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Static

Static
Dwayne McDuffie's Static

Dear Antidote Nation,

 

I wanted my first post that was about something to cement my stand point and individualize my views from others in a way for you all to get to know me better. And after recent events I knew I had to do something to do with Dwayne McDuffie (RIP). because of his unfortunate early passing (which if you see Alex’s post that linked to my FB you can read more on my feelings on McDuffie), but also because he wrote a series that I speak/feel so strongly on. Milestone’s one and only Static. Now many that really know me know that Static is my #1 comic book character I love above all others. but to explain this I have to take you back a few years (a decade almost actually lmfao wow.. where has the time went?).

 

It was September in the year 2000. At this point in my life i wasn’t into comic books yet, but man did i love superheroes cartoons and movies. I did not get cable until i was 14-ish (year 1998-99 ish)  at which point i started to watch a ridiculous amount of TV. How ridiculous you ask? name a channel and a show, I’ve probably seen at least 1-3 episodes of it, if not all of it. At that time Cartoon Network was basically what Boomerang is now, full of all kinds of TV cartoons from way back (most notably at the time Beast Wars, Voltron, and Thundercats were my main watches on Toonami). One of the late night cartoons was ‘Super Friends‘, most of you reading this will probably be too young to know what this was, but it was the Justice League roster that ran from 1973-1986. This was the first cartoon besides BTAS and SMTAS (Spider-Man the animated series) that got me hooked on comic book characters. If you’ve read the current JLA vol 4 run you’ll see a lot of homage being paid to this show (Hall of Justice in Washington DC looks just like the one in SF), but that’s another story for another time. At this time WB had BTAS and STAS going, not to mention the JLA (and eventually JLU), Batman Beyond, and TT cartoons all on Saturday Mornings (not all during the same time though). During all that chaos of awesomeness a brand new and intriguing cartoon came out; Static Shock.

 

For me this was so… just new and interesting. Other than the stereotypes of African Americans i saw on television did not ever see many in my day to day life. At the time I lived in this little town in Michigan with one stop light, if you sneezed you missed the place. The town is about 700 strong in population (lol..), predominately Caucasian and Christian. I knew 2 African American families growing up and I was never friends with them. So I never really got to know how they lived life or how they saw things. This cartoon provided me a link to a whole new world (besides comic books). Just the little things that McDuffie did to make the story he was telling appealing while informing the world that stereotypes were meant to be broken. So now I was learning about other cultures/people that I had never thought of before, because i simply was not exposed to those things at that time. Let’s not mention that Lightning/electricity is my favorite superpower and since Static does more than throw lightning bolts around like Black Lightning did in the Super Friends it made me like him even more.

 

The more I watched of Static Shock the more I just fell in love with the character. Never before had i been so absorbed into a cartoon or a character. I had favorites in each Cartoon I watched? Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Black Vulcan/Lightning (Jeffery Peirce) in Super Friends, Batman (Terry McGinnis) in Batman Beyond, Flash (wally west) in JLA, Robin/Nightwing (Dick Grayson) in BTAS, Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) in STAS, and Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) and the Question (Vic Sage/Charlie Szasz) in JLU. I liked both John Stewart GL and Black Lightning (I literally thought at the time they were the only Black Superheroes in DC). While John/BL were cool they were a little too straight laced/trying too hard not to say or do anything to get the NAACP to get on them over stereotypes in my opinion. But Static was different, I had a connection to him. He was a teenager known as Virgil Hawkins (at the time the series was going on I was too) going through all kinds of different/difficult issues in life; hated by others for no reason, girls, acne, trying to fit in, and throw super powers on top of that? But some how Static/Virgil Hawkins made it work for both versions of him. Through humor and a solid head on his shoulders Static was able to learn through his errors making him a better hero along the way, and a better person.  Maybe one could sit back and say ‘if he can do all this? why can’t i do a third of that?’ Of course as I got older I realized that in comics everything is possible, in Real Life? there are limitations to what one can achieve, not that I’ve stopped trying to break those limitations I’ve just realize the difference between fiction and nonfiction now. The only real life superheroes are Policemen/women, Firemen/women, soldiers that protect our Freedoms/way of life, and parents that take their role seriously (whether they are with someone or flying solo). Those, are real superheroes.

 

So after 4 seasons of Static Shock, which included 52 episodes and a few crossovers into JLA/JLU, the series ended. I was left without this amazing story I grew so attached too. The community i was so attached to was dismantling (JLU, Static Shock, BTAS, STAS, and BB). The only one left was Teen Titans, which sorry to those that liked that version it  didn’t connect to the others and was just annoying for that very reason to me. Static Shock was more TTs than that show was. but thats another rant for another day. Eventually i was left with no more of these awesome stories so I decided to go to my LCS (local comic store) Sweet Lou’s that i had been buying football cards and Raw Deal cards (WWF/WWE card game) from to ask about comic books. To my dismay I found out that Static was not an ongoing comic book in stores. The worse news? he was not even in DC’s mainstream at all. So that day i instead bought TT’s current run up to where it was at that time (issues 1-29 i believe) and the New X-Men Academy series that had come out. Notice the theme? I was a teen and i wanted to read Teen related stores, i related to them better at the time.

