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Comic Book / Static

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"Y'know, I'm really starting to enjoy science."

Static is a comic book following an original character from DC Comics' Milestone Comics imprint, created by Dwayne McDuffie and John Paul Leon. Static #1 was published in June 1993. The series lasted for 45 issues, from June, 1993 to March, 1997.

The series follows high school student Virgil Ovid Hawkins who gains a variety of electromagnetic powers when doused with an experimental chemical during a gang war he was caught up in. He uses his developed powers to combat the crime infesting his city. Much of the series centers around the ongoing gang activities while he also juggles typical adolescent problems.

The comic was later adapted to the TV series Static Shock, with some bowdlerisation and its own tie-in comic miniseries Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool; which served as a continuation of the original comic, while bringing in certain elements from the cartoon. After joining the Teen Titans in 2009, Static's own comic was revived as a DC Comics series in 2011's New 52 event also under the name Static Shock, which was canceled after eight issues. Crossing over from his own show, Static guested on Justice League Unlimited. He also is a recurring character in the second, third and fourth seasons of Young Justice (2010). A live action series, directed by Reginald Hudlin, is currently in the works.

In 2021, thanks to a new licensing deal between Milestone and DC, Static made a grand return to comics with Static: Season One. Taking place in a newly rebooted Dakotaverse, The "Big Bang" that grants Virgil and many others their powers takes place at a Black Lives Matter protest that was interrupted by police spraying experimental tear gas onto the crowd. This time around, however, some of Virgil's enemies that were also at the Bang know about his powers, which puts a large target on him long before he even dons the costume...

Not to be confused with either of the two Marvel Comics characters of the same name, both part of different X-Men continuities.

