Static Shock makes quite the debut as Milestone re-enters the DCU and continues to tackle very timely and pertinent issues that Black people and other marginalized groups have been and currently are facing. While there are issues with skin tone lightening, the overall artwork is really intriguing and meshes the layouts and coloring quite well. This is quite a solid start for the new series and what it might mean to people in the long run.
Sometimes there are instances where something comes along at exactly the right time when it is needed most. Representation and diversity within media have been needed for a long time, especially within the last few years as a segment of society, including law enforcement and elected officials, have effectively declared war on many marginalized groups here in the United States and around the world.
The original Milestone Comics came out at a time where I was not actively reading comics, but its impact was still felt within my life (mostly through the eventual Static Shock animated series that I tuned into every week) and the lives of many others over the years. It made an impact on the industry, one that at times we’ve been struggling to find once more. It has been found at last as Milestone is back, and Static Shock is back.
There is a lot of great to talk about with this issue but we need to get something out of the way first. It’s been long talked about with previews all the way to the issue debut that the lightening that has been done to Virgil Hawkins/Static Shock and his family is unforgivable. This is an issue that has come up way too much in the last few years with books across the line, largely with the Marvel Comics X-Line, that publishers do nothing to actually address when it comes up other than quietly fix it.
In this case, the colorist Nikolas Draper-Ivey has spoken about this and has promised that it will be fixed as the book moves forward, which honestly is more than we’ve usually ever gotten in cases like this.
Overall the issue is very much a product of the time and speaks to a lot that is happening by having Static’s origins rooted deeply in the Black Lives Matter movement. Vita Ayala is a writer that seems to keep getting better and better with every project they take on, knowing just what notes to hit to make everything in tune. Paring that with the layouts of Chriscross and the finishes and colors of Ivey and lettering by Andworld Design creates something quite unique.
Throughout the issue, there are some dynamic artwork changes, in the sense that it comes off more “standard” in some spaces and then takes on some more stylized aspects when it’s showing off action scenes or some of the changed “Bang Babies” in parts of the issue. It’s really intriguing to see some of the panels that are fuzzy-looking or bright and sparkly or got hints of neon-like colors outlining things, as it definitely makes everything stand out in a good way.
While the reader is semi dropped into the thick of things after the Milestone Universe really got started with the Milestone Returns one-shot, which first debuted during 2020’s DC Fandome event before getting re-released with more content earlier this year, it’s still quite new reader-friendly with some small recaps to get you up to speed.
The family moments of the issue, both before and after Virgil was changed, are some of the best in the issue because they feel quite relatable in many ways. Seeing positive depictions of Black families has happened in pop culture before, but compared to the amount of pop culture with positive white family depictions there still aren’t enough. So this is quite nice to see.
Now, this all doesn’t mean that this entire line or even this book will continue to hit in a way that both fits the current time and speaks to things, but for right now it’s hitting a spot. Comics have a habit of breaking your heart more often than not, but there are exceptions to that and this could be one. This seems like the sort of thing that can break that trend.