Tag Archives: Milestone Comics

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.).

Minorities in comics and animation: Maddie Blaustein (“Pokemon”)

Maddie BlausteinThis week’s entry is Maddie Blaustein, a voice actress who’s voiced various dubbed-for-English anime series. Her most well-known role was as the voice of Meowth for the various “Pokemon” incarnations up through the late 2000s. Maddie Blaustein also was a comic book writer, having written some stories for the Milestone Comics line. Blaustein was a transgender woman, and did some share of activism.

Blaunstein died in her sleep in 2008, at age 48. YouTube contains many fan-made videos in tribute to Blaustein (using clips from the show).

Not being a huge anime (or Pokemon) fan, I don’t have much to delve into personally about her work there, but Blaustein’s Meowth was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the otherwise-mundane “Pokemon.” I also enjoyed the appearances of Rubber-Band Man in “Static Shock”; the super-stretching character was co-created by Blaustein for the original Milestone comics. A few magazines (including LGBT newsmagazine “The Advocate”) also have done interviews with Blaustein (unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any links).

 

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…

Anthony’s picks for DC Comics for August 2009

Yep, time for another round of “see what Anthony thinks is good from DC” for August 2009.

What I’ll be buying:
Nothing.

What I might buy:
- The Flash Chronicles, vol. 1 TPB, on sale Sept. 23, $15
- Icon: A Hero’s Welcome TPB, on sale Sept. 30, $20

Comments:
Wednesday Comics, the faux-Sunday comics section DC is offering, will feature this month Supergirl (with Streaky and Krypto), the Metal Men (in a story written by Dan DiDio), and the Flash, among others.

DC’s reviving “Adventure Comics,” one of its oldest and longest-running comics. Published between the mid-1930s and the early 1980s, it spent most of its run as being a Superboy- and/or Legion of Super-Heroes-starring title; the revival seems to keep with that. Apparently DC’s managed to bring back the post-Crisis Superboy (Kon-El/Conner Kent, a clone of Superman) from trademark lawsuit limbo and given him this book to star in. I don’t suppose there’s a chance of the classic Superboy making a comeback somehow, as well (as Superman’s childhood super-career)—seeing how the modern public would treat Kon given their memories of Kal-Superboy from years ago might’ve been interesting…

The Milestone Comics characters from the 90s—Icon (the title I read the most of), Hardware, and the best-known of all, Static—are finally making a comeback. However, they seem to be getting integrated into the main DC Universe somehow, rather than (from what I can tell) being left to live in their own universe (as seen in the 90s “Worlds Collide” crossover put out just before “Zero Hour”). The cover resembles the generic-looking “DC vs. Marvel” cover, though wished they’d gone with a parody of “Crisis on Earth-1″‘s cover (with the JLA summoning up the “legendary heroes of Milestone” or somesuch). Oh, well… at least they’re reprinting the first eight issues of Icon’s comic in a new trade paperback. By the way, DC might want to fix the grammar error in “World’s Collide” (sic) before printing that cover.

This month’s Showcase Presents volume is: Warlord, the 80s series about the inside-the-Earth world of Skartaris.

This month’s “Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam” features Mr. Atom, the atomic-powered robot foe of Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, “Brave and the Bold” features Bats fighting what looks on the cover like the Ultra-Humanite, but is actually a Yeti.

Apparently “Kids Next Door” makes the cut for “action”, as they’re included as a backup story in “Cartoon Network Action Pack” this month.

Nice cover for “Scooby Doo”.