Static Shock #1 review

I’ve not read many comics with Static in them, just a handful of Teen Titans. Obviously a good kid, electrical powers, seems to use them to manipulate a flying disc. So here’s a chance for me to be pretty much the fresh reader whom the New 52 books hope to grab.

Consider me ungrabbed.

In shutting down a plasma-powered guy, Static annoys cranky, ungrateful New Yorkers. He’s working with the hero Hardware to investigate ‘crazy, suspicious stuff’ at research facility S.T.A.R. Labs. Annoyed by his interference, criminals known as the Slate Gang order his death at the hands of a big green energy chap, Virule. Away from the costumed capers, Static – aka Virgil Hawkins – settles into his new Harlem home with his genial parents and sister.

Doesn’t sound bad? Maybe it isn’t, but on the basis of this issue, it isn’t for me. My problem is the storytelling. The book opens on action, with Static pursuing the plasma guy, someone he refers to as Sunspot, as if he’s an established super-villain. It turns out he’s only just stolen the tech suit from S.T.A.R Labs, at the behest of the Slate Gang. There’s no decent establishing shot of  the grunting, uncompelling ‘Sunspot’, all we get is a crackly ball with a vaguely human shape inside.

Later in the book, Static is suddenly talking to Hardware. No greeting, no introductions, we’re evidently meant to know who the hologram fella is. He gives Static some kind of gift, which Static reckons is the best thing ever, but what it is, isn’t clear – it seems to be a GPS system that superimposes outlines on skyscrapers.

Static asks Hardware why everyone at Wright’s Tools, where he has a secret HQ, is wary of him, something we don’t see. Virgil tells us he’s had a rotten day at school, but we aren’t shown that either. There’s no look at Virgil interning at S.T.A.R. Labs. Experts there are apparently involved with Virgil’s sister, but what that’s about, I’ve no idea. And Hardware has problems in Dakota, but they’re a mystery too. I realise that the kid has a busy life, that mysteries and future storylines have to be set up, and you can fit just so much into 20 pages, but this being the case, why not hang fire on mentioning certain things until they can come up naturally?

The Slate Gang look to be crooked public servants running a bunch of colourfully clad flying scooter riders, but we’re given neither codenames nor specialities. Visually, they’re as imposing as cardboard goldfish. Virule looks scarier, as does someone called the Piranha, but we’re not told what these guys can do either. Does the Piranha eat people? Is Virule virulently virile? Too many villains, not enough information.

And what’s this guy doing in the background? No one so much as acknowledges his presence.

Something bad happens to Static on the last page, but the image is so busy I didn’t notice at first.

Again and again, I found this debut issue frustrating. Normally I’d assume a breakdown in communication between writer and artist, but in this case they’re the same person. Scott McDaniel is pencilling, and he’s also co-writing with John Rozum. And I think McDaniel is why I’m not getting along with this book – either his storytelling isn’t up to snuff, or I’m simply lacking when it comes to ‘reading’ his dynamic visuals. Like this one,  in which Sunspot electrocutes Static – or, at least, his coat.

And as McDaniel is a popular artist, I’m happy to accept that it’s not you, Scott, it’s me.

In which case, I can only thank this book for its attempts to entertain me, and wish it the very best. With 52 new monthlies from DC, there’s no way every book can please every person. I’m sure I’ll check in with it again – I like Virgil, and the science facts dropped in are fun – but meanwhile, I’m out.

6 thoughts on “Static Shock #1 review

  1. Before the reboot, I wasn't a huge fan of the “teen” books, minus Supergirl. Teen Titans never excited me, nor did the other books featuring the younger generation of heroes. I illegally read the first issue of static shock before checking out at my local comic book store and I agree with your assessment, the story just isn't for me. thus, I didn't purchase it to add to my collection of new #1's. This book is definitely designed for the younger crowd of NEW readers DC is trying to grab.

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  2. Yeah, I have to say this one isn't for me, either. Hope lots of other people like it — I would love for Static to be a successful, central character in the DCU — but this didn't win me over.

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  3. If you knew Static's background from his origin in Milestone comics, then you'd know Hardware was another hero who had his own comic book and I guess was Milestone's version of Iron Man.
    In any case it seemed Static was probably the most popular character from that company, probably due to a pretty solid cartoon series that eventually started transitioning to the DC universe with cameos from Batman, Superman and the Justice League. I believe he even went to the future to help out Batman from Batman Beyond.
    In any case being a fan of the cartoon series, DC's treatment of Static since formerly integrating him into the universe has been less than riveting and this issue is no exception. I was hoping for much more from this series but I think issue 1# has eliminated it from future purchases for me.

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  4. Cheers for the recap, TO, I remember Hardware from his appearances in Justice League and Brave and Bold comics, but was never intrigued enough to look him up … I'm not big on heroes in metal suits!

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