Static Shock is the Best Black SpiderMan

first_imgStay on target Sony recently released the first trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and it looks pretty dope! Along with being a stylish animated superhero film in a genre that’s mostly live-action, this movie swaps out Peter Parker for Miles Morales a.k.a. the Black/Puerto Rican Spider-Man. So naturally that got us thinking about Miles and how, despite his coolness, Static Shock is still our preferred Black Spider-Man. Maybe Into the Spider-Verse will be what finally changes our minds in 2018.Much to the dismay of certain online cretins, there’s been a big recent push from Marvel to diversify its lineup of legacy superheroes. Lady Thor, Lady Wolverine, Teen Black Girl Iron Man, Korean Hulk, Hispanic Ghost Rider, Muslim Ms. Marvel. Now is this also a stealth attempt to make sure these characters can continue on in the movies even after the high-paid actors call it quits? Who knows. But as far as side effects go, having characters that better represent how people look in the real world is a pretty good one.Arguably the most recognizable character from this initiative is Miles Morales, the Obama-inspired (or was it Donald Glover?) Black/Hispanic Spider-Man. Originally part of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Miles has now been folded into the new, mainstream Marvel continuity. And soon he’ll be swinging into movie theaters in an animated film. He’s a great character. The idea of a young New York nerd-turned-superhero is even more potent when applied to the changing (not white) face of today’s young nerds in New York and elsewhere. Even though Spider-Man Homecoming stars Peter Parker, the film smartly recognizes that most of the kids at Parker’s high school in modern-day Queens probably wouldn’t be white. Some have even accused the film of stealing Miles’s supporting cast for Parker.AdChoices广告However, as cool as Miles Morales is, for me at least, he can only be a Spider-Man, not the Spider-Man. I appreciate Black remixes of existing white characters and certainly wouldn’t say no to more of them, but I’ll always prefer new and original Black characters who can fully define their identities. Black Panther and Luke Cage are cooler than the Human Torch who happens to be Black. Storm and Misty Knight are cooler than Monica Rambeau as another Captain Marvel. Sam Wilson and John Henry Irons are cooler as Falcon and Steel than as Black Captain America and Black Superman. And as far as Black Spider-Men go, the best one isn’t Miles Morales. It’s Virgil “Static” Hawkins, star Static Shock.Static debuted in 1993 as a pillar of Milestone Comics, an independent DC imprint dedicated to creating and cultivating a new universe of Black superheroes. Other characters in the fictional city of Dakota included Black alien lawyer Icon and his teen girl sidekick Rocket, Afrofuturistic mech suit-wearer Hardware, and superpowered gang Blood Syndicate. One of Milestone’s co-founders was late, great writer Dwayne McDuffie. In addition to his masterful work within Milestone and the larger DC universe both in comics and cartoons (he’s the namesake of a diversity in comics award) McDuffie also enlightened us about the Tommy Westphall universe.The fact that they are perhaps the biggest stars of their respective universes is just the first of many similarities between Static and Spider-Man. Both are intelligent teen boys with a love of science and a lack of social skills outside of a few nerdy friends. After a freak accident grants them superpowers (control over electricity or “doing whatever a spider can”) they take to the streets as wisecracking superheroes, not sidekicks, but full-on superheroes. They both balance superhero duties with typical teen problems like school and family and work and romance. They both have intimate knowledge of their urban homes, from the ghetto to the swankiest laboratories. Spider-Man effortlessly swings between buildings while Static glides around on electrically charged manhole covers and garbage can lids.Over the years Static has gone from forgotten independent character to an established part of the DC universe. He’s part of the Injustice mobile game. The Static Shock cartoon from the mid-2000s introduced way more people to the character, and it’s part of the bulletproof DC Animated Universe. In that show, you can watch Static fight racism and a mind-controlled Batman. Static and other Milestone characters were also a part of Young Justice, so we might be seeing them again soon in the upcoming third season. Meanwhile, various continuity shake-ups have integrated the Milestone Universe into the mainline DC Comics universe. Last time I checked Static was a member of the Teen Titans, but a part-time one. Swinging in and out of superhero teams is a very Spider-Man thing to do.However, despite his Spidey similarities, Static is ultimately his own character with his own powers and supporting cast and universe. Spider-Man fighting petty thieves and mad scientists is different from Static fighting gangs and low-income housing residents mutated by “Big Bang” chemicals released by careless companies. Stan Lee said that part of the reason he gave Spider-Man a face-covering mask was so that any child could pretend it could be them under there. Miles Morales (and Spider-Gwen and Silk) makes it easier for more children to have that power fantasy, and that’s fantastic. But if someone says the definitive Spider-Man is the enduring, decades-old, famous white guy Peter Parker, they’re not necessarily wrong. They might be kind of lame, but they’re not wrong.That’s why, to me, Static is more appealing. It’s not just because I have an issue of Static #1 signed by McDuffie. Static is unambiguous. Blackness is fundamental to who the superhero is. A white Static would be a deviation from the norm as strange as a white Blade or white Cyborg or white Black Manta. He’s not literally Black Spider-Man. He’s more. Virgil “Static” Hawkins is the powerful core idea of Spider-Man taken in an exciting, new, Black direction. Watch These Movies Before ‘Don’t Let Go’‘Cannon Busters’ Is The Black Anime We’ve Been Waiting… last_img

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