Static Shock is definitely one of my favorite superheroes and was a big part of my childhood. It was a big part of anyone’s childhood if they grew up watching the DCAU shows. Then I discovered his comic series, and how different it was from the TV show, and I loved it.
Static’s comic series started in 1993, under Milestone Comics’ first wave of publications. For those of you who don’t know, Milestone comics is an independently owned company within DC Comics, who focuses on minority heroes. It was founded by a group of black writers and artists, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, Derek T Dingle and the late and great Dwayne McDuffie.
In both the comics and the animated series, Virgil’s origin is virtually the same. Virgil Hawkins was a young black male who was incredibly smart and was picked on. After some beef with a bully and gang member, he decides to show up at the showdown of the gangs. The police interrupt and throw tear gas, which mixes with other chemicals, resulting in the “Big Bang” where gang members either died or gained superpowers. Calling himself Static, he uses his newly found electromagnetic powers to become a hero. Both the comics and the show illustrate how Virgil initially struggles with his dual life but ultimately finds his place. After a while, Static was inducted into the DC proper and was kidnapped by Darkseid. He was subjected to the anti-life equation and entered in metahuman deathmatches in the Dark Side Club. Eventually, he gets out with the help of Rose Wilson and joins the Teen Titans. In the new 52 however, Virgil was only shown sporadically, having a series that got canceled after 8 issues, and from there, only having cameos in the Teen Titans book as an S.T.A.R. Labs technician. He was revealed to be the person designed Red Robin’s cape and wing system and also designed a suit to stabilize Kid Flash (Bart Allen) after his molecules got destabilized.
Why is he being discussed:
Static Shock, the animated series, left a huge impression on me growing up. I used to be up every Saturday morning waiting for the show to come on, and then I’d sit there and watch his show and just feel like maybe one day, I could be a hero.As a kid, I always saw black people in a supporting role, not as the hero of the story. Static was a milestone, not just for a black kid, but for kids everywhere. The episodes tackled some very important themes and handled them with grace, such as peer pressure, bullying, and the loss of a loved one.
Virgil himself deserves the spotlight because he showed it’s perfectly fine to not have to conform to society’s idea of the “ghetto black male.” He showed that it’s perfectly fine to be interested in academics, or interested in comic books. He’s been dealing with the death of his mother, and instead of lashing out at the world, or never getting over it, he decided to use that loss to push himself. He does things so his mother can look down on what he’s doing and be proud, and for that, it gives him a strong sense of morals.
Considering Virgil has only been around for 24 years, and has spent a lot of his time in a non-existing limbo (after DC started using Milestone characters), he’s very fleshed out as a person.
Now I’m not gonna hit you with nostalgia for Static and not provide you with an outlet for it. Here are some comics and TV shows you should check out if you really want to see more Static:
- Static (The original 45 issue series from 1993)
- Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool (2001 mini series)
- Static Shock (The animated series)
- Terror Titans (Issue 4 marks Virgil’s first appearance in the DCU proper)
- Teen Titans Vol 3 (starting from issue 68 is Virgil’s induction into the Titans)
- Heroes (1996 miniseries that showed various Milestone Comics properties together)
- Static Shock (the 8 issue New 52 run)
- Young Justice: Invasion (Static appears towards the end)