Tropes associated with Static:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The Swarm, a hivemind of insects is in love with Virgil.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: According to Dwayne McDuffie, Static was Milestone's version of Spider-Man. It shows in how both characters are superheroes who start their crime-fighting careers as teenagers, are gifted with considerable intelligence and enjoy taunting their enemies.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: In issue 43, Static encounters a de-powered Brickhouse and retorts to her claim of being Brickhouse by joking that he's Icon.
  • Arch-Enemy: In the Dakotaverse, Hotstreak/Martin Scaponi was Static's most ardent and personal foe. He served to be a bully throughout Virgil's life, his first enemy in the comic book, as well as indirectly responsible for Virgil acquiring super powers after Virgil came to the Big Bang Event intending to kill Scaponi in the confusion but reneged and was mutated by the mutagenic gas.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Virgil reads and collects comic books and makes it no secret that he identifies with Pikachu.
  • Babies Ever After: Virgil's story in Milestone Forever ends with him married to Freida with two children as well as his sister Sharon being married and pregnant.
  • Badass Bookworm: He isn't the standard "Throw lightning at his enemy and hope for the best" sort. Static commonly uses his knowledge of physics to get the best and most versatile uses out of his powers. There have been quite a few times where an enemy tries to be clever, thinking that an insulator will protect them from his powers, and he always proves them wrong.
  • Black and Nerdy: Virgil is a pretty smart guy and also a big comic book nerd. Several issues show him engaging in hobbies like tabletop role playing and trying to create a comic book with a group of his friends.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The second issue has Static restrain Hotstreak and make him promise not to bother him, his friends, his cousins or his cousins' friends ever again.
  • Breakout Character: A Retroactive example. Static was the one Milestone series that managed to get picked up for a cartoon deal, and his character was the prime reason behind DC wanting to license the characters in 2008.
    • And three years later in 2011, and he finally got his own title.
    • The Dakotaverse as a whole was saved by Static.
  • Busman's Holiday: Lightly parodied in one issue, in which Virgil and his friends want to go see a movie. At the same time, the fearsome super-powered gangbangers of the Blood Syndicate want to see the same movie, at the same theater. The stage is set for a huge clash ... that never actually happens. Everybody watches the movie, Static claps, the Syndicate members leave quietly, and that's the end of the story.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Milestone Forever, which definitively ended Static's adventures in the original Dakotaverse. Virgil, now a doctor, is retired from superheroics, and is married to Frieda with two kids, who both inherited his electromagnetic powers.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • He's been everywhere in the DCU since the merger, including Batman Beyond.
    • His DCAU costumes would eventually make its way into the comics as well. In Rebirth of the Cool, he hastily throws his season one costume together after being ambushed in a clothes store, due to his original costume being locked away in Freida's care. After numerous insults from other Milestone heroes, Static eventually ditches it for his original one. His seasons 3 & 4 costume eventually became his default costume when he made the jump to the mainstream DCU, and his Season One reboot costume takes obvious cues from it.
  • Catchphrase: In the comics, it was originally him Waxing Lyrical of James Brown's "Static" ("Don't start none, there won't be none."), which provided his namesake. However, his cartoon catchphrase, "I'll put a shock to your system", became more well known, and was eventually transplanted back into the comics.
  • Cerebro Electro: Being an Expy of Spider-Man, Virgil is very smart and often uses his knowledge of physics in tandem with his electromagnetic powers to defeat enemies.
  • The Chosen One: It seems Static becomes one of the most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe when he becomes an adult. Dharma, the future seeing leader of the Shadow Cabinet has prophesized that Virgil very well may become the greatest success of all his machinations.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: He is based off of Spider-Man after all.
  • Comic Books Are Real: An odd case. Static wasn't originally part of the DC Universe, and at one point reads some Superman comics. The obvious consequences appear when he meets the Post-Crisis Superboy in the Crisis Crossover Worlds Collide. This is later Retconned so he can be included in the DCU.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Virgil and Frieda.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Virgil towards Frieda, from time-to-time. Virgil tries to get with Frieda at the end of the starting arc but she politely turns him down. While he accepts this, he later has a freakout when he learns that she had been dating one of his best friends the entire time without letting him know. They do end up making up.
    • Ironically enough, once Virgil begins dating a girl called Madison, all of a sudden Frieda is significantly more interested in him, which Madison picks up on.
  • Electric Black Guy: Virgil is black and has electrical powers. He's also the most iconic after Black Lightning himself.
  • Expy: Confirmed by Word of God that Static is a modern take of Spider-Man.
  • First Girl Wins: In Milestone Forever, Virgil and Frieda are married.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • In the first issue of the original series, Frieda gives Hotstreak the finger in response to his advances.
    • Issue 26 has Static flip off Bad Betty, Tarmac and Pyre (Holocaust forced to use a different codename after the events of My Name is Holocaust).
  • Flying Firepower: With a piece of metal to hover on and some good old fashioned Shock and Awe.
  • Future Badass: In the Milestone 30th year anniversary special, an adult Static visits Batman Beyond in Neo Gotham to give Terry a bit of a pep talk, and displays quite a few powers he didn't have as a teen. Such as being able to fly independently of his disk, as well as being capable of breaking down matter at the molecular level, and even zapping his targets through a wormhole, going all the way back to Dakota.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: In the pages of Teen Titans in the New 52 reboot, Virgil has actually created the outfits/tech for Red Robin and Kid Flash.
  • Gay Aesop:
    • Involving Static's friend Rick Stone, who is gay. This was bowdlerised in the show of course.
    • The cold open for the final issue of the New 52 series had the villain bullied for her lesbianism, among other things. Static tells the bullies he sterilized them with microwaves.note 
  • Grand Finale: Static's tale in Milestone Forever, Virgil grows up to become a doctor, retires from superheroics, and marries and have twins with Frieda.
    • Interestingly enough, the animated version doesn't retire and is still an active superhero at age 65 (which he says is the new 30). Static is mentioned to have a son, but he doesn't appear.
  • Green Thumb: The Botanist, who, similar to Poison Ivy, controls plants.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Played completely straight and even lampshaded when Virgil was solely part of the Dakotaverse. He'd flirt with any pretty face in sight and would always fail due to being seen as a corny Casanova Wannabe.
