Wednesday Comments – Static Shock R.I.P.

Part of me was saddened when I heard that DC had decided to pull the plug on Static Shock and canceled the book with it’s 8th issue (along with five other books including Mr. Terrific.) I’ve been a fan of Static since he made his debut back in 1993.

Milestone Media first hit the stands in the Spring of 1993 and it was late enough in the school year that I’d pretty much zoned out on school work. And since I was checked out of school mentally, I’d often go to visit Captain Spiffy’s which was the comic book shop that was on the campus of the University of Arizona. And since the U of A was kitty corner to my high school, Captain Spiffy’s was a regular destination.

I’d show up at school, go to a few classes, leave school and head to Captain Spiffy’s. I’d pick up a few books and then head back to campus for a couple classes, during which I’d be reading comics.

My entire group of friends really enjoyed Milestone Comics because, as Black kids, the characters looked like us. Furthermore, given that we were in Tucson, a pretty brown town, Dakota’s diversity resembled what we saw around us. We would pour over the issues and pass them around, it was really something to share.

And naturally Static really resonated with us, because we were high school kids just like Virgil. We might not have had super powers or had to hide a secret identity, but we certainly shared his personal problems.

So, that’s basically why, as a character, Static has always been one of my favorites.

That’s also why I was saddened when the Milestone Media ceased publication. I always felt sort of guilty because at the time when Milestone needed readers the most, I was culling my list down to basically Green Lantern and The Flash.

Still I was happy when Static got his own Saturday Morning cartoon. And while I rarely got the chance to watch, because I’m not really a morning person in that I like to sleep until there are at least four digits on the clock, I always praised the show to anyone who would listen.

My love for Static was also why I was excited when Geoff Johns relaunched Teen Titans in 2003. I remember reading somewhere, probably Wizard, that Johns had plans for famous teen character that fans would find “shocking.” I always took that to mean that he was planning on incorporating Static into the Teen Titans during his run. When it never happened I figured it was due to red tape.

So when Dan DiDio finally announced that the Milestone Universe was going to be incorporated into the DCU I was cautiously optimistic. I loved the characters (particularly those in the Blood Syndicate, Icon and Static) but I secretly knew that Static would be the most coveted of all of the properties and chances were that everyone else would be overlooked.

And of course that proved to be true. Dwayne MdDuffie’s run on Justice League of America was abortive and plagued by editorial restrictions and his Milestone Forever was censored.

Static had the honor of appearing in one of the most maligned runs on Teen Titans in years, where he often came off as a background character. And to add to the indignity, he was robbed of his powers and sent back to Dakota. It was a mess.

So, that part of me was saddened by the cancellation of Static Shock. But another part of me was relieved.

Because Static was a cherished character, I’d really tolerated a ton of garbage. His time with Teen Titans was dreadful, but Static Shock, part of the DC Comics Relaunch, was just painful. It was convoluted, clunky and a chore to read. It wasn’t enjoyable by any stretch of the imagination.

I bought the book month in and month out because a) of my loyalty to the character and b) because I wanted to show my support for a comic book with a Black Lead. It’s my belief that DC isn’t really interested in putting minority leads in their books and that failure of a book with a minority lead would just confirm their suspicions those book don’t sell and reinforce their resolve to keep their titles lily white.

As a someone who remembers the impact the Milestone line had on my friends and I, I’d really hate to rob a Black kid in 2012 of the chance to feel what we felt. And that’s why I supported a book that I really wasn’t enjoying.

Of course now it’s moot because the book’s been axed. And “cowriter” John Rozum explains exactly what went wrong (here’s a hint; DC bungled this one royally.)

Maybe one day the Milestone Universe will get relaunched and everyone will celebrate it. Or maybe I’m dreaming and we’ll just have to continue looking back on the glory days of 1990’s and remember Milestone Media as one of the few shining moments the industry had.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. When you hit your comic shop to buy this week’s books, see if they have any Milestone books and do yourself a favor and pick one up. You won’t be disappointed.

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