Everyone knows Virgil Hawkins, or Static, from the Static Shock TV Show, but some (like me before writing this guide) might not know his history with Milestone Media. It was made by black creators who wanted a universe with black and more diverse heroes, and they nailed it. The comics discussed problems of the time – many that we still have today to some degree – and had characters of different ethnicities, nationalities, and sexualities, but that weren’t only defined by them. They were so much more. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to guarantee great sales.
Most of these stories were set in Dakota, making the universe also called the Dakotaverse. Virgil lives in Dakota and gained his powers during a gang fight there; making him a “Gang Baby,” what the people who obtained powers because of the fight are called. His best run by far is the original Static by Milestone, but he also has stories in the main DC Universe and the new initiative, Milestone Returns.
Since I was younger, I’ve loved Static; Virgil has all the great traces of the greatest teen heroes: he’s powerful, your age, and funnier than you. But what the comic does best is making him heroic and human. The chapters try to bring discussions, but it’s not a message you have to understand at the end, the characters are literally talking about it. Virgil, and many of the characters featured, seem like real people, with complex opinions and personalities. That’s something I really hope the newer comics manage to do too; it’ll definitely be great.
Collects: Blood Syndicate #1-12; Hardware #1-12; Icon #1-10; Static #1-8; Xombi #0-11; Shadow Cabinet #0
Static is the perfect version of the cartoon. You have the same vibes, but it has a lot more depth. Virgil is a more complex character, but the universe around him also seems more “alive.” He has his villains but also interacts with other characters from the Dakotaverse.
After a while, Virgil draws the attention of Holocaust, a key figure in organized crime, who attempts to recruit him. I have to admit, I love arcs when young superheroes work for villains for some time. The way they reconnect with the meaning of being a hero and rebel against their employer always excites me, and Static’s version definitely didn’t disappoint.
But the best part of this volume was the Commando X arc and all the racial discussions it brings (that are still relevant today). He is a black supremacist constantly citing conspiracies who believes his cause is just and more important than all casualties. His arc explores how easy it’s to fall into bigotry.
Static Cut (every comic he’s in): Static #1-8, Shadow Cabinet #0.
Collects: Blood Syndicate #13-23; Hardware #13-21; Icon #11-21; Static # 9-20; Shadow Cabinet #1-4; Steel #6-7, Superboy #6-7, Superman: The Man of Steel # 35-36, Worlds Collide # 1
From issues #9 through #13, we see Virgil interacting more with Gang Babies. It’s really interesting, because, besides the fun part of seeing different kinds of powers, we see how different people ended up involved and their motivations. Not to mention that we see different sides of being in a gang; like all organizations, they are not only “good” or only “bad,” mainly when some kind of interest/goal is involved. While reading these stories, imagining how Virgil would deal with that was definitely a big expectation I had.
Since the start of Static, one thing that kept bothering me was the casual homophobia, but when I started the arc “What are little boys made of,” I knew it would finally be discussed. It might be my favorite arc; it’s really well done and real, even if they don’t say it out loud, we know many people still believe in the same discriminating arguments shown in the comic. The villains present in the story are all related in some way to the main themes being discussed, so the conversations feel even denser.
Static Cut: Static #9-13, Worlds Collide #1, Superman: The Man of Steel #35-36, Static #14, Superboy #7, Steel #7, Static #15-17, Icon #20, Static #18-20.
Unfortunately, most of Static’s journey at Milestones hasn’t been collected yet. But you can still find it on Kindle, take a look at the links and issues below.
Static #21-25, Long Hot Summer #1, Long Hot Summer #2, Static #26-27, Long Hot Summer #3, Static #28-33, Heroes #1, Static #34, Heroes #2, Static #35-36, Heroes #3, Heroes #4, Static #37, Heroes #5, Static #38-39, Heroes #6, Static #40, Hardware #44, Static #41-45.
Collects: Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool #1-4
Rebirth of the Cool is the perfect comeback for Virgil. Not only do we get a few good jokes out of the whole cancellation thing, but we also read a story about Static back to being a hero and what it means to be one.
After the death of a friend, Virgil gave up on being a hero. But when someone starts kidnapping all Gang Babies, he is forced to overcome the incident and be Static again.
