First Appearance: Justice League Annual #2
Created by: Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton
In this episode of The Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks Show I’ll be talking about the break dancing sonic shooter from the Justice League of America, not that he was in it for long, but Paco Ramone, and in later iterations of the character, Cisco Ramone. And if you are a watcher of The hit CW show, The Flash, yep, I’m talking about Vibe!
In this explosion of superhero TV shows and movies we are getting to see some of our favorite characters duke it out and use their awesome powers. I still get choked up when I see The Flash do something truly comic booky on the CW show. But we not only get to see our favorites, we also get to be introduced obscure characters that we may have never heard of. Vibe is one of those characters for a lot of people.
I’ve alway been a big JLA fan so I remember the first time he appeared in comics so it was really neat to see him being used on such a high profile new show like the Flash. One thing I had forgotten is that he wasn’t around all that long. So that’s another reason it was interesting to me that he was written in as a character on the Flash. So let’s get into who Vibe is and learn about his origins and how his character has changed over the years, right up to how his character is portrayed the CW show, The Flash.
Vibe, the 19 year old latino hero, first appeared in the pages of Justice League of America Annual #2 way back in October of 1984 and was created by friend of the show Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton. In his initial origin Vibe’s real name is Paco Ramone but it is later changed in other versions of the character to the name we are more familiar with, Cisco Ramone. He lives in Detroit and comes from a working class factory, he’s had his powers his whole life, but only recently started to learn how to control them. Now the Justice League at this point is having a rocky time of it, the Martian Invasion series just happened and the team was splintered with many of the real power players MIA. The team consisted of Aquaman, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, HawkWoman, Firestorm, The Elongated Man, and Zantana.
No sure there’s no GL, Superman, Flash, those biggies, but still a super powerful team. But the annual opens with Aquaman going before the UN and disbanding the JLA since which was shocking, but then a few pages later he starts up a new group when he is inspired by Jon Jonzz The Martian Manhunter. Jonn says he would be honored to join a new league, a league committed to help the world. That’s all Aquaman needs and right then and there they reform a new Justice League, minus the America, with the four core consisting of Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Elongated Man and Zantana. Does seem like an odd mishmash of characters but in the long run this incarnation of the league doesn’t last too long anyway. Since Aquaman did all this at this huge UN meeting all of this has been televised, so other heroes out there get the idea to join the new League. So in short order Vixen shows up and asks to join and is invited in, then Hank Steel shows up and asks to join, then to sweeten the pot he tells them he has a base of operations they can use, and that clinches the deal, he’s in.
We then shift from a high tech base of operations to a run down alley where a gang fight is well under way. An old man who was in the alley runs from the fight to get help to try and stop the fight. He’s specifically looking for Paco Ramone, a.k.a Vibe so that he can use his powers to stop the fight. See everyone knows that Paco has powers, he doesn’t bother with an alter ego. So when Paco is breaking up the fight using his acrobatic break-dancing skill and powers Hank and Vixen are watching and think he’s make a great member of the team. Now, I’m not sure why they think this, they saw him fight 3 gang members who had knives and boom, they wanted him in. But hey, that’s comics. When Hank tells Aquaman about him he says no, the kids not a good choice. But then out of the blue, Paco just shows up at their new secret headquarters. They ask him how he found them and he just says he lives two blocks away and heard they needed new members and says he should be oun their team. It is super strange, I mean at least say you followed them back or something, but again, that’s 80’s comics. Aquaman tries to usher him out but Vibe uses his powers and knock him back about 6 feet, and with that act of power, he’s in the new league.
