Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Canon Fodder

We as comics fans are always looking for comics' next big bad-ass.

We turn our hopeful imaginations towards whichever character has the biggest gun, the wittiest lines and taking them into our collective heart, we bestow upon them the title of "bad-ass."

Deathstroke? Has an eyepatch, a goatee, a gun and a daugther named Ravager. Bad-ass.

Punisher? Has a skull on his chest, guns and an attitude. Bad-ass.

Wolverine? Bad-ass archetype. Smokes, has claws, can't get drunk, chases other men's women, can't be killed. Will kill.

Bad. Ass.

I'm sick of 'em. Had it. Done.

Wanna know why? Upon reading Teen Titans, I had a revelation.

There is no badder man in comics than Cyborg.

Yes, that Cyborg. The one from The Teen Titans or "Titans," as it's called now.

The son of two college professors, the man's a genius, possessing an IQ of nearly 170.

He's been the perfect soldier.

That said he's usually been viewed as The Teen Titans "muscle," usually drawing fire and playing cannon fodder allowing for the other Titans to rally/backflip/soar/race into re-action. Or when the story needs, he's usually rigging up some sort of device that allows the other Titans to rally/backflip/soar/race into re-action.

Made all the more impressive when you simply have to consider this:

This "bruiser" who puts his mind and body on the line for his fellow Titans is "disabled."

Look past the shiny, sophisticated prosthetics and I'd seen something I'd never even considered while reading this book. For nearly thirty years, I've been reading of the adventures of a quadruple amputee.

Everyday, this man pushes aside the excuses and goes out there into his world and fights on a level few, on any comic universe, could hope to match. He does so out of loyalty. He does so out of compassion. He does so because it's right. He does so simply because he still can.

I know it's comics and it's high fiction but it's amazing to me that this genre has presented us with an opportunity to view someone many elsewhere would view as handicapped as a true, honest-to-God, no-sympathy-necessary superhero from Day: One.

That, to me, says something about just how crazy of a medium comics is. We view final and blackest nights and read in awe, wondering of what comes next. Meanwhile, a man, a total bad-ass has quite literally been walking around for thirty years and we don't even blink.

In a universe of alien princesses who fire starbeams, ex-kid sidekicks becoming respectively, The Flash, Batman, Donna Troy and Red Arrow, moving on to their next level of comics evolution, where's the respect for the character who literally, covered their asses?

When does Cyborg get to join The Justice League?!?


samax said...

i'm pretty sure i'm gonna buy the next comic i see with cyborg in it!
that was the strongest campaign for badass status i've heard in awhile!

great post!

Wilfredo said...

So badass, in fact, that now there's War Machine.

Rob S. said...

Great post, Devon!

Nate said...

I know the Wolfman titans don't hold up, but this was a part of Cyborg that was there. He was fighting prejudice and his handicap. Somewhere that got lost.

Sleestak said...

Should cyborg join the JLA he'd just end up exploding after saving the world every issue.

Graig Kent said...

I've been reading a bunch of 80's Titans lately... two big things to note:

Teen Titans' Spotlight #13: J. Michael Straczynski wrote a damn solid Cyborg vs. Two-Face story. For real! Cyborg, versus Two-Face!

The New Teen Titans #13: Cyborg rebuilds Robotman! The guy is awesome.

You know what's been keeping Cyborg down? That goofy little green dude he always hangs out with.

Now, for *some* Cyborg love, he was selected as the new "token black character" replacing Black Vulcan on the Super Friends. Plus he had his own Super Powers figure. Of course, it was short-run, the hardest to find and now the most expensive of them...

And I think Brad Meltzer was originally angling to have Cyborg as part of the JLA (it seemed that way from his Justice League of America #0 anyway)

Bill D. said...

I always liked how they used Cyborg on the Teen Titans cartoon. Even if they never explicitly stated it, it was always clear he was the smartest guy in the room. He was always the one repairing the Tower (and himself), he built the car, he built the sub - and later retrofitted it for travel in both the air and space. That takes brains. Good a strategist as Robin was, he wasn't building that stuff.

Julian Lytle said...

You speak truth. The reason he isn't on the league is because they (powers the be) are lame. Cyborg should have been on the league before Speedy. Heck if Vixen got a boost from the JLU cartoon how come no one have used Vic effectively since Johns left the Titans.

When there's trouble
you know what to do
Call Cyborg!

He can shoot a rocket from his shoe
Cause he's Cyborg!

Do dun do da
Something like that
Oh yeah!

Na na na na
Big fluffy cat
That's right!

leslief said...

War Machine is a 2nd-rate Cyborg wannabe that tries too hard.

And yes, Cyborg DEFINITELY belongs on the JLA, as does Starfire.

But I must correct one mistake: Donna Troy was NEVER a sidekick, she's just a misunderstanding that went too far before being noticed (pre-titans, "Wonder Girl" was simply Wonder Woman's teenage adventures). In fact, Donna Troy is barely a character at all.