Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Teen Titans Spotlight #13: Cyborg

What are the two faces of evil? Cyborg's two halves? The two different houses Cyborg is climbing into at the same time? The gun and not the gun? The two cats in the painting? Probably Two-face?

And so we finally get to the Cyborg issue! Weirdly, it's not my final issue of the series! Does that mean I wasn't bored with it at the time? Or does it mean maybe I just didn't get around to reading it until I purchased the next issue, after which I spat out my Crystal Pepsi and was all, "How can a comic book about a Cyborg be so boring?! Oh, that's why! It was written by J. Michael Stracynski, some jerk who wrote He-man and She-ra scripts. I bet he never gets another writing gig after this garbage!" It's also possible some cool kid from school saw me leaving the comic book store with some Teen Titans books and scoffed, "Do you play D&D too?" And not realizing I was being mocked, I answered, "I sure do! What's your favorite character class?" And he probably said, "I like multi-classing druid/bards!" And I was all, "Right on! Do you want to play in our group at lunch tomorrow in the cafeteria?" And he was all, "That sounds great!" And that's how I made one of my best friends ever! And, um, somehow that made me stop reading Teen Titans Spotlight On.

I never said I was a story teller! I'm a comic book reviewer! Unless I'm an memoirist with essayist tendencies? Maybe I don't fit any mold at all! I'm like a multi-classed druid/bard half-elf!

This issue begins with me yawning. After that, I begin reading it. I bet I yawn at least 22 more times!

The title of this issue is "To Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to Face to (Dammit! I don't know the correct punctuation to get me out of this loop! Where's the infinity key?! Is this it?)...". It's like the first story in John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse. The one where you're supposed to cut it out and make it into a Möbius strip so that it reads "Once upon a time there was a story that began once upon a time there was a story that began once upon a time (oh shit! Here we go again! Infinity dots, don't fail me now!)...".

Would it be fair to review this comic book based solely on the title since I can't ever stop reading it? How did I even start reading it if it goes on forever? Why is it we can start an infinite path but we can't get to the end of an infinite path? Even if you turn around right when you start it, it's infinite so now where you started just streams infinitely behind you! One time my friend Soy Rakelson, in an effort to prove to me that the universe could not have existed forever by utilizing one of his logic traps he learned from C.S. Lewis, said, "Name one thing that's infinite!" And, falling for the trap, I said, "Um, a circle?" And he was all, "Draw a circle!" And I was all, "Okay!", because I didn't realize he was just trying to trick and humiliate me rather than have an actual discussion about philosophy and religion and life. So I drew the circle and he was all, "Aha! It looks infinite once created but see that spot there! That's where you had to start it! It began with you, the creator! Therefore, the matter making up the universe couldn't have existed forever and it had to be created by God!" And instead of punching him in the face, I punched him in the soul and said, "Oh. But it's okay that God is infinite?" And he was all, "Fuck yeah! I can't wait to have sex outside of marriage without a condom because the Pope says birth control is a sin!"

Soy Rakelson once called himself "The Defender of Western Civilization" on my Facebook page and boy do I bet he regrets taking up that mantle now! I wonder if he's a Proud Boy? Also maybe I'm naive that I think he'd regret something so fucking stupid.

Cyborg is in Gotham to accept an award for "combating the terrible fire at Children's Hospital." Where the fuck was Batman? I bet Batman stopped putting out fires at the Children's Hospital because they never gave him token of their appreciation. Or maybe it's the Black Children's Hospital so only black heroes care about it. Batman probably heard about the fires and was all, "Black Lightning will take care of it! I need to smash some skylights! Profits are down at Wayne Skylight Installs and Repairs!"

Oh! I just understood this! I figured the chrome was Cyborg's face and the green was Two-Face's face. I thought maybe the pink was the other half of Two-Face's face but I couldn't figure out the other one until I finally started discussing black super heroes! I blame the lighting in my office and/or the colorist because the Victor "face" just seemed gold to me.

Two-Face sees Cyborg on television recognizes himself on a completely superficial level. But the superficiality is the point! He sees that Cyborg is accepted as a hero while he's seen as a monster. Maybe if Harvey Dent had become half sleek and shiny instead of half gross and disgusting, people would have accepted him and he could have gone on being a district attorney. But then it's also not the point because Two-Face understands that the people see Cyborg's deeds before they see his deformities (I probably would never refer to Cyborg's robotic parts as deformities but when you see some nice alliteration flashing its genitals in your face, you just got to put that shit in your mouth and go with it). And that's sort of the problem. Two-Face saw himself as a monster and thus began acting like one. Cyborg may think of himself as a monster from time to time but he doesn't let it stop him from making the world a better place. Harvey just uses his deformity as an excuse to not give a fuck anymore.

"We need an ad that declares 'Little kids who build our models fuck!"

I know I've suggested a ton of ways I'd use a time machine if I had access to one but I think I just came up with the thing I'd do first. I'd go back in time and tell the MPC model car company to get a different advertiser because I think their current one is a total pedo.

