The GeeksverseR.I.P. Static Shock

R.I.P. Static Shock
Published on Monday, March 5, 2012 by

“My last comments about the STATIC SHOCK comic book by the NEW DC 52. R.I.P Virgil Hawkins….until we meet again homie.”- Brian WilliamsBrian Williams is the writer behind Lucius Hammer and other Raven Hammer Comics. He’s been interviewed, reviewed, and quoted on this website in the past. At times he can have controversial views about African-American representations in comics. He’s sounded off on Luke Cage and other large company characters in the past. Today, I want to link and repost some of his thoughts on Vigil Hawkins aka Static Shock since I agree with parts of what he has to say.

Static Shock was a surprise during the New 52 reboot from DC.  This was  a character that I did not expect to start life anew in New York as a relaunched title. I also did not expect it to be one of the first titles cancelled because it is a solid start to a new series…even with all of the Spider-Teen similarities.

Brian Williams posted a blog about the semi-iconic Shock this weekend.

I’m not completely on-board with Williams’ assessment, but some of what he vents into cyber space I agree with as a fan of Static Shock. I find his closing point to be especially poignant.

How in the world do you expect a book to sell when it’s got so much going against it? Until STATIC SHOCK is pulled out of the closet again…I guess I will just keep imagining in my own mind the truly dope as hell comic it could be if writers and artists would just stay in their lanes and create good comics. Stay in your lane, folks. B Williams…out.

I am with Williams imagining what could have been and what might be. That is an easy set of ponderings since Static Shock seemed to be more Spider than Bang Baby in the recent incarnation. Virgil Hawkins found his family moved to New York, where Virgil was struggling with a new high school and an after school lab tech job and an after after habit of patrolling the streets looking for trouble. Family loss and new responsibilities as new powers seemed to develop felt familiar and was mentioned in nearly all of my reviews of the series relaunch. I don’t like comparing all teen heroes to Spider-Man but this relaunch had it coming.

While I have been pointing out the overly Spidery teen aspect of this relaunch, I don’t agree completely with Williams assessment of what this book should have been first and foremost.

First and foremost…Static Shock should have been a fun, lighthearted but adventurous thrill ride that builds momentum every issue until it’s built an audience and that audience trusts it’s creators to deliver the goods. Comic book readers nowadays have ADD…if you don’t hit them fast and hard with a confident, sexy product…they sense the weakness. And they will drop that title with authority. End of story. My assessment of the whole STATIC SHOCK deal is that the folks involved did not have a clue as to what they wanted to do with the book.

I remember this book’s titular character from the cartoons and not from the Dwayne McDuffie Milestone imprint at DC in the 90s. The key covers were featured on the wall of the pool house on Fresh Prince of Bel Aire but I was still never enticed to pick up that series. I should probably pick up the trades but I haven’t. Instead, I’ll admit to watching Static Shock as a cartoon. I will also point out that the morning I was married, I put on my tux while watching Static Shock on Saturday morning…the episode where he finally meets and fights the Green Lantern.

From the cartoon version of this character, I could see why fun and lighthearted seems to make sense. I’m thinking the original comics were not quite as colorful. I don’t mind a more mature look in the book since the original readers are now twenty years older. Perhaps it was an overly sexy and dark look at the lighthearted character, but that didn’t overly bother me through the run. I could get past it.

I can understand the want for a light hearted return. I said something similar in my Batman Beyond reviews a summer or two ago.

I liked Static Shock being in his own narrow niche of the DC world. He was in New York but ran into very few heroes or villains. I liked that. The cartoon Static hung out with the Justice League from time to time, but mostly had his own elbow room in Dakota. I am glad that that was preserved.

As I’ve mentioned over and over here on Comixverse, I found too much Spider-Man in my Static Shock. Williams seemed to advocate for more Spidey modeling. Again, we deviate on this point.

I will admit that while I prefer Rozum’s ideas for the series…I was not a big fan of the Pale Man. That idea seems very derivative of the Joker and the name leaves a lot to be desired in a mainstream comic book about a black superhero. I read over the list of “improvements” that Scott Mcdaniel suggested to give this series the necessary wings it needed and was not convinced that his ideas were superior to Rozum’s. What I would have told both of these gentlemen at some point is to reference other books that have or are doing successfully what you are trying to do…Spider Man is the obvious comparison here…but look at NOVA back in the late seventies when he was Rich Ryder…or more recently INVINCIBLE.

Too many cooks in the kitchen can be a problem. A list of “improvements” can be a problem on its own. Using Nova and Invincible as models, or Darkhawk, or any number of other once successful teen hero books could be good advice. Not Spider-Man. Looking back to either version of Young Justice could have been a nice model. Especially if Williams is an advocate for the light and fun S. Shock, a comparison to the solid book of Greg Weisman’s Young Justice would have been a nice parallel. I think I’ve mentioned it in the past.

Ultimately,  Williams provides a complete assessment of Static Shock’s failures and short comings in the new relaunch. He makes some good points, including some specific complaints about the series writers. I don’t completely agree, but I do think he raises some points worth thinking about. Static Shock may have had an up hill battle, with various factors working against it, but let us know forget that the property also had fans wanting it to succeed. In the end, the company did not provide most fans with the property that they wanted, however, the cancellation seems to have happened before the book had a chance which may mean a lack of corporate confidence that the fans would have returned. Perhaps they wouldn’t. Only time would have told and, sadly, time is at an end for Static Shock.

