Static is a fictional superhero created by Dwayne McDuffie, John Paul Leon, and Milestone Comics and published by DC Comics. He first appeared in Static #1 (April 1993), and was created by Dwayne McDuffie and John Paul Leon. He is perhaps best known as the protagonist of the animated series Static Shock (2000-04).
Creator Dwayne McDuffie's description "Like any other awkward 15 year-old, Virgil Hawkins worries about sex, pocket money, and getting beaten up. But recently, he's had even
more on his mind: stuff like his powers, his secret identity, and sex. Because, when innocents are in danger, and Virgil can slip away from class, the geeky youth becomes Static, the dashing, adventurous superhero!
An African American, Static was a key character of Milestone Comics, an independently-owned imprint of DC Comics specializing in minority heroes. Milestone folded in 1997 but Static was saved from obscurity by the WB animated series Static Shock, which aired for four seasons and led to the 2001 comic book miniseries Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool.
Static's civilian identity was named after the first African-American to go to law school, who was himself named after the Roman poets Virgil and Ovid.
The character was introduced in one of the first four titles of comic books published by Milestone in 1993, created by Derek T. Dingel, Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, and Michael Davis. His early adventures were written by Robert L. Washington and McDuffie, and penciled by John Paul Leon.
Virgil Hawkins was fifteen years old when he became Static. In the comics, Virgil's family consists of his father, who works at Paris Island Hospital; his mother; and his sister, Sharon. Virgil attends Ernest Hemingway High School in the city of Dakota with his friends: Frieda Goren, Richard "Rick" Stone, Larry Wade, Chuck, Felix, and Daisy Watkins. In the guise of Static, Virgil eventually rescues Rick Stone from gay bashing.
At the San Diego Comic Con 2008, it was announced that Static would be joining the mainstream DC Universe where he will join the Teen Titans. Dwayne McDuffie will be handling the transition.
Fictional character biography
Doused with an experimental chemical in a gang
war he was caught up in, high school
student Virgil Ovid Hawkins
gained a variety of electromagnetic
powers and becomes a costumed crusader against inner city crime. Like most teen aged heroes in the Spider-Man
mold, he is often overwhelmed by the combined responsibilities of his career as a superhero and typical adolescent problems.
Virgil first gained his electromagnetic powers at a huge showdown between the gangs of the city, when he hoped to get revenge on a gang banger who had been bullying him. The authorities arrive and release tear gas with what they believe to be a harmless radioactive marker so that any gang bangers would not escape arrest. The cops do not know the marker had been further spiked with an experimental mutagen called Quantum Juice (Q-Juice). This event ultimately came to be known as the so-called "Big Bang." Those who were exposed came to be referred to as "Bang Babies" because the Big Bang was their metahuman birth.
Virgil was exposed to the gas. When the agency behind the experiment tried to capture him, he fights back, discovering that he has gained the ability to generate, manipulate, and control electromagnetism. Virgil names himself "Static" and, armed with his wits and powers, became a superhero. For the most part, Virgil keeps his secret from his family, but his friend, Frieda Goren, learns his identity when he attempts to protect her from becoming a prize in a small skirmish between gangs.
Virgil has had a romantic interest in his friend Frieda Goren but she was already involved with Larry Wade. He has feelings for a girl named Daisy Watkins, but his 'responsibilities' as Static interfere with their dates too many times and Daisy calls their relationship off. In Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool, Virgil is involved with a girl called Madison, but Frieda ends up fighting with her over him.
Static has had confrontations with numerous Bang-Babies and other super powered adversaries: Francis Stone/Hot-Streak, Tarmack, Leonard Smalls/Holocaust/Pyre, Commando X, Puff, Coil, Snakefingers, Fred Benson/Rift, The Swarm, Dr. Kilgore, The Rubber-Band Man, Brat-atat-tat, Prometheus, Run, Jump & Burn, Boom Box, Powerfist, Laserjet etc. Other Bang-Babies that Static has encountered include: Virus, Damon Briggs/D-Struct, and Hyacinth.
