A Variety Of Darkness: Reviewing ‘Static: Shadows Of Dakota’ #2
by Scott Redmond
‘Static: Shadows Of Dakota’ #2 continues to build this corner of the Milestone Universe, fleshing out the characters even more and giving a look at the various levels of evil that they must face. A powerfully gorgeous comic book with so much to say about the world and humanity both within the scope of the character and his world but also our own superpowerless world.
Everyone has had those moments where they have a feeling, maybe sensing a presence, as they stare at the shadows. Maybe it tells them that something moved or they heard something, the mind wandering to the idea that maybe, just maybe, something is lurking in the shadows. Maybe there is just a lot of paranoia, or too many horror movies watched, or maybe they might be onto something.
For Virgil Hawkins/Static and the folks of Dakota, there very much is something lurking in the shadows and it’s not happy at all. In this particular case though the thing in the shadows isn’t the bang baby Ebon, who doesn’t appear at all in this issue (…or does he??), but something that is far more real as a shadowy evil we know in our own world. It’s the hate group that we saw in the first issue that appears once more, and the revelation that they are supplying these Bang Babies to a mysterious individual who is performing horrific tests upon them and their abilities.
There is a far too real history behind the idea of a group or individual conducting experiments upon chiefly persons of color, the history of various nations is rife with this, and it plays a part in what is happening with Dakota right now. Nikolas Draper-Ivey and Vita Ayala easily slip in very relevant issues to this series, which is exactly what works so well with this character and the imprint that he belongs to and just comic books in general. Some of the greatest stories from hero books are focused on issues or moments that are reflections and explorations of something happening or that happened in our actual world. It’s one of the mediums that give creators room to really speak out about and bring light on injustices and the wrongs of this world.
This issue is very well balanced between allowing some more quiet moments for Virgil, showing his mentorship with Quincy and more on what his family has been helping set up and doing since the first mini-series, with the more superhero/action scenes when the soldiers arrive to ruin things again. If I were to make a list of things I love about this series it would be pretty darn long, but one of those things is how much they are able to pack into an issue without it ever feeling like it’s a ton of stuff. We’ve only had eight issues now of this version of Static and his world but it’s so developed that it feels like we’ve been spending years with him.
Much of that also comes from just how visually distinctive and gorgeous everything Draper-Ivey brings to life on the page truly is. There is almost a photographic meets painting sort of energy to everything, as it has weight and power and moves so smoothly through the pages. Panels slide over one another and connect in a variety of shapes and sizes, giving each page a different appearance that keeps things fresh but also delivers the visuals in a way that they stand out even more.
Shadows are in the title and they play a huge part here. In the space where the mystery individual is gathering Bang Babies, it’s pure white space with bright overpowering lights as they are open with their hatred, profit-mindedness, and diabolical plots. Similarly, the community center is more well-lit, providing a hopeful feeling space that is invaded by the mercenaries. The pages that right away caught my eye though were the far darker ones with Quincy and Virgil together within the arcade.
It’s a very dark space, creating quite the atmosphere. Light is created from the purple and yellow and other hues coming from the lights of the game machines, illuminating the space and the characters enough to be seen without losing that shadowy appearance. Not just the shadows stand out though as Draper-Ivey takes us on a journey as part of the scene has us viewing the characters while looking through the game screen (as if we’re inside the arcade machine) with tons of well-cut closeups of faces and actions. My favorite panel is from behind the two characters where they are shadow silhouettes and all you can see beyond them is the game they are playing bathed in purple light, and the rest is just encroaching shadows. Very appropriate for this story and one of its potential antagonists.
The credit page seems to be missing, at least in the digital copy I purchased online, so I don’t know for sure but it seems likely that the letters of this issue are still done by the folks over at Andworld Design. That’s the assumption I’m going to go under and hopefully it’s correct.
Either way, there is just so much awesome energy and precision put into the lettering within this series and it is so great to see. Voices are captured so well, and volume and tone are left in clear ways through how the font is used or emphasized at times. There is a lot of dialogue to bring to life here and they make it flow through the pages, flowing around the rest of the artwork in a way that makes it simple to take in all elements and also follow it through the pages. Big bold words bursting out of bubbles and totally different fonts that are logo-like for people shouting their codename is the kind of comic book stuff I love so much.
Static: Shadows Of Dakota #2 is now available from DC Comics.