Static: Shadows of Dakota #4
There's a darkness lurking through Dakota City. With Bang Babies continuing to go missing and law enforcement not lifting a finger to help, it's up to Static to figure out who's kidnapping them and how to put an end to their crimes. But will his mission lead him on a collision course with an even more dangerous foe in the form of Ebon?
The enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend.
That’s ultimately the lesson Static must learn as he finds himself on a collision course with Ivan Evans, also known as Ebon, as both attempts to find the missing Bang Babies. This issue of Shadows of Dakota plays on themes of the loss of family, police misconduct, and violence based on discrimination, all of which are served well by Vita Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey’s excellent writing and art.
One of the best things the pair present in this book is the police response to missing minority children and how often that leads to the community taking matters into their own hands. In the book’s initial pages, Quincy’s parents confront a cop about the Dakota PD’s efforts to find their missing son. His response to their inquiries is to both blame the Bang Babies for the increased rates of crime and destruction in the city, ignoring the government organizations and paramilitary groups that have been the primary causes of the city’s troubles, and to cast aspersions on Quincy’s disappearance as him not being the “good boy” that his parents think. While Mr. Hawkins eventually steps in and puts the officer in his place, far too often does this sort of thing happen in real life; Ayala and Draper-Ivey present it very engagingly with a character we’ve grown to care about over the last three issues.
As Static begins his search for Quincy, he encounters more of the “vigilantes” that have attacked him and his friends over the past few issues and confronts him in hopes that they know where the captured kids are being sent to. They have a short fight to give the book a bit of action before it turns into horror upon Ebon’s arrival. Ayala and Draper-Ivey make the…anti-hero, in this case, seem like an absolute force of nature. Ebon is terrifying as he takes these vigilantes apart one by one, meeting the violence committed against the Bang Babies with the violence of his own, making sure that they feel the same pain that they’ve inflicted. This can be seen as perpetuating a cycle of violence and continuing the increased levels of death and destruction in the city. Essentially, he’s proving the negative stereotypes that they’re making about people like him.
This can lead readers in one of two directions regarding both of these characters and their positions. Static is doing his best not to ruffle too many feathers in his efforts; he’s trying to be polite and do things in a semi-sorta peaceful manner. On the other hand, Ebon is taking no prisoners and leaving no stone un-squeezed of blood. Both of them do what they think is best to save the people they love, and one would be hard-pressed to say either is wrong. Static is a superhero, trying to be the best example of what the Bang Babies of Dakota can be, especially by doing outreach. Ebon’s anger motivates the vigilantes to give themselves up lest he destroys them.
Nikola Draper-Ivey’s art, with some colors by Wil Quintana, is top-notch, as always. The book’s first pages are simple, with strong, thick linework and static posing. The characters are standing around, having a simple conversation, so Draper-Ivey injects interest by using wide panels to capture facial expressions, giving the book a little bit of a cinematic appeal while also using front shots to make the conversation seem direct and realistic. This makes the back and forth between Mr. Hawkins and the cop engrossing. The colors in this scene are pretty dour, featuring lots of muted greens and grays for the precinct background. The only bits of color are the cold blue of the officer’s uniform and the down-to-earth browns of Quincy’s mother and father’s clothes.
Later, when Static is patrolling the city, looking for leads, the fight between him and the vigilantes is where things get up. When Ebon shows up, however, things take a much darker turn. Draper-Ivey knows how to convey a feeling of smooth coolness to the way that Static conflicts, with him flipping through the air to avoid their gunfire, quickly dashing between them, showing Draper-Ivey’s ability to convey speed in movement through blurring effects and using his excellent TV static effect in the background to emphasize Static’s power.
Ebon’s presence changes the book’s tone entirely as Draper-Ivey heavily emphasizes his shadows and inks. Ebon’sa presence looms over the pages, usually shown at upward angles as he towers over everyone and everything. His and Wil Quintana’s colors shine on these pages as the dark purples and blues overpower every aspect of them. They feel cold and horrifying and slowly give the book a slight sense of claustrophobia as Static is suffocated by the darkness in the inks with purple outlines. Draper-Ivey’s lines become a little more frantic as Ebon weaves his shadows and unleashes violence on the vigilantes, and later, Static as the hero, won’t let him dole out revenge for answers.
AndWorld Design’s lettering makes the book experience much better, utilizing fantastic word balloons, thought boxes, and sound effects to make the story easy to follow. One of the best things about AndWorld’s lettering is that, though the first half of the book is heavy with dialogue, the word balloons don’t take up too much space, leaving room to see character’s faces and body language; the best use of them, however, is when we see Ebon speaking as his word bubbles are black with purple lettering, giving off the idea that his powers affect his speech patterns or to make him stand out amongst the other characters in the book.
As always, sound effects remain some of my favorite parts of well-done books like this, and it’s safe to say that AndWorld Design doesn’t disappoint in that regard. There are sizzling KZZZZKT sounds as Static flies on his disc, a nasty CRUNCH as Ebon breaks the arms of one of the vigilantes, and brutal THWACKs as Ebon beats Static viciously.
Static: Shadows of Dakota is absolutely amazing! Fusing action horror and social commentary, this is absolutely one book that no one should miss! With amazing writing and art by @DefinitelyVita, @NikDraperIvey and #WilQuintana, this is definitely one of the best books that DC is publishing today.
Static: Shadows of Dakota #4 – Go Home, Hero
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10