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Static glides over a crowd on an electrified trash can lid on the cover of Static: Season One #1 (2021). Image: Khary Randolph, Emilio Lopez/DC Comics

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Static’s new creators on reimagining the superhero for the BLM generation

“How do you survive and keep that optimism and heroic nature?”

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If Static: Season One creators Vita Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey are daunted at all by the burden of expectations that come with the relaunch of a classic character, they certainly don’t show it. The first issue of the new series premieres today and features an all-new incarnation of the iconic Milestone superhero, one that reimagines Virgil Hawkins in a contemporary setting.

“I wanted to kind of take him and put him into our context,” Ayala told Polygon during a roundtable interview last weekend. “What does it mean to be that kind of character: slightly annoying, but in a cute way; a really, really smart black kid in 2021; how do you survive and keep that optimism and keep that kind of heroic nature?” For Ayala, the quality that defines Virgil’s heroism is his ability to see the havoc wrought in the wake of the Big Bang, be terrified by it, and nonetheless resolve to make things better for his community. “It’s not this higher order, I’m gonna save the Earth, it’s like, I’m gonna save my block. That was important to me, to bring that forward into the context of a more contemporary time.”

“We’re working very hard to give the fans something that is familiar,” said Draper-Ivey, colorist and character designer on the series, about the challenge of bringing Static to a new generation of comic readers. “But then there comes a point where you realize that you are telling a different story and doing your own thing, y’know, you’re not your predecessors. You have to have respect for them but in the end, ultimately, you have to try to make it your own. So I think that’s what we’re trying to focus on.”

Virgil broods over the consequence of his new powers in Static: Season One #1 (2021). Image: Vita Ayala, Chriscross, Nikolas Draper-Ivey/DC Comics

Static: Season One #1 picks up after the events of Milestone Returns #0, where Virgil witnessed a chemical warfare attack perpetrated by the Dakota Police Department against a Black Lives Matter protest, resulting in dozens of gruesome civilian deaths and triggering the metahuman-generating phenomenon known as the Big Bang. Following the aftermath of the Big Bang, Virgil struggles with the internal and external consequences wrought by the event, endowed with immense electromagnetic abilities and deeply shaken by the violence he saw firsthand.

“[What] I wanted to impart was that even if you survive a massive trauma or something happening in your community, it affects you,” Ayala told Polygon. “You cannot escape that; seeing those things. Even if Virgil had not gotten any superpowers from being there and seeing the things that he saw, it changed him. It changed [his family], even though he was the only one that was there. That’s the impact that these events have on our community.”

As far as affording Ayala and Draper-Ivey the creative space and freedom to explore these new dimensions of Virgil’s character, the pair says that working with members of the original Milestone creative team has been encouraging.

“It’s an incredibly supportive environment,” says Ayala. “I’ve been made to feel comfortable going, ‘Well actually, based on how you have set this up, I think this is probably what would happen.’ And all of the discussions that I’ve had with people, both in terms of people working on Static and also working on other books, have been incredible. It has been really, really incredible. I feel both like y’know, a fanboy and also as a peer. The discussions are very honest and supportive.”

Virgil and Hot Streak exchange blows in Static: Season One #1. Image: Vita Ayala, Chriscross, Nikolas Draper-Ivey/DC Comics

As far as whether Static: Season One should be considered a full-on reboot, or whether fan-favorite antagonists like the Blood Syndicate would be making an appearance down the line, Ayala was adamant that the focus of this new series would be on how this incarnation of Virgil matures into the hero that fans know Static to be.

“The goal of this first arc is to make him into Static,” says Ayala. “And that’s something that, you know, we usually see him when he’s figured out stuff already. I feel like they’ve given us a lot of freedom to play with the story and to do a lot of things that just feel right, based on our own sensibilities. So, I think that even if it’s not, you know, a strict reboot, or rather, even if we are going to incorporate things that have come before, if we do, it’ll be in completely new ways.”

Static: Season One is only the first in DC’s upcoming revitalization of the Milestone universe. Alongside Ayala and Draper-Ivey’s series, Icon and Rocket and Hardware, two pillars of the original Milestone lineup, are also receiving first new series since the ’90s. Writer Brandon Thomas and illustrators Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz are the creative team behind Hardware: Season One, available for digital purchase on August 15, while writers Reginald Hudlin and Leon Chills and illustrator Doug Braithwaite are in charge of Icon and Rocket: Season One, available for digital purchase on July 27.

Static Season One #1 is available to purchase in stores today.