Tag Archives: Dwayne McDuffie

Minorities in cartoons: Rocket

Rocket (Milestone Comics)This week’s entry is Rocket, from Milestone Comics’ “Icon” title. Debuting in “Icon” #1, Rocket (real name Raquel Ervin) was created by Dwayne McDuffie and Mark D. Bright.

Raquel grew up in an impoverished neighborhood of the fictional city of Dakota. As a teenager, while attempting a robbery with friends, she meets Augustus Freeman IV, a wealthy conservative Black man… who’s actually an alien in disguise (and stranded on Earth since the mid-19th century). Raquel encourages Augustus to become the superhero “Icon,” with her as his sidekick, “Rocket” (via the use of his alien technology).

Not long after starting her superhero career, Raquel discovers she’s pregnant, and decides to keep the baby, though this means retiring (temporarily) from being Rocket.

Over the course of the series, we learn about Raquel’s goal of becoming a writer, while also seeing her meet the rest of the Milestone Comics cast (including Static). Many saw the series as actually emphasizing Raquel more than Augustus (who Raquel occasionally conflicted with per their different social/political views, Raquel being more liberal).

Since the Milestone line ended, Rocket’s comic book fortunes, like those of the Milestone characters in general (aside from Static), have fallen on hard times. The Milestone characters recently have been folded into the mainstream DC Universe, which hasn’t particularly helped them much, though fits DC’s post-”Crisis on Infinite Earths” policy of shoving tons of characters obtained from other lines/companies into one overcrowded single Earth, versus leaving them on their own Earths. Along those lines, Rocket appeared along with Icon in a McDuffie-written “Justice League of America” story.

Fortunately for Rocket, she’s having more success in her initial foray into non-print media, as she’s become a recurring character on the “Young Justice” animated series. (Not a fan of the show, so not bothered tuning back in to see Rocket.) There, she’s voiced by Kali Troy.

Rocket’s powers come from her belt (alien technology of Icon’s), which allows her to generate an “inertia field” that lets her manipulate kinetic energy (generate forcefields, fly, some invulnerability, etc.).

2011 C2E2: Saturday

Today was the biggest and longest day for C2E2. As such, I kept quite busy through the day. While I did try to keep the Twitter feed updated on my doings, unfortunately my phone’s battery died/came close to dying twice today (and I wasn’t able to recharge it for hours). The downsides of a first-generation Palm Pre, I suppose. Anyway, here’s the details of what I did today:

  • Buy stuff. Yes, that’s a given for a comic show, but I did buy some items. Among others: “Archie Americana: The 80s, book 2″; a “Power Pack/X-Men” story (despite the odd-sounding nature of the crossover, the cover claimed it was fun/family friendly, and it was cheap); a pair of Boris and Natasha bobbleheads; and a few random other comics.
  • I also visited the artists’ alley, where I got to see lots of comic artwork, plus (after buying an artists’ plastic tube-with-a-strap-on-it to store and carry rolled-up posters in) bought a few prints, as well as having them autographed. Considering buying picture frames for these and a few of the posters I already have at home.
  • I got plenty of photographs as well, which I’ll be posting to Flickr (and link to on here) after getting home tomorrow. Lots of creative costumes this year!
  • Today was quite crowded, given it’s not a work day. Lots of people packed the floor. Wonder what attendance figures will be like…
  • I attended a few panels: Chris Hemsworth’s panel promoting his starring role in the “Thor” movie; a panel (with a very long line) for general Marvel news (named “Cup of Joe”, after Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada); and a memorial to the late Dwayne McDuffie’s life and career. The Thor panel was busy (and answered the usual movie-based-on-a-comic questions), but the Marvel panel was packed to the gills, with a *very* long line to get in (I missed the first 15-20 minutes of it as a result). The Marvel panel itself was, per Marvel’s way, irreverent in tone but somewhat informative. “Read ‘Fear Itself’,” the latest Marvel crossover, was given often/glibly as an answer, and the fans in attendance were more critical of Marvel’s decisions than the DC panel’s fans were. I even got to see a preview of the latest Spider-Man cartoon, “Ultimate Spider-Man.” Due out in 2012, it looks like it’ll involve Spidey somehow working with SHIELD (and the African-American version of Nick Fury all of Marvel’s non-comics productions have latched onto in recent years, for some reason…). As for the McDuffie tribute, it was led by Mark Waid, and thoughtful. Unfortunately, it seemed a bit sparsely attended, though I suppose being at the end of the day might’ve been one factor; there were some coming into the tribute partway through.

Overall, I enjoyed my time at this year’s C2E2. Tomorrow morning, I’m heading back to Milwaukee (in lieu of going to only part of the last day of C2E2). While this year’s comic con seems like a success, not sure if I’ll be back for next year (if my current plan to relocate goes through).