I re-read my issue of JLA Annual #2 and some of it held up, but the majority of it was pretty painful, and I’m not just talking about Vixen’s weird “V” mullet or Zantana’s weird white flowing costume, I’m talking about how Vibe’s dialogue is written. So I guess they needed to beat us over the head about the fact he’s latino, but his dialogue is just awful. And not, well people used weird slogans and slang in the 80’s, the lettering changes the spelling of words so for example they change “you” to “chu” C,H,U. So here’s a bit of dialogue that is especially cringe worthy. Vibe is talking to Aquaman and says, and I’m quoting here, “Chu really a fish? Chu don’ smell like no fish.” and it’s like that all the time. So it’s a little painful to read, but a lot of the late 70’s books are.
We haven’t really talked about it, but let’s talk about what Vibe’s powers are all about. They are pretty simple, he is able to shoot and control sound vibrations as the form of powerful blasts. Sort of like Black Canary. And it’s not just about sound blasts, he can control sound in finer ways changing it’s frequency and using sound resonance to fight with.
This new league has some adventures and proves to be pretty effective but all in all it’s still a pretty young team. True they have 2 heavy hitters, Jonn, Aquaman and then Firestorm, most of the team, including Firestorm are teenagers. The one thing they can’t handle is what DC threw at them during the awesome Legends series in the 80’s. In this event Darkseid is hell bent on taking over the Earth through an all out attack and mind control to turn the populace against heroes. Vibe’s league gets it handed to them and decides they should just disband. But there must be a league and at the end of the series the classic league is brought back, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc..
So back to Vibe, the league officially disbands in JLA #258 and Vibe takes it pretty hard. He leaves and heads back to his neighborhood where he sees a kid drawing on a stoop. He stops to chat with the boy, that god at this point in comics his dialogue is normal, and asks to see what he’s drawing. The boy says a superhero and shows him a drawing of Superman, Vibe asks him if he ever heard about Vibe and the kid says “who?” This is definitely kicking a guy when he’s down and Cisco walks away disjected. It’s then he bumps in a large man, but this is no ordinary man. He’s actually an android that Professor Ivo created to kill members of the JLA. See he apparently misted them with low level radiation so he could track them. So Vibe tells the guy to leave and a fight ensues. Vibe seems to be doing OK and once he realizes his assailant is an android he doesn’t hold back and destroys the thing. But as he leans over the body the android’s hands shoot from it’s body and wrap around Vibe’s neck and choke the life out of him, killing him right there on the streets he grew up on. And with that Vibe was dead. When Jonn heard he collected Vibe’s body, took him to the league's new mountain sanctuary.
Now like almost all comic characters that have died, Vibe was brought back to life albeit briefly and not in great shape. He was brought back during Blackest Night by Nekron and attacked members of his old league but he was defeated.
Vibe was then reintroduced when DC launched its New 52 titles and he got his own title, Vibe. But they updated the character’s origin and powers quite a bit. In his new origin Cisco was out playing basketball with his brothers when a BOOM Tube opened up on the court when Darkseid attacked Earth. Cisco was being drawn into the portal and not knowing what was happening his brothers pulled him out. So for an instant he was between two dimensions and and this changed him at the molecular level. This left him in a state of constant vibration. He’s actually vibrating all the time, so quickly though that it’s not visible. Vibe can now affect matter at the molecular level in shock waves that are crazy powerful. Later, his powers increase as he is able to sense portals to other dimensions, disrupt the speed force and even sense the future through premonitions.
This is actually more like the Vibe that we are seeing in the CW show The Flash. On the Flash, the character of Cisco Ramone is part of team Flash, helping him with his crime fighting. He’s a tech genius and for some time we and even he doesn’t know he got powers from particle accelerator explosion. At first he can just shake things and shoot blasts from his fists, but as the series goes on he gets some pretty cool additions to his powerset. He’s able to not only sense portals but he can also create portals to other Earths throughout the Multiverse and one of the neatest powers is his ability to pick up on the resonance of time and glimpse future events when he touches an object. It’s pretty neat and the special fx they do on the show is very cool.
This is one of the things I’m really digging about the new spate of comic books shows on TV and the movies, but especially on TV, the use of fairly obscure character and using them in really cool ways.