Sunday, June 19, 2011



WRITERS: Felicia D. Henderson; Matt Wayne
PENCILS: Denys Cowan; John Paul Leon
INKS: Rodney Ramos, Prentis Rollins, and John Stanisci; John Paul Leon
COLORIST: Lee Loughridge; Noelle Giddings
LETTERS: Dave Sharpe
PIN-UPS: Keron Grant, Jamal Igle with Guy Major, Eric Battle with John Kalisz, John Rozum, and Derec Donovan
TEXT: Michael Davis, Derek T. Dingle
COVER: J.H. Williams, III
44pp, Color, $2.99 U.S.

Released to comic book shops about two weeks ago, Static Shock Special 1 (cover dated August 2011) is more than just another comic book featuring the most popular Milestone Comics character, Static. Static Shock Special (hopefully the first of many Milestone specials) is also a memorial to Dwayne McDuffie.

McDuffie, a longtime comic book writer for DC Comics and Marvel Comics (where he was also an editor), died earlier this year in February. McDuffie’s death seems like a blow to diversity in comic books – meaning more African-American characters and creators, particularly writers. It was a heartrending loss to me, as I’d always hoped to one day work with McDuffie.

McDuffie, along with artist Denys Cowan, writers Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle, created Milestone Media and the Dakota Universe, a comics universe that included characters like Static, Hardware, Icon, and Blood Syndicate, among others. Milestone Media also created the Milestone comics imprint, which was published through DC Comics. Despite producing some good and, in some cases, brilliant comics, Milestone found the direct sales comics market hostile to it (for various reasons). Within four years, Milestone was no longer producing comic books. You can’t keep a great thing down, and Milestone Comics lives on with the Dakota Universe characters folded into the DC Universe proper.

Death and remembrance and legacy and legend are the prominent themes and ideas in Static Shock Special 1. The opening story is by Felicia D. Henderson (story) and Denys Cowan (pencil art). The issue begins with Virgil Ovid Hawkins AKA Static, waiting by the gates of River Green State Penitentiary. Virgil’s uncle, Teshomé Gabriel Hawkins (his father’s older brother), is being freed after spending a decade in prison for several murders that he did not commit.

As Teshomé tells his nephew, “A Black man’s never free,” so Static takes on an old prison rival who wants to kill Teshomé. His name is Blinder, a “bang baby” (someone who gained superpowers during the Big Bang event that gave Virgil his powers). It’s Static to the rescue, but even his powers can’t stop a tragic turn of events.

Also, Static and the young heroine, Rocket, join Dwayne McDuffie in a defiant memorial from writer Matt Wayne and artist John Paul Leon. It’s the best two-page comic I’ve read in a long time.

Felicia D. Henderson’s Static tale captures everything that made Static unique, fun to read, and socially relevant – from the social commentary (Teshomé’s plight and fate) to Static’s matchless superhero style. Denys Cowan remains a brilliant visual stylist and skillful comics storyteller. Here, Cowan captures the Kirbyesque energy of super-powered fights, the cool but simmering defiance of the hero, and the cold-bloodied injustice of the just-ice… I mean justice system. Henderson and Cowan left me wanting more.

You may find Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle’s text pieces informative, and they are. They suggest, however, that the best parts of the stories of Milestone Media and Dwayne McDuffie are yet to be told.


[This comic book contains a bonus comic insert, a tie-in with the movie Super 8. It is written by Peter Tomasi, drawn and colored by Tommy Lee Edwards, and lettered by John Workman, with a cover by Alex Ross.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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