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Comic Book / Icon

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It's not as 'street' as it looks

Icon is a Milestone Comics superhero series written by Dwayne McDuffie, which ran from 1993-1997. Along with the other Milestone characters, he has recently been imported into the DC Universe. (Only he and Superman know that the Dakotaverse had its own, separate existence.)

Augustus Freeman IV, in reality an alien space traveler stranded on Earth, is persuaded by a young woman, Raquel Ervin, to use his alien powers to become a superhero. He takes the name Icon, and Racquel becomes his sidekick, Rocket.


This series provides examples of:

  • Black Republican: Icon is explicitly a black Republican, in order to contrast with his liberal partner Rocket. This ended up creating some headaches for Dwayne McDuffie, as Icon developed a Misaimed Fandom among actual black conservatives like Clarence Thomas who didn't understand that Icon was supposed to be wrong sometimes.
  • But Not Too Black: Icon in his civilian life is a lawyer, and very well educated, and lives in the suburbs. Because of this, some have accused him of being a sellout and not "acting black". Icon himself admits that this had been true before he put on the suit, his time as an upper class lawyer having insulated him from the plight of black people.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Supporting character "Buck Wild, Mercenary Man" is a parody of Marvel Comics's Luke Cage: Hero for Hire (with occasional forays into being a parody of other token black heroes including Black Goliath, The Falcon, and Black Lightning).
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    • Icon himself is a counterpart to Superman, something which has actually been noted in-universe in series such as Final Crisis and Young Justice. This is taken further in the crossover between the two characters, Worlds Collide, wherein Rift, the bad guy of the crossover, notes that the difference between Superman and Icon is that Superman was allowed to share and spread the values of his homeland, while the only thing of Icon's that had been valued was his physical strength.
  • Cleavage Window: Rocket's first costume, to the conservative Icon's disapproval. When he later designs and gives her a second costume, the window is pointedly absent.
  • Cloning Blues: When Icon finally returns to his home planet, he discovers that, after he was declared dead, he was cloned, or "reconstituted," from medical and psychological recordings made a few weeks before the accident that sent him to Earth. The whole time he was trapped on our planet, the "new" version of him had been living his old life.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Rocket, who is gifted an alien utility belt which gives her the power to absorb and utilize kinetic energy, allowing her to simulate flight and super strength, as well as fire blasts of pure kinetic energy as projectiles and create shields and barriers of kinetic energy. When she passes it on to her friend, Darnice, while pregnant, Darnicegets the same powers.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The original series freely explored the tropes and ideas of The Cape when applied to a black man and how differently they would go, such as Icon's first battle being with the police when they mistake him for a criminal. Despite all this, Icon eventually wins the respect of the city and its people, being hailed as the "Hero of Dakota".
  • Dude Magnet: Many guys including Static and members of the Blood Syndicate flirt with Racquel, despite her not being as overtly attractive and having a Three Stooges style bowl cut, as other notable pretty faces. Especially when she wears her Cleavage Window costume.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Oblivion. A raving Ax-Crazy Straw Nihilist who wishes to share the "glory" of death with as many people as possible. Best seen when Raquel tried to reason with him.
    Oblivion: There's really nothing to discuss, child. You and your kind wish to live. I desire to see you all slaughtered. Let us agree to disagree!
  • Expy: Icon is one of Superman. Interestingly, in the original run before being merged with the DC Universe, Superman was a fictional character in the Dakotaverse, he and Rocket knew this and would occasionally lampshade it.
  • Eyes Always Shut: A rare occasion of this being a Justified Trope, as the mask Icon makes for Rocket makes her appear like she has no eyeballs in the fashion associated with Image Comics. Raquel even jokes about looking like she doesn't have eyes when she tries it out.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: One storyline has Raquel discovering that she is pregnant. Everyone she asks for advice — including the socially conservative Icon himself — is sympathetic to her situation, and offer no objection to the possibility of her aborting. She eventually decides that she was really fishing for a trusted authority figure to tell her to do what she wanted to do anyway — carry the baby to term.
