The Review Group takes it's first trip into the New 52 with Static Shock #! We all remember the cartoon fondly, but what about the comics?
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.
This week is Static Shock #1, which is of course one of DC Comics' 52 new number one issues. We stayed away from Justice League #1, but we couldn't resist the lure of Virgil Hawkins and his hover-skateboard-thing.
I never before got into or cared for Static.
Then I read Static Shock #1...
Recap: Teenage hero stocks uber-powered maniac, gets no thanks from the crowd. Goes home to Mom & Dad asks if he can get a drivers license. Goes to work at Star Labs where the computer there asks him to suit up and fly over New York City where he's attacked and gets his arm cut off.
Analysis: I kind of always liked Scott McDaniels art (with nothing here changing that opinion) but as a writer, he needs to find some consistency with his characterizations. Is Static just a 16 year kid in a costume, or is he a 16 year old scientific genius in a costume? A lot of science babble early in the book just felt wrong. The mystery of the sunspot maniac gets some screen time but nothing that makes me interested in the subplot. And how does a 16 year old kid get a job at Star Labs in the first place?
Like I said, I never got into or cared for Static before. I still don't.
Writing - 5
Art - 7
Overall – 6
I was never a fan of Static Shock before, and I'm still not now. I pledged to give all DC's new #1s a fair try, and this was the third book I read.
Once thing I hate in comics is when characters describe every thing they are doing. Readers are not stupid. McDaniel and Rozum do this the entire issue, and it's horrible.
I'm not sure who all the bad guys are, and not a lot of information was given on them either. I felt a bit lost there. The only things I did like about the story was how Static kept accidentally pissing off the citizens, and the disarming ending
Scott McDaniel's art is okay. His storytelling works well, and he does decent facial expressions. His overall style doesn't work for me, but I'm sure it does for others.
Static Shock #1 was far better than Hawk & Dove #1, but I don't see myself getting future issues. Not a "win" for DC in my eyes.
GRADE: 6 of 10
While initially deciding not to buy this, I decided to give it a shot for the RG due to the fond memories I have of the cartoon.
From the start it's clear to me that Scott McDaniel and John Rozum obviously tried so hard to cram in as much as they could that this book that the end result left me looking at a badly overwritten book. It was way too wordy with it's expository dialog, and not in a Bendis rapid-fire-dialog kind of way but it had been crammed with so many long (and I mean LONG) inner monologs and huge word balloons that utterly dominated so many panels.
it wasn't enough that they went to extreme pains to go into blow-for-blow exposition on how Static uses science in his fights, but it's clear the writers just lost themselves in it and went wild. It was like I was reading a novel rather than reading a comic at times. Utterly distracting.
Onto the story, Static Shock was originally portrayed as a black Spider-Man WAY before Miles Morales and it shows here. Static's heroics earn him insults and jeers from New Yorkers (Static Shock is set in New York rather than Dakota this time around) and he works for S.T.A.R. Labs. He's a wisecracking young guy who relies on his brains as much as his powers to get through a fight and is basically a geek at heart. Maybe that would've stood out to me a lot more had the comic not had absurd levels of wordiness...it just felt lost among the sea of words.
Static also has a mentor figure in Hardware, an old Milestone character who I'm not overly familiar with. He basically provides him with advice and tech upgrades. Too bad Gear's not around in that role since he was a pretty big supporting character from the old TV series...but that's not really a big concern as the role is filled just as well.
Comparing it to Dwayne McDuffie's old Milestone series, there's not really much to benchmark the two as they're totally different books. Whereas the Milestone book was slightly darker and not afraid to tackle edgier social aspects (could this be what kept Gear out of this book? Just pure speculation on my part here) this book is clearly marketed as kid friendly...I'm not sure all these words would help hook kids into this much though.
The art...Scott McDaniel does double duty with both the writing AND art. I think he kind of defeated himself with the wordiness as at times it covered huge chunks of panels and really distracted from what would've otherwise been decent art. McDaniel's art is perfect for highlighting Static's electric based powers. Not much else stands out for me but I'll give him this, he does a decent enough job with the rest of it. Doesn't 'wow' me or anything but I have no problem with it.
So in summary...so much potential in the character and setting was just drowned out by an avalanche of words that weren't ever needed.
DC should actually be proud of itself with what they are achieving. In the first week there were quite a few books that seemed to garner praise and quite a bit of interest. This, unfortunately, is not one of them for me.