Close Friends And Not
One of Virgil's closest friends is Richard Stone. When Richard announces he is gay, Virgil doesn't take it well.
The danger that Virgil's friends had forgotten him over came from the self-called Princess Nightmare, Empress Of 10,000 Screaming Worlds Of Terror. She is capable of casting horrific illusions. She tells of a hatred of all men and the desire, as a first step, to see misogynistic music eradicated. It turns out that she simply stole a virtual reality projector that she and her husband had developed. He left her and took the designs to Edwin Alva, a criminal businessman.
Later in the comic line, Static is aided by allies: the Shadow Cabinet, the Blood Syndicate, and DCPD officer Captain Summers, who has a big interest in police cases involving Bang-Babies. Static teams up with Page, the sidekick to Kobalt, in order to stop a maddened Bang-Baby who had become half-fly. Static takes a moment to scold Page, who, in his opinion, seems more concerned with making excuses over their initial meetup then what was more important, stopping the danger.
Static ends up joining the unofficial group called Heroes. Multiple superheros come together to protect the town of Iberia from a dam break. Many innocent citizens perish, but the heroes are still recognized for their efforts in saving the survivors and doing what they could. Static appears among the group, quips "You started the X-Men without me" and talks his way onto the team. Minutes later the Shadow Cabinet, now corrupt, sends a death squad after a few of his newfound friends.
Powers and abilities
Static's powers are all related to electromagnetic
phenomena, particularly as manifested by electricity - Static's powers are best described as Super-Conductor Electromagnitism
(like the floating trains
which are suspended by Super-Conductor
Electromagnitism). Due to the wide ranges that Static has (see Electromagnetic Spectrum
), Static's electromagnetic powers behave with a range of frequencies, abilities, and power levels. For example: Static's main weakness in confrontations with other Meta-Humans' and Bang-Babies', is water; if Static is hit by a large body of water, his powers can short out, especially if he's charged up (Winds of Change
, Bad Stretch
, and Attack of the Living Brain Puppets
). However, he can fly in the rain (Brother-Sister Act
As already mentioned, Static's powers center around electromagnetism; while Static's powers make him apart of the Earth's electromagnetic field, he is also generating and storing his own electromagnetic energy. Virgil/Static is generating an Electromagnetic field of his own just like the Earth & the sun generate their own Electromagnetic fields - and the size of Virgil's/Static's electromagnetic field would dictate the area, range and distance that his power can have effect/manipulate.
Notably, in the episode Sunspots, sunspot activity on the Sun was effecting the ebb & flow of power passing through-out the Electromagnetic fields in the solar system "affecting microwaves, radiowaves, and even certain electromagnetic devices here on earth." This included Virgil/Static's powers and his ability to use them in situations; first they substantially increased in power & intensity becoming very hard to control or not running out and later decreased so badly that all Virgil/Static could do with his power was cause sparks between his fingers - effectively putting him on the proverbial bench. When Hot-Streak went on a rampage, surrounding the Dakota Union High School in a high wall of flames, Virgil/Static confronted Hot-Streak with Zap-Caps (Mark 1). Hot-Streak gave chase ending up on top of a building rooftop with a large metal fan and a wooden water tower; having an idea that his body could still conduct Electromagnetic energy, Virgil/Static drains power from the electrically powered fan and blasts the wooden water tower. This soaks Hot-Streak and knocks him unconscious; after the sunspot activity ceases, Virgil/Static's powers return to normal and remain under his control.
Static can replenish energy that he has lost in fights (The New Kid, Winds of Change, Frozen Out) from sources of electricity. Sometimes Static can use his powers on non-metal objects (Grounded, Consequences, Duped, and anytime he uses a Static-Cling), and sometimes he can't (Hard as Nails). There are also times where he's not been ready to absorb electrical power but because of his physiology he remained unharmed if only momentarily stunned (again see Hard as Nails.) Like Superman, Static's powers occasionally fluctuates during sunspots cycles (Sunspots), much so that his electromagnetic powers become excessively rampant if unchecked.
