Friday, November 23, 2012

Top 10 Cyborgs

There are times in fiction that the word “cyborg” is misused to identify some robotic or android characters.  Technically, a cyborg, which is short for “cybernetic organism”, is someone that has both organic and synthetic parts – a combination of flesh and machine.  Most of the time, cyborgs are depicted as former humans that have been given cybernetic or mechanical parts, whether as replacement for body parts that have been lost in a tragedy, or due to the desire to improve their capabilities or desire to attach weapons on themselves.    

There are plenty of cool cyborgs in fiction but here are my ten favorite picks:   


Cyborg is a cyborg superhero.  In spite of having several cool functions – which includes super strength, enhanced durability, flight, various weaponry, an internal computer system, etc. – due to the advanced prosthetics that replaced a large portion of his body, Cyborg is only number 10 for the reason of having a very lazy and unoriginal superhero name.   


When ask to name a cyborg enemy of Superman, Metallo will always be the first to come to mind.   However, I find the Cyborg Superman – Hank Henshaw – a most interesting villain, at least, during the first time he appeared in comics.  

Henshaw was an astronaut, and because of the effect of a previous solar flare accident (which claimed the life of his crewmates), his body started to rapidly decay.   But before his body expired, with the help of Superman, he was able to save his wife from phasing to another dimension (brought by the same solar flare accident) by the use of LexCorp facilities.  His physical body would eventually disintegrate, but the radioactive exposure from the solar flare accident gave Henshaw the ability to transfer his consciousness into the LexCorp computer mainframe.  With now the ability to control technology, Henshaw embodied himself in robotic form and appeared to his wife.  The shock of his appearance drove his wife to insanity and suicide.  Henshaw would then find himself transferring his consciousness to the birthing matrix that transported the infant Kal-El to Earth.  He re-made this birthing matrix into a space craft, and went to travel from planet to planet, gaining more and more knowledge from different worlds.  

Being able to exist in electronic state makes him nigh indestructible since he can just transport his consciousness from machine to machine.  His power to possess and manipulate any machine or technology is seemingly unlimited.  This makes him a very powerful and fascinating character.  But, at this point, he is still not a cyborg (to qualify in this list).  But we’ll get there… this gets more interesting…              

During his space travels, Henshaw started to become delusional and insane, that will lead him to conclude that the blame of all the tragedy in his life directly falls on Superman.  Henshaw would meet the war lord Mongul, and upon learning of the villain’s own encounters and hatred with Superman, Henshaw would force Mongul to serve under him in his plan to destroy Superman. 

Henshaw would re-appear on Earth as Cyborg Superman, and one of the four Supermen that would rise during the “Reign of the Supermen” storyline after Superman’s supposed death at the hands of Doomsday.  Due to his encounter with the birthing matrix of the infant Kal-El, he was able to become familiar with the entire history of Superman and Krypton, as well as familiarity of Kryptonian physiology and technology.  And with these, Henshaw was able to construct a cyborg body – that is a combination of organic and genetic compositions similar to those of Superman’s (which allowed him to have the powers of Superman) and mechanical parts made up of Kryptonian alloys – for himself.  Thus, he became the Cyborg Superman.  He would claim that he was the one true Superman revived in cyborg form.  He was even able to make the President of the United States endorse him as the “true” Superman after saving him from an assassination attempt.  Of course, it was all part of his ploy to destroy Earth, Superman’s adopted homeworld.  However, the “resurrected” original Superman and other heroes would stop Henshaw in the end.  


Grievous was the Supreme Commander of one of the political blocs that the Galactic Republic was at war with.  He was trained by the Sith Lord Count Dooku in all seven forms of lightsaber combat.  With this training and the capability of wielding four (!) lightsabers at once (because of having four arms), Grievous was indeed a very formidable and dangerous lightsaber combatant.  He was an aggressive, brutal and badass warrior, and a very capable and callous killer.  He was able to kill countless Jedis, and for this, he was given the notorious nickname of “The Knightslayer.”  At first appearance, Grievous seem to be purely a robot (droid), but during the scene of his demise, it was revealed that Grievous has a beating organic heart, which Obi Wan Kenobi shot, showing that he’s a cyborg.           


Kuma was a former Revolutionary and is currently one of the Shichibukais, powerful pirates allied to the World Government.  He has the ability to transport anyone anywhere in the world.  Kuma is arguably one the most powerful characters in One Piece since he was able to beat the Straw Hat Pirates singlehandedly in two separate occasions (though, they were already weakened when they encountered him at both times).  Nonetheless, he doesn’t desire the destruction of the Straw Hats and had actually favored them in both circumstances with: a.) first and foremost, by sparing their lives in both instances considering that he was ordered to kill them; b.) probably seeing the Straw Hats were not ready in entering the New World, during his second clash with them, he used his power to separate the crew and transported them into different faraway locations that were perfect environments for each respective member to train on to become stronger; and c.) in his last moment of human personality, he asked to be programmed to defend the Straw Hat’s ship, the Thousand Sunny, until a member of the Straw Hat Pirates returns on the spot.  

Kuma served as the prototype of the Pacifista, the powerful cyborgs commissioned by the Marines, thus the Pacifista have their appearance modeled after Kuma.  Kuma was already strong prior to being a cyborg but became more so when he had his Pacifista modifications.  During his first encounters with the Straw Hats, he was still undergoing the process of being turned into a full Pacifista cyborg, thus, he still had his personality with him.  But later on, when Kuma had already finished modifications, he lost his free will and it was merely a program that he had requested to be installed in him before losing his personality completely which allowed him to protect the Thousand Sunny till the Straw Hat returns.  

