Back in the 90s, Milestone Comics pioneered many stories highlighting characters of color with stories that were edgy and socially relevant, filling in a void that was missing in mainstream comic books at the time. The Milestone universe was also expanded on and filled up with a huge roster of talent, from writers to artists, editors, etc. A few years ago, Milestone Comics would eventually come back, rebooting some of the most popular series under a mix of new and old creative teams to much excitement from fans.
So now we have the Milestone Initiative, a program where head honchos Denys Cowan and Reginald Hudlin selected from a submission period 24 fresh comic creators, from writers to artists, to help mold and bring more adventures from the new Milestone universe. In New Talent Showcase: The Milestone Initiative #1, the writers pitched their short stories and then were paired up with an artist and team. What we got were 12 stories of various backgrounds (filling up 100 pages for just $3.99), centering on different characters, different styles, and an overall solid read.
We are presented with the usual names of Milestone characters: Icon, Hardware. Rocket, and of course, Static. But there are also stories focusing on lesser-known characters such as Aquamarina and Fade, both stories which serve as standouts among the bunch. In “Blood in the Water,” Writer Cheryl Lynn Eaton focuses on a hydrokinetic young woman who attempts to free kidnapped women from a ship filled with armed smugglers. Artist Atagun Ilhan seems to be the perfect fit in helping illustrate the hero’s fluidity and movement as she swims through the air. Rounding out the team are Wade Von Grawbadger on inks and colors by Bryan Valenza. “Every World Fades,” by Zipporah Smith and Lucas Silveria, is a love story centering on reality and dimension hopping, Fade trying to save his boyfriend, Mike, from an unfortunate death. But is Mike’s death meant to be in every reality Fade visits? Rounding out the creative team are inker John Livesay and colorist Alex Gumarães.
“Ablution” by Greg Burnham and Marcus Smith, with Robert Poggi on inks and Luis Guerrero on colors, is another standout. Quite simple, and short, but filled with nuances, we see a backstory of Icon and who may seem to be his first love, Jackie. A Black woman in 1863 who finds Icon (then simply Augustus) after an attack from white attackers leaves him wounded and teaches him holistic practices as well as reading. We watch their love and relationship blossom, but there is a sad and unfortunate reality they must face concerning Icon’s powers.
“Makings of You” was one that took me by surprise and was a reminder of why I love the medium. While personally, I’m overseeing stories of African spirituality – especially Vodou – being used as the source of bad guys when it is presented in these types of stories, I found myself quickly taken aback and gleefully surprised when the creative team by Jarrod Pratt and art by Daimon Hampton blended Vodou, magic, and technology to target Hardware in this particular story. My enjoyment of this story went even further when the story started to get a bit meta and unexpectedly jumped into parts of the first issue of Hardware… without spoiling it too much, you have to read this to see it!
Jordan Clark’s “Family Values,” with art by Miguel C. Hernandez, Jose Marza Jr. on inks, and Andrew Dalhouse on colors, is an extremely touching and sentimental piece covering Virgil Hawkins, aka Static, growing up and being raised by his family and how they instilled the great hero, we get today. Such a beautiful story that tugged at my heart at the very end and stands as the best of the Static stories here.
The book concludes with a surprise character I wasn’t expecting to see: Ebon in “My Brother’s Keeper.” One of the fan-favorite villains from the animated Static Shock animated series and was just brought into the Static comic canon in the recent Static arc Shadows of Dakota, Ebon stalks through a government prison facility with a supernatural monster in search of his brother, a current Bang Baby prison. How the team (writer Dorado Quick, artist Charles Stewart III, inker Dexter Vines, and Colorist Nick Filardi) present this story is a sight to behold. Although there is some strong and striking imagery, there are some spots I felt could have really pushed boundaries and made this story even scarier.
Like most anthologies, there are entries that are stronger than others, but regardless, there is something here for everyone, depending on your taste. This is a solid book well deserving of your purchase and attention and a beautiful way of being introduced not only to fun characters that Milestone Media holds but fresh talent you may not be aware of. A bravo to a great book! Bring on the new Milestone showcase!
Special shout out to the Andworld lettering team!
8 out of 10
Greg Anderson Elysée is a Brooklyn-born Haitian-American writer, educator, filmmaker, personal trainer, and model. Elysée previously wrote for theOuthousers.com, where he ran his own column, (Heard It Thru) The Griotvine, showcasing independent creators of color and LGBTQ creators, as well as writing for Bleeding Cool.
Elysée’s original comic series “Is’nana the Were-Spider” is a seven-time Glyph Award Winner.
His other work includes “Akim Aliu: Dreamer: Growing Up Black in the World of Hockey,” published by Scholastic Inc. and Kaepernick Publishing, “OneNation: Stronghold,” published by 133art Publishing, “I Dream of Home” in the Lion Forge graphic novel collection and Eisner Award-winning “Puerto Rico Strong,” and “Tyrone and Jamal” in the GLAAD Award-winning “Young Men in Love.” He lives in Brooklyn.