The Abyss Stares Back: Reviewing ‘Static: Shadows Of Dakota’ #1
by Scott Redmond
‘Static: Shadows of Dakota’ #1 kicks off a second even more dangerous yet exciting season for the central Milestone character and sets the character and us up for a lot of good to come. It hits the ground running and creates such a gorgeous powerful dynamic, which is befitting the character and his world.
First chapters/entries into a story have the unenviable task of setting a foundation and/or tone for what comes next. Sequels or second chapters get to start off running or flying because of the work that came with the first, able to just dive right into the thick of things and throw the characters and readers onto a wild ride. If Static: Season One was the emotional action-packed origin story for the revamped Milestone Comics character, well Static: Shadows of Dakota #1 is the emotional action-packed explosive and dangerous sequel we’ve been waiting for.
Right off the bat, I’m going to point out how much I love the support group that has been built for Virgil/Static. Having a group of friends, with Daisy being another Bang Baby, who can support and help in these times is such a solid idea. Heroes always talk about the danger of having such friends/family/etc. in the know about their identity, but it also makes them stronger as a hero when they are not alone carrying the burden.
This time around writer Vita Ayala is joined by Nikolas Draper-Ivey, who handled the majority of the artwork in the first season and remains the artist this season, on the writing side of things. Together they have such a solid grasp of this character and this world, and that makes sense because they were crafting the stories of Virgil/Static together in the first season as collaborators already in a similar but different capacity. Now they are working on both ends together, and the beginning of that is definitely something special.
As much as I love the ongoing serial nature of comic books, the season approach within a comic holds some appeal, especially since two of the major comic companies are almost constantly relaunching certain titles. Just like with shows, this season starts off months after the first but because of how densely the world was built in that first season (and in the other Milestone books) it’s easy to slide right in even with some major changes that happened during those months. It helps that they graciously created a recap page at the start, which you love to see. Starting a campaign now to get more mainstream comics to regularly feature recap pages, as trying to remember where everything ended for issues of tons of comic books a month or months later isn’t as easy as it used to be.
There is a ton going on here from a confrontation with police to a military group attacking and trying to capture Bang Babies to Static back in action save the day to the actual debut of antagonist, Ebon. All of it has plenty of room to breathe and exist without tripping over one another or feeling crowded. Each moment or interaction has weight and power, impacting the character and the overall story.
Speaking of weight, holy crap what Draper-Ivey has done with the visuals, from the actual images to the colors, is just beyond words. Just like the first season, it’s all so detailed and gorgeous with such an eye for capturing the qualities and emotions as well as the body language of people perfectly. There is a level of energy and love that just resonates off every panel and every page. Like all other things here though it’s taken up a notch for this debut issue (in a way that surely will continue because of the aforementioned antagonist).
Ebon’s powers deal with shadows and the dude emerges out of them like every horror movie sort of moment one can imagine with the shadows, and Ivey and Ayala turn that horror dial up as far as it can go and then some. Every page with Ebon, whether we see him or not, is just full-on horror right in the middle of this mostly grounded superhero comic and it works. Visually though there is even more that is being done. There are always shadows that show up in comics because of trying to match the reality of how light works, but here we’re given so many scenes where the shadows feel heavier and thicker and far more menacing. That’s because even though we know he won’t, the threat that Ebon could show up on almost any page where the darkness and shadows are thicker is always weighing upon the reader.
I can’t wait to feel this through the rest of the season, bring on that horror and anxiousness.
The folks with Andworld Design are back once more to provide all the wonderful lettering work for this series and per usual, they’re nailing it. There is a ton of energy on the pages, as I noted before, and the lettering picks up on that and amplifies and gives it a voice in many cases. From the opening page cell phone text bubbles that feel quite accurate to great uses of emphasizers to give the certain text a necessary bump in tone/volume, it all picks up the baton and continues the race alongside the rest of the issue to bringing us to the finish line.
Just like the way I spoke about how the shadows on the page bring out the creepy factor of Ebon, the purple font on a black bubble with that purple outline (matching Ebon’s color scheme) for his bubbles matches that very easily. At each level, it’s all complimenting one another and create something that just flies by but also feels dense and packed and powerful all at the same time. Basically, I’m a huge fan of the character and what this creative team is doing, and cannot wait to see where it all goes.
Static: Shadows of Dakota #1 is now available from DC Comics.