 

After that I went home and did some heavy research, come to find out?  The writer/producer of Static Shock’s name was Dwayne McDuffie. The same man that created the character Static way back in 1993 in a small off shoot company of DC comics called Milestone. Milestone was set on a different universe (see Worlds Collide for the one crossover event) centered around Dakota City, the main premise? It was African American centered. So amazed by this I did even more research to find out that Milestone lasted until 1997 and had a great run with just about all it’s series but eventually just stopped publishing comics. So Static and all these other Characters (Icon, Hardware, Rocket, Holocaust, etc) were benched until he was given the chance to do this Static Shock Cartoon. then he did a 4-shot mini called Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool where it picks up some time later and Virgil picks back up being a hero again.  The Cartoon proved one thing to me, that he could/would fit into DC canon. But why hadn’t he yet?  Upon my research I learned that Dwayne McDuffie had the rights to Static/milestone and DC had not brought Static in yet because the “timing wasn’t right” for 10+ years it wasn’t right timing? seems to me someone could of worked a way in between all these bat-clan revivals to bring in Milestone characters. But i had to wait.  So I went into my LCS and bought what he had; Static issue #1 (2 issues bought them both, one was still in it’s original seal case unopened) and the 2001 mini Rebirth of Cool. I then spent the next several years through Ebay collecting the complete 45 issue series (which in December of 2010 I finally completed by getting the ever elusive issue #45).  Along the way I picked up all kinds of comics from Marvel and DC, found myself way more into Marvel than DC, but I had a deep connection to the Teen titans series always saying ‘man this team (at the time was Superboy, Robin (Tim Drake), Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Raven, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Speedy, and Starfire) is awesome, but Static would make this team 100x better’ and it would of, because? there is little African American presence in DC comics. Unlike Marvel that has a swamp load of strong/elite Black heroes (Black Panther, Storm, Blade, Luke Cage to name a few). And before anyone writes in telling me what’s up, there are a lot of strong leveled African American characters in DC but compared to Marvel they pale in relevancy. Steel barely is in comics, Vixen is hit and miss on writers, John Stewart is all over the place but is under Hal/Guy (and probably Kyle) in importance, Black Lightning has made a comeback via outsiders. The only one I can honestly say before Static that has any major DC acknowledgment is Mr Terrific.

 

With most of the original Static series on hand i began to read. I found out all kinds of thing about the character of Static/Virgil Hawkins i did not before. And would of never had i not persisted in learning more. there were some major differences between the show and the comic. The comic itself is hands down the best series I’ve ever read and I’ve read a massive amount of comics (which includes the 2500 i own, plus what I’ve read off scans from friends). The X-Men are constantly making amazing stories, TTs has been solid over it’s whole run, New Avengers,  JLA vol 4 up till McDuffie’s firing (end of blackest night, basically when JLA became Titans + Cry for Justice comics having a baby), and Blue Beetle’s (Jaime Reyes) 36 (i think) issue run are the others I’d closely compare to it. Static’s series covered so many issues besides just teenage problems or superhero problems, it was not afraid to tackle some of the more major issues like gay rights, racism, sex, etc. Each one had it’s own story and impact on Static’s character. Fun fact, did you know if the final season would of aired like it was suppose to Richie would of announced he was gay. McDuffie went on record saying that ‘Richie was always gay in his mind, but they not given the go ahead early on’.  I thought that would of been a very interesting/bold move. Richie himself is actually based off 2 other characters one is Rick Stone from the Static series, who is one of Virgil’s closest friends from school that is gay. the other is Gear from LoSH. I wonder if they’re going to introduce Richie into DC canon or if they’re going to stick with Rick Stone? we’ll find out. You have characters like Holocaust who are mobster/thugs that claim his turf on Paris Island, you have Hotstreak who is a member of the Son’s of Odin (the KKK), and you have characters like Commando X that is a black supremacist that considers himself a human rights activist. Add trying to keep a job, his overbearing sister, his worrying parents, his inability to keep a girl friend, his best friend Frieda (who is just… all kinds of a mess at times and at others she’s the strongest friend/support character you can think of) that adds to his troubles. The series also touched on drug abuse and gangs. So this series literally had a little bit of everything and made it all come together in a readable, realistic, and informative way.

 

Time-line wise we’re in the year 2008 now I’ve gotten a solid collection of comics at this point, I’m on a few different DC based comic sites, have my own marvel one at the time, and I was working. I get the news that Static is being brought into DC canon officially in 2009! bam and there it was finally. My favorite character and the reason I got into comics was being brought into mainstream comics. They wasted no time in getting him integrated into the mix of Teens, starting off in issue #3 of Terror Titans (most claim #4 is his official debut, but he technically first appeared in #3 on the very last page). He finished out that mini to join the new Wonder Girl lead TTs (which consisted of Static, Wonder Girl, Blue Beetle, Bombshell, Aquagirl, Miss Martian, Beast Boy, and Raven, later Superboy and Kid Flash joined up once being revived in Final Crisis). at the end of Felicia Henderson’s (writer of Fresh Prince of Bel Air) she set up the stage for the Static ongoing that will debut in May of 2011. Though many claim Henderson’s run was the ‘worst ever’ I will write on how the series changed and prove later why it was probably the most realistic version of the characters I’ve seen yet. but again that’s for another day lol McDuffie also did this 2 issue story called ‘Milestone Forever’ in which he basically told the ‘ending stories’ to Dakotaverse/milestone comics if they were to go all the way to the end. But in order to save all of the people there Dharma (From Shadow Cabinet) absorbed the Rift (an all powerful entity) in order to search the universe to combine their universe with New Earth’s (thanks to Darkseid and the anti-life equation in Final Crisis). For all those that like closure to stories I think this was a really unique finish to the direction they had in Milestone. Now in DC mainstream there is new adventures for all the characters.

 

I look forward to seeing this new ongoing and whether or not they are going to use Static’s ongoing to launch more of the Milestone Characters into DC canon (Icon, Hardware, and Shadow Cabinet appeared in World’s Collide in JLA vol 4 under McDuffie and now Xombi is getting his own ongoing out soon). I really hope that Henderson does 2 things in this first issue; nails the depiction of the Milestone characters McDuffie created and dedicate this first issue in the living memory of Dwayne McDuffie. Do that and I think great things are ahead for this series.

 

Jeremy