Cyborg, the cybernetically enhanced superhero, is a very powerful figure in DC Comics, facing some of the most dangerous comic book villains as a member of the Teen Titans, Doom Patrol, and the Justice League. This month the hero, who was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, celebrates his 40th anniversary in comics. And like most comic characters, his path to becoming a hero began with a life altering event.

Cyborg debuted in DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980) as Victor Stone, the son of scientists Silas and Elinore Stone. They used him as a test subject for their experiments with the goal of enhancing intelligence. Though the treatments are successful as his IQ improves, Victor resents being used for the studies.

Victor rebels by becoming friends with Ron Evers, a troublemaker, and to pursue sports against his parents’ wishes. Tragedy struck when Victor visited his parents’ lab when they were working on experiments in interdimensional access. A creature comes through and kills Victor’s mother then severely injures the young man before his father can send it back to its dimension.

As Victor lay near death, Silas uses prototype medical prosthetic research to treat him. Waking up to the extensive artificial limbs and implants, including most of the left side of his head, Victor is horrified and declares that he’d rather be dead than what his father has made him.

Victor eventually lets go of his bitterness, but he is also rejected by society for his new appearance. He stops a friend from engaging in a terrorist attack on the United Nations, which begins his journey as a hero.