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Static Shock will return to DC Comics in 2021

DC Comics revives Milestone Comics as a new imprint

Static/Vergil Hawkins flies through a city in a yellow and blue costume, on top of a hexagonal metal glider, in Static Shock #1, DC Comics (2011). Image: Scott McDaniel, John Rozum/DC Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

DC Comics has announced the return of the superhero Static and his hometown of Dakota City in a surprise panel at DC FanDome. The stories of Milestone Comics characters — including Static and Icon — will continue in 2021.

DC publisher Jim Lee, Milestone Comics co-founder and artist Denys Cowan (Black Panther/Captain America: Flags of Our Fathers), writer/filmmaker Reggie Hudlin (writer on the 2005 Black Panther series, producer on Django Unchained, director of House Party), and voice actor Phil Lamarr (Static Shock, Samurai Jack) took to Zoom to pay tribute to the late, great writer Dwayne McDuffie. While they were at it, they announced the return of McDuffie’s most famous Milestone creations.

A new digital Static comic will kick off in February 2021, just in time for Black History Month. The FanDome panel also announced an original Static graphic novel from Hudlin and artist Kyle Baker (Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth), and a new comic for superhero duo Icon and Rocket, written by Hudlin and drawn by Cowan. Hudlin said that Milestone Media is looking to bring even more Milestone characters to film, animation, and even podcasts.

What is Milestone Comics?

In 1993, at the height of the speculator boom and just before its bust, McDuffie, Cowan, and a few other notable Black comics creators founded Milestone Media, a publishing house with the mandate to address the underrepresentation of racial minorities in superhero comics. While not originally a part of the DC Universe, Milestone’s books were published and distributed by DC Comics.

By far the most famous characters in Milestone’s Dakotaverse were Dwayne McDuffie co-creations, especially the young Black superhero known as Static. An animated series starring the character ran for over fifty episodes, from 2000 to 2004. Static Shock hooked an entire generation of kids on the adventures of Virgil Hawkins, who could shoot lightning from his hands, fly through the air on an electrified trash can lid, and occasionally got to cross over with Batman and other cool stuff like that.

The cover of Icon #1 features Icon, a Black male superhero in a red costume with a voluminous green cape, and Rocket, a younger Black teen girl in a futuristic getup with a red jacket over it. Milestone Comics (1993).
The cover of 1993’s Icon #1.
Image: Denys Cowan, Jimmy Palmiotti/Milestone Comics

Icon and Rocket are less well known outside of comics, but still held in high regard. The former is an alien who has been quietly living among humans for over a hundred years, the latter a teen girl who convinces him that he must use his powers to become a superhero. A powerful alien given the form of a Black man in America, Icon is often read as a commentary on Superman.

Milestone characters crossed over with DC ones in the 1990s, and were brought into DC continuity itself in the late ’00s. A Static Shock comic series launched with DC’s 2011 New 52 reboot, but was cancelled after eight issues.

Hudlin and Cowan — along with Derek Dingle, another Milestone co-founder — attempted to relaunch Milestone Media just a few years ago, with the intention of publishing an imprint under DC Comics starting in 2018. The attempt was halted by a lawsuit from Dwayne McDuffie’s widow, Charlotte Fullerton, who had inherited his 50% stake in Milestone Media and alleged she was being shut out of this new venture. The suit was settled in 2019, and now that Milestone has the go ahead, it seems like the imprint is very well going ahead.