After Marvel seemingly vacated the cartoon space in the 90s, DC continued to dominate with shows like Justice League and original content such Batman Beyond. Not content with adapting or evolving established characters, Warner Bros. dug deep for their next animation, Static Shock. Co-creator Dwayne McDuffie was able to bring his character to life. If one thing was clear with every episode, it was his love of this character.
Static Shock is straight forward superhero action, folded into the Timmverse (the rest of DC’s shows at the time). 14-year-old Virgil Hawkins was recruited to join a gang. Though hesitant, he went to a game fight. The brawl, held in a restricted area, was broken up by the police. A stray bullet released toxic gas that mutated many present, with those affected developing superpowers. Virgil gained control over electromagnetism, able to absorb, create, and generate it. The event became known as “The Big Bang,” with those effected called “Bang Babies.” The Bang Babies most became villains, with Virgil adopting the moniker Static, foiling their plans and defending Dakota City.
Static, based on the DC imprint Milestone Comics character, is based on Spider-Man, a teenage every-man. The archetype is apparent, the show brimming with personality. Heroes are only as good as their supporting cast. Static has a strong one; his father Robert Hawkins (Kevin Michael Richardson), his sister Sharon Hawkins (Michele Morgan), Richard Foley/Gear (Jason Marsden), villains Hotstreak, Boom, Chainlink, Rubberband Man, and more. Solidifying the cast was frequent appearances from the Justice League. Batman, Robin, Joker, Superman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), and in a time travel episode, Batman Beyond. Better still was Static’s cameo on Justice League Unlimited in quite possibly the series best episode, “The Once and Future Thing.” Meeting John Stewart was a fun meta experience with Phil LaMarr voicing both characters.
The show, debuting in 2000, ran for four seasons, hitting a total of 52 episodes. Warner Brothers, and specifically, Dwayne McDuffie, put a lot of heart into this show. It’s obvious from the carefully crafted pathos, excellent design, and frequent appearances from the Justice League. Sadly, after the show was cancelled, Static’s languished in obscurity. Their was a brief resurgence when the New 52 launched, with Static being one of the 52 titles at launch. Unfortunately it was cancelled after 8 issues. Static was in the Young Justice show in the second season.
Static Shock was a fun, albeit younger skewing show. It fit in wonderfully with the rest of DC’s animated catalog. However, the series seems to be forgotten by Warner Bros. as it’s the only show from the lineup without a DVD release (that six episode disc doesn’t count). While not essential to the Timmverse, it’s a fun addition, and worth watching for fans (on YouTube).
Miss Static Shock? Miss Dwayne McDuffie (R.I.P. sir)? Comment below!
In addition to THN’s Saturday Morning Cartoons and Nerd at the Movies, Tony writes for his own site, thecredhulk.com, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ‘em hi.
“Superhero Static Shock.”