  • Homage: Raquel named her baby "Amistad". A few years later Steven Spielberg had directed a film of the same name.
  • Imagine Spot: Racquel has an extended one where Icon is approached by a corporation who offers to fix his pod in exchange for him acting as America's hero... and turning himself white. The spot ends with an adult Racquel reconciling with her teenage son and Icon.
  • Jive Turkey: Buck Wild and his absurd 70's slang (Sweet Easter! Aunt Jemina's do rag!). Racquel herself mentions what he's saying isn't even slang and more like brain damage word salads, which is justified in-story as a result of Buck Wild's brain still being partially frozen from a cryogenics experiment in the 70's. When he fills in for Icon, he switches to Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. All a part of his Affectionate Parody nature.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Oblivion. The second he comes into the story, he murders two people and goes on a graphic killing spree eager to share the experience of death with everyone on Earth since he cannot die himself. He actually kills Icon's successor Buck Wild and nearly murders Rocket if not for Icon's timely arrival.
  • Last Disrespects: At Buck Wild's funeral, almost none of the congregation have anything decent to say about Buck, and pretty much agree with the pastor when his opening words are nothing but insults to Buck. Darnice, who was the Rocket to Buck's Icon, is disgusted by the lack of gratitude everybody has for Buck and reminds them of the good he'd done as Icon and that he died fighting to protect everyone. It's only after Darnice's outburst that Buck's Rogues Gallery starts appearing and reminisces about their battles with Buck.
  • Legacy Character: When Icon returns to space and Racquel is pregnant, Racquel arranges for their places as Icon and Rocket are taken by Buck Wild and Darnise. Later, both identities revert when Buck is killed
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Icon running into the Blood Syndicate resulted in this, as the Syndicate thought Icon was sent to take their turf back where the cops were unsuccessful. He wasn't, he just wanted answers about the Big Bang and the Syndicate were the most public result of it. Rocket thankfully helps clear up the misunderstanding and lets Icon explain his intentions, which is good enough for the Syndicate to make a truce with Icon, allowing everyone to depart on relatively friendly terms.
  • Mood Whiplash: Buck's funeral, which goes from somber to wacky when his Rogues Gallery starts waxing poetical about his various attempts to reinvent himself, all of which are parodies of Marvel's black superheroes
  • My Grandson Myself: Augustus Freeman IV was also Augustus Freemans I through III — he's been stranded on Earth for over 150 years thanks to his species having a much longer lifespan than humans.
  • The Paragon: Raquel purposefully designed Icon as a concept to be this, and Augustus takes to the role as best he can, attempting to inspire by example.
  • Plea Bargain: Part of Buck Wild's backstory:
    Buck: It all started when I wuz convicted of a crime I didn't commit. I plea bargained down from the crime I really did.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When a currently pregnant Rocket and her friend Darnice are taken hostage by aggressive drug dealers named Snooky and Boomer, Snooky makes a gesture to unzip his pants to rape the both of them. The murderous one named Boomer immediately attacks and stops him, disgusted by his partner and opts to try and kill the two instead
    Boomer: What the hell are you doin'?! We ain't rapist! Man Snooky... you're sick!
  • Really 700 Years Old: Icon has been on the planet for a couple of hundred years.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Technology: Icon's powers are the result of advanced alien medical technology, supplemented with advanced alien gadgets. The belt that gives Raquel her powers is an air bag from Icon's ship, to give you an idea of how advanced the tech is.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Rocket's main character arc is juggling her superhero antics with the fact she is now a sixteen year old single mother, even fighting at one point while showing visible pregnancy weight. As seen with her family, this trend is strongly In the Blood as both her mother and grandmother had children in the teens by accident.
  • Transplanted Human: Apparently, the reason why he looks human is that he automatically copied the genetic code of the first human he met - A plantation slave woman. In his natural form he looks like one of The Greys.
  • Translator Microbes: When Earth is finally visited by Icon's people in Hardware #19, they use universal translators. Lampshaded when, during a fight, one of the aliens is hit, and their word balloon says:
    Alien: Scream: exclamation of extreme physical discomfort.


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