In 1993, the comic book industry underwent a huge expansion. The big two, Marvel and DC Comics, were putting out an incredible number of titles, and several other companies came on to the scene. One of these was Milestone Comics, largely credited to Dwayne McDuffie. McDuffie had an impressive career at both Marvel and DC, and was one of the main forces behind the iconic DC Animated Universe, which included such incredible shows as Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and, later Static Shock and the Zeta Project. McDuffie and a few partners created Milestone Media, a company focusing on minority characters, the first four of which were Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static.
The company had some ups and downs, as did all comic companies in the 90’s, although their breakout hit was Static Shock!, a cartoon based on the Static comic (and forever confusing people what the character’s actual name was). Milestone titles ran for several years, as did the cartoon, and various legal issues made things complicated as the management made assorted deals with DC Comics. The characters at various times were, and then weren’t, and then were again, part of the mainstream DC Universe. Part of the complications came from the untimely death of Dwayne McDuffie, who died of complications from emergency heart surgery the day after his 49th birthday.
After a long wait, in 2021, Milestone finally returned to comics with several miniseries under the Season One banner. The six-issue miniseries included the best-known Milestone character, Static. This world is definitively not the mainstream DCU, although just to be more confusing, assorted Milestone characters do appear in the Young Justice cartoon. This series of titles relaunched the Milestone Universe, or Dakota-verse as it’s often called, updating all the characters’ stories and origins.
Now, the “Big Bang” that led to so many people in Dakota City getting powers occurred at a Black Lives Matter protest, where idealistic young Virgil Hawkins was among the many present. As before, he gains electromagnetic powers, but Virgil, later becoming the hero Static, is very much more than his powers. He’s a brilliant, nerdy kid, with a decent science background and a father that pushes him to take martial arts. These elements help him become the hero he needs to be, and quickly, since the sudden appearance of so many superhumans hasn’t escaped government attention, and may of the newly powered people are suddenly disappearing.
But there’s more to his life than putting on a costume and learning to use his powers. Virgil is that rarity among superheroes: he’s from a happy, functional family that learns his secret early, approves of him helping others, and helps him out along the way. He also has loyal friends who get drawn into the conflict due to events at their school as students are among the missing. Virgil gives a few great speeches during the series and they set up the inter-connectedness of the new Dakotaverse early. One of the people Virgil turns to for help is genius inventor Curtis Metcalf, who is in the midst of his own origin story as he becomes the armored hero Hardware.
Virgil has to get a handle on his powers, deal with his school bully who has gone through some changes of his own, save his fellow “Bang Babies,” and figure out what to do with his new abilities. It’s a lot for anyone, let alone a Black kid in high school. Virgil displays a maturity beyond his years, the Spider-Man level wisecracks he’s known for, and an actual belief that helping people is the right thing to do without some great underlying tragedy leaving him feeling like he has something to atone for or vengeance to get. Dakota has gained an impressive new hero, and I very much hope we’ll be seeing more of Static in the near future.
What I Liked: I’ve been a fan of this character since his first appearance. Virgil is a geeky smartass that I could see myself being friends with, and I love that his family is helping him and not laying guilt trips or plotting against him. It’s an interesting way to restart the Dakotaverse, and the updates to the story worked really well. It was good to see his friends stand by and do what they could to fight back against a really shady government program. Virgil gives a couple of great, earnest, from-the-heart speeches. I liked the tie to Hardware and how they handled it.
What I Didn’t: The recurring villain is so thoroughly unlikeable they are almost a caricature. We’re also starting off with too many people knowing Virgil’s secret, my own pro-secret identity bias to one side. I miss the Milestone heroes being part of the DCU, but I get why they’d want to be separate.
I really enjoyed the reintroduction of Static. I’ll give this a 4.5 out of 5. Hopefully, he comes back soon.