Back in 1993, Milestone Comics came on the scene. They had some great characters and concepts, with some really good storylines. The company didn’t last as long as I’d have liked, and variations of it have come and gone since their first shutdown in 1997. In 2021, they began relaunching some of their titles with updated origins, once again existing in their own universe, not part of the DC Universe, which they had been off and on over time. The first three series featured their best known heroes: Static, Hardware, and Icon and Rocket.
Icon has been called a “Black Superman” or the “Milestone Superman” and I could see either one. He’s incredibly strong, nearly invulnerable, can fly, and is from another planet. In this case, his ship crashed on Earth, the AI in charge of it executed its programming to help him blend in with the native population, and his appearance was changed. Arnus had landed in the American South in 1839, and he shortly resembled a Black man. As he learned more about Earth culture, he took the name Augustus Freeman, and, due to his extended lifespan, is now known as August Freeman IV. Marooned on Earth, he became a lawyer (closest to his profession before landing here) and waited for rescue.
He was content to be left alone until one night when Raquel Irving, her boyfriend “Ant,” and a few others broke into Augustus’ home. With his vast powers, Augustus easily defeated them and intimidated the gang into silence. Raquel couldn’t get over what she’d seen, and returned the next day. Her youthful optimism and idealism overcame his world-weariness and cynicism enough to convince him to create the costumed identity of Icon, and, using some equipment salvaged from his ship, Raquel became his partner Rocket. The two began by running drug dealers out of Raquel’s neighborhood of Paris Island in the city of Dakota, where most Milestone tales take place.
This ends up kicking off a series of unintended consequences from the government, police, drug dealers, and even within the neighborhood. The residents were thrilled to see their streets get safer. The police were less happy about costumed vigilantes, the government worried about Icon’s goals, and the dealers got mad at losing their territory. There were also some very odd and unexpected repercussions as the duo took their fight to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, the cocaine farms in Colombia, and anywhere else drugs were made. It made for a very different story of what happens when superheroes show up, and was more grounded and realistic without being as bleak and depressing as The Boys or George Martin’s Wild Cards books. The miniseries also removed all doubt about this being a different Earth than the main DC one, as there’s a passing reference to an alien that landed in Kansas, was taken in by a farming couple, and killed in infancy when the government learned about how powerful he might become when he grew up. There’s also a surprising reveal about a special alien the government has in their employ to kill superpowered problems, usually of the extraterrestrial kind.
Like many new superhero universes, this one is a very small world. In the six issues of “Season One,” as they are calling these initial miniseries, Icon and Rocket meet Static, encounter some other superpowered allies, and a big bad guy from a different Milestone series makes an appearance. They have laid the groundwork for the Dakota-verse to come back, and I hope they keep going with it. Besides Static, which I have already reviewed, the other initial series features the return of Hardware, and the second wave of titles leads off with Blood Syndicate. I’ll be reviewing those as they conclude.
What I Liked: I’ve liked the Milestone characters since they first appeared. This is a great reintroduction to Icon and Rocket, as well as bringing in some new characters. I’m impressed with how they twisted a few other, better-known characters to fit into this story. The consequences of crashing the world’s illegal drug trade were interesting and something I’m not sure I’ve seen covered before. Raquel’s mother is fantastic.
What I Didn’t: I enjoyed the Milestone characters interacting with DC Universe heroes, and that seems very far off if it happens at all. I’m not expecting a crossover anytime soon. I’m not sure how I felt about some of Icon’s connections with the government.
This was another interesting take on the Milestone characters, and I liked it. I’m giving this a 4 out of 5. I’m really hoping we get Season Two at the very least.