Wretched No More–Wretched of the Earth! Part 2 (Cyborg #20 Review)

While fighting to save children from the evil General Uma, Victor Stone’s wish to be human again is granted! But is he willing to sacrifice his last chance to live a normal life if that’s what it takes to rescue the children? Or will he save himself and give up his own immortal soul in the bargain?

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Cyborg # 20
Writer:  Kevin Grevioux
Artist:  Cliff Richards
Colorists:  Ivan Nunes & Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer:  Rob Leigh
Cover Artist:  Simone Bianchi
Editors:  Brian Cunningham & Harvey Richards
Publisher:  DC Comics

What You Need to Know:

Cyborg and Sarah Charles are on a scientific expedition for S.T.A.R. Labs at a small village called Magnur in The Sudan.  They find a magic rhino horn that summons a genie who grants wishes so Cyborg wishes to be fully human again.  A local warlord named General Uma is using children to make wishes with the horn in order to avoid the karmic backlash that results when wishes are made.  A child makes a wish for him and his friends to be free of Uma.  When Uma is forced to grant them their freedom, all the kids walk out of the village and right into a minefield, killing them all.  Cyborg, Sarah, and local physician Nailah are also caught in the blast.

What You’ll Find Out:

General Uma and the G.U.R. (Guardians of the United Republic) soldiers order children to keep mining gems from the meteorites surrounding the village.  One of the children is caught stealing and is shot.

Victor Stone AKA Cyborg wakes up a short distance away in the minefield that just blew up.  Nailah excoriates Vic for using the horn in the first place and setting events into motion that caused the village children’s deaths.  Vic is wracked with guilt so he insists he has to use the magic rhino horn to wish the children back to life.

Nailah hits him to stop him from using the horn and prevent yet another unintended catastrophe, but Vic hits her back and refuses to stop.  All the kids instantly turn into flesh-eating zombies.

It is a bizarre and grim scene that only serves to make Cyborg look like a self-centered jackass.

Nailah gets bitten and immediately turns into a zombie.  Vic and Sarah run for their lives.  For the next 3 pages, Vic goes on his umpteenth whine-fest about how hard his life is and how everything is terrible and it’s all his fault.  And Sarah rips him to shreds…

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While Sarah’s rebuke of Vic’s behavior is laudable and long overdue, there is nothing accomplished by 14 panels of Vic whining and complaining and Sarah lecturing him with the same points hammered on repeatedly.  Calling out Vic’s immaturity and self-pity (a characterization that was already tired and boring a year ago) and trying to get him to stop it could’ve been accomplished in a page or 2 at most.

Anyway, so Vic’s wish comes true and everything that has been happening for the past 2 issues is undone and reset back to when they found the magic rhino horn.  My reaction to that is, who cares?

Vic is Cyborg again and fights General Uma and the G.U.R. soldiers.  They try to shoot Sarah and Nailah pushes her out of the bullet’s path.  So Nailah is dead again.  Killing her twice in 12 pages dulls any and all emotional impact from her passing rendering her character’s fate hollow and meaningless.

And NOW the genie shows up again to lecture Cyborg on love, fate and what God has ordained. He ends with tedious boilerplate about how life is a gift and that you thank God by how you live. The way that dialogue was written is clumsy, uninspiring and lacks heartfelt emotion.

With that, Victor Stone answers, “I’ll never forget again” and the genie flies away.

What Just Happened?

This is the last issue of Cyborg Rebirth.

I was cautiously optimistic when this series relaunched last year.  Unfortunately, DC’s 2nd attempt at an ongoing monthly book for Cyborg was even worse than the previous one.  Cyborg, like Wonder Woman, has never gotten the respect and attention he deserves from DC executives.  They don’t know what to do with him or Wonder Woman—as is the case with most titles from DC and Marvel featuring female and minority lead characters.

The whole series kept going back to the same theme of Cyborg questioning his own humanity and beating it like a dead horse.  It was a one-note, monochrome characterization that had no shades of grey, no fresh insights and never gave fans a deeper analysis of Victor Stone as a person.  Every single issue simply replayed the exact same lines of dialogue about Vic doubting if he was a real person with little or no variation.

His relationships with his father and Sarah Charles never grew or changed.  Several potentially-exciting supporting characters were introduced, but nothing was done to significantly expand either their personalities or their roles in Cyborg’s life.  The sole bright spot on this series was it managed to have some wonderful artists:  Will Conrad, Paul Pelletier, Allan Jefferson, Cliff Richards and more.

Rating:  5.5 / 10

Final Thought: 

A series that started off with real promise finally crawls to its wretched end.  The 2nd monthly Cyborg series had far worse writing than the slightly stronger New 52 one that preceded it.

Hopefully, the next time DC gives Cyborg another shot at an ongoing monthly, he will be blessed with a writer or writers who are more inspired by the character and with a bolder vision to give Victor Stone his long overdue chance at a truly legendary run.

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