Static: Shadows of Dakota #7
After their tense fight of ideals, Static and Ebon find themselves on the same side as they finally confront the person responsible for the kidnapping of Dakota City’s Bang Babies. In this final issue of Static: Shadows of Dakota, can the pair truly work together and take down this evil villain or will their own power be too much for them to handle?
Science should always be paired with ethics.
The key to any good experiment that tries to improve upon the human condition is a commitment to practices that don’t hurt humans and preferably any species if it can be helped. Of course, a lot of experimentation uses animal testing which can unfortunately result in the deaths of the test subjects in the initial phases before safer controls and methodologies are put in place, thus paving the way for human trials. However, Dr. Lennox, the main villain of Shadows of Dakota, skipped those steps out of her own scientific hubris.
Vita Ayala and Nikolas Draper-Ivey have done and excellent job with this series and fleshed out the cold and calculating nature of Dr. Fallon Lennox. In this final issue, the pair show readers exactly how and why she decided to join S.Y.S.T.E.M., the villainous organization from the older Milestone Comics run that was reintroduced at the end of the recent Icon and Rocket series. One of the best parts of this issue is the way that Ayala and Draper-Ivey allude to the problem of the “gifted” status of some children, often leading people to value the advancement of their knowledge and skills over their worth as people. This is exemplified with Lennox’s father pushing her further and further into the outer bounds of unethical science, then later her referring to Quincy as “raw data” for her brain mapping experiments. She believed that Virgil Hawkins would see the value in what she was doing, but obviously did not count on him coming from a family that raised him to see people as people, not “materials.”
One of the main themes that Ayala and Draper-Ivey conveyed throughout this series has been the importance of parents, family and how much they can affect the growth, thoughts and actions of the people around them. Ebon, Quincy and now Dr. Lennox has been the primary focus of these themes with Ebon turning to villainy in the search for his only family in his brother, Quincy’s family suffering immensely after his murder, and Dr. Lennox being molded into a cold monster by her father after the death of her mother, as we learn in this issue. Family is the primary motivator of each of these characters and has played a large part in the black community for generations. Whether through cookouts, reunions or church gatherings, connections either familial or friendly have been fostered to create a love between people that allows them to stand with each other when the moment calls for it.
As always, Nikolas Draper-Ivey’s art conveys the story as much as the writing does and stands out for its kinetic energy, fantastic coloring, and amazing emphasis on emotion and body language. When Static and Ebon burst into the dark site where the Bang Babies were being experimented on, Draper-Ivey seems to make a JoJo’s reference as Ebon appears like a Stand behind Virgil, