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    Review: Static Shock #8

    By | April 5th, 2012
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    This week marks the first week of final issues in the DCnU, with “O.M.A.C.,” “Hawk and Dove,” and “Static Shock” all wrapping up their 8 issue runs. How does the ambassador of the Milestone Universe fare in his final issue?

    Written by Marc Bernadin
    Illustrated by Scott McDaniel

    Static has faced some of the most merciless and deadly villains that both New York City and Dakota City have to offer, but now he finds himself face-to-face with a woman who holds his future in her hands and has the power to destroy it: the school psychologist! In one conversation that covers his new life in NYC and the life he left behind, we’ll get new insights into what makes Virgil Hawkins tick. And maybe Virgil hasn’t been as careful at hiding his secret identity as he thought.

    When the cancellation of this book was announced, fellow Multivert David Harper and I did an article about the cancellations, and my thoughts then are still pretty much how I feel now: I think people are going to be more disappointed at the fact that there won’t be a Static book than upset that this current run is going away.

    This book has been a pretty consistently low seller, and fan excitement hasn’t exactly made the book even a cult favorite. DC really missed the mark by not setting this book as a priority, as it seems like the character fits so many of their needs: existing fan base, racially diverse, young, and with some mainstream recognition, due to its 4 year run as a cartoon on the WB in the early aughts. But instead, the book had creative issues from day one (well documented elsewhere), and there was very little push from DC, at least from where I’m sitting, to make this book anything more than a third string book.

    But all of that is relatively moot at this point; the book is already cancelled, and plans for the character are undecided (although a cameo in “Teen Titans” a few months ago was probably a not so subtle hint as to where he’s headed), so all that is left to do is to see how well the series wrapped up. To which I can say: meh.

    There are nice elements to this issue, and they speak to the strength of Static as a character. We see him being compassionate and rational with someone trying to destroy the city, we see him stick up for the underdog and get a shot in at the bullies, and then…we get to see 11 pages of exposition and flashbacks. Much like on The Sopranos, Static gets to let us in on his inner thoughts on a psychiatrist’s coach. And unlike The Sopranos, the confessions aren’t exactly revelatory.

    This 18 page comic (thanks, DC!) has 11 pages of Static talking about his origin, which is a really weird way to end the series. It isn’t as if his origin was this big mystery, and this issue was accompanied by the sound of 20,000 jaws dropping when they realized who he really was; this was just a recap of his story. Maybe an issue like this in the first 3 or 4 would have helped bolster sales and bring some new readers on board or, maybe, this was totally unnecessary. Especially because in the context of this issue, he’s not letting on to the therapist that he is a hero, so everything is under-exaggerated or glossed over, so this woman must think he’s either a huge liar or the world’s most boring teenager.

    Marc Bernadin, brought in early on to try and right this sinking ship, doesn’t really show too much here in terms of where he would have taken the story. I know people disagree with me over this, but the way that James Robinson wrapped up his “Justice League of America” pre-‘Flashpoint’ was the perfect nod to the past while talking about the future. And Robinson did that knowing that the universe was being rebooted five seconds later; something like that in “Static Shock” could be used to plant seeds for wherever he turns up next or his inevitable mini/ongoing in the next 5 years. But no, Bernadin is content to just let the character recap his past and then go hang out with his friends.

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    Scott McDaniel’s art here is the definition of uneven; for every really nice panel, there is one that looks tossed off in between The Price is Right commercials. I know his work has improved (he was once quite reviled), but he doesn’t really do much in this book to justify purchasing it. This is true of both McDaniel and Bernadin – I think both could have, under the right circumstances, created a Static book worth buying, but this isn’t that book. And I have no idea why DC didn’t try and create that book.

    So, until next time Static, take care. Next time DC tries its hand at reviving you, let’s hope it is given to someone who will shake things up, tell good stories, and honor the memory of your creator, Dwayne McDuffie, without being so beholden to the party line that boring stories are all that emerge. That isn’t how McDuffie wrote, and it isn’t how good comics are made.

    Final Verdict: 3.8 – Pass

    Brian Salvatore

    Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).