Static Gets a Timely New Origin in Milestone Returns

With Milestone Returns providing a sneak peek at a reimagined Dakotaverse, Static gets a new origin story that’s rooted in the modern-day.


WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Milestone Returns Zero, by Reginald Hudlin, Greg Pak, Jim Lee, Ryan Benjamin, Denys Cowan, Jimmy Palmiotti, Don Ho, Bill Sienkiewicz, Khoi Pham, Scott Hanna, Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi, Chris Sotomayor and Deron Bennett.

The most beloved in Milestone Media’s library of memorable heroes and villains is Virgil Hawkins, better known under his superhero moniker Static. As the publisher’s flagship character he was created by Milestone founders Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle in 1993’s Static #1. Introduced as a 15-year old high schooler in Milestone’s primary location of Dakota, Static became one of the most prominent superheroes in Dakota, moved over to the DC Universe and would later be adapted for animated television as part of the DC Animated Universe. And, in the one-shot special issue Milestone Returns Zero, Static’s origin story has been reimagined and updated for the modern-day.

In his original comic book origin, Virgil was caught in the middle of a gang war, lured by one of the bullies that had been ostracizing him at school. To break up the violence, the police arrived and unleashed what they believed to be normal tear gas on those present, unaware that it contained an experimental mutagen known as Quantum Juice. The incident was orchestrated by a mysterious agency and when they came to apprehend Virgil for further study, he revealed he had developed electromagnetic powers fueled by the Earth’s electromagnetic field. Creating the superhero alter ego Static, Virgil balanced his high school life with his superhero responsibilities.

The Milestone Returns special still has Virgil as a high schooler in Dakota regularly picked on by bullies. After learning that his classmate is going to be a Black Lives Matter protest in town, Virgil decides to join her, only to face the bullies that had harassed him in school who are a prominent part of a counter-protest. As the counter-protestors violently attack the BLM protest and the situation spirals out of control, the authorities come to quell the protests by firing tear gas into the crowd. The gas seemingly contains the mutagen, incapacitating Virgil until the following morning when he discovers he has developed electromagnetic powers, with the bullies that accosted him at the protest having acquired superpowers of their own.

While not explicitly revealed to contain Quantum Juice, Dharma’s appearance later in the special suggests that he is behind the tear gas and mysterious substance that unlocked Virgil’s powers. The authorities appear when Virgil showcases his new powers while confronting the bullies at his school, already showing he has gained a degree of mastery of his abilities as he outsmarts and outmaneuvers his opponents, including the riot police that burst into the school to presumably apprehend Virgil and the bullies for their powers, with Virgil successfully escaping.

Whereas inner-city gang violence was more of a societal concern in the ’90s, Static’s updated origin reflects contemporary social issues, with Black Lives Matter and counter-movements now serving as the backdrop for Virgil’s superhero transformation.

Milestone has never shied away from addressing timely social issues and Static’s new origin story makes the character more relevant than ever and sets the tone for Milestone’s upcoming relaunch this February. And with Static receiving his own original graphic novel, digital comic book series and a live-action film adaptation starring the character in active development, the updated origin could inform how Static is introduced to new audiences for good.

Milestone Returns Zero Spoilers!

Milestone Returns Zero Spoilers!

We open with a creator credits pages.

Then we get into the 17-pages of art.

DC Comics has Milestone Returns #0 on its website as being out in January 2020 (perhaps they meant January 2021), likely in hardcopy form, in advance of the launch of Milestone title(s) as part of DC Comics February 2020 Solicitations Spoilers, already teased, to be unveiled in November 2020. 

I do hope we get Earth M and some of the other Milestone titles teased a few years ago.

DC Comics has indicated that the digital version of Milestone Returns Zero would be available on their website during the 24-event DC Fandome II this weekend for 24 hours for free.