  • Iconic Item: Static's trench coat and saucer.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Larry, Virgil's close friend and Dusk, who was often his partner.
  • Jumped at the Call: Virgil is a big fan of superheroes, so he was quick to become one himself.
  • Killed Off for Real: Larry and Dusk
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Virgil is a big fan of the likes of Batman and other big name heroes, so is always very pleased to work with them.
  • Large Ham: Several of his villains, or when Virgil’s feeling cocky.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Virgil can use his powers to stick to walls but dislikes doing so because he's worried about being seen as ripping off...Dracula.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Got into a brief scuffle with Superboy during the World's Collide crossover.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Static and 10 percent of people who survived getting caught in the quantum juice gas would develop super powers, the other 90 percent that got caught in the gas died.
  • Named After Someone Famous: Virgil is named after Virgil D. Hawkins. Virgil and Ovid, his first and middle names, are shared with two classical Roman writers.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Static is not one of these, but the concept is bought up numerous times, particularly in "One for the kids" where he tries to become a role model after he notices the local kids looking up to gangsters.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Gave one to the group of thugs who killed Larry. This was one of the very rare times that Virgil got legitimately angry at someone in a fight.
  • Playing with Fire: Three villains of Static's have fire-based powers. Hotstreak, who also uses the friction generated from his movement to gain Super-Speed. And Holocaust who also has super strength and invulnerability. Both cause Static a lot of grief. Burn, is a one shot villain, however.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Virgil doesn't react well to Rick coming out as gay, but gets over it after Freida calls him out on how he's handling it and he has a Heel Realization while reflecting on what Freida told him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Hotstreak is a racist who frequently calls Static a "monkey" and is even revealed to be affiliated with a white supremacist group called the Sons of Odin during the "What Are Little Boys Made Of" arc, where he's shown to be homophobic as well and calls Static the N-word. In Milestone Forever, where he changes his codename to Firewheel, he goes full Neo-Nazi by speaking negatively of Jews as well as gay people and black people.
    • Commando X is a terrorist with the power to turn whatever he touches into explosives who wants to kill everyone who isn't black.
    • The "What Are Little Boys Made Of" arc, in addition to raising the Sons of Odins into prominence, begins with Rick Stone being beaten by some punks for being gay. When Static shows up to fight the crooks, they have the nerve to call him the N-word.
  • The Power of Blood: Doctor Kilgore, an immoral hospital physician injects himself with Virgil's metahuman blood, and gains the power to project energy blasts. He obviously wants more of Virgil's blood.
  • Power Parasite: Prometheus, a villain who is especially dangerous because he drains Static's electricity, meaning he can't just blast him into submission.
  • Psychic Block Defense: He has a resistance toward mental intrusion. The Swarm was quickly forced out of his head after it attempted to invade his mind. And even the Anti Life Equation failed to permanently enslave him.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Holocaust was chiefly a Blood Syndicate villain, but Dakotaverse characters freely intermingled.
  • Secret Identity: Static's identity is kept secret from everyone except Frieda Goren.
  • Secret Identity Vocal Shift: Static's powers alter his voice to help conceal his identity.
  • Shock and Awe: Though rather than simply electricity, Static manipulates electromagnetism. He commonly dips into Lightning Can Do Anything, which makes sense, considering it is one of the four fundamental forces. With enough control and creativity, there isn't much the electromagnetic force can't do.
  • Shout-Out: As mentioned above, Static's namesake and original catchphrase is derived from James Brown's 1989 hit "Static".
  • Sky Surfing: He flies on objects like trash can lids and manhole covers. Though he eventually created his own personal flying disk.
  • The Social Darwinist: Holocaust has elements of this. His motto in life is "If you ain't taking, you're getting took," basically saying that if you don't abuse other people, then you will be abused.
  • Spider-Man Send-Up: Though his actual powers and design aren't especially similar, Dwayne McDuffie saw Static mainly as the Milestone universe's equivalent character: a clever, wisecracking teenager who has to face real problems, keep his identity concealed, and juggle his home life with his superhero life while operating in a big city.
  • Straw Feminist: The 18th issue has a female villain named Princess Nightmare, who attacks music stores and radio stations for distributing music she sees as degrading to women.
  • Super Hero: The Milestone poster boy.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: In Milestone Forever, Virgil has two children who inherit his powers.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Virgil either stops this, or on the rare occasion receives this.
  • Time Skip: Static's story in Milestone Forever is a ten year time skip from the end of his Milestone Series
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: One new 52 anti-villain turns out to be Static duplicated through a time-space portal thingy.
  • Trash Talk: Static appreciates good banter where he can get it from villains.
  • Unlucky Everydude: Virgil Hawkins.
  • Villain Team-Up: Again mimicking Spider Man, the Villains Prometheus, Dr Kilgore, the Botanist, the Swarm, Rubberband Man, and Jump team up to take out their collective grudge on Static in a very Sinister Six type fashion.
  • Volleying Insults: Virgil and Sharon constantly insult one another. Milestone Forever shows that they'll continue this in adulthood, but more as a way of showing affection and to demonstrate that they're still young at heart.
  • Wake Up, Go to School & Save the World: He's an otherwise ordinary student for much of his early career. However he does join the Titans later after the Countdown to Crisis arc.
  • We Can Rule Together: Holocaust thinks of himself as a Noble Demon and does this with every Bang Baby, Static several times.
  • White Gangbangers: Hotstreak is this, and he turns it up really thick with the hood lingo in the animated series.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Virgil and Frieda's friendship eventually developed into this after being Just Friends for the greater portion of the series.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Virgil loves to snark at his opponents.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: One of the theories behind the Quantum Vapor that empowered the Bang Babies of Dakota is that is seems to respond to subconscious thought and turns it into reality. Because most of the people at the Big Bang were gang members, Static assumes that many of them died because deep down, that is what they expected to happen. Which isn't unreasonable, considering that the event was meant to be the final showdown of all of the gangs in the city.