By Scott Braden
Many new titles, characters, and publishers were introduced to the comic book market in the early 1990s. While many are gone, some have left lasting impressions, like high school kid Virgil Hawkins who became the electrifying Static.
The quick-witted kid became Static after the Big Bang event transformed a number of citizens from the fictional city of Dakota into superpowered beings. He was written by Dwayne McDuffie and Robert L. Washington III with art by John Paul Leon, Steve Mitchell, and Shawn C. Martinbrough. The young hero helped to protect his city from villains like Hotstreak and Holocaust.
The comic was not just another superhero story; it also focused on kids growing up and issues that were important at the time. Some have said that the first year of the title was the best superhero monthly comic at the time.
DC Comics; Milestone Media; December 1993
Louder Than a Bomb Chapter Three – You're Gonna Get Yours
The first page picks up right where we left off on Static #6, with Howell X (a/k/a Commando X) offering Hawkins the chance to call the media. Through coming up with distractions (excuses for going to the bathroom, getting change for phone calls, getting gas), he heads to City Hall, where he finds the hidden bomb in a van parked in the garage. Drawing enough power to shoot the van into the air, it explodes harmlessly over City Hall.
Hawkins then returns home to find his mom and dad (first appearance) waiting up to talk to him about the militant “Malcolm 10” program he was using for his investigation of Howell X.
Meanwhile at Frieda's house, her father and mother are talking to Frieda about the Jews easier integration into American society because they are white, and how racism, sadly, works both ways for them. Right afterward, Hawkins and Frieda call each other on the phone, and decide that they both have a lot to talk about. At the same time, they try to figure out Commando X's next target – and they come up with WDKA Studios.
Much later, Static finds his quarry on the studio's grounds Commando X tries to take Static out of the way by exploding gasoline, but he gets away and wraps Commando X – and his bombs – up in wire. And by wrapping Commando X's hands, prevents the militant from using his power.
Returning late at home with his mom and dad still awake, he's left to climb his wall and get to bed. In the morning, Frieda calls him up and tells Hawkins that Static is famous and running on Channel 11. Our hero – fighting the good fight no matter what!
DC Comics; Milestone Media; January 1994
Shadow War Crossover – Needless to Say, The Party Broke Up
Featuring a cover by comics legend Walter Simonson, this issue starts with Static versus a villain by the name of the Botanist, who has the unlikely power of making plants grow. After defeating him, the comic segues to members of the Shadow Cabinet – Dharma and Plus – discussing Static, with Plus calling him “talky but huggable.” She is reminded that Static is important to both the Shadow Cabinet . . . and the world.
Meanwhile, Frieda is buying snacks for Hawkins and his friends, and talking about the roleplaying games she won't be playing with them, as well as the house party that they all have to attend (her parents are gone for three weeks, after all).
Then, when he's off on his own and going to his secret garage headquarters, Static runs into Funyl, a member of the Shadow Cabinet who “funnels” him to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. After they agree to talk, Funyl transports them both back to the garage, where Hawkins learns about the Shadow Cabinet – and their place for him.
After saying that he'd join the Shadow Cabinet, he heads out to Frieda's house for the party. There, he meets Plus, who comes at an inconvenient time. (Daisy comes up to see Hawkins when he's “alone” . . . and then subsequently turns around and leaves.) Then, Funyl comes out of nowhere and, with Plus, tells Hawkins that some gangbangers are moving against him. Hawkins – who want nothing to happen to Frieda's house or his friends – turns into Static, and with Plus' help, take down the bad guys.
Funyl comes back to get Static and Plus – only to let slip that they had a homing device in Static's badge, and that's how they were able to keep tabs on him. With Funyl leaving, Plus takes Static to a dark closet – and they both disappear to the amazement of the partygoers.
The action then continues in Shadow Cabinet #0.
DC Comics; Milestone Media; February 1994
Static Needs a New Pair of Shoes (In which our fab phenom finds fashionable form-fitting footwear fit for foe-fighting)
Static starts things off by leaping into action in the mall, chasing down a shoplifting operation. He unarms the would-be felons and reverses their polarity so they are stuck to the ground, ready for mall security.
Flashback to Hawkins riding the train downtown with Frieda, who is surprised to learn that he wants to spend his last dollar buying “fighting” shoes for his Static costume. As he says, he hasn't had a decent pair of shoes since he fought Tarmack in issue #3. When he gets to the store, though, he realizes a theft is taking place – by little “hardened criminals.” Transforming back into Static, he confronts one of the thieves, who says, “Mamma's sick, she's been in the basement too long. I gotta get stuff. Lemme go!”
In the middle of that, the little guy drops some gold rings and runs off with his twin. Hawkins, changed back to his normal self, finds Frieda and they head off the jewelry store to return the rings. They do just that, but the store manager thinks they were part of the operation and calls security. Suddenly, the manager sees micro-versions of the thieves running around the jewelry display case and picking up pricey trinkets for themselves. Hawkins scoops them up with his hat, and finds himself chased by the rest of the thieves, all identical except for their varying sizes.
Trying to find a place to change (again), Hawkins climbs down an elevator shaft and becomes Static. Then the little thieves fall down around him, transforming into a single enemy named Virus, who's out to protect a mannequin he calls Mamma. After a fierce battle, where the mannequin catches on fire, Static learns Virus' “origin” and wants to help out the teenager. He makes him a bike, makes the big juvenile promise not to steal again, and then flies him over to St. Peter's Mission.
When all is said and done, Hawkins catches up with Frieda and misses out on his shoes – or does he..? The store manager of the shoe store recognizes Hawkins as the kid who stopped the earlier robbery, opens up the store, and says there's a “special discount for junior crime stoppers.” Frieda, on the other hand sees the hero's reward as another reason for Hawkins to play superhero – and she thinks that's one thing that should be stopped now.
Scott Braden is an Overstreet Advisor and former Gemstone Publishing staffer. We’ll have Part 4 of this feature on Static’s first year next week.