Victor goes on a date with some woman named Cynthia Adams. I'd probably remember who she was if I didn't constantly fall asleep reading Cyborg comic books. I'm fairly certain I've used that line before but it's also possible I've just dreamed it every time I've fallen asleep reading a Cyborg comic. After the date, Victor doesn't score but mostly because Cynthia was being modest and chaste and instead of saying, "Show me that cyber-weenie, you sexy hunk of metal!", she just lets him go while secretly hoping he comes back to ravish her.

If she wasn't so thirsty, she never would have buzzed Two-Face right up!

Two-Face kidnaps Cynthia and uses the threat of her death to make Cyborg do what Harvey wants. Two-Face is all, "They'll see! There's no difference between us! None at all! Except maybe the kidnapping. And the obsessive coin flipping. And all the crimes. The only people hate me is because I'm not hot! But I'm a nice guy to! They'll see! They'll all see!"

Cyborg's first task is to sneak into a woman's room and get his next task on a note under her alarm clock. But when the alarm goes off and she catches him, she calls him a monster! After escaping, Victor Stone doesn't think, "Fucking Two-Face. He made me scare the shit out of that woman by breaking into her house and startling her awake! Of course she was scared and called me a monster! Fuck, at least she didn't call me the n-word!" Instead, Victor thinks, "My name is Victor Stone. I am not a monster." Damn. Two-Face's plan is really going to work, isn't it?!

I'm perplexed as to why Cyborg begins jerking off in this panel.

While arguing with himself, Harvey admits that they first began calling themselves a monster. So the entire experiment is flawed! Two-Face wants to be able to blame his monstrous tendencies on the people who called him a monster because of the way he looked. So he's going to get Victor called a monster multiple times in one night and Victor will obviously snap! Who wouldn't?! I remember when I was called fat in junior high all those times while being fat that I became fat. No wait. Maybe that was somebody else. Nobody made fun of me because I was so fucking disconnected from what was going on around me that I never noticed. There were way better targets in junior high than me! I just went around telling everybody about how awesome Elfquest was. And they were all, "Really, fatty? Can I read your copy?" And I was all, "Sure! See you at the D&D game at lunch!"

I know I'm supposed to be reading this as if it took place in 1987 where you were supposed to think it was the robot half that everybody was afraid of and judging as a criminal. But this is 2019 and, well.

Imagine how short this issue would have been if Cyborg was connected to the Internet or had an internal cell phone. He must have had some internal gadget that could page Nightwing or the Gotham Police that he simply forgot about in the moment. Oh no, of course not. What am I thinking?! This is the era where Cyborg's only attachment was the white noise cannon!

Cyborg finally confronts Two-Face on page 23 because this story is 25 pages long! Wow, I thought I was yawning a lot more than usual, even for a Cyborg story. Anyway, Two-Face declares he killed Cynthia thirty minutes ago because he totally read Watchmen and was all, "Oh fuck. That's a cool line. I am so using it some day!" But even that doesn't convince Cyborg to kill Two-Face. And while it means Two-Face gets to live, it also means Two-Face has to live with himself and the knowledge that maybe he was the real monster all along. Surprise! It wasn't society at all! Even though we all know it actually is society. People are fucking terrible.

Surprise again! Cynthia was in a Two-Face mask and Two-Face was trying to get Cyborg to kill her! What a dumby! Hasn't he learned anything from Batman? If a hero doesn't kill, the hero doesn't kill! Sure, if this was Red Hood, Cynthia would be a fucking bullet sponge right now. But that's because he's expected to kill! How often does a hero who doesn't kill suddenly start killing? If you discount Hal Jordan. And Green Arrow. And Black Lightning. And Wonder Woman. And Black Canary. And Guy Gardner. And Fire. And Starman. And Obsidian. And Dr. Fate. And Black Canary. And, you know what, maybe this is too many ands for my initial premise to remain valid. Never mind.

The issue ends with Two-Face realizing the problem wasn't "Cyborg could have been Two-Face" but that "Two-Face could have been Cyborg." Live with it, asshole.

Teen Titans Spotlight #13: Cyborg Rating: B. I often tout Cyborg as boring because writers always simply do the same things with him. And while this is still another "Am I human?!" story arcs, at least it had a nice twist in that Cyborg plays off of a villain that you wouldn't have expected. Usually the writer brings in another character that's part robotic so that Cyborg can see his own humanity through the flaws of his foe. But has a writer ever thought, "Hey! Cyborg and Two-Face look fairly similar. I bet there's a story there?" Well, at least one did! And I'm happy to say they made a fairly decent go of it. Although wouldn't it have been nice if this story had been the last word on Cyborg's anxiety about how human he is?! Man, what if this was all the therapy he needed and for the next thirty years, DC audiences had been given a healthy Cyborg who would always be, "Oh yeah, I'm part robot! But I'm still all human! Want to fuck, baby?!" I miss that Cyborg that never existed.

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