New 52 Review: Static Shock #1

Virgil Hawkins is back and bad-ass, and it's time for the kid to pick up some new fans.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Static Shock #1

One of the upsides of the New 52 is that a guy like me – who never watched the Static Shock cartoon or ever really knew anything about Static Shock and, in fact, recently discovered that the name 'Static Shock' only reminds me of "State of Shock" by Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger – can be a lot more inclined to check out a character I've heard nothing but cool things about.  Now that I've made you associate that song with Static Shock, it might be important to note that Virgil Hawkins, the high school genius kid who stars in Static Shock #1, would probably hate that song.  It's so old.  It came out a decade before he was born.

Then again, Virgil appears to be the kind of kid who was a nerd all his life and only recently realized he would really rather be cool, and he's doing his damnedest to do it.  While he may not succeed so much in his everyday life what with his egghead after-school job at S.T.A.R. Labs and all, it's hard not to feel cool when you've got a neat little flying platform thing, kick-ass electrical powers and the know-how to apply them to stop runaway science accidents and save people from harm… although not enough to save them some serious inconvenience, which means he's prone to getting attitude instead of gratitude.

Having expected some kind of rehashed origin story so new guys like me could get up to speed on just how Virgil became Static, it turns out that Scott McDaniel and John Rozum aren't bothering with that.  We're just dropped right into his status quo, and it turns out that the origin isn't particularly necessary after all, because it's damn fun.  What we do get is a real sense of who Virgil Hawkins is – and that's a brilliant kid who completely understands his powers and has all sorts of unique, creative and scientifically sound ways to use them.  He's also just an average teenager with a good family who wants to be popular and cool and seems to be failing at it, which is why he has so much fun when he's wearing the flashy duds and flying around town.

His enemies seem to be equally colorful and a bit more strange, including a weird alien lizard guy, a snippy evil-tech dealer conglomerate, a green-faced Kirby-esque brute named Virule and a rainbow colored hoverbike crew called the Slate Gang.  And, oddly enough, it looks like the Joker is in the background of one panel?  What the hell is that about?  It's hard to imagine an art error, since McDaniel is wring and penciling here, but as evidenced in Detective Comics #1, we don't know exactly what the hell's going on with the Joker these days.  The dialog would seem to indicate we're more likely to get an appearance from Hawkman before Batman.  By the way, McDaniel's art is a little inconsistent, and some of his faces are really off, but when he's on, it's pretty darn spiffy – while Static could run the risk of seeming dorky given his costume, McDaniel manages to keep him looking slick.

Everyone's always said that Static Shock was cool, and thanks to the New 52, I finally know why.  This book is energetic, upbeat, snazzy and engaging so far, and here's hoping it keeps up in the future.  Take advantage of the new #1s and hop on board this one, if you like good-time comics fun.