Day 18 of 28 Days of Black Super Heroes, today’s hero is the DC Comics’ character Static.
It’s on now. Static was easily my favorite of the Milestone heroes. He was the underdog who made good, and he was closer to my age I guess, with experiences that I could more easily relate to.
WHO IS STATIC?
Static is Virgil Ovid Hawkins, a young, pretty unpopular teenager from the city of Dakota.
After Virgil caught a public beat-down from a bully, an older friend told him that he needed to take action to save face. By “action” he meant killing, or at least shooting, Biz Money B -the bully who embarrassed him.
While Virgil was not a kid to be looking for trouble, he was susceptible to peer pressure, and so he got a gun from his friend and went looking for the bully at an event called The Big Bang.
The Big Bang was a gathering of all the gangs in Dakota, like the rumble from the movie The Outsiders. All the various gangs would meet up, fight each other and whoever was left standing got control of the city.
The assumption here was that Virgil would shoot his tormentor, and it would just be chalked up to the gang violence.
While Virgil went to the Bang with the intention to shoot Biz Money, he realized he wasn’t a killer, and backed out. Unfortunately he got caught up in a police raid on the event. They realized with all the gangs in one place, they couldn’t miss their chance to strike and possibly cripple the gang activity in one fell swoop.
The police struck hard, using experimental tear-gas on the gangbangers. The gas was about 90% fatal to everyone there. Those that survived were mutated. Some ended up horribly disfigured, like the character Brickhouse from the Blood Syndicate, but others ended up with flashy superpowers, like Static.
After Virgil realized what he could do, he decided to become a super-hero and right the wrongs he saw in his neighborhood.
The first villain he busts is actually none other than Biz Money B, who gained the ability to burst into flame and use it at super-speed. He called himself Hotstreak, and Virgil was able to take him down using his brain more than actually using his powers -a trend that would continue throughout the series.
WHAT DOES HE DO?
Static’s abilities seem obvious – he generates electricity. What was always great was that Virgil (no stranger to science) would usually employ some aspect of electro-magnetism to further utilize his powers -for example his use of magnetism to “fly” on metal trash can lids or manhole covers.
He could also use his power to generate a protective force-field around himself to repel objects and energy directed against him.
Static was similar to Spider-Man in that one of his powers was his big mouth. Sometimes he would make the villains so angry they would just lose it, giving Static the chance to gain the upper hand.
One of the great things about Static’s comic was how much fun it was. Virgil’s adventures took place right in his hood for the most part.
Not only did he have to take down his former bully at the start of the series, but he had to overcome a bout of hero worship he had for the man called Holocaust.
Holocaust was a former member of the Blood Syndicate that was so bad-ass even they didn’t want anything to do with him. He struck out on his own on a will-to-power type of mission to become the most powerful man in Dakota.
He’d been planning to use Hotstreak in his schemes, but when Static took him out he decided to use him instead.
At first Virgil wanted to be like Holocaust. He considered him ot be a major player and Virgil felt like he was important and grown-up when he worked with hm.
But Holocaust was a killer whose ambition wasn’t tempered by any morality whatsoever. Once Static realized this, he turned on Holocaust, making himself a very dangerous enemy in the process.
As if that wasn’t enough, among other things Static had to always be on the lookout for some other “bang baby” (the name for those who gained their powers at the Big Bang event) trying to make a name for themselves by taking him out.
LOOKING FOR LOVE
Of course, as a teenage boy, Virgil had girls on his mind a lot. He took the first monkey-ass whooping from Biz Money B over a girl. Her name was Frieda, a very pretty, popular redhead that Virgil initially wanted as a girlfriend.
Unfortunately, even though she knew his secret, she didn’t see Virgil that way, and instead the two became close friends and she was his main confidant.
I mean, damn, what do you gotta do to get a girl’s attention? You can fly and throw off electricity, you save people’s lives on a daily basis and you still can’t get the hook up? I guess it’s hard out there for a pimp, y’all.
As written previously, World’s Collide was a crossover where all the Milestone heroes met up with the Superman family of heroes (including Superboy and Steel).
