Hey gang! Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves – I’m almost free of exams, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I’m in the middle of studying, I’ve still managed to find time to read my contractually-obliged (not really, I just really enjoy it) comic-of-the-week! This time around I’ve picked up another #1 from DC’s Rebirth line-up: the first trade of the Cyborg series, The Imitation of Life.
Cyborg is one of those characters that I don’t quite know how to deal with. He’s never really interested me – which is a bit unusual, given his technological origins – but DC have made a special effort in recent years to push him to the forefront of their brand; previously a member of the Teen Titans, Vic Stone is now a founding member of the Justice League in the New 52 and Rebirth continuities, replacing Martian Manhunter. Given the success of some of the previous Rebirth titles I’ve read, I figured it was time to give the Justice League’s resident tech expert a chance to grab me.
Vic Stone’s had a rough few years. Previously an all-star quarterback and honours student, his life changed forever on the day Darkseid invaded and the Justice League was formed. Hideously injured, Vic’s father – Silas, a scientist at the top-secret STAR Labs – fused Vic’s body with alien technology in order to save his life. Part man and part machine, Vic joined with Superman, Batman and the other heroes on-site to beat back the forces of Apokolips. Years later, Vic – now going by the code name Cyborg – is an established hero in his own right. His new-found contentment is shattered, however, when a discovery regarding his origins makes him question his humanity and even his identity. When a mysterious cybernetic identity starts a war between humanity and machine, Vic is even more torn; which side does he belong on?
I came into this one feeling apprehensive about Cyborg; I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the book. Now that I’ve read it, I’m not sure that I enjoyed the actual events of the book, but I really enjoyed the whole identity crisis theme throughout it. The narrative is a bit all over the place at times, but Vic’s ongoing struggle with identity issues, and the revelation that he’s missing memories – and key knowledge of his years pre-Cyborg – made it all the more interesting. The bits in between, however – specifically the war between machines and humanity – seemed a bit forced and wasn’t anywhere near as interesting. There were also a few unresolved plot points, which annoyed me a bit, but I guess it’s only natural with an ongoing series.
The artwork is generally pretty high-quality, which was great, but there was one sequence towards the end where a fill-in artist had clearly taken over; the style went from Jim Lee-esque pencils to a really blocky, cartoony style, and the change was so blatant and abrupt that it really stuck out and kind of ruined the ending of the book. It might seem a little petty, but it was a massive change and seemed off.
Overall though, I enjoyed the book’s focus on identity and Vic’s struggle to readjust to life since his “rebirth” (see what I did there?). The actual narrative was a bit “eh” but I suspect it’s another of those stories that need to be read long-term to appreciate properly. I wouldn’t recommend it to new readers, but if it strikes your fancy, it’s worth a look.
Written by Alastair McGibbon
Image sourced via DC Comics