NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Cyborg #19
The Justice League superhero Cyborg may need a new name, now that he’s gotten his human body back. To the average comic book fan, getting a cybernetic upgrade equipped with alien technology and weaponry might seem like a ream come true – it’s permission to fight the villains of the DC Comics universe alongside Superman and Batman, after all. But for Victor Stone, being transformed against his will into the hero known as ‘Cyborg’ is a nightmare that continues to haunt the edges of his mind. But not any more.
With a new creative team taking the helm of Cyborg at DC Comics, Vic’s first mission into a war-torn region of Africa takes an unexpected turn that presents him with the impossible: a chance to regain his humanity, and shed the cybernetic half of his superhero identity completely. Before he, or the reader can grasp the costs… it’s been done.
Cyborg is no more. Only Victor Stone remains. And believe us, ‘being human’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be…
Cyborg Has a Brush With Old Magic
The story titled “Wretched of the Earth” begins in Cyborg #19, the first chapter written by Kevin Grevioux (Underworld). The action takes Cyborg and his ally Sarah Charles to Africa to investigate the sudden impacts of mysterious meteorites. Upon closer inspection, the meteorites are unlike any Vic has seen – when they’re cracked open to reveal precious jewels and gemstones, he’s even more confused. The sudden explosive arrival of armed revolutionaries and child soldiers turns out to simplify the mystery (after Vic sends them fleeing with his superhuman, cybernetic abilities). The meteorites are the product of powerful magic turned to evil purposes: the army’s leader has wished for riches, but the price is that they are dropped onto the Earth with no regard to who they may hurt.
The mystery begins to unravel when one of the escaping revolutionaries leaves behind a hollow rhino horn. An object that, when held by Cyborg, summons an elderly man who is the indirect cause of the local confusion. Explaining that he is no man, but a Jinn – a magical being who can grant three wishes (imagine that) – the figure inquires as to the burning desire in Vic’s heart. Having just recently told Sarah that he still wonders where the line between the man he was, and the machine he was made into can be drawn, the answer is clear.
Vic needs only confirm that he does desire to be made whole, into the human being he once was, and the magic takes hold.
Cyborg is Dead, Victor Stone is Human Again
Transformations like these tend to be seen as ‘stunts,’ or shocking twists that are soon revealed to have been half-truths, misdirection, or simple deceit for the sake of an even bigger twist coming soon. But in Cyborg #19, that isn’t the case. Sure, saying that it’s “magic” which transforms Vic Stone back into his full human body may seem like a bit too fantastical for some, but there’s no denying that it makes the change legitimate. No science or technology could regrow the flesh, bone, and organs that Vic had removed or damaged before he was ‘saved’ by the Mother Box that made him Cyborg. It’s a challenge only magic could really pull off.
And as Vic feels his lungs breathing, his heart beating, his stomach churning, and his skin sweating, he confirms that the change is real. It was only one of two possible wishes, but without even believing in the Jinn, he has gotten his old life back in so complete a sense, and so instantly, he barely has time to react. Of course, any fan of genie fiction knows that these stories are never that simple.
The Jinn’s warning that Vic, like all others who use the magic should be careful what they wish for is a familiar one. And when the revolutionaries return, a single bullet remind Vic Stone that being a superhuman has its privileges…
Victor Stone is No Longer Invincible
As grim and final as the above image seems, Vic does survive the return of the revolutionaries. Taken to a nearby friendly village and allowed to recuperate (and get dressed), Vic learns just how much of the Jinn’s magic has warped this story to this point. The revolutionary leader, a man named Solomon Uma, has hatched a plan to use the rhino horn for his own purposes. He comes up with the wishes, but forces the child soldiers with him to actually make them – meaning it’s them who pay the price.
It’s a terrible situation, and one that Vic can’t leave unaddressed. Especially not now that the rhino horn is in his possession, guaranteed to make things worse for the locals, not better. And just like that, the man who dreamed of the days before he was turned into Cyborg starts to realize that not everyone can be that kind of hero. As Vic’s fever rises, and he starts to exhibit more and more signs of malaria (well played, Jinn), his options get more and more limited.
The issue ends with Victor Stone the human trying to be the hero… and getting a bullet in his leg, and a parasite in his bloodstream. The smart money is on Vic wishing for his cybernetic parts back – but what price will he now have to pay for them? It’s a bold, if heavy new story from Grevioux and artist Will Conrad, but one that may redefine Victor Stone as a willing hero, not an unwilling victim.
Cyborg #19 is available now.
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