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DF Interview: David Walker seeks the young man in the machine in Cyborg
By Byron Brewer
The machine that gives Cyborg his powers is evolving. The only problem is that machine is his body and Vic Stone has no idea what’s causing these changes.
Thus begins what may be the surprise hit of the new DC era as writer David Walker (Shaft, Army of Dr. Moreau) and artistic team supreme Ivan Reis and Joe Prado (Blackest Night, Brightest Day, Justice League) bring the young Justice Leaguer into the world of solo books.
To gather the entire story, Dynamic Forces sat down with Walker and got the skinny on his interpretation of the life and times of Victor Stone.
Dynamic Forces: First, David, congratulations on your Dynamite Entertainment book Shaft winning the Story of the Year Glyph Award. Tell us about the honor and how it felt for your work to win it.
David Walker: Shaft was as close to my heart as any project ever will be. It had been kicking around in my mind for many years before it came to fruition, and to have it be received the way it was—with great reviews, and to win an award—was really an incredible experience. Winning the Glyph Comics Award was an amazing honor, because the competition was fierce. Everyone we were up against is a phenomenal talent, and was just as deserving as Shaft.
DF: So how did you come to be on a new Cyborg book, something highly anticipated since 2011 when the character became a part of the Justice League?
David Walker: DC reached out to me about pitching ideas for some of their characters. I put together story ideas for several characters, including Cyborg. Honestly, I didn’t think they’d go for the Cyborg ideas. But here we are, talking about him, so I guess my ideas weren’t that crazy.
DF: Give us your perception of the Vic Stone we will be seeing in your book. Is there a difference to the approach you will be taking with the character, and is there any particular inspiration for that approach?
David Walker: I think a lot of people tend to forget that Vic is a pretty young guy, both in his New 52 incarnation and originally as a member of the Teen Titans. I’m trying to get across the fact that this is a guy barely in his twenties, which is a really awkward time of life—you’re no longer a kid, but nowhere close to being an adult, even if you think you are a grown up. There’s a lot of hubris and naïveté that comes with being that age, and that’s what I want to get across with Vic. All I have to do is look at myself at that age, and there’s tons of inspiration. When I was Vic’s age, I had a minimum wage job—which was $3.50 an hour back then—and a beat up old car that spewed smoke whenever you started it. And I thought I was a complete badass, ready to take on the world. I look back on those times, and realize how much of a kid I really was, and how much I was trying to live up to this idea of what it meant to be an adult. Vic is like that, only he’s also trying to live up to what he thinks it means to be a superhero.
DF: Displaying diversity is a big concern in the comics industry these days. How does Vic fit into this picture for DC?
David Walker: Vic is easily one of the most prominent black characters in DC—I’d argue the most prominent, given his exposure on the animated Teen Titans show. If you were to list the top five most well-known black characters in comics, he’s going to be on that list. That puts him in a unique position, because he’s already recognizable and popular, and comic readers always gravitate towards what they know before taking a chance on something that is unfamiliar or not that popular. DC could’ve launched a solo Black Racer series, but only a handful of people would get excited, the sales wouldn’t be that impressive, and in the end, it wouldn’t do much to further the cause of diversity. If Cyborg is a hit—and I hope it will be—it creates more opportunities to further open the door for inclusion and representation.
DF: The Cyborg in your book, will he be the same one we saw developed in the New 52 Justice League or are there more twists?
David Walker: We’re building off the foundation that’s been laid with the New 52, but definitely bringing in new twists and turns. Let’s not forget that this is THE first solo ongoing series Cyborg has had, and the character was first introduced 35 years ago.
DF: What is it about this character that has made him a favorite among writers? Certainly Geoff Johns had great fun writing Vic.
David Walker: I think the character works on a lot of levels, and has an inherent complexity that makes him very appealing. You look at him, and he appears more machine than man—and that’s how most people treat him—which means that every step of the way, as a writer, you have to show his humanity. There’s a great dynamic to be found there. Geoff Johns really showed that dynamic of man/machine, especially in the friendship between Cyborg and Shazam.
DF: So tell us about the initial storyline. What is up for Cyborg first?
David Walker: Without giving away any spoilers, the first storyline is about Vic’s cybernetic technology evolving in ways he doesn’t fully understand. While this is happening, he becomes the target of extraterrestrials that are very interested in his tech. If you want to know more, you’ll have to check it out.
DF: Have you enjoyed working with superstar artists like Ivan Reis and Joe Prado?
David Walker: I met Joe earlier this year, and we got to talking, and I told him how I was a failed comic book artist. In my mind, I can see what I want, I can even describe it, but I can’t draw it. So, I’m telling Joe this, and he looks me in the eye, and he says, “Don’t worry, Ivan and I, we will be your hands.” Keep in mind, I’d known Joe all of about twelve hours, and he’s getting all deep and existential on me, but the thing is, he wasn’t exaggerating. Working with him and Ivan has been the most incredible experience, not only because they have been so supportive and encouraging, but because they produce art that is mind-blowing. Ivan is just amazing to collaborate with, and honestly, if there’s only one reason to buy this book, it is his art.
DF: David, any new or future projects you would like to discuss?
David Walker: There are a few things I’d like to talk about, but you know, these Nondisclosures Agreements make it difficult. Earlier this year, IDW released a graphic novel I wrote, The Army of Dr. Moreau, which is something I’m proud of that is still looking for its audience. It is very different from something like Cyborg or Shaft, but I’m really happy with it. I’m also working on my second Young Adult novel, the second in my series, The Adventures of Darius Logan. For me, it is difficult to go back and forth between writing comics and traditional prose, so it has slowed down the process of getting this new novel completed. I promise, it will be done soon.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank David Walker for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Cyborg #1 hits stores July 22nd!
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