Static's powers have noticeably given him immunity from forms of mind control, since the human brain is an electromagnetic organ. In Attack of the Living Brain Puppets, Virgil/Static was immune to Madelyn Spaulding's ability to hear the thoughts of others and excert control over their actions (as speculated by Richie), Virgil's/Static's greater bioelectric field shields him from any attempts at reading his mind and asserting control over him. At the end of the same episode, when Madelyn attempted to subject Static to her mind control through physical contact, Static's willful resistance resulted in Madelyn in a hospital, the electrical shock to her brain left her temporarily mentally addled. In A League of Their Own (Part 2), after a Brainiac-controlled Richie and Flash had placed mind-control disks on Static and the other members of the Justice League, Static was the only one who could reject its effects (it stopped functioning after only a few moments), after which a Brainiac-controlled Richie commented that the disk must have been short circuited by Static's natural electrical field as the result of his powers.
Because of his powers, Virgil's/Static's Electrolyte levels in his blood are higher then normal and craves more salty food stuffs than normal, (brought to light in Aftershock after Virgil, worried about negative side-effects from the Big-Bang, requested blood tests from his doctor,) since electrolytes are electrical-conducting salt solutions, it would stand to reason that as a result of his new powers, Virgil/Static requires more salty food in his diet to help his body support his powers, and as his powers grow so would the need for salty food.
Through practice and ingenuity during confrontations with other Metahumans (also known as "Bang-Babies"), Static has developed new ways to use this power, he has exhibited the following abilities in the comic book and in the animated series:
- Electromagnetic Generation, Manipulation, and Control - Static's body can generate Raw Electromagnetic Energy, which he has learned to manipulate; control; and sense sources of electromagnetic energy, electricity, and magnetism for a variety of attacks and uses. He can charge devices (such as the Justice League's Watchtower) with electricity, and alternatively drain the energy from them into himself as well as magnetize and demagnetize metals. Static can hear Radiowaves meaning he can listen in on the police broadband and music stations, as well as tapping into the phone lines so he can make calls. Virgil/Static can choose to keep the electromagnetic energy that he currently holds in his body by controlling the current and voltage for whenever he wants to use it. In the comic, he often uses this to broadcast his voice (and the ones' of those near him) on all speakers within the area.
- Jets, Bolts, and Bursts of Electromagnetic Force - The means by which Static can fire-off Electromagnetic Energy, Virgil/Static can fire Jets of electromagnetic energy from his fingers for simple things like turning off electrical devices from stereos to light switches to knocking small things down unnoticed, or even to used to light up his finger/hand so he can see in the dark or administering a Static-Cling and even direct electromagnetic energy like a laser to cut and/or weld. Virgil/Static can fire Bolts of electromagnetic energy for offensive maneuvers like Nova-Ball or Ball-Lightning when in a fight against Bang-Babies from Ebon to the Meta-Microbe in Grounded. Virgil/Static can fire Bursts of electromagnetic energy from his hands for uses like electrifying objects, administering large scale Static-Clings, generating shields and barriers and with a piece of wire he can generate a Nova-Burst.
- Electromagnetic Levitation - By imbuing enough electromagnetic energy into metallic substances, and enough static electricity into non-metallic objects, (similar to his "Static Cling" except that objects float in an electro-static field instead of adhering together), Static can cause objects to fly (metal is the easiest material to manipulate and wood is the most difficult). Utilising this same principle, Static can apply his powers into his "Static Saucer", (or any other round disk, garbage can lid, manhole cover), and using Super-Conducter Electromagnitism, fly within the Earth's Electromagnetic Field.
- "Static Cling" - Similar to electromagnetic levitation described above, Static can charge-up and object and adhere most objects/people/Bang-Babies to surfaces by using Static Electricity as an adhesive as well as using it to charge and levitate non-metal objects, plus Static can magnetize surfaces.
- "Taser Punch" - First seen in issue #1 of the Static comic - an electrified punch administered during combat to send opponents flying, similar effects to a Taser Gun; also adaptable to use as a "Taser Noogie" (seen in They're Playing My Song) and as a 'Taser Prod' (seen in Bent Out of Shape).
