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52apolooza: Static Shock

Written by Adrian, Daniel Buckley and The Bear Jew on Friday, September 16 2011 and posted in Reviews

Out of the way, Ultimate Spider-Man! There's a new, quippy teenage hero flying around NYC! Check out how Static Shock did in the latest entry of 52apolooza!

Welcome to 52apolooza, the Outhouse feature focusing on DC's September Relaunch.  All of DC's 52 titles will be reviewed by our pool of reviewers to point out the best and worst that DC's new comic book line has to offer.  To see how this book ranks among the other new DC titles, be sure to check out our 52apolooza Rankings!

DC's first attempt to publish a Static Shock comic was scuttled due to the impending relaunch.  Instead of a Felicia Henderson-penned Static Shock title like originally planned, DC instead went with Xombi's John Rozum and Scott McDaniel.  So how is Static Shock?  Read on and find out!

DC Reader: Adrian

Giving this book a chance wasn't automatic for me. Sure, I'm a long-time DC fan and I have fond memories of the Milestone Universe, but I wasn't exactly a fan of the original series and I only watched the later cartoon here and there. So by all accounts, I read this book with fresh eyes and an open mind.

StaticShock1image2I could grow to love this character. I could grow to love this series. This particular issue was far from a home run but McDaniels and Rozum showed they have pretty powerful swing.

The set-up and plot are pretty basic stuff you'd expect from a relaunch. There's an out-of-control threat rampaging through the city and only the hero can stop it with brains, guile, and just the right amount of teenage snark. There's a mysterious organization ultimately responsible for the threat and they want the new hero out of the way. Yesterday.

It's the star character and his supporting cast who are the real focus here. For a company whose characters are unfairly charged with the silly, vacuous label of "unrelatable" and deemed in many ways too perfect, DC in recent years has become the master of the smart, likable-yet-sarcastic young Lee-esque hero with school and home problems due to his double life. Virgil's a good kid with his head in the right place who enjoys being a hero. He's a borderline genius (a departure from previous characterizations) who can't or is unwilling to shut up while he's fighting crime. Hardware is his mentor (referring to Virgil as his Padawan), another Milestone alum who should fit perfectly in this new DCU. Virgil's family is the standard unit you'd expect (although the "problems" with his sister could be interesting) and the new set of bad guys are servicable for now.

While the formula for success is perfect, the execution is clunky in the early stage. The humor seems at times forced and although it's clear he's being set up for a prideful fall, Virgil's self-adulation is borderline grating. While the target audience is clearly young fans of geek culture, the science info-dump don't always meld with the action. I'm a physicist and even I wanted Virgil to just shut up, do it and explain later. And in a personal pet-peeve of mine, the personal "problems" seem ludicrous when you consider the hero in context (Virgil, you need a car? Seriously?).

StaticShock1image3Clunky execution, yes, but a hell of a lot of momentum from the half-way point. I really loved the ending and I damn well will be buying issue #2.

I also like that DC is making New York City an important focus in their universe. So far Static and Hawkman seem to be the main heroes with many more behind the scenes. New Yorkers do come across as ungrateful jerks, but that seems to be the tone of the "normal" population for this DCnU.

So, yes, a successful start that could've been a lot better. Static Shock is a good introduction to a character many fans might not have given much thought to knowing. While the general fan could enjoy this, the comic intentionally tries to play to its target audience: slightly older fans of the cartoon and science nerds of geek culture. It just needs to do a better job in future issues.

Writing: 17/25
Art: 22/25
Accessibility: 20/25
Enjoyability: 20/25

Total Score: 79/100

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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