The Milestone of Static Shock

An initiative from a group I was apart of was looking at diversity done right in comics. To find the best diversity from characters and comics and highlight the good work they did at addressing the issues without forcing it too hard. Today I will be looking at the character Static from the Milestone and DC universes.

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Static first appeared in June of 1993 and was created by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, and Michael Davis, the founders of Milestone comics. The Milestone comics consisted of mostly African Americans and other minorities in the lead roles of their comics. It showed the superheroes, like Static, having to deal with superhero problems while also having to deal with everyday issues that come with being a minority.

Here is a brief back story for Static: Fifteen year old, Virgil Hawkins, lived in Dakota with his parents and his older sister. Virgil was bullied at school, so when he went to confront his bully he was caught up in a gang war. The police came in and unknowingly used an experimental gas to stop the fighting which resulted in Virgil and the others there gaining powers. Realizing what happened, Virgil decided to use his powers to help protect his city as Static.

Static was arguably the most popular character from the Milestone universe. While it did cover things about how minorities lived it never felt forced. It came natural and the story did not suffer for it. One of these things was interracial relationships, being as his main love interest, Freida, was white. This is something not seen in comics much back then. We also see his life with school, family, and socially. These were just some of the topics that were covered in Static and the rest of the Milestone’s universe’s comics. However, in 1997 the company stopped making comics and they then decided to focus on a new TV show based on their character Static.

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While I am mainly focusing on the comic version, the television series is important to note because it is a big reason that he is a well known character. The portrayal in the TV show is for the most part the same as the comic with some minor changes.  One of those is that in the show his mom is dead, which as sad as that it is, it allows the show to go into his Father being a single parent having to raise his two kids. This is a dynamic that I feel is not touched on a lot. He must provide for his family and take care of them at the same time, giving Virgil a good role model to look up to. The show was popular and it lead the way to Static coming into the main DC universe.

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Statics first appearance in the main DC universe was in, Static Rebirth of the Cool. This book was intended to capitalize on his recent popularly from his television series, and try and bring the Milestone characters back to relevance. The miniseries was not as full of ethnic overtones but, it did not have to wear the essence on their sleeves to still embody it. Static would later appear in Teen Titans and his own series in the New 52, lasting only eight issues. He also appeared in the TV show Young Justice. Since then he has not been in much, although there were rumors that he would get a live action TV show. Nonetheless, Static remains an important character in comic history.

These comics were not just telling superhero stories for comics sake but, to show the racial issues and stereotypes that are in American pop culture. These messages might have been in the background more and made into more traditional superhero stories later on but, the message that the creators of Static wanted is still felt in the character. Being a young black man he can relate to a lot of the younger readers with his life and what he goes through. Static remains the embodiment of what the Milestone comics hoped to achieve and is a character that anyone can love no matter what color you skin is.

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(Originally created on February 17, 2017)

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