In DC’s new take on the classic Milestone hero Static, Virgil Hawkins is a Black teenager who comes into his new superpowers after being exposed to a mysterious gas fired by the police into a crowd of protestors. Horrific as the attack is, Virgil emerges from it imbued with abilities that quickly put him on a path to becoming a well-known superhero. But before they show him shooting lightning from his fingertips or donning his Static costume, DC’s new comics illustrate what it is about Virgil that ends up making his transition into dazzling vigilantism feel like a natural evolution.
To put it directly, Virgil’s cool as hell — he’s presented with a self-assuredness and charisma that only grows stronger as he adopts his Static persona. In Static: Season One by writer Vita Ayala and artists ChrisCross and Nikolas Draper-Ivey, much of that energy comes from the way that Virgil’s family continues to keep him grounded throughout the fantastic changes he’s experiencing. One of the subtle, but very significant ways the comic depicts how Virgil’s family and their Blackness are core parts of his identity is through the characters’ designs — specifically their hair, which Ayala spoke to Gizmodo in detail about during our recent interview. “I know that one of [Draper-Ivey’s] goals was to kind of portray all the different things that we, Black people do with our hair, but also like just like the little details,” Ayala said. “Like he was super proud of himself for getting to a du-rag, in the zero issue, and I was like, ‘Yeah, good for you, man, because I don’t know that other artists would have put that in there.’”
Throughout Static: Season One, Virgil’s hairstyle changes in ways that don’t necessarily have much bearing on the action, but are contextual details about where he happens to be and how he’s decided to leave the house that day. These small, but meaningful visual specifics further illustrate who Virgil is as an individual, but they also do the important work of showing you how some Black people present themselves — something the comics industry has not always been particularly good at.
That attention to detail, Ayala added, is something readers should expect to see throughout the book when it comes to characters’ appearances which don’t define who they are but do tell you some things about where they’re coming from. “Virgil, he’s like my favourite thing, he’s got a little Basquiat in there, that kind of wildness up top, but, you know his mum won’t let him walk out of the house without actually doing his hair,” Ayala detailed. “[Nikolas and ChrisCross’] attention to detail is really incredible for me. I see it all, and then I’m like, “All right, well, I got to I got to try and match this guy to give you more opportunities.”
Static: Season One hits stores on June 15.