Static had problems with Superboy, because they were both kind of cocky and brash -which was kind of interesting since both of them had a history of getting their asses kicked up and down their respective series previous to the crossover.
Anyway, the bad guy, a extremely powerful reality-altering type of villain called Rift, had bridged the Milestone and mainstream DC universes. The Milestone characters thought that the DC characters were fictional characters brought to life by Rift.
There came a point where Rift just started messing around even more with reality. He changed it so that the teen characters appeared to be part of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He also killed off many of the people that were close to the heroes, including Static’s family.
This hit Virgil hard. Normally, he was used to kind of small-time, happy go-lucky adventures, but now the stakes had been raised to almost impossible levels. It took a minor intervention from Rocket to get him to pull it together:
Sometimes that’s all it might take is a honey to be around for a guy to man up and do what he has to do.
The crossover was especially relevant for Static, because when the climactic battle was on and everyone, including Superman and Icon, were losing, the whole thing came down to Static to save the day.
At the end, when Static was afraid no one would remember that Rocket kissed him, she gave him another one to make sure. Unfortunately, they won’t remember that now.
The reason for this is because -as reported in the previous Milestone character write-ups, the “Dakota-Verse” characters were brought into the mainstream DC Universe. Because of the way it happened, no one (except Superman and Icon) now remembers that there used to be 2 separate universes.
This means that none of those heroes like Static and Rocket remember the World’s Collide adventure or remember the two smooches she laid on him. Curses! That’s the kind of thing a guy would not want to forget.
Oh wait, before the “official fold-in”, they threw us original Milestone lovers a bone. The put out a one-shot Static comic that showed what would have happened to Static if the universes had not been merged.
So essentially Static would end up going to his high-school reunion and beating down his old rival Hotstreak one more time, then going on to marry his old high-school crush Frieda.
He’d be a doctor, and he’d have two kids with Frieda. The kids would have his powers and essentially they’d live happily ever after.
I thought it was a cool way to wrap up his story and it was a pretty good payoff.
The first Static appearance I saw in the mainstream DC universe was a team-up with Black Lightning, where they worked together to take down Holocaust.
I’ll tell you one thing, from reading the Wikipedia entry, I missed a whole lot of Static appearances and story.
Apparently he joined the Teen Titans for awhile and the lost his powers or something. I avoid Teen Titans like the plague so that must be why I missed it.
Check out that listing over on Wikipedia if you’re interested in more.
No Static entry would be complete without mentioning the Static Shock cartoon series.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t watch it.
Well, after the first few episodes I quit. In the cartoon he’s too much of a slick super-hero, with a very slick costume with super-hero emblem and everything.
I didn’t like it because I wanted to see the character from the hood who was wearing the Malcolm X or Public Enemy baseball cap.
Also, Static’s powers were kind of sanitized for the series. I’m sure it’s similar to the H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot syndrome on the old Fantastic Four cartoon. They removed the Human Torch so kids wouldn’t light themselves on fire.
Well, If you watch the show, you’ll notice that Static really only ever uses magnetism. He’ll manipulate other objects to fight battles. He never just hauls off and blasts the f@#! out of some bad guy by lighting him up with 1.5 gigawatts of electricity.
I have no evidence of this, but I suspect this is done for the same reason as the H.E.R.B.I.E. deal: namely no one wants kids electrocuting themselves trying to be like their hero Static.
Maybe one day I’ll pick up those DVDs and give them a look, but probably not anytime soon.
THE WRAP UP
I have to say that there was some real magic to this character. This was another situation where the Milestone creators did something special. They made an enduring character that has stood the test of time.
That said, I think something was lost from Static when they made the jump to regular mainstream DC continuity.
I understand there might be a new ongoing Static comic coming out soon. I don’t think I’ll pick it up, unless one of the original creators writes then I’ll probably give it a chance.
You know, these characters can’t stay stagnant. I realize things always can’t be the way I want or it would get boring really quickly, but this is one of those times when I want things the way I want them, as irrational as that is.
And on that note I’ll just leave off here with a look at the raw pencil art I drew of Static. Oh yeah, here’s a site with all the covers from the Static comic series -check them out! Stay tuned for the next hero tomorrow!