Cyborg Writer Calls Out DC’s Problematic Approach & Attempted Redesign

Cyborg is a prominent member of the Justice League and Titans, but statements from his comic writer reveal a problematic editorial approach.

While Cyborg is one of the best-loved members of the Titans and Teen Titans, DC‘s treatment of Victor Stone has frequently invited controversy in how it engages with racial stereotypes and harmful tropes. Now, a Twitter exchange involving writer David F. Walker reveals even more disturbing information about the hero’s treatment behind the scenes. While editorial’s vision apparently didn’t come to fruition thanks to the writer, the direction DC allegedly intended for Cyborg shows fans are right to be concerned about how he’s handled.

David F. Walker is a comic artist known for his award-winning work on Bitter Root with Image Comics as well as his work on Naomi with DC Comics. He has written numerous graphic novels, including The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History, The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave’s Journey from Bondage to Freedom, and The Army of Doctor Moreau. He has also done work with Marvel involving Nighthawk, Deadpool and other heroes.


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On Twitter, David F Walker responded to a fan’s argument regarding Cyborg. The discussion originally centered on the controversy surrounding Ray Fisher, Geoff Johns, and Zack Snyder. However, one Tweet mentioned criticism received by DC writer and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns regarding Cyborg’s depiction in comics, stating that Johns had not been aware of the problematic history of violating and dehumanizing the bodies of Black characters in pop culture, and had demurred to Walker in terms of the hero’s revamped origin. This left the door open for a rebuttal from Walker and his time working on Cyborg following DC’s New 52 reboot. Walker unequivocally states, “I was the ONLY person interested in restoring his humanity,” and goes on to say that DC’s original plan was to give the character tattoos in order to create a more stereotypical portrayal of a young Black man.

Asked by fans whether these remarks came from Johns or someone else, Walker clarifies in another tweet that while the comments had not come from Johns, they came from “several people in positions of power and influence.” In a further tweet, Walker confirms that the suggestions had explicit racial connotations, with the attempt of redesigning Cyborg to make him “more thugged out.” While names are not named, this reflects very poorly on the handling of Cyborg within comics and the treatment of creators telling his stories. To maintain the hero’s humanity within the story, Walker states it was necessary to go behind the backs of editorial.

Cyborg is a hero who tackles questions of transhumanism and disability, while being a Black hero with his own personal struggles. He is one of DC’s most prominent characters, being part of the Teen Titans, the Titans, and the Justice League. Of course, tattoos for Victor would be great if they served a purpose other than creating a racist stereotype, with Walker showing off his own body art in further messages.

DC’s heroes often tackle racism and connected social issues, so trying to fit Cyborg within a racist visual framework is incredibly hypocritical. As a prominent Black superhero with over forty years of history, Cyborg deserves to be given appropriate respect, whether as a solo hero or with the Titans. With the increased inclusion of diverse voices in DC’s comic output and an increase in prominence within stories for Black characters such as Nubia and Naomi, as well as the return of Milestone Comics’ heroes, hopefully DC Comics is sincere in leaving behind the attitudes that apparently underpinned its earlier treatment of Cyborgthough it’s clearly a journey that is at its beginning rather than its end.

More: Wonder Woman’s Nubia Becomes a True DC Legend in Jaw-Dropping Fan Art

Source: David F. Walker (1, two, 3)

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