Static Shock: Trial By Fire

Static Shock: Trial By Fire
Static Shock Trial by Fire review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC/Milestone - 1-5638-9746-6
  • Release date: 2000
  • UPC: 9781563897467
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero, Young Adult

During the 1990s Milestone introduced a varied and engaging cast of African-American superheroes, but despite high creative values it was only Static who really caught on. It’s easy to see why from this collection. It’s not the best of a four year run, but it grabs the attention immediately with its snappy dialogue, smart art and interesting approach.

Writers Dwayne McDuffie and Robert L. Washington III introduce Static in fine style, establishing both his motormouth character and how he uses his control of electricity over an opening seven pages in which he deals with a teenage gang. For the times, he further benefited from a great costume by artist John Paul Leon, a simple dark blue design with a face mask, topped off with a then ubiquitous X baseball cap. Leon’s visual presentation of Static is also eye-catching. There’s the occasional eccentric figurework, but the visual effect of Static surrounded by crackling electricity and flying away standing on his dustbin lid transportation is memorable.

Right from the start the personal life of Virgil Hawkins is as essential to the concept as the superhero aspects. He’s fifteen, projecting an effective cocksure character that hides insecurities. The dialogue is very occasionally forced, but is otherwise smart and sassy and masks an intelligent kid able to use his brain as well as his powers. The writing proves how a fast food job isn’t compatible with superhero emergencies, sets up several dramatic home problems for Virgil, offers some lessons on what’s right and what’s wrong and makes you want to root for the guy. Leon is good and would evolve into a better artist, but using a style not as well suited to superhero comics. In 1995 he was enthusiastic and individual, and the pages fair crackle.

This content was later reprinted in Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool, now also out of print, and DC don’t seem inclined to reissue much in the way of Milestone’s worthwhile comics. This being the case, downloads are easy enough to find, and it’s worth continuing well beyond the four episodes featured here.