The character has little appeal to me, though the art was perfect for the style of book that I think it is trying to be. Unfortunately the biggest problem with Static Shock is that it doesn't actually know what it wants to be. It seems to bounce from being friendly to younger generations with it's simplicity to a darker tone that I found jarring.
If you are a fan of Static Shock, check it out. If you're not, well, don't try starting here.
My Score: 4.5
I thought this was a good introduction to the character for new readers unfamiliar With Static Shock. The writers did a good job of explaining how Static's powers worked and establishing his personal life. They crammed a lot of information into this first issue that it could be somewhat overwhelming. There certainly was a lot of action here as well. I enjoyed the scenes of Static chasing the man in the stolen STAR Labs suit and was surprised to see him shot by assassins. I also liked the villain Piranha at the end. I almost feel the writers should've stretched this first issue into two issues.
I liked the art here. Scott McDaniel did a good job and his style here fit the tine of the book very well. All the characters looked good as did the backgrounds. I think he put a lot of detail into his panels here.
Story - 7
Art - 8
Overall - 7.5
Story - Static is one of the few DC characters I have virtually no experience. I wasn't reading DC in the 1990s so the whole Milestone thing passed me by. I watched the cartoon series, but had no idea it was based on a comic, so it freaked me the hell out when the animated Justice League showed up in the show.
I read one or two of his appearances in Teen (and Terror) Titans, but those comics pretty much all sucked, so really, this new #1 is my first experience of Static Shock. And on the basis of this issue, it's not really for me.
I mean, the issue itself was fine, Rozum and McDaniel's writing does the job of setting up who Virgil Hawkins is and what his current status quo is. But the whole book is just really generic. There's nothing here that 25 other teen superhero titles won't give you, and I'd rather read Invincible or Ultimate Spider-Man or Generation Hope than this. There's nothing new here, I may as well be reading 1970s Spider-Man titles. It's the same city, the same attitude, the same distrust from the public. Hell, I may as well be reading current Spider-Man, as Virgil and Peter Parker are working at similar companies.
There are some interesting things here, like the use of another Milestone hero, Hardware as a mentor for Static, but it's only a small detail. Rozum and McDaniel also come up with some pretty novel uses for Static's powers, such as when he tracks the bullet using UV light. The villains are forgettable, and the mystery at STAR Labs doesn't hook me. I will say that the ending of the issue is a surprise, but I doubt it will stick.
Overall, this was a competently put together comic that just wasn't for me. Maybe if I was a fan of Static from way back, this would thrill me, but as I've never read a Static book before, there was nothing here to interest me. I like teen superheroes as much as anybody, but I like them with a little more spice than this. So yeah, if you like Static, then you'll probably like this, if you don't... probably not.
Art - Scott McDaniel is a pretty polarising artist, some love his blocky style, others hate it. I myself quite like it and think the art in this issue is great. The action flows well and he manages to make quite a busy costume work.
Best Line - 'He's dead'
I've tried several times to work up a paragraph on this book and it's even more difficult than just finishing the comic was to begin with. What a sorry new debut for this character, whose co-creator passed away tragically earlier this year. This feels like a misfire on all cylinders, from writing that tediously has the character describe his actions in pseudo-science nonsense, possibly because looking at the finished artwork one can barely even guess at what is supposed to be happening during the clunky narration as Static chases Plasma Ball-Guy around his new city leading up to the "shocking" last page reveal--I'm guessing that was a hologram or something.
I can't force myself to say much else about this, one of the weakest new 52 debuts that should've been among the strongest.
Honestly, I can't believe I have a new Static book in my hand. It's been so damn long and I truly hope it stays afloat. We need more books like this.
I had a lot of fun with it for sure. It wasn't one of the greatest ever, but to be back into the mind of Virgil, even explaining his next thoughts and abilities was just too awesome not to love. I'm very excited that Hardware is a part of this book. He was my favorite when McDuffie brought Milestone back into the DCU and always hoped to see more of him. I thought the explanation for his move to NYC was pretty legit and made sense. Though the one issue I have with that is: now that Virgil, a black kid with dreadlocks, moves from Dakota to NYC, no one, not even his family, would be suspicious that Static, another black kid with dreadlocks, from Dakota, is also in NYC? Or how about people back home? Virgil and Static leave Dakota the same time and so forth?