The Straw Hat Pirates know that they owe Kuma a great debt since, not only did he protect their ship during his absence, but it was because of his insight and preparation – by forcibly separating and sending them to different places where they found the appropriate conditions and opportunities to train and improve themselves – that made them stronger.  However, they are also aware that when they encounter Kuma again, he would already be a heartless weapon of the Marines.  


Kuma is indeed pretty awesome, but he’s not my most favorite cyborg in One Piece.  That title goes to the Straw Hats’ very own Franky.  Being a cyborg, Franky is very durable, strong, and possesses a variety of weaponry, and is powered by cola, which is pretty amusing and remarkable.  He is considered as the strongest member of Straw Hat Pirates out of the Monster Trio (Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji).  

He is a very talented engineer and builder, thus, he is the Straw Hat Pirates’ shipwright.  He’s the one who designed and supervised the building of the Thousand Sunny, the current ship of the Straw Hat Pirates, which was a significant upgrade to the Straw Hats’ first ship, the Going Merry.  His skills as an engineer are indeed very excellent considering that he’s the one who does the modifications on himself!  Thus, though his front is heavily armored due to his self-installed cybernetics, his back, however, being out of his reach for him to modify, is vulnerable.  After the two year time skip, Franky has greatly modified himself more, that he was now even able to discharge the same powerful laser that the Pacifista have in their arsenal.  He also built a giant motorcycle and a battle tank that can combine and transform into a Franky-like mecha which he himself pilots!  

5.) ANDROID 18

Despite the name, most of the Androids in Dragon Ball Z are in fact cyborgs.  Android 18 and her twin brother, Android 17, were notorious delinquents when they were still humans.  They were captured by Dr. Gero and fitted them with cybernetics, which greatly increased their power.  During their initial meeting, the Androids handedly beat the Z Fighters, which was highlighted by Android 18’s domination of Super Saiyan Vegeta.  She, along with her brother, was absorbed by Cell, but would be regurgitated after Cell was given a hard punch on the gut by Gohan.  She would eventually become an ally of the Z Fighters and wife of Krilin.           


Inspector Gadget is a cyborg detective.  His outfit is similar to that of Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther.  But the clothing is not the only thing similar between the two but the intelligence as well.  Like Clouseau, Inspector Gadget is very dim-witted and clueless.  He is only able to “save the day” because of sheer luck and the secret help of his niece Penny and dog Brain, who aids Gadget in his cases and foils the enemy’s plans with him unaware of all of these. However, despite being a clumsy buffoon, Inspector Gadget is quite lovable, with his “Swiss army knife”-like arsenal of gadgets as his redeeming factor.   He has arguably the richest and most enjoyable collection of functions among all of the cyborgs in this list.     


As far as cool cyborg functions and gadgetry are concerned, Darth Vader lacks of it.  Nonetheless, Darth Vader doesn’t need a cool cybernetic-job to be the solid number 3 in this list (take note that Darth Vader is being evaluated here as a cyborg, and not as a character.  He would take the highest spot in this list if this is about the quality as a fictional character.) His sheer badassery and awesomeness are enough!  Just look at that kickass mask!  Even just that is reason enough.       

He was originally a powerful Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker but would eventually succumb to the Dark Side of the Force.  In the epic lightsaber duel between Anakin Skywalker, fresh from turning to the Dark Side, with his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the latter severed most of the former’s limbs.  This left Anakin immobile to avoid getting too close to a lava flow, igniting him, and making him suffer nasty life-threatening burns.  Palpatine – Darth Sidious – was able to rescue him from perishing.  He was re-constructed into a cyborg to survive and be functional again.  Ergo, the beloved Darth Vader design.     

2.) THE TERMINATOR (T-800, T-850, T-101)

The Terminator, one of the characters that have the most impactful heel-face turn in fiction, is unique when compared to other cyborgs.  Usually, a cyborg is a former human – or an organic base – which had undergone mechanical or cybernetic modifications.  The Terminator, however, is the reverse of this: a machine nature with human tissue modification.  The Terminator’s interior, being a machine, is heavily-armored and is covered with living human flesh, skin, blood, and hair.  The rationale for the machine’s tissue add-on and taking human appearance is for the purpose of being able to infiltrate human environments and to get close for assassinating a target.  The Terminator was meant to be a highly-effective assassin for taking down leaders of the human resistance.  Also, in the Terminator universe, only human tissue can go back in time (time travelling to the past is an important part of the story’s plot), hence the necessity of the Terminator for a human tissue exterior.              


After police officer Alex Murphy is brutally murdered by gang members, he was revived into a cyborg police officer by the mega-corporation OCP.  Being bullet proof and having superior mechanical shooting accuracy, Robocop was capable on taking on entire criminal gangs at once.  Thus, Robocop was able to single-handedly and dramatically lower the crime rate of the city.  I find it so cool whenever Robocop does a cowboy-style spinning of his large gun before holstering it.  Robocop is arguably the first cyborg I adored, and the character that made me aware of the concept of cyborgs.  

A reboot is currently being filmed and, unfortunately, the initial pictures released of the new-look Robocop don’t look promising at all.  All available signs are pointing that it’s going to be a terrible reboot, but, hopefully, I’m wrong.      

You judge for yourself.  

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