Very shortly after Dwayne McDuffie passed away, DC Comics announced a special featuring Static. Thoughts and opinions on the announcement, the book, and the message DC was sending at that point were divided and quite pointed. Trying to find the best in everything, I gave DC the benefit of the doubt and chose to appreciate this comic as a tribute to McDuffie.
While I understand the intent of this book, I’m not impressed with the execution. The lead story featuring Static’s relationship with his uncle Teshomé is a thinly-veiled allegory to the passing of Static’s creator and seems thinly composed if that allegory is stripped out of the story. Felicia D. Henderson means well, seems to be trying to provide an artistic homage, and succinctly summarizes Static for newer readers. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t offer much to compel the reader to seek out more.
While it’s nice to see Cowan putting pictures on the page again, this issue is painfully inconsistent with a trio of inkers over a twenty page story. Some pages are overly cross-hatched, burdened by linework that threatens to overwhelm the panels. One scene in particular (when Teshomé is taken out of the car) is rather muddy and seems to lack some transitional panel(s). The overall story remains true, but the reader is expected to make a jump.
It’s a well-intentioned book, but I think it all may have come together just a little too quickly following the passing of McDuffie. Keeping in mind the production time required for a comic book, this issue may have forced its creators to plow through their catharsis instead of letting the process proceed organically. I’d like to see this team give it another go in a few months. I think that would encourage a more concrete story that offers character development and some more significant emotional investment.
The highlight of this issue, for me, comes in the form of a nice two-page story where Static and Rocket meet their maker, so to speak. Virgil and McDuffie are in a comic shop, with Virg doing all the talking, which then serves as a colloquial narration. It is a quick little story that has a point to make, makes it, and gets out of the way. It’s not groundbreaking material, but it is certainly memorable.
This special is rounded out with the requisite collection of pin-ups that make a Special. . . well, special. Those pin-ups are done by Keron Grant, Eric Battle and John Kalisz, Jamal Igle with Guy Major, John Rozum, and Derec Donovan. There are some wonderful pieces in that collection.
Fans of Static are certain to be pleased with this issue, but comic readers who happen across this book as their introduction to Static might not find this book climbing to the tops of their must-re-read lists. The Special means well, but just fails to serve as inspiration.