When Milestone media was producing the first generation of Milestone Comics in the early ’90s, the DC imprint was single-handedly fighting to change the face of mainstream comics with shows like Equipment, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static—Books that tell about the adventures of Black heroes and were created by diverse, predominantly black creative teams.
The passion that Milestone founders Dwayne McDuffie, Denys cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle had their craft reflected in their work, and this drew other creators like artists John Paul Leon, Robert Washington III and Christopher Williams (better known as ChrisCross) to the company where they worked together to bring the Dakotaverse to life on the page. While there were a lot of new comic book universes back then, what made Milestone’s books really stand out was that his stories tried to bring in some authentic elements of black life. and other colored people in comics in a way that centers their humanity and culture. as a matter of importance, rather than a dressing as is often the case in many mainstream comics.
It was 30 years since the original Static by McDuffie, Washington and Leon introduced the world to Virgil Hawkins, a teenage metahuman who earns a set of electric superpowers. Now, Static: Season 1-from writer Vita Ayala and artist Christopher Williams-brings the young hero and the greatest Dakotaverse back to DC Comics in a big and fresh way. When io9 met the team on the phone this week, they explained what kind of ideas and energy are fueling the new series and how, while this Virgil is somewhat different from his original incarnation, he was important to Ayala and Williams that the new book also honors the legacy of the OG Milestone.
For Williams, who was there during the original Milestone Heyday working on Static: Season 1was a surreal experience in large part because of the fact that so many of his peers – like McDuffie, whom he considered a mentor, and Leon, with whom he shared a friendly artistic rivalry – died within the years they were worked together. “It’s intimidating even when I’m doing layouts,” Williams described. “It’s intimidating doing this stuff because every time I put my finger on this page I’m transported back to 1993. It’s kinda weird to say to myself ‘no, no, it’s 2020. . It’s not this Virgil more, you must do this stuff now, ‘is a little weird.
Ayala echoed Williams’ feelings about the inability to create new Milestone stories that don’t reflect the legacy of the original, but they explained how their goal here has always been to achieve a modern Virgil who feels like a fully realized person. “What we’re trying to do instead of following up is trying to honor what [the Milestone originators’] the goals were, I think, ”Ayala said. “For me, what I’m trying to do is be as authentic as possible both for the character and for the moment, and I think that’s the only way for the unmoved center not to crush me to dust. “
One of the biggest changes that fans of the original comics and the Static shock animated series you may notice the larger role the rest of the Hawkins family play in the story, and not just as people whose lives are threatened due to their connection to a young vigilante. Here Virgil’s family is very present, intact and supporting him, something Ayala said was important for them to be a part of the comics. “In my original conversations with Reggie [Hudlin]I was like, ‘Hey, I want to portray a black family that is together, and maybe not perfect, but unified in a way that I actually know for black families, ”Ayala said. “For me Virgil is clearly very loved and very supported even though he’s a little weird, and so I wanted to show that, well, you can be like that. through that kind of support.
The support and love Virgil feels from his family informs much of how he moves around the world in Static: Season 1the first number that follows, as he and a number of the lives of his peers are forever changed by the Big Bang, the event that leads to the creation of the metahuman population of Dakota. In this tale of history, the Big Bang passes through an all-too-familiar police brutality targeting socially conscious young people who stand up for social justice and the recognition of the simple truth that black lives do, in fact, do. matter.
In Static: Season 1tackles the Big Bang, says Williams you will see how, in times of social unrest and turmoil, one of the most dangerous things is the way people in positions of authority insist on denying the facts of reality. “A lot of people are against [Black Lives Matter], see what’s going on with the country in regards to voter registration, voter rights and things like that, ”Williams said, speaking of the parallels between our reality and Static: Season 1. “People do things in front of you and say, ‘It didn’t really happen. We didn’t really just do that, ”and you’re supposed to accept that, and I guess in this situation you have what’s going on in this book. You just saw a kid explode, and basically turn into a deer and run away, but, ‘You haven’t really seen that. You got to let it go, don’t even talk about it.
Both in its civil identity and as a Static, neither silence nor complacency is really an option for Virgil, someone who firmly believes he has an obligation to protect the community that has done so. What will be interesting to see like Static: Season 1 kicks off this new chapter of Milestone, this is how this bond comes to shape the story of Dakota and Virgil, his Static becomes Dakota’s greatest new hero.
Static: Season 1 in stores on June 15. Stay tuned to io9 for more next week.
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