- Electromagnetic Displays - Electromagnetic Light Displays that Static can shoot into the sky in the forms of pictures and words. With more power behind it, Static can make these into Electromagnetic Nets &/or Cages like seen in Winds of Change when Static tried containing Slipstream and when he slowed down the descent of the News Helicopter that Slipstream had damaged. In Shock to the System, after his "First Bad-Guy Beat-Down" Static sends a huge arrow in the sky above the warehouse saying "Bad Guys This Exit". In Consequences, after Daisy wakes up in the Hospital, Static sends her a huge flower in the sky. In The Big Leagues, Static (having lost the small device Batman given him), sends his own Bat-Signal into the Sky.
- Taser Cutter/Welder - simply used to cut through or weld metals together like Electron beam welding, (only without the need for a vacuum); seen in: They're Playing My Song, Child's Play, Junior, The Big Leagues, etc.
- Taser Shots - shots of electromagnetic force aimed and shot out of Static's fists.
- Electromagnetic Shields and Barriers - shields and barriers that Static can generate with Electromagnetism to block, repel, hold back attacks and defend himself in battle.
- "Double Taser Shot" - a shot of electromagnetic force aimed & shot out of both Static's fists at the same time.
- "Ball Lightning" - named after ball lightning, the weather phenomenon. Electromagnetic Energy compressed into a large ball & thrown at targets; an offensive manoeuvre in a combat situation.
- "Nova Ball" - seen only in Sons of the Fathers, an attack of electromagnetic force, customized by Static to work specifically on Ebon (Quote: "I call that my Nova Ball, Ebon. It takes a lot out of me, but more out of you!"); after being hit by the Nova Ball, Ebon's physical shadowy form came apart from the light, Ebon was forced to disappear to somewhere else.
- "Nova Burst" - so far seen only in Bad Stretch, an attack of light & electromagnetic force run through some normal wire, customised by Static to work especially on Ebon, but useful to use on most opponents (Talon, Shiv & Carmen-Dillo) to blind them for a short while; but did not work on Aqua-Maria, it just passed right through her.
- "Electromagnetic Pulse" - Used only in Junior knocking out all local electrical devices, to power down a bunch of security men's high-tech battle Exo-Skeletons to prevent them from teaming up on Edwin Alva Jr/Omnifarious.
- Electromagnetic Technopathy - as Static can minipulate electromagnetic signals, he can utilise his electromagnetic powers to assert remote control over electrical hardware, powering them up and setting then on adverseries like puppets, like he did with a large toy robot in Consequences--his home computer in Duped--or setting a couple of pizza Animatronics on Talon and Shiv in Bad Stretch. In Winds of Change, Static used his powers to control a street signal system to stop traffic when he was forced to save a helicopter from crashing in the street--and in Aftershock, he uses his powers to overload a computer console. After Richie became Gear, Virgil's/Static's use of technopathy is practically non-existent (except in Future Shock where he uses his powers to interface with Batman Beyond's com-conversation with future Bruce Wayne), while Richie/Gear's usage of technopathy is contingent on Back-Pack.
The character Static was later developed into the lead of the animated series Static Shock, with some changes in the material, generally to be more suitable for a younger and wider audience, but still with a focus on contemporary relevance.
In this animated series, Virgil Hawkins (voiced by Phil LaMarr) is a fourteen-year-old kid and attends Dakota Union High School when he was affected by the mutagen gas explosion known as the "Big Bang". Before the events of this incident, Virgil was a Honor Roll student, as his time was not occupied with superhero duties.
Virgil still lives with his father, Robert Hawkins, a social worker and the head of the Freeman Community Centre, and his sister, Sharon Hawkins, a university student and hospital Volunteer. His mother, Jean Hawkins, had died a few years ago, the victim of a stray bullet while she worked as a paramedic during a riot; this causes Virgil to develop an intense fear/hatred of guns.
Throughout the series, Virgil is depicted with a dreadlocks hair style, while during scenes in home movies, where his mother was still alive, Virgil was seen with a small Afro hair style. Along with his best friend, Richie, Virgil is shown to be an avid fan of comicbooks and science fiction (though not obsessively). A couple of episodes, (such as Romeo in the Mix), demonstrated that Virgil/Static is a fan of Hip hop music, esspecially of Lil Romeo--and the episodes Shock to the System and Duped reveal that Virgil is also terrible at singing.
