Black History Month 19: Don’t Start None…

February 20th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , ,

art from milestone comics’s static #1
Sorry this is late! It’s been a busy day (what’s that? I have two conferences in town this week?) and I’ve been running ragged.

Today? Today we’ve got Dwayne McDuffie.

You might have heard the name before. I mean, he was only instrumental on one of the best comic-book based cartoons ever. You might know it as Justice League Unlimited? Before that, he worked in comics. He did a few series for Marvel. Damage Control, Deathlok, you know. Books like that.

When he moved to DC, though. Wow. He started up Milestone Comics with a group of like-minded individuals and tried to set the comics world on fire. They gave us a fleet of diverse heroes without beating anyone over the head with Issues. Static was a brand new hero in the Peter Parker mold, but with the added benefit of modern day maturity.

Where Lee and Ditko had to kind of hedge their bets with regards to bringing real life issues into their book, McDuffie, Robert Washington, and John Paul Leon didn’t have to worry about that at all. In the first few issues, Static has girl trouble, gets beaten up, gets humiliated, leaves his house with murder on his mind (he chickens out), gains powers, and loses the girl. He has those teenaged problems that we can all relate to, and he reacts about how a teenager would. He isn’t always right, he doesn’t always win, and sometimes he is hilariously in the wrong.

Did Milestone set the comics world on fire? Well, they went out of business after a while, so that’s arguable. However, they did the next best thing. They set more than a few minds on fire. They showed a generation of kids that it could be done.

From Wikipedia:

Milestone provided the opportunity for many emerging talents who had been passed over by larger established companies, beginning the careers of many comic industry professionals. Among them are John Paul Leon, Christopher Sotomayor, Christopher Williams (aka ChrisCross), Shawn Martinborough, Tommy Lee Edwards, Jason Scott Jones (aka J.Scott.J), Prentis Rollins, J.H. Williams III, Humberto Ramos, John Rozum, Eric Battle, Joseph Illidge, Madeleine Blaustein, Jamal Igle, Chris Batista and Harvey Richards.

You know what? That’s a rock solid legacy. You ever meet someone who doesn’t love Milestone Comics?

McDuffie is one of the unsung heroes of comics, as far as I’m concerned. His miniseries from a couple years ago, Beyond, was a great little spotlight on a few forgotten Marvel characters. His run on Fantastic Four was not only years in the making– it showed a remarkable grasp of character work. Characters sounded exactly like they should, and the jokes were actually funny. His recent Damage Control miniseries is off to that same start.

When he came to DC, he was put on JLA. Perfect fit, right? He rocked on the cartoon series and he’s got some comics clout. He did good work at Marvel, maybe he can bring some of that magic to DC?

I’ve been less than enthused with his JLA, to be honest. The writing is solid, but the stories keep tripping into Countdown crossovers and being covered up with pretty shoddy work on the part of Ed Benes and Joe Benitiez. Why grab a great writer and then weigh him down with sandbags? Why not just let him work?

Despite all this, I’m glad that he’s still in comics. He’s a great voice and, I believe, a necessary one. I just want a company to be brave enough to throw him on a name book, give him a hot artist, and let him go wild. I’m willing to lay 2.99 a month on the fact that we’ll get something hot.

Static made #5 on my top black male characters in comics a while back. That’s for a really good reason.

(i snuck this article in under the wire, huh? whoops.)

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3 comments to “Black History Month 19: Don’t Start None…”

  1. I’ve still got my complete run of Blood Syndicate. I can’t believe TANGENT is gettign collections and tie-ins and what not. And you have to sift back issue bins for Milestone books. Plus I’d say DC dropped a huge ball by missing out on moving Static into regular DC continuity after the recent cartoon. Which even PUT THE CHARACTER INTO THE JLU CONTINUITY. Hell it had adult Static as a Justice Leaguer…

    After the last time-altering thing (either the SuperEmoBoy Time Punch or the finale to 52) it would have been the perfect spot to slip a version of Dakota into the mainstream DC ‘verse. Or at the VERY LEAST make Milestone one of the 52 universes…

  2. McDuffie’s really great, but yeah, his JLA hasn’t been so hot. I get the feeling that a lot of it’s been editorially mandated. “Hey Dwayne we need to get Joker and Luthor in Salvation Run and guess who gets to make it happen?” I also wish he would take over Black Panther, since his FF was a better Black Panther book than Black Panther is, especially considering Black Panther was still the other FF book, last I bothered to read it. I really need to dig up some Milestone books.

  3. […] on 4l!, or spent more than three minutes around me in person, that I care about Milestone (one, two, three). I love those comics, and I’ve got fond memories of the ones I managed to grab as a […]