Justice League, and if the latest trailer is any indication, he’ll be making a major impact on the team. Longtime DC fans of both the comics and their animated universe however recognize Cyborg from where he got his start: the Teen Titans. So just how did Cyborg go from being a Titan to a full fledged member of the League? The answer, as usual, is the weird world of comic book continuity.
Cyborg first appeared with his Teen Titans brethren as a backup story in DC Comics Presents #26 in October 1980 with their first ongoing series, The New Teen Titans, coming a month later. Through his adventures with the Teen Titans, Cyborg becomes an integral part of the team and forms a close bond with them the young team. Although his origin was not revealed until the miniseries Tales of the New Teen Titans in 1982, he quickly became a popular hero in comic circles.
When his origin was finally revealed, his story was one of tragedy but also willpower and the friendship he had gained because of his experiences. Born to a pair of scientific geniuses, Victor Stone is a guinea pig for his parents intelligence boosting experiments. While Victor’s does attain genius level IQ from the experiments, he comes to resent the experiments placed on him by his parents.
Cyborg then becomes friends with a boy named Ron Evers, who leads Victor into trouble with the law. Cyborg struggles with his relationship with his overbearing parents and his friendship with Evers, who reveals plans to commit acts of terrorism, to which Cyborg disapproves. One day he visits his parents in their S.T.A.R Labs office, in which an experiment in dimensional travel is underway. The experiment goes awry and a massive alien life-form makes its way through the portal killing Victor’s mother and severely injuring Victor in the process before his father is able to send the monstrous creature back into the portal.
Victor’s father Silas scrambles to save his son, and outfits Victor with several advanced prosthetic parts which cover Victor’s entire body. Although at first Victor is dismayed by his new form, he eventually gains control of his new body with the help of therapy. After he is released from medical care though, Victor attempts to resume his life before the accident only to find out that his life had changed more than he previously thought. His girlfriend prior to his accident is now terrified of his new body, his grades have slipped from his long absence, and he is no longer able to play for his football team because of his cybernetic body.
It isn’t until a chance encounter with his old friend Ron Evers that Victor finds his purpose. After Evers tries to manipulate Victor into perpetrating a terrorist attack on the United Nations, Victor instead decides to stop the attack and his former friend, resulting in a fierce battle atop the UN building. With a new heroic purpose Victor takes on the name Cyborg, and joins the New Teen Titans team.
Cyborg remained in the various incarnations of the Teen Titans and even ended up working with the Justice League in short stints, but it wasn’t until 2011s “New 52” reboot of the DC Universe that he became a full member of the Justice League.
With New 52, DC writers and execs wanted to reboot the then current continuity (which occurred after the Flashpoint event that saw Barry Allen go back in time) to allow new readers a starting point on their beloved characters. Headed up by writer Geoff Johns with art by Jim Lee, New 52’s League would create a new modern origin for both the league and Cyborg who was now a permanent and original member.
Cyborg’s New 52 origin (and the origin for Cyborg in the upcoming Justice League) updated Victor to be a promising football star who was sought after by many college programs but who suffered because of a distant relationship with his father. After he wins an important game Victor calls his father Silas who missed the game because of his work, and angrily tells Silas he has broken another promise to see him play.
Victor then arrives at his S.T.A.R Labs office, where Silas is instead working on mother box technology. After a heated argument with his father the mother box explodes, killing the other scientists and disfiguring Victor. Silas again rebuilds Victor, but uses various technologies from alien civilizations acquired by S.T.A.R over the years, and using energy from the mother box resurrects Victor as Cyborg.
With the mother box energy, Cyborg is able to access the New Gods data library and discovers Darkseid’s plot to invade earth, and after a woman is attacked by Parademons and Cyborg intervenes, he assimilates boom tube technology into his own components allowing him to instantly teleport to the fight against Darkseid’s Parademons. After he teleports, Cyborg aids Flash, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Aqauaman in defeating the minions until Darkseid appears. Proving to be too much of a match for the heroes, Cyborg uses his teleportation abilities to warp the heroes and Darkseid off Earth, saving the planet in the process. With Darkseid defeated temporarily, Cyborg helps found the Justice League with the other heroes.
With the start of DC Rebirth, Cyborg is again an integral part of the Justice League and the DCU as a whole. He is also one of the few characters who has his own ongoing series in Rebirth, sharing that feat with the rest of the JL crew.
Cyborg has also been featured in many animated properties including Justice League vs. Teen Titans and its sequel Teen Titans: The Judas Contract which features Cyborg in the Justice League, as well as the Cartoon Network shows Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go with his original team.
Cyborg has always been the rooted center for his teams, and with his portrayal by Ray Fisher in the upcoming Justice League film and his planned 2020 solo film bringing more attention to the character we could see him explode in popularity. Through his Teen Titans years to his newfound place in the League, Cyborg remains an interesting character and one not to be slept on in the DCEU and beyond.
Image credits: DC Comics