Anthony’s picks for DC Comics for June 2011

Static Shock Special #1Here’s my picks for DC Comics for June 2011:


Comics I’ll be buying:

  • Static Shock Special #1 (one-shot), on sale June 1, $3
  • The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #8, on sale June 8, $3
  • Tiny Titans #41, on sale June 15, $3

Comics I might buy:

  • Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash TPB, on sale July 20, $20


This month, DC pushes hard its newest crossover-fest, “Flashpoint” (a Flash-centric storyline about an alternate timeline version of the DCU).

This month’s “Showcase Presents” volume of interest is a collection of the final pre-Crisis Flash storyline, “The Trial of the Flash.” This one dragged out quite some time, and by the time it was over, Flash’s sales had sunk low enough that DC decided to do something radical with him. Namely: cancel the title; kill off Barry Allen in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”; and restart the Flash title after “Crisis” with a new #1 and a new Flash, former sidekick Wally West. Still, now that Barry is back as Flash, it might be nice to revisit this storyline.

“Tiny Titans” this month is also Flash-centric, centering around Kid Flash, Mas y Menos (from the “Teen Titans” cartoon), and other speedsters. With all this Flash hype, you’d think there wasn’t a movie coming out at this point starring Flash’s pal, Green Lantern…

Meanwhile, “Batman: TBATB” features Aquaman as the costar, as the two team up for a no-doubt-”OUTRAGEOUS” undersea adventure, one apparently involving Aquaman’s archfoe Black Manta (who actually *is* Black; maybe I should’ve written about him and the new, also-African-American Aqualad for last month’s Black History Month topic). The people over at The Aquaman Shrine should love this issue!

Finally, in a nice tribute to the late Dwayne McDuffie, DC’s putting out a one-shot special of Static related material.

RIP Dwayne McDuffie

StaticI and the rest of the comics/animation enthusiast world was surprised today by the news that Dwayne McDuffie has died, due to complications from a surgical procedure. Comic Book Resources has this nice summary of McDuffie’s career.

I was introduced to McDuffie’s work through reading the Milestone Comics line of characters when I was in high school, though I preferred Icon and Rocket over Static, not suspecting the latter would become the line’s most successful character. When “Static Shock” came to television, I enjoyed watching Virgil’s animated adventures.

Recently, I’d read some of McDuffie’s thoughts about the comics industry, per his heavy involvement in online venues. One example of his commentary, via satire, is here. Another is this anecdote about Archie’s former attitudes toward interracial dating (as recently as the 90s).

Black animated and comic characters: Static

StaticContinuing from the previous post about “Black superheroes with electrical-based powers,” we come to Static.

Static (real name: Virgil Hawkins) was introduced in 1993 in “Static” #1, as part of the then-new Milestone Comics line, an imprint of DC Comics taking place in a world with a multicultural range of superheroes. Static’s origin: Virgil was inadvertently caught up in a large gang fight, one which the police tried to break up through the use of an experimental tear gas. However, it wound up giving many of those present a variety of super-powers; the event was subsequently dubbed by the citizens of the fictional city of Dakota as the “Big Bang.” In Virgil’s case, he wound up with various electromagnetic superpowers, which (being a comic book fan) he subsequently used to fight crime.

Static became the most popular character in the Milestone Comics line, and thus wound up having an animated series based on him, “Static Shock,” which debuted in 2000. “Static Shock” ran for four years (52 episodes). Several changes were made between the comics and the TV show, including who knew Virgil’s secret identity, his mother in the TV series being deceased, the eventual inclusion of the series into the “DC Animated Universe” (the same continuity as the 90s Batman and Superman cartoons), and his best friend Richie being an amalgam of several characters from the comics. In the comics, Richie (or one of the characters he’s based on) was revealed to be gay. Dwayne McDuffie, Static’s creator, stated (some time after the TV series had been canceled) that Richie from the series is gay as well. Of course, given the state of American children’s TV, they weren’t allowed to openly refer to Richie as such.

By the time the TV series had ended its run, the Milestone Comic line had long been canceled, but Static’s comic was eventually brought back in the 2000s in several short-lived series/miniseries. In a recent miniseries, DC folded/retconned the Milestone Comics universe into the main DC Universe, with nobody (save Superman and a few others, but not Static) unaware of how things originally were. Static’s subsequently been used in a few Teen Titans storylines, as well as (later this year) gaining his own ongoing series again. Of course, I think it’s a poor idea to fold the Milestone characters into the main DC Universe; DC’s making the same mistake they’ve made with Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family, and leaving Icon, Hardware, and others in a similar “poor man’s Superman/Steel/etc.” position. It also takes away a bit from Virgil’s “comic book geek” characterization—in the Milestone run, he was a DC Comics fan (while comics about Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman do exist in the DC Universe, they’re just “true crime” comics about those heroes’ adventures). Still, at least (for now) Static’s not being left in limbo…