P:R Approved: Kenneth Rocafort’s Cyborg Superman!

Note: The New 52 ain’t all bad. Superman artist Kenneth Rocafort has given new life to one of the most memorable (and sometimes derided) DC creations from the 1990s: Cyborg Superman. Moving past the cyborg stereotype perpetrated in the 1990s, Rocafort’s design melds Otomo aesthetics with the segmented armor approach of the New 52, making it actually work. The fact that this also looks like a Bruce Campbell gives this one bonus points. – Chris A.

20 comments on “P:R Approved: Kenneth Rocafort’s Cyborg Superman!
  1. Wow… this has somehow turned (what I always thought was) a pretty goofball character into something genuinely terrifying.

  2. I like it mostly. I still think DC needs to do a 52/Brightest Day like series chronicling the history of this new DCU, like what stayed what changed and such. Cause Syborg Superman was a mjor part of Sinestro Corps War which apprently still happened but he’s just not being introduced. So what’s the deal? Otherwise I really like the redone characters like Chesire, Joker’s Daughter, and such.

  3. I find this design pretty excellent. It screams “Cyborg” but with a new and innovative twist on the cybernetic aspect, kind of alien. The face is cooler than the old one in my opinion, more original to take away the flesh down the face, but still creepy. Maybe the fact that there’s no more white/silver shiny metal but black “metal/hard plastic between the bluepart helps making the whole more sober, which, I think is an improvement. In general, it’s like the artist made an update of the old suit but kept everything cool it. In the new 52 this is definitively an improvement. Great work.

  4. All surface, no substance. Designing cyborgs is like designing cars. You don’t need to know how the engine works, but you need to design where it is located. same for wheels or doors. This is just another pseudo-tech looking thing where we cannot guess any of the parts functions.

  5. @Mario Silva, your point being what? That an artist has to study cybernetics and medicine before coming up with an alternate concept of a fictional chatacter?

  6. The majority of the time, when I buy a comic book I’m buying it because I love the character(s). However, every now and then I will buy a random issue here or there simply because the illustrator’s style jumps out at me. I really appreciate the artists who push the boundaries of what they can accomplish in the pages and panels of comics, and Kenneth Rocafort has really excelled. IMO he’s the best talent working on the New 52. His art has a way of making all the heavy-handed 90’s imagery not just bearable, but really transforming it into something incredible. This design is no exception. Not only is Rocafort’s style perfect for the character, but he’s really done a great job of bringing him to life. Looking at this, I’m willing to let go of my disdain for Cyborg Superman, and give him a shot.

  7. @Mario

    But he’s not designing a car, he’s designing a supervillain. The point is to instill shock and fear, not to prove an understanding of cyborg engineering. And I for one think he succeeds admirably. Who cares whether the evil robotic equivalent of a super powered alien from an exploded planet is depicted in a realistic and technical fashion?

  8. This is great. A horrifying take on cyber-supesn I still don’t like superman’s armoured look. But I have came to accept it and this design makes it work better. Would love to see some of the black incorporated in Superman’s proper New 52 costume to break it up.

  9. @Mario

    I don’t really understand what you mean. If the car analogy holds, I feel like the arms, legs, etc are the wheels and doors, and everything looks fairly clear to me. In terms of “how it works,” I feel like unless you’re going for an exposed pistons and gears sort of look, this works as well as any other robot in comics. How does Red Tornado work? How did Infinite Crisis’ OMACs work? The presentation of the design as comic book sci-fi, as opposed to a workable model for cybernetic prosthetics, is enough to satisfy me, at least. I love the design.

  10. Oliver R: @Mario Silva, your point being what? That an artist has to study cybernetics and medicine before coming up with an alternate concept of a fictional character?

    He clearly knows his anatomy, why not also the mechanical parts?

    <a href="#comment-592579" Who cares whether the evil robotic equivalent of a super powered alien from an exploded planet is depicted in a realistic and technical fashion?

    Isn’t this the point of this site? Also because we are in the era when one character design can be depicted in polymer sculptures, video games, animation, live action movies, etc. and there is a sea of reference from both fiction and reality just a click away. The best way to improve on this mastered delivery is to study the concept in more depth.