Virgil/Static's best friend and confidant is Richard "Richie" Osgood Foley (based, appearance wise, on a character from the comics called Richard Stone). Richie Foley graduates from a behind-the-scenes-sidekick to Static's partner-in-crime-fighting when he becomes a metahuman super-genius. Their speculated theory is that this happened because Richie has been exposed to gas-contaminated clothing Virgil had been wearing on the night and as a result Richie experiences a delayed reaction to the Big-Bang Gas. He starts going under his new super-hero handle; "Gear". One of Static's foes, Rubber-Band Man, becomes interested in his sister, but his identity is revealed by Static. Rubber-Band Man, however, dates Static's sister and becomes one of Static's allies.
Also in the animated series, Frieda Goren has been friends with Richie and Virgil since childhood. Frieda is a reporter for the school newspaper, a kind of Lois Lane to Static's Superman, though there is only a little romantic attraction between them. Static would eventually gravitate towards Daisy Watkins, a girl he met when he briefly attended the Vanmoor Charter School for Science. After the events in The New Kid, Daisy's parents decide she'd be safer at a public school, so she now attends Dakota Union High School with Virgil, Richie, and Frieda, often teaming up with Frieda on things like the school newspaper, talent shows, and environmentalist activities, like recycling.
Static idolizes other positive black superheroes in his world, such as Soul Power, Anansi the Spider, and particularly the Green Lantern, John Stewart.
Static has traveled through time twice. In both incidents, he's crossed paths in events of his own life.
- First, thanks to the powers of Time-Zone/Nina Crocker, he traveled back in time, 5 years previously, to the night of the Dakota Riots, the night his mother was killed; in an attempt to prevent her death, he told her about what would happen, as well as his life as Static. Jean convinced him that she had to do her duty to save as many people as she could, and said goodbye to him, her final words to him were that she was proud of the way he's grown up. When he returns to the present, his father tells him that his mother had told everyone the night she died about how Virgil was a hero.
- A second time came while assisting Batman in Gotham City. While examining a machine stolen by a villain, called Time-Code; in the Batcave, it activated and Static was sent forty years in time, where he met the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, and had to help him save his future-self from Kobra.
As an adult, Static eventually joins the Justice League, and is still an active member by the age of 65 ("The miracles of modern medicine; 65 is the new '30'."). Static also has a son, but no details are known about him; the fact that the unnamed son was mentioned at all hints that he may also be a superhero like his father. Static appears to have aged little in the forty years between Static Shock and Batman Beyond. Although Batman states that Static in his time is at least fifty, he appears to be in perfect health when he is finally shown. In the ten years between Batman Beyond and his appearance in Justice League Unlimited, the only change seems to be that his hair has finally grayed. Static explains that this was due to advanced medical technology in the future. During a battle against the Jokerz, Static accidentally fell into a random time portal.
In a recent interview with Teen Titans writer Geoff Johns, he expressed interest in having Static as part of the team, stating, "I really wanted Static on the team, but there’s so much red tape there that every time I requested it DC said “not yet” and so I never got to have him. Eventually his request was granted, as Static is later revelead as one of the future members of the Terror Titans team, with his Milestone continuity folded in the mainstream New Earth continuity
Gadgets from the TV series
Static has used the following gadgets made for him by his best friend Richie Foley
in the animated Static Shock
- Static-Saucer - or also known as Static's Flying Disk, it is a foil disk of metal - Mylar; that is "stronger than reinforced steel"; this is Static's flying disk, he can carry it folded up in his coat, Richie gave it to him in The Breed, beforehand Static used either manhole covers or garbage-can lids. In the episode Gear, Richie mentions that he figured out how to make Static's Flying Disk fold up smaller. However, in the comic, Static made this item himself just before his rematch with Tarmack in the third issue.