Perhaps he’ll be back in the future. He’d make a great guest star or new member to Young Justice if the show or comic has a future.  Static could be another strong character for that mix. Perhaps that would give new fans an idea of who he is again so that a future stand alone title would have a better chance.

 

Check out Williams Facebook  or

 blog for more of his thoughts on Static Shock, Lucius Hammer, and all things comics. Jump over to the Geekverse forums for Static Shock discussion to share your thoughts.

Good night Virgil Hawkins, where ever you are.

5 Responses
    • Haven’t been following the book or the behind-the-scenes back-and-forth between Rozum and McDaniel at all, but from Williams’ blog posting, it seems like a case of editorial mishandling the creative team dynamic.

    • The man can say what he wants that’s fine, but in the end if the title failed to attract readers it’s down to the creative team plain and simple. 
       
      First off, The titles that were the first to fall were not a shock to me.; Mr. Terrific, Shock, BlackHawks, Men of War, and OMAC were going to be hard sells to begin with. Hawk and Dove’s failure is on the creative team (did you read that first story arc. OSPREY, Condor, Swan? these are the main enemies?)  
       
      Men of War and Blackhawks were always head scratchers to me. War comics have been a niche market for as long as I remember. They never sold extremely well and tended to be favored by war buff geeks or fans of GI Joe (when that title was no longer around),
       OMAC? When’s the last time that character has been a factor at all. The last thing I remember is it being a subplot leading up to Infinite Crisis and that was it.
       
      Hawk and Dove? two words: Rob Liefeld. It was DOA the moment he was allowed in. His art hasn’t progressed one bit (actually I think it’s gotten worse but that’s me).
      I never understood Mr. Terrific as a solo book. He was a JSA memeber and can anyone even tell me a single Mr. Terrific story that stood out in the JSA books pre nDCU? no you can’t; why? because there hasn’t been any. Why they gave him a title and not say; Black Lightning, Cyborg, or John Stewart is a puzzlement. Any one of those three are more well known than Mr. Terrific.
       
      You could make the case thathe suffers from the Aquaman/ Martian Manhunter syndrome( A minor character with a small group of very vocal fans that manage to yell long and loud enough to trick the heads of DC into thinking there is a market for the cahracter again and then once in print it just doesn’t sell well enough).
      But the syndrome isn’t a good enough excuse because look at Aquaman.It’s a top seller and this is after years of having a cancellation followed by loud fan disapproval only to be brought back and flounder and get cancelled again, If anything the success of I’ Vampire, Animal Man, and Aquaman should show that a good creative team and story will attract readers.

      You can blame the economy and the amount of books on shelves, money’s tight and there are a thousand other books featuring much more established characters (Batman, Supes, Cap America, Spider-Man)  but none of that is news and as an excuse doesn’t hold water (again I, Vampire and Animal Man).

      I’m sorry Brian lost his gig but to blame the fans for not buying the book as the reason for failure is plain and simple BS. Had Brian written an engaging story, had the artist made more engaging panels, had the editor put more love in it; who knows. Or maybe the bottle missed the lightening by that much. I can’t say, but to hear his excuses by laying blame on the readers is just pathetic in my opinion.

      Speaking of Spider-Man, maybe if he had made Static a little more original and less a Spidey clone, Static would have survived. I don’t know. we’ll never know, but Static looks to be joining up with the Titan Teens soon enough so there ya go.

      • I’ll lay money that Aquaman gets canceled pretty soon after Johns leaves the book.  As long as he’s on it, it’ll be published.  It’s a book/character that does well at first (Peter David had a pretty long and sustained run on the book), but just can’t keep the momentum and goes away.

        A book needs to survive a creative team change.  The team has to make the characters engaging enough that when they live, people stick with the character.

        There’s been alot of creative team changes in the New 52, way more then should be at this stage of the game.  It makes me worried about the longevity of the books.  The only reason to change the teams around issue #5-7 is poor sales and personally I think that’s too early anyways, barely giving the team time to gel.

        Alot of the books were surprising, which ones they published anyways.  They also seem contradictory.  Why do you need S.H.A.D.E. when you have the Blackhawks?

    • Static as a character just never appealed to me.  I think the book was victim of “we need to be more diverse” so they decided to do Static Shock as part of the New 52.  What they really should have done is put Static in the Teen Titans or something, let the character get some momentum and then come out in the solo series.

      Also seems like they didn’t know what they wanted the book to be.    Definately sounds like conflict between the creators.  Which is on the editor for not having the right team and not keeping them focused.

      • I’m with you that Static should be a team player to build his identity. The good parts of Static’s most recent run will be lost in time. Static was a great character to bring in Hardware and other Milestone characters, but the audience may not be there to sustain their inclusion and longevity. Bringing Static, and by extension Milestone, into other books is a better way to build his own branding. I like him as a character, but Static needs to build his status slowly over time. 

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