Today is a sad day in the comics world, as Dwayne McDuffie has passed away. While the man is gone, his work is a fine legacy to leave behind. In honor of the man and his accomplishments, I wanted to feature the character, who is probably the most well-known of McDuffie’s creations. While you may know him from the cartoons, Virgil Hawkins first appeared on the printed page. I am of course, talking about Static, a fine hero in the Spider-Man tradition. Let’s get on with the show, shall we?
As implied above, Static just got out of a bit of a scrape in the previous issue, Static had the situation well in hand, but you see, well, something found out kind of threw him off his game, as we’ll see. Virgil (Static) Hawkins is kind of feeling a bit sorry for himself, while Frieda, is playing the role of good friend and making him face up to his demons. She will eventually become one of Virgil’s closest confidants, but I’m getting ahead of myself. As Virgil’s wounds are tended to, Frieda just straight up asks him how he became a superhero, so we get to jump right into it.
Virg tells Frieda that the whole thing actually started the day they met. She kind of horns in on a conversation Virgil is having with Larry, a student he has been tutoring. Frieda joins the conversation due to a geek joke that Virg makes, and she asks about Larry, and we get to see a bit of what makes Virgil such a stand out character.
Larry departs, but before Virg and Frieda can really make acquaintances, she’s accosted by the truly repulsive “Biz Money B”, a privileged kid who thinks he owns the place. To Frieda’s credit, she’s just about as sharp with her tongue as Virgil. Virgil is giving color commentary on her witty repartee, from the sidelines, and eventually Frieda makes her exit, telling Virgil she’ll call him later. This leaves Biz and Virgil alone. Anyone who was a nerd in school can tell you this is not a good thing. “Biz” in between some truly horrendous racial slurs and even more horrendous “rhymes”, takes his frustrations out on Virgil’s face…
Mercifully, Larry returns and breaks up the “fight”. The damage is done though, and Virgil, who is an obviously sensitive young man, is shaken. Larry gives him the speech about how is Virg doesn’t do something about it, he’s going to be a pushover all throughout high school. He even offers to get Virgil a gun. His long day over, Virgil returns home, and finds out his long day isn’t quite over just yet. His sister is typically grating, but his mother is probably the worst, letting Virgil know in no uncertain terms that he’s the one that needs to shape up. He gets a quick respite when Frieda does indeed call him, but it’s short-lived, as she inadvertently steps on his already wounded pride.
After that quick cut back to the present, Virgil continues his story, saying that even if she didn’t mean what he heard, it still inspired him to do what he did next. If you guessed he went ahead and got himself that gun, well, you’re right. After Larry gives him the “piece” he tells Virg where he can find Biz, who is up to no good. Larry intimates that if and when Virgil kills him, Biz will just be seen as another dead gangbanger, giving Virgil nothing to fear. Virgil makes his way to Paris Island where stuff is going down. There are street gangs from all over the city (Dakota, if you were wondering) gathered for what will soon be known as the “Big Bang”. Virgil finds Biz, and we get a little sequence that shows that Virgil is already hero material.
Virgil dumps the gun in the water, and is about to get the holy hell out of there, when the police arrive on the scene. The scene is so hectic, the cops are authorized to use a new kind of gas, which is indiscriminate on who it affects, even eating through the policemen’s gas masks. The gas overtakes Virigil as well as most of the people on Paris Island. He recovers fairly quickly, and is greeted by the sight of a mess of bodies, some horribly disfigured, so just dead. Just then, he sees something that will change his world forever.
Before he can process what he’s seeing, the cops find Virgil. He obviously doesn’t want to be killed, so he puts his hand up in surrender, but well, something else happens.
Not being an idiot, Virgil makes a run for it, knowing the “cops” aren’t really going to listen to reason after being shocked like that. They try to catch him with some sort of wire mesh net, but acting on instinct, Virgil repels it with a static charge. Still doing whatever he can to get away, he manages to charge a garbage can lid and surf through the sky on it, doing one of his signature “moves” for the first time. As the story goes on, Virgil tells Frieda that he spent a lot of time practicing and finding out what he could do. This is best represented in the finest origin style as… a montage!
The origin tale over, Virg recounts how, as Static, he has busted up thugs, crack houses, and been quite the venerable hero up until he met up with Hotstreak, the guy who gave Static the beatdown from the previous issue. It will probably not surprise you, but Hotstreak is in reality, Biz Money B, who also survived the Big Bang, which explains why Virgil froze up when he found this out during their last encounter. Frieda says that Virgil’s true victory was when he walked away from shooting Biz in cold blood, but Virgil doesn’t see it that way. He won’t be satisfied until he “kicks his sorry ass”. Being the boisterous sort, it isn’t hard to find Hotstreak. When Static arrives on the scene, he wastes no time (using applied knowledge in the finest Peter Parker tradition), cutting Hotstreak off from his powers. After that, the fight plays out as you might expect, with Virgil getting in a wicked burn or two.
Static further humiliates Hotstreak by using his powers to tune their conversation on the radio, so all of Hotstreak’s boys can hear him for the cowardly thug that he is. The battle is as you might expect, well and truly over, so Static returns to Frieda, triumphant, possibly hoping for a hero’s reward, but it looks like his luck doesn’t run that far.
And that’s that. Static as a character would go on to have a respectable run in his comic series, get mainstream exposure thanks to the Static Shock cartoon, and is currently kicking around the mainstream DCU, set to get his own series again very soon. While the Milestone line as a whole was great, Static, in my opinion was the high point, and I’m glad he’s getting exposure again. Thank you for such a wonderful character, Mr. McDuffie, we’ll miss you.
This story appeared in Static #2 July, 1993 and was reprinted in Static Shock: Trial by Fire