Welcome back Virgil. We’ve missed ya.
Milestone Comics/ Milestone Media has had a huge impact on my writing career. When I first opened up the pages of Icon #1, Static #1, Blood Syndicate #1, and Hardware #1, back in the early ’90s my childlike mind was exposed to magnificent levels of comic book storytelling, and relevant tales that tackled some of the hardest-hitting issues of the day. It was like the creative heads at Milestone Media had tapped into my desire to see black folks leading the charge in telling and appearing in comic book stories like these.
So, when the call came that Milestone Media was going to be relaunched a few years ago, I was hyped. To see this universe which meant so much to me creatively, and as a fan, brought back to life was huge. That day is finally here with the release of Static: Season 1.
And it’s pretty glorious.
This review is going to be a bit non-spoilery because my hope is that you pick up this relaunch/ reboot/ reimagining, whatever you want to call it. Vita Ayala (Script), ChrisCross (Layouts), Nikolas Draper-Ivey (Finishes/ Colors), and Andworld Design (Letters) all bring their A’ games in this new start of one of Milestone Media’s most popular characters. Let’s first talk about the story. Ayala has done an excellent job of bringing Virgil’s story forward for current audiences, and old heads like me (at the ripe old age of 39) who’ve loved the character from his introduction in 1993.
For instance, placing Virgil’s origin against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t seem forced, or unnecessary. It’s needed. Couching the origin of this hero with one of the most preeminent and timely issues of this era is what Milestone Media has always been about. It’s not done in a ham-fisted way that will turn readers away from the book. If anything, it provides a bridge of relatability for teens and adults who are delving into the Milestone universe for the first time.
The tone of the issue stands out, in that this first issue isn’t such a happy go lucky affair. Virgil seems almost haunted by his abilities, trying his best to find some sense of control over them when around family and friends. The Hawkins family have taken a “hit” so to speak as they try to find a way to deal with Virgil’s new abilities (please take note of the awesome storytelling on display with a set of two page spreads). To add to all of this, there’s Virgil trying to find a way to deal with a superpowered bully.
This doesn’t make the issue a down and gloomy one at all. What I feel Ayala does so masterfully here is give some perspective of how something like this might actually go down. You see the effects which this change is having on Virgil and everyone (his family in this case) around him. It’s as if the trauma of the Big Bang has begotten more trauma. As black people, the generational trauma of just existing in the United States is ever-present, even in the Milestone Media universe. Ayala does a superb job of showing that eventually, Virgil will rise to become the hero that we all know and love. Unfortunately, there are going to be some bumps on the road ahead.
Now let’s talk about art. I need ChrisCross and Nikolas Draper-Ivey to collab more because I’m loving what we’re getting. The finishes and colors of Draper-Ivey combined with ChrisCross’s layouts combine to create this anime/manga-inspired vibe that pops off of the pages. The hair texture of different characters, the explosive bouts of superpowered abilities, the silent moments where folks are just eating dinner. It all just works.
I feel that a series like this can work wonders with bridging the gap between anime/ manga fans who might not have given Western superhero comics a shot. That’s how big of an effect the artwork in this series has had on me, and I look forward to more. The lettering by Andworld Design is superb, giving each character and scene their own voice.
All in all, I think that the relaunch of Milestone Media is off to a great start with Static: Season One #1. I’m ready to see Virgil’s rise to become the hero that we all know and love.
Robert Jeffrey II is a freelance writer with over 15 years of experience and is a graduate of the 2017 DC Comics New Talent Writers Workshop. His clients include DC Comics, 133Art, Subsume Media, Blowfish Studios, New Agenda Publishing, and Son of Oak Game Studio. He is the writer/ creator of Route 3, and Mine to Avenge: The Book of Layla. He is the series writer of Changa & the Jade Obelisk, RET: CON, The Autumn Fox Chronicles (co-writer), and Soul Nebula: The Consulars. He has contributed to the Kamikaze: Short Circuits (comic book) Dark Universe (prose fiction), and Eight Gunshots (prose fiction) anthologies.