Universes change, but some things never do. Is Victor Stone a promising young student devastated by a science experiment gone wrong or a football star saved by alien technology after a brutal accident? Though origins are mutable, Victor’s essential character is not. At once a founding member of the Justice League as well as a long-standing figure in the history of the Teen Titans, Cyborg has been a mainstay of the DC Comics Universe for 40 years, leading to appearances in cartoons (Teen Titans, Teen Titans Go!), TV series (Smallville, Doom Patrol), and movies (Justice League).
One thing that has never been in question is Cyborg’s utility as the ultimate team player. Victor can lend support and serve as a leader depending on what the situation calls for. Introduced by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez in 1980’s DC Comics Presents #26, Cyborg served alongside his fellow teenage heroes as a Titan (both teen and otherwise) for the next 30 years. In the waning days of the post-Infinite Crisis DC Universe, Cyborg became one of the few characters introduced as a teen to “graduate” to the Big Leagues as part of James Robinson’s run on Justice League of America. Then, of course, everything changed.
In the wake of the universe-altering events of Flashpoint and the emergence of the New 52, Victor Stone now found himself intimately involved in all of the publishing line’s major events as a founding member of the team depicted in Geoff Johns’s Justice League. Cyborg was no longer just another teen hero hanging out with sidekicks or relegated to the margins of jam-packed splash pages. Now he was an integral player – forever a cornerstone of the entire universe.
Well, maybe not forever forever. Via Convergence and “Rebirth”, the universe has changed course since then (and may be on the verge of mixing things up yet again in the months to come), but Victor Stone, loyal and defiant as ever, refuses to return to the background. Cyborg is a major player now, and you’ll do well to show him the respect he deserves. Read on for our primer on where to start your journey with Cyborg.
A Band of Misfits Both Pre- and Post-Crisis: Cyborg in the 80’s and 90’s
We meet Victor in 1980, a victim of a terrible accident, still adjusting to life as a hybrid of man and machine. From that perspective, joining the Teen Titans is a blessing for the boy. The team is no longer a catch-all for sidekicks (though Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl are still around), but a kind of refuge for weirdos who don’t fit in anywhere else, including shapeshifter Changeling (later Beast Boy), alien princess Starfire, and mysterious mystic Raven.
Writer Marv Wolfman and illustrator George Pérez (maybe you’ve heard of their work on a reality-shifting mini-series called Crisis on Infinite Earths) brought the team together and collaborated on their adventures for over 15 years across New Teen Titans, Tales of the Teen Titans, a second volume of New Teen Titans, and New Titans once the characters aged out of that modifier.
The Teen Titans stuck together through thick and thin, through love and betrayal, accruing their own roster of nemeses including Trigon, Deathstroke, Brother Blood, and more. This era of the team became the inspiration for Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans cartoon, which paved the way for Cyborg’s emergence into the wider public consciousness.
Collects: DC Comics Presents #26, New Teen Titans #1-20, Tales Of The Teen Titans #1-4
DC started a new printing of collections of the Wolfman/Pérez run in 2017 that can get a little expensive, but are worth the price for all of the great content. These omnibuses contain landmark stories for the team such as “The Terror of Trigon” and “The Judas Contract.” Volume 5 is set to be released in November 2020.
Collects: New Teen Titans #21-40, New Teen Titans Annual #1-2, Batman & The Outsiders #5, Tales Of The Teen Titans #41
Collects: Tales Of The Teen Titans #42-58, Tales Of The Teen Titans Annual #3, New Teen Titans #1-9
Collects: New Teen Titans #10-31, Omega Men #34
Collects: JLA/Titans #1-3
By the time the New Titans series ended in 1996, Cyborg had undergone some big changes, slowly surrendering what remained of his humanity. He eventually merged with a robotic hivemind called Technis and took on the Cyberion identity. Cyberion takes center stage in this mini-series by Devin Grayson and Phil Jimenez, wherein his human and robotic halves struggle with all of the loss they’ve experienced. In an effort to make a family he can protect, Cyberion comes up against the combined might of the Justice League and every Titan ever.
