I need to say this up front: if you’ve come back to Cyborg to catch the thrilling showdown between our titular hero and the mysterious and terrifying new addition to his rouges gallery, Rat Lord, then I have bad news. Rat Lord isn’t in this comic. It sounds like he might be in the next issue? So check back in then? Sorry to disappoint you Rat Legion (the new name for Rat Lord groupies that I just came up with. He’s a lord, so maybe Rat Vassals? Rat Subjects? I’ll workshop it for next month.)
No, while Vic starts the issue with, in his words, three million rats attacking him, he quickly, though just barely, escapes via a handy boom tube, but woah! His boom tube lands him in a new, strange, Minecraft-inspired world where he faces the NEXT mysterious and terrifying new addition to his rouges gallery: H8-Bit! Little does Vic know, but he has a history H8-Bit and the two must duel on the digital plane as Cyborg figures out a way to get home!
For as little as I liked about this comic, I do have to hand it to Semper and the art team, they pack a lot in. We go from Detroit, into some sort of other dimensional realm, to the video game world, to our world, back into the video game, and then back to us. That said, quantity does not make up for quality this time, and what has plagued Cyborg in the past continues to here in issue 11. Block after block of clunky expositional narration boxes crowd the art as Semper has to yet again burn three pages summarizing the seemingly dozens of things he’s done so far, only to then drop Cyborg into the lap of yet another character hastily introduced via flashbacks and stilted dialogue.
My mind is disjointed trying to figure out how you crammed so much into only ten issues.
And it’s a real shame, because the villain of this story has some interesting bits and pieces under all the rushed mediocrity. His background isn’t awful and the twist at the end is decent. But then Semper just keeps making basic, predictable, clunky choices and squanders what good will the character generates. Also, he’s really, really, unbelievably-as-in-I-don’t-believe-it-to-be-possible good at programming in 8-bit coding. So now, his name is H8-Bit. Get it!? GET IT!? HOMOPHONES.
You guys get it.
And just like last month, the art is truckin’ along. It’s fine. Even in the craziest “Vic traveling through time and space” moments, Conrad, Derenick, and team stick to the same basic renderings that DC is into right now. It’s right in the “house style” comfort zone with seemingly no plans for anything bolder. The only variation is in their rendering of the video game world Vic finds himself in. Even that’s a mixed bag though because the world itself is clearly a riff on the modern game Minecraft, but then the creatures that populate the world contradict that and are instead all old-school “8-bit” figures to align with the villain. But then they don’t really look 8-bit, they looks more like blurry 16-bit. I know that’s a potentially alienating distinction, but I assume if you’re reading this review of a comic book about a robot super hero you probably get what I’m saying. The gist is the art team got the wires crossed on their own reference and what could have been a fun visual language wound up just becoming confusing.
Ultimately, Cyborg #11 falls into all the same ruts as Cyborg #10; it wastes time on recapping a story it don’t move forward, then rushes to tell an entirely NEW story, all with clunky dialogue and only standard art. But who knows? Maybe next month’s return of Rat Lord might turn this boat around. As a Rat Serf myself, I certainly hope so.
Oh, also, there’s a page where he fights a literally “Evil Mirror-verse” version of himself. This does not come back up at all.