NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for “Justice League” #5 and “Cyborg: Rebirth” #1
He may not have the complex, storied, or iconic mythology of his fellow Justice League heroes, but that hasn’t kept the DC Comics superhero Cyborg from gathering a healthy fan following. That’s largely due to the hero’s history with the famous “Teen Titans,” but DC’s New 52 relaunch made Vic Stone a.k.a. an integral part of the League – and their ability to protect Earth from the forces of Darkseid and Apokolips. And with the DC Rebirth well under way, a massive glimpse at the true nature of Cyborg may have just been offered.
It’s kept vague enough (and completely unaddressed in Issue #5 of “Justice League” on sale now) for casual readers to potentially miss it entirely. But we’re taking note, and if the reveal is what it appears to be, then Vic Stone may be getting one of the most significant plot lines of the DC Rebirth so far – at least where cybernetic, parasitic alien races go.
The origin of Cyborg is intentionally vague, but the tale of how Vic Stone became the hero is straightforward. After experiencing a horrific accident disfigures and almost kills the young star athlete, his father, a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist, reacts the only way he knows how. In essence, he carries his son’s battered body into a room filled with experimental, alien and unidentified technology, and… well, throws him in to see what happens. He survives, but only once his body is fused with untold energies and technology: and Cyborg is born.
In the New 52 reboot, the origin story was tweaked to bear a stronger link to Darkseid. Making his debut in the pages of “Justice League,” Vic Stone was obliterated by an exploding Mother Box (a piece of Akoliptian technology used to open passageways between Earth and the distant planet). It was also Apokoliptian tech used to forge Vic’s near-dead body into Cyborg, granting him use of the aforementioned “Boom Tubes.” For what it’s worth, this also seems to be the version of the origin story Zack Snyder is sticking to for his own Justice League movie.
Cyborg: Rebirth Asks The Big Question
We would be willing to wager that plenty of comic readers would be willing to give up their limbs to join the Justice League, but in the pages of “Cyborg: Rebirth,” writer John Semper, Jr. sets his sights on the big question few Cyborg fans have ever really asked. Yet it’s a question that modern scientists and artificial intelligence specialists are discussing more and more: when the line between man and machine is blurred, how can one be sure which side is dominant?
In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ll put it this way: Dr. Silas Stone succeeded in saving his son’s life by fusing his body and mind with unknown technology, and his son lived to awaken inside this new form. But he’s begun to wonder… did Vic remain himself, simply aided by the tech, or did the tech assimilate his son into it? It’s a question that Silas – and Vic – know can never truly be answered.
Especially not when the technology fused into his very being is of unknown origins, qualities, and ambitions. Or is it?
Justice League Rebirth: The Kindred
The next step in our theory (or DC’s reveal) takes place in Bryan Hitch’s “Justice League” – a story that may be hard to describe for even those reading it. Kidding aside, the story hinges on the arrival of two distinct forces (at least). The first are known as the Kindred, an unknown force combining the bodies of innocent human beings into massive humanoid forms. As if that weren’t strange enough, the forms themselves seem to be physical embodiments of Magic, Speed Force, Emotional Light Spectrum and Cosmic Energy.
The reason for their arrival is kept vague, but it appears – through their cryptic speech – that they exist in all life, emerging now to “sing their song” and bring and end to.. well, everything. Time, the world, the universe – everything. The motivations behind the entire Kindred plot are clearly something Hitch is explaining piece by piece, but they are just one problem the Justice League is forced to deal with. Because as the Kindred seek to kick off Armageddon using human bodies, another alien force arrives to eradicate humans before they succeed (bombs in the Earth’s core also threaten to shake the planet apart, because why not?).
Complicated? Most definitely. But when the hordes of robotic drones attacking the League are tracked back to their source by the Green Lanterns, and infiltrated by Cyborg, things get even stranger…
Meet ‘The Purge’
With the League clearly caught in the middle of a conflict far, far greater than they’re aware of, they do what they do best, and tackle one problem at a time. So as Superman heads into the Earth to deal with those pesky explosives, the Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz attempt to track the killer drones’ signal back to their source. Meanwhile, Cyborg puts his tech skills to good use, attempting to match the drones’ frequency – but sending them into a panic, swarming him. And here’s where the link between Cyborg and the drones begins to take shape.
As the drone intelligence attempts to overtake, invade, and “purge” Vic Stone, he’s able to resist simply by fighting them. After gaining his senses, Vic informs his League teammates that the drones are the tools of a group known as ‘The Purge,’ determined to spread and modify humanoid species. And for some reason, Cyborg is able to overtake their programming and command them directly.
How? Well, when we jump back to see what Jessica and Simon have discovered on the broken planet the drones originated from… they’re looking at some familiar faces.
Yes, upon tracking this mysterious ‘Purge’ back to the staging area of their attack on humanity (launched to prevent the Kindred from ending existence), the Lanterns take in a planet’s population of men and women bearing the same cybernetic components and even insignia of Cyborg. Presumably, these are the “purged” – other species that the Purge has encountered and assimilated, perhaps in their unending crusade to foil the plans of the Kindred.
As Cyborg points out himself in the panel above, the Purge is tailored to corrupt or consume humans in particular (or humanoid species), implying that the Kindred and their plan bear some kind of link to human physiology. So the similarities beg the question: are we to understand that the technology to which Vic was exposed was this Purge? And if so, how and why did it arrive on Earth before either the Kindred or its fellow purged? Most importantly: what makes Vic different?
If the Purge has made Vic Stone in its own image (as it has so many others), is his lack of torturous pain or subservience a sign that he did retain some of his own spirit, mind, or soul? Or is it a more chilling sign of just what Vic can look forward to in his future? It’s too soon to tell, but if Cyborg really is a walking member of an alien program to corrupt humans, we would bet Bryan Hitch has a bigger plan for that story.
Either way… resistance is probably futile.
Justice League #5 and Cyborg #1 are available now.