- Shock-Vox - Walkie-talkies that Richie & Virgil made at School for Science Lab in Grounded; they're named 'Shock-Vox' by Richie and are used by Richie/Gear & Virgil/Static at home or during patrol. In Child's Play a Shock-Vox was used as a microphone hooked up to a Personal Stereo to record Aaron saying how he really feels about his stepbrother Dwayne; in Replay, Richie rewired a Shock-Vox to listen in like an intercom on another Shock-Vox created by Replay's powers. In the episode Gear, the Shock-Voxes' have apparently been updated with tracers, as Richie/Gear used Virgil/Static's Shock-Vox to track him down to an old Juvenile Hall when Ebon had abducted him. The Shock-Voxes are usefully convenient in that Richie and Virgil never have to pay phone bills for them and Virgil can recharge (see Grounded) and increase (see Static in Africa) their range with his powers.
- Zap-Caps (Mark 1) - energy containment units, first seen in Winds of Change and used as electrical explosives; Richie's idea for these was if Static was low on power in a battle then he could pitch them at the enemy, buying some time to recharge - instead Static used them to recharge his own drained powers in his final battle with Slipstream. The Zap-Caps (Mark 1) were seen again in Sunspots by Static & Richie against Hot-Streak because Static's powers were being affected by sunspot activity on the sun and Hot-Streak was on a rampage.
- Tracking device - made by Richie in Bad Stretch; it is a tracking device that transmits on a High Band Frequency with a radius of two miles, Static can hear it in his ears with his powers (just like he can hear radiowaves and the police broadband). Static used one to find the Meta-Breeds hideout by throwing one on Adam Evans/the Rubber-Band Man. In the episode Gear, Richie mentioned that he had increased the range on the Tracking Device.
- Back-Pack's Remote Control - The Remote Control to Back-Pack, first seen in Gear along with Back-Pack, and later seen in A League of Their Own part 2, by Static to free Richie/Gear and Back-Pack from Brainiac, when Brainiac had taken over Back-Pack and Richie.
- Gear's Time Manipulator - when Speedwarp was making his moves in Now You See Him, Gear built a Time Manipulator so that Static would be able to keep up with and take down Speedwarp. When Speedwarp came into contact with both Time Manipulators - Speedwarp's Time Manipulator ends up short circuiting and permanently stuck in time - moving slower than everything else.
- Virgil's full name is revealed as "Virgil Ovid Hawkins" in the animated episode, They're Playing My Song, and in the first issue of Static (Don't Start None, There Won't Be None). It is also revealed that Virgil hates being addressed with his middle name so much that he forbid his big sister ever to adress him by that name.
- Virgil Ovid Hawkins was named after the first African-American to go to law school (who was himself named for the Roman poets Virgil and Ovid). Actually, the name Virgil Hawkins refers to the lead plaintiff in the fight to desegregate the University of Florida College of Law. Mr. Hawkins was one of the African American applicants who were denied admission to the law school in 1949 solely the basis of race. He then became the lead plaintiff in a nine-year legal battle that reached all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which ordered the State of Florida to stop excluding African Americans from the law school. Faced with delaying tactics from the state, Mr. Hawkins entered into a consent decree that allowed George H. Starke, Jr. to become the first African American to attend the University of Florida College of Law in 1958, and W. George Allen to be its first graduate in 1962. Mr. Hawkins went on to graduate from New England School of Law in 1964 and became a member of the Florida Bar in 1977
- In the 2001 miniseries, Static Shock: The Rebirth of the Cool, it is revealed that Virgil is into collecting Pokémon cards and he likes Pikachu (the flagship Pokémon of the franchise and a fellow user of electricity).
- Though he claims to be a geek, in the animated series, Virgil doesn't participate in many geeky activities - he is, however, an avid comicbook fan, something that was retained for his DCAU incarnation. In the comics, Virgil regularly visits the local comic store and participates in a HeroClix-style RPG game.
- In the animated series' first episode, Virgil reveals and demonstrates his newfound powers to Richie in an old junkyard. When they set to finding a costume for him to wear, one of the outfits selected resembles that of Black Vulcan (Richie comments; "Nah, you look like a battery commercial").