Geoff Johns and a New Era: Cyborg in the 2000’s
Cyborg and the rest of the New Teen Titans spent a few years drifting around the periphery of the universe until Geoff Johns reclaimed them in the early 2000’s. Johns spent a decade fashioning the DC Universe in his image, often taking cues from Marv Wolfman. Look no further than 2005’s event Infinite Crisis, which serves as a direct sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, for proof of the influence. Johns’s passion for Cyborg and the Teen Titans keeps the team prominently featured throughout the decade.
Eventually the powers that be started experimenting with the idea of Cyborg joining the Justice League toward the end of the decade, and while he got there, he was never very prominent. Of course, Johns wasn’t done with him just yet…
Collects: Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files 2003, Teen Titans #1-12, #½
DC has published a few thick collections of Geoff Johns’s run on Teen Titans. Cyborg returns to the fold alongside Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven to act as mentors to members of Young Justice (Robin, Superboy, Impulse, Wonder Girl), a new generation of sidekicks. As in the classic series that inspired Johns, the characters deal with all the trials and tribulations inherent to being a teenage superhero, but they experience it all (Titans) together.
Collects: Beast Boy #1-4, Teen Titans #13-19, Teen Titans/Legion Of Super-Heroes Special #1
Collects: Teen Titans #20-26 and 29-31, Outsiders #24-25
Collects: Titans #1-6, Teen Titans East Special #1
Cyborg’s role in the Teen Titans series began to diminish after Infinite Crisis’s “One Year Later” jump and Johns’s exit from the book. He was still a presence, but ultimately he found a new home in Judd Winick’s Titans, which reunited Cyborg, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven with Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, and Wally West. Though the characters are now adults, they find themselves facing many of the same challenges they did as children, both from within and without the team.
Collects: Titans #7-11
Collects: Teen Titans Annual 2009, Titans #12-13, Teen Titans #70, Vigilante #5-6
Collects: Titans #14, 16-22
Collects: Justice League Of America #38-43
After Blackest Night, Cyborg finally joins the Justice League alongside long-time teammates Donna Troy and Dick Grayson. Writer James Robinson does tend to keep him out of the action though, eventually relegating him to reserve status. Robinson’s run on the book at least signals what is about to come for the man in the machine.
Collects: Justice League Of America #44-48, Justice Society Of America #41-42
Collects: Justice League Of America #49-53, Starman/Congorilla #1
Collects: Justice League Of America #54-60, Justice Society Of America #43
Justice League and the New 52: Cyborg in the 2010’s
Geoff Johns looks out for his favorites. After raising Victor’s profile in Flashpoint and then reconfiguring the universe once again through the New 52 publishing initiative, he fashioned Cyborg into one of the pillars of the new status quo. Now a founding member of the Justice League, Victor was no longer just a face in the crowd. He was now one of the seven most important faces in the entire line.
In accordance with his new standing, Cyborg was now a part of every major event, from “Trinity War” to “Forever Evil” to “Darkseid War.” For the first time, Cyborg even became the subject of his own ongoing series. This wasn’t just a new age for DC comics – this was the Age of Cyborg.
Collects: Justice League #1-6
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee team up to tell the new origin of the world’s most powerful group of superheroes. Victor, saved now due to Fourth World technology, becomes entwined in a conflict with Darkseid that brings him together with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. This is the team for the foreseeable future, through good times and bad.
Collects: Justice League #7-12
Collects: Justice League #13-17, Aquaman #15-16
In the first meaty crossover of the New 52, Cyborg and his compatriots take the battle to the seas in Aquaman – not exactly a hospitable environment for a man who’s part machine.
Collects: Justice League #18-23
Collects: Justice League #22-23, Justice League Of America #6-7, Justice League Dark #22-23, Constatine #5, Trinity Of Sin: Pandora #1-3, Trinity Of Sin: Phantom Stranger #11
There’s some overlap between this collection and “The Grid,” but here you’ll find the entirety of “Trinity War,” spanning issues of Justice League, Justice League Dark, and Justice League of America.
Collects: Justice League #24-29
This collection features issues that tie in to the Forever Evil event featuring the Crime Syndicate and an unlikely eleventh hour savior.
Collects: Justice League #30-39
Collects: Batman And Robin #29-34, Robin Rises: Omega
Cyborg and the Justice League get wrapped up in Batman’s quest for justice in the wake of losing his son. Peter J. Tomasi’s “Robin Rises,” spread across two volumes of Batman and Robin, sees the League and the Bat Family mix it up with one another and the forces of Apokolips.
