Review | Static Shock #1

Written by Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Art by Scott McDaniel

DC's best title before hitting the reset button was Xombi, the chronicles of a couch-potato nanotech scientist turned paranormal zombie android. It was a revival of a cult title originally launched as part of the Milestone imprint in the '90s. Back in the day, Milestone was like the Native Tongues of the comic world, largely focusing on cliché-shattering minority characters as drawn and written by minority creators. I was itching for Xombi to survive. Any comic with a character called Catholic Girl who shoots lasers from a rosary is pure gold. Seeing it excluded from the New 52 was gutting.
There's hope yet for the Milestone world. Though Milestone co-creator Dwayne McDuffie died earlier this year, his most well-known creation, Static, lives on in Static Shock, now handled by Xombi scribe John Rozum and teen-centric penciller-writer Scott McDaniel. Static was doing black Spider-Man long before there was black Spider-Man. Brainy adolescent Virgil Hawkins, who like Peter Parker works in a lab, has moved with his family from Milestone's fictional capital Dakota to Harlem. This is the rare DC title set in a real-world metropolis, which makes the electromagnetic sky skater all the more relatable. Hardware, a sort of analogue for Iron Man, comes along as Static's mentor and handler.
McDaniel's art is divisive. I love it here. It just makes a lot of sense with this character, even more so than it did with other hormone-addled heroes like Robin and Nightwing. Some pencillers are just perfect for certain characters. Francis Manapul's work is full of motion and curves, making him the ideal man for the Flash. McDaniel's zig-zag figures and pointed feet look like bolts of lightning. Static crackles on the page. This chunky Saturday-morning-cartoon-look might not be ideal for Superman, but makes sense for a property mostly known as a Saturday-morning cartoon. Thankfully, Static's left his baseball cap in the closet (or given it to that godawful new Ultimate Iceman).The script is richer than you'd expect. There's a nice domestic scene complete with parents who talk like real a married couple. Some more weight is added when Hardware covers Hawkins' secret identity by telling people the kid is from "the juvenile court system." The subtext being: Nobody expects much from an inner-city kid. Similarly, this title is flying under the radar.

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