The 1990's were an exciting time for comic books. The industry
had been dominated by two large companies (Marvel and DC) for decades,
but that was changing. In the early 90's a new upstart, Valiant,
was taking the comic world by storm, and soon other companies were started
and new 'universes' of super-heroes were born. Some were good, some
were bad, but one of the new groups that constantly put out quality comic
books was Milestone. Started by writerDwayne McDuffie, artist Denys
Cowan, along with a couple of people with experience in the business side
of publishing, Milestone concentrated on telling well crafted stories in
a small core group of loosely related comics. Alas, all good things
must come to an end, and so did the comic boom. The comic implosion
of the mid-to-late 90's was the death knell of the a lot of good
and creative titles and companies. With even comic juggernaut Marvel
fileing for bankruptcy protection, Milestone didn't stand a chance.
Virgil Hawkins is a fourteen year old living in the city of Dakota. He has most of the problems your average fourteen year old has, an annoying sister, a shyness around girls, and a bully who has been after him. But Virgil has a new set of problems when he meets a friend one night and finds himself in the middle of a gang war. The police raid the battle and one of their teargas grenades opens up a canister of toxic gas. The gas effects the gang members in different ways and Virgil finds himself getting sick and passes out.
The next day he awakens in his room, only to find out that he has superpowers. Virgil can now command electromagnetic radiation, allowing him to levitate and throw metal objects and shoot electric blasts out of his hands. He confides to his best friend, Richie, about his new found abilities, and his friend convinces him that he should turn into a superhero. With a costume fashioned out of clothes found in Richie's closet and a makeshift mask, Virgil Hawkins becomes Static!
Virgil wasn't the only one who was effected by the gas however. Many of the people at the gang war were given powers that night, and most of them aren't as civically minded as he is. Dubbed 'bang babies" but the media, these villains start turning up everywhere, and Static soon finds out that he has his work cut out for him. In addition to fighting a giant man-eating amoeba and a giant robot, Static finds out that his old bully is a bang baby too, he now has the ability to control fire as the super-villain Hotstreak,
This was a fun series overall, though not nearly as engaging as the comic. The villains were interesting and fun. I especially liked Rubberband Man, who can stretch his body like, well, a rubberband and turn himself into different objects. The stories were all stand alone tales, though there was a little continuity linking the episodes.
The animation did look a little jerky at times though. The battle scenes looked fine, but it looked like they were cutting corners in a few other places. When someone would run their movements weren't smooth, and it made them look unnatural.
Another problem I had with the show was that the street slang seems stilted as if it was being delivered people who thought a hood was the front of a car. It just didn't sound as easy flowing as it should, though I thought this got a little better as the series went on.
The show has some unrealistic elements that the comic avoided, that seemed to be thrown in for younger viewers. In one episode, Static makes a floating sign out of 'electricity' that says "Bad guys this way." He's also able to play a CD by spinning it on his finger. While my kids thought those were both cool things, they made me suspend my disbelief and every time that happened I'd start to question more things about the show.
While it isn't perfect, Static Shock is a fun superhero show. Virgil's attitude an quick banter made the show more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. This is a show that younger viewers will surely enjoy.
There is an English stereo track on this DVD as well as stereo dubs in Spanish and French. The sound was very good for a TV show. The explosions and fight scenes were fairly dynamic and there was some use made of the front soundstage. There wasn't any noticeable hiss or other common audio defects. There were also subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
This show looked pretty good. The fullscreen image was bright and clear, with nice looking colors and sharp lines. There was a little bit of aliasing, causing some curving lines to have a stair-step effect, but this was minimal. A nice looking show.
Extras included on is disc are:
Map of Dakota: A 2 ½ minute tour of the town Static Shock inhabits
Static's Gadgets: A four minute series of clips from the show that shows all of gear that Static uses.
Front Page Bios: A three minute look at the main characters in the series.
Static Shock: Bad Guy Beat Down: A game you can play with your remote. You are shown a short scene of a battle from the show, and then asked to pick which attack Static should use. There is no 'prize' for beating the game. (The guy who narrates this game would have made a great Static though.)
This was a show that my two sons really enjoyed. While I did like it, I thought some of the jokes were a little stale, and some of the animation was a little stilted. Other than that, it was a fun show. I liked the fact that Static would try to talk his way out of problems before using his powers, something that most animated heroes never think to do. This show is well worth checking out. Recommended.
If you enjoy the show, make sure you check out the comics. A trade paperback of some of the early issues is now in print.