The voice of Virgil felt like a return to home and meeting up with an old friend who never lost his charm. Is it as I fully remember it when McDuffie was writing the character? Surely no, but McDaniels and Rozum do capture the overall essence of the character and I can't wait to see what they come up with as the series goes on. While in interviews, it's been said there won't be a connection to the cartoon series, but Ebon would be great to have as a foil in the comics (wink nudge to the creators if they're reading this).
Writing - 8
Art – 8
Overall – 8
Like any medium, comics have certain properties that have strange and curious histories and the Static Franchise is most certainly one of them. Created by the Milestone Brain trust in 1992, the character would gain a cult following due to the Iconic Setting, amazing supporting cast, unique Power set and honest portrayal of what is like to grow up in the inner city. From there, Static would then go on to gain mainstream notoriety from his 2000 animated series "Static Shock", which became both a critical and ratings success in the 4 seasons it aired. Sadly, each of these successes has been met with obstacles that prevent this franchise from being bigger than it is now.
For starters, the success of "Static Shock" didn't translate to a Toy Line for the show (nor a toy for the titular character until years after) nor is the full show available in any consumer outlet. On the comics' front, Static has had to deal with his share of "false starts", "changed plans" and "bad timing" that prevented him from getting his fair share of panel time. It is due to those circumstances why one could also say that Static is one of comics most undervalued properties. It is also due circumstances with Static Shock #1 was so anticipated by fans of the character. With so much hype going into this comic, does it succeed in being what it needs to be? The answer is just below you.
From the minute this title was announced, the part that grabbed my immediate attention was the announcement of John Rozum was going to be a part of the writing team. With "Xombi" immediate rise to the top of my pull list, I had anticipated that the Milestone alumnus would be able to do the character justice and that's what happened for the most part.
Without a doubt, the biggest adjustments that many of his fans have to make is the fact that Static is portrayed as someone who is as intelligent (if not more intelligent) than Peter Parker himself. Fortunately, the adjustment is made easier by the fact that it's used to make the book stronger, as Static's intelligence helps to give the character an added dimension that he needs to gain more resonance with the reader. Also his intelligence allows him to approach his fights from a cerebral standpoint, helping to give the book the distinguishing tone it needs to stand out from the crowd. The other aspect the writing shined was in the plot building. From the conversation with the villains, it's obvious that their scheme is not only far reaching, but is going not going to be as simple to solve as a throwing an EM Pulse their way, which makes them the ideal match up for someone as intelligent as our protagonists, making me hopeful for the future of the story.
What Didn't Work:
While John Rozum's name helped to sell people on this title, Scott McDaniel's name was one that made people concerned and after seeing the results of his artwork, I can see why. Despite his strong action sequences, Rozum's character doesn't stand out, and is even lackluster at certain points. If more detail was paid attention to such things, this book would've been stronger. Secondly, while the writing was very strong, it was certainly not flawless, as the scene with Virgil and his family was marred by how annoying his sisters were. Of course, most fans know that Sharon and Virgil have an antagonistic relationship, but for some reason this didn't play as well as It usually does. Finally, the biggest issue I had with this comic was that New York (for now) doesn't stand up to Dakota as a setting. Now I understand this is the first issue and that making this judgment is premature, but considering the legacy that New York has to live up to, it might take a bit more than I thought to convince me that this was a good move.
My Final 22 Cents:
As I close out this review, I feel that Static's future is like an open book. From a creative standpoint, I really feel that success or failure of this comic will rest upon whether this book isn't afraid to be the book that the original Static was. If it's able to be an honest portrayal of what it's like for a kid to grow up in the 21st century, then I feel this book will become one of DC's brightest. If not, then I can see the potential of this book being another one of those generic books that I fear that DC may end up shoving on us as the months go by.
With that being said, I feel that Static Shock #1 definitely shows that this book has a lot of potential to become one of the better books in this revised universe, even if I felt that it missed on some key points. One thing is for sure, I can't wait to see where this book goes and to see if the Creative Team can live up to the standards of their fallen comrade in arms.
Final Judgment: 7.5
There you go, some pretty divergent opinions about this book, but that's what's great about the Review Group, it would be pretty effing dull if we agreed all the time. Static Shock gets an average score of 6.00 out of 10, which isn't too bad. Click this here link to read the whole thread, including my proclamation that the Group is now a Batgirl-Free-Zone!
Join us next week when we look at Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #4, surely we all love Criminal right? Surely?
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt