Flashback: Static Shock
Welcome to my first Flashback article. I decided to do some of these periodically to hit up things from my past and not just my present and future. As a Gen X-er, I grew up and matured with all sorts of geeky things and there’s no reason not to share those as well. I figured I’d make my first article about Static Shock. Since there topics in my Flashbacks will be older subjects, there will be no Spoiler Alert bars.
Why start here? DC has recently started relaunching it’s Milestone characters. I’m guessing this is due to the Infinite Frontier, but I’m not sure if this will be on Earth-0 or some other Earth. That has yet to be revealed. One of the titles that came out is Static: Season One. (Icon and Rocket : Season One and Hardware : Season One have also started at the same time.) I never read the original series which ran from 1993 to 1997. The comic line was more targeted at black readers. The cartoon ran from 2000-2004 after the end of the original Milestone universe run and caught my eye. After that, he appeared on Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice. (Young Justice gave him a whole different origin from the comics and cartoon.) There was also a Static Shock comic as part of DC’s New 52, but it only lasted 8 issues. The new comic mini-series varies from the TV show on at least a few points so far but has been interesting. One nice thing about the comic is that they imply that Virgil’s best friend Richie is gay, something I heard was in the original comic but was left out of the cartoon.
The cartoon follows Virgil Hawkins, an intelligent and geeky high school student (He’s often seen reading comic books.) who gets pulled into a gang fight. The fight is broken up when the police fire down into the fight from a helicopter and cause of an explosion of noxious chemicals which causes what is called the Big Bang. Everyone there is effected by the gas in different ways, some getting super powers and others just getting mutated. They are branded Bang Babies. [Note: The new comic series changes it from a gang fight to a protest march, making it more logical for all the random people who get powers.] Richie helps Virgil come up with the Static persona and is his best friend, confidant, and (at the start at least) the only person to know who Static really is. Virgil lives with his father and sister. Another variation from the comics, Virgil’s mother is dead in the cartoon. The cartoon follows the regular day to day social issues of Virgil as a high school student on top of the villain of the week part in each episode. For the most part, the bad guys tend to be Bang Babies. Given that the main character is black, the topic of racism and such comes up. Virgil’s father works at a youth center so topics revolving around that take place as well. Social topics are handled well given it’s a super-hero cartoon. The fact that the major characters aren’t all white lends itself to the ability to really address more. Given all that they do, I really wish they had included the fact that Richie was gay. It would have been another good issue.
Over time, Static gets other people who join him in his crime fighting. Richie gets Bang Baby powers in the 3rd season when he suddenly becomes extremely intelligent. (It’s explained that he must have gotten enough residual exposure over time. They mainly just needed to make up a good reason to keep him in the show.) While he made a lot of equipment for Static in the first two seasons, things steps up in the later ones when he becomes Gear, Static’s full time super-hero partner. The villain Rubberband Man turns over a new leaf and becomes a super-hero and joins Static sometimes. A genetically created girl with enhanced physical abilities named She-Bang joins the pair for a few adventures. When Virgil goes to Africa, he also meets a local hero named Anansi the Spider with mystically based powers who appears a couple times.
Static gets linked right to the DC universe with the appearance of a number of characters from other cartoons. Batman and Robin team up with him as well Superman and the Justice League. When he gets sent to the future, he meets the Batman from the Batman Beyond cartoon and even gets to see the future version of himself.
It’s definitely a fun series to watch. There’s a lot of humor and lightheartedness. I’ve actually watched the whole series a few times. I’d recommend checking it out on HBO Max. The half-hour episodes made for a nice watch during lunch and such and may get you hooked enough to binge watch it some.