I never met Dwayne McDuffie. I never even got the chance to talk to him on-line before his sudden death earlier this year, which is a shame because I always liked him as a writer and I suspect – from what I saw of his personal writings – that I would have liked him as a friend. He was outspoken, opinionated and he upset a lot of people by opening his mouth when it probably would have been easier to keep quiet.
Small wonder I identify with that, right?
I bring this up because I couldn’t help but think about Dwayne McDuffie as I was reading this first issue of Static Shock and wondering how he’d feel about it. I believe this is the first time anyone has produced something with the character without McDuffie’s involvement. I’ve read a few of the original McDuffie’s original Static comics and I also wondered how this book might read to those who only know the character from the Static Shock cartoon.
Thankfully, the book is quick to establish the character of Virgil Hawkins a.k.a. Static – who he is, what his powers are and his “I put the smart in smart ass” personality. So it doesn’t matter if you’re an old fan, a new fan, a fan who only read the comics or a fan that only saw the cartoon. Within two pages, we know everything we need to know and the action is on!
Scott McDaniel is a natural for the illustration duties on this title. Looking over his resume, I’m surprised to see that this is the first time he’s done the art for a comic book centering upon a super-powered protagonist. McDaniel is famous for his work on Nightwing and Green Arrow but his style – which I’ve always thought of as living graffiti – is perfect for a high-energy character like Static.
I believe this also marks the first time McDaniel has officially done double-duty as artist and storyteller. Joining him on the writing duties is John Rozum, who is no stranger to the original Milestone Comics universe, having created the characters Xombi and Kobalt as well as writing several issues of Hardware. Fitting, as Hardware himself is reintroduced in this title as Static’s mentor and the figure responsible for moving Virgil and his family from Dakota to New York City.
Reading this title, it’s hard not to be reminded of Stan Lee’s work on Spider-Man. Virgil is Peter Parker’s spiritual successor, possessing the smarts to go with his smart-mouth. The fight with the plasma-wielding villain Sunspot – which takes up most of the issue – showcases how Virgil uses his knowledge of science in combination with his superpowers to bring bad guys to heel. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this book is educational (mainly because I want to encourage teenagers to read it) but I could see it encouraging some young readers’ interest in science.
Regardless, I think Dwayne McDuffie would approve of this book. I know I do. And I’ll be back to see the result of what is – bar none – the most shocking splash-page of the year. No electricity-related pun intended.