Dan DiDio, a writer and executive editor at DC, announced that some characters from the Milestone universe would integrate into the mainline DC Universe. Static, for example, joined the Teen Titans and even had a solo series in the “New 52” launch. Unfortunately, most weren’t really good and couldn’t bring back the essence of Static to the new stories.
Collects: Terror Titans #1-6
Static Cut: Terror Titans #3-4, #6.
Collects: Teen Titans #62-69
Static Cut: Teen Titans #68-69
Collects: Teen Titans Annual 2009, Titans #12-13, Teen Titans #70, Vigilante #4-6
Static Cut: Titans #12, Teen Titans #70, Titans #13.
Collects: Action Comics #874, Action Comics Annual #10, Superman #684-690
Static Cut: Superman #688
Collects: The Brave and the Bold #24-26
Static Cut: The Brave and the Bold #24.
Collects: Titans #14-22
Static Cut: Titans #17
Collects: Teen Titans #71-78
Static Cut: Teen Titans #72, #75.
Collects: Teen Titans #79-87
Static Cut: Teen Titans #79, #83-87.
Collects: Brightest Day #0-24
Just a short cameo in which he helps the Titans save people.
Static Cut: Brightest Day #23.
Collects: Flashpoint #1-5
Static Cut: Flashpoint #5.
Collects: Static Shock #1-8
The story starts with a S.T.A.R. Labs test pilot running amok the city causing destruction and Static trying to stop him. After saving him, Virgil starts being pursued by an unknown team of bad guys. It’s a common kind of story, but it could work. Also, it tries to honor the things we liked about the older comics, like his friendship with Frieda and Hardware, but still does something new.
The thing is… almost everything else is bad. It not only fails miserably in trying to capture the vibe of the original, but the new stuff is disappointing. However, the biggest problem for me is that it doesn’t attempt to create any kind of political/social discussions like Milestone’s Static did.
I wouldn’t recommend this, but it might be a good idea if you want to see something very different with Static.
Collects: Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition, Static (Season One) #1-6
I really liked Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition and I bet you will too. They built the universe around a BLM protest. The cops used a new chemical to stop the pacific protestants, a bunch of students, but it started changing some of them and giving them powers. Can you guess who was there? Yeah, Virgil was one of the protesters, and that’s how he got his powers this time.
But other characters, like Hardware, Holocaust, Icon, and Rocket, are affected by what happened. I’m definitely interested to see how they will interact and what this universe will become in a few years.
Static (Season One) is what the New 52 Static comics wanted to be. It does something fresh, but you still have the many things you liked about the cartoon and the old comics. Vita Ayala creates a world that is on fire, and the characters know that; there’s always a sense of danger around the corner. The police and the government are capturing Gang Babies, the people who got powers after the protest, and are being helped by Hotstreak, Virgil’s high school bully who now can control fire.
The comic does a great job showcasing Virgil and his relationship with his family; it was definitely one of the things I enjoyed and thought about the most while reading. I really want the next volume to be more focused on his friends and the Gang Babies, but I also NEED it to keep developing the relationship with his family. You can’t go wrong with this version of Virgil’s story; the story is great, and the characters intrigue you.
Collects: Icon & Rocket: Season One #1-6
Virgil tells Rocket that he is Static and (even though she doesn’t really care about his secret identity) helps her and Icon fight an alien cockroach.
Static Cut: Icon & Rocket: Season One #5-6.
Milestones in History is a special issue made to celebrate Black History Month. Some laws and rules are limiting how teachers can teach Black History, or even making it outright illegal. The comic has the mission of telling different stories you probably won’t hear in schools or movies. And all of them are narrated by a character from the Dakotaverse, like Static, Rocket, and Hardware.
This isn’t extremely important if you want to understand more about Virgil, but, hey, it’s pretty cool and important, so make sure you check it out.
Collects: Blood Syndicate: Season One #1-6
Just a small cameo. Virgil appears in a vision.
Static Cut: Blood Syndicate: Season One #3
Shadows of Dakota is the sequel to Static: Season One and is set to launch in February 2023. Vita Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey will return and introduce Ebon, inspired by the character from the cartoon, who will hurt many innocent people in his quest to find his brother. Surely another banger!