Collects: Batman And Robin #35-40, Robin Rises: Alpha, Batman And Robin Annual #3
Collects: Cyborg #1-6
David F. Walker christens Cyborg’s first ongoing series with an arc that goes back to the basics, examining where Victor ends and Cyborg begins – and asking if it’s truly a distinction with a difference.
Collects: Justice League #40-44
Geoff Johns’s run on Justice League (and this volume of the series in general) ends with a final climactic confrontation with Darkseid and his forces – the very monster who brought the team together. It’s a conflict rife with triumph and tragedy, one that helps sets the stage for the next phase of DC Comics.
Collects: Justice League #45-50
Collects: Cyborg #7-12
Collects: Justice League Of America #1-4, 6-10
Written and drawn by Bryan Hitch, this series pits the League against forces both mystical and mythical, serving as a de facto conclusion to this era of the Justice League.
Rebirth and Beyond: Cyborg Today
Your mileage may vary when it comes to the effectiveness of the New 52 reboot. DC execs including Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, and Jim Lee did their best to thread what was likely an impossible needle and did so again in the wake of the Convergence event. The resulting “Rebirth” initiative saw the New 52 merge with elements of the previous universe, leading to new lives for many characters and a lot of new Issue #1’s.
Cyborg remained mainly unchanged by these shifts, still a member of the Justice League and the star of his own series. Only recently have things shaken up for him.
Collects: Justice League #1-5; Justice League: Rebirth
Bryan Hitch and Tony S. Daniel take over the title with this new volume of Justice League, now featuring two Green Lanterns for the price of one!
Collects: Cyborg #1-5, Cyborg: Rebirth
The Cyborg ongoing also gets a new #1 and a new writer in the form of John Semper Jr. The title’s interior focus on Victor’s humanity, however, remains unchanged.
Collects: Justice League #6-11
Collects: Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad #1-6, Justice League #12-13, Suicide Squad #8-10
The Flash’s Joshua Williamson pens this crossover between DC’s shiniest heroes and their dirtiest counterparts.
For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s Justice League vs Suicide Squad reading order.
Collects: Justice League #14-19
Collects: Cyborg #6-13
Collects: Justice League #20-25
Collects: Justice League #26-31
Collects: Cyborg #14-20
Alas, Cyborg’s ongoing series did eventually come to a close under the hand of John Semper Jr., but he remained a presence in the DC Universe.
Collects: Teen Titans #12, Nightwing #29, Suicide Squad #26, Green Arrow #32, Batman: Lost #1, The Flash #33, Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps #32, Justice League #32-33, Hawkman: Found #1
Spinning out of the Dark Nights: Metal event, the members of the Justice League find themselves facing twisted versions of themselves all while trying to save Batman from his darkest impulses. This collection of tie-ins features the League’s search for artifacts that can aid in the battle.
For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s Dark Nights: Metal reading order.
Collects: Justice League #34-38
Writer Christopher Priest takes over the title in time for the League to face the music for the carnage they’ve left in their wake over the years.
Collects: Justice League #39-43
“Rebirth” era Justice League ends here with issue 43.
Collects: Justice League: No Justice #1-4
Batman’s Scott Snyder begins his Justice League run with this four issue mini-series depicting an expanded roster of heroes heading out into the universe to manage the fallout of Dark Nights: Metal. This is kind of a last hurrah for Cyborg’s tenure as a linchpin in the League, but he’s not out for long as…
Collects: Justice League Odyssey #1-5
Joshua Williamson assembles a new team – Cyborg, Starfire, Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, and Azrael – and sends them off on a cosmic adventure that brings them face to face with a newly reborn Darkseid. You can continue to follow Cyborg’s adventures in space monthly in the pages of Justice League Odyssey.
Collects: Justice League Odyssey #6-12
You can’t keep a good Cyborg down. And why would you want to? After years on the bench, Cyborg has finally become a power player in the DC Universe, and he doesn’t look to be giving that up any time soon. Where he’s off to next is anyone’s guess, but you can bet he’ll land on his feet, as the universe’s beating heart.