  11. @Mario Silva

    I’ve seen your artwork and you’re good, so I want to make this clear from the start: I mean well so I don’t intend to patronize you. However, I have to say, I’ve seen your Ultron sketches and I can’t guess it’s parts functions either judging just by them. Yes, you experimented and drew multiple articulations, parts and joints that don’t show after all in the finished design, don’t affect it’s external shape as it looks fully humanoid in it’s complexion, and that look more like something out of an industrial robot that you can find in any actual real life factory than an advanced bio-mechanical android that should move more or less like a living thing in the fictious world where it exists. Following your rationalization of Rocafort’s design, I wonder, have you aware of the latest advancements in robotics? Biomechanical structures are getting nowadays MUCH more complex than simple hydraulic lever systems like the ones you experimented with in those sketches. Just look at the german enterprise Festo and their prototypes? Or polymer artificial muscles? That’s what we have NOW in our reality, and it looks vastly different from hydraulic-based robots, so just imagine what kryptonian tech in DC’s universe should be.

    My point is, as long as it looks mecha-organic and just slightly reminiscent of familiar biological motor structures, it should be more than okay. But you know, if you’re going to nitpick, you must be prepared to be nitpicked back. Just because your way is the right way for you, it doesn’t make it automatically THE right way as an universal rule.

    I once drew a comic book set in Brazil. In a scene that was meant to be just a simple foreshadowing of things to come, that is, not a pivotal, important event, a flying insect gets trapped in a spider web. Both the bug and the spider I drew were native not only of Brazil, but also of the specific region the story took place, although the script didn’t ask for it. You know what? No one gave a flying crap. No enthomologyst would’ve been offended if I drew a common spider chasing a common simple fly. No one cared, except me and my obsessive stubborness. I just lost time with small, stupid details that made me lose my deadline, as always. I know better now. Details are important in the process of creating a believable world and telling a plausible story, but too much detail can be too much. You have to tell the story after all, first and foremost.

    Jack Kirby knew. His tech looked weird, preposterous, impractical and absurdely grandiose. Not shred of reality or logic on it. But you know what? It looked phenomenal, and set a trend that still keeps going nowadays.

    Don’t overthink things, man. We’re dealing with flying men and god-like entities that eat planets. We don’t need that much reality on it. Plausibility is more than enough.

  12. God, that arm! That arm scares the living daylights out of me. this is more effective than Superman Prime

  13. Rocafort is one of the best things about the “New 52”. I read 12 issues of that dumb Red Hood book for his art. Always willing to buy stuff he throws his work into.

  14. @ Jimenez

    The Ultron redesign ended up as a hollow cast of molecular rearranged adamantium with ever changing subdued Kirby tech (yup) popping out like missiles from a sub. The head is just a hollow mouth where synthesized cosmic shapes take place (the design being linked to my Vision redesign). It’s tech is far from current bio mimetic, it’s Pym’s sub-molecular/dimensional.

    But guess what? I am wrong, you guys are right. This design right here fits perfectly The Cyborg character, junk-pile tech and all. Your nitpicking made me realize that what was really bothering me was not this design but the previous same look for Cyberforce characters by the same artist, and the innumerable mechanical characters that have been taking the transforming nano-tech approach. Which brings me to:

    Joe Stando: How does Red Tornado work? How did Infinite Crisis’ OMACs work?

    It’s not about illustrating how they work, it’s about their function (powers etc) being a key to personalized signature designs.

    Perhaps over-thinking designs isn’t The right Universal Rule, but neither is The «story first and foremost». You got at least one guy caring about your fly and spider species.

  15. @ Mario Silva

    As I told you, I meant well with my back-nitpicking. And again as I told, you, it’s not that you’re wrong and we’re right, it’s that there’s no wrong per se! You have your own approach to designing techy characters, that’s fine, I like it and I back you up on this, but that’s YOUR way. That doesn’t make others’ wrong, just different.

    If you’d say from the start that you didn’t like the artist or his work, period, nobody would’ve complained about it. That’s fair game, happens all the time in PR, and it’s completely OK in my book. It was your rationalization of that dislike that I -and others apparently- wasn’t agreeing with, that’s all.

    By the way, thank you sincerely for the fly and spider comment. I still care about these thing and try to incorporate the in my work if I can, but not if it means spending a whole afternoon of research that could’ve -should’ve!- been spent drawing instead. It’s just not worth it in the long run.

  16. The design is great… but why is he on his tippy-toes? Is that a cyborg thing? I have to check the long shots in the Terminator movies….

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