Thursday, September 29, 2011

Static Shock #1

DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writers: Scott McDaniel and John Rozum
Penciler: Scott McDaniel
Inkers: Jonathan Glapion and Le Beau Underwood
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Dezi Sienty

I’m not sure why the creators thought that cluttering up a supposedly fast-paced lead-in action sequence with captions and dialogue was a good idea. They were wrong, at any rate, so what we end up with here is a bog-standard superhero fight scene that never even works as a comic because the heaps upon heaps of excruciating exposition and bad one-liners constantly put the brakes on the pacing and keeps you from turning the page to the point where you’re no longer sure you want to.

Consequently, it’s a struggle to make it through the scene, which lasts for 10 pages, and once you do, the introduction of the villains that takes up pages 11 through 13 is a questionable reward. They, too, happen to be a dreary bunch with generic dialogue and a penchant for standing around in large groups for no particular reason.

On the last seven pages, finally, the creators introduce the hero’s supporting cast. Which is somewhat more fun, but doesn’t salvage the book from being a decidedly 1990s-flavor Spider-Man rip-off without all the sub-surface stuff that make Peter Parker more than a teenage nerd who gets super-powers and fights crime with a barrage of one-liners.

Virgil—Static’s alter ego—is African American, granted, but that’s no substitute for a proper, compelling concept. Also, Marvel just launched its own “black Spider-Man” project, and Miles Morales has the considerable advantage of starring in a book that really does say “Spider-Man” on the cover, as opposed to “Static Shock.” Virgil’s casual reference to a line from The Matrix makes me wonder how well, exactly, the creators have thought this “teenage hero” thing through to begin with—unless the story is meant to be set in 1999.

Scott McDaniel’s art communicates the story well enough, but often looks sloppy and rushed. The fact that there are two inkers involved and you can tell their pages apart further suggests that the production process didn’t go as smoothly as hoped. This is unfortunate, since McDaniel’s style is an acquired taste even under ideal circumstances.

If you were hoping for a fresh new face here, Static Shock fails to deliver. It’s an utterly generic and poorly made comic that reads like somebody found it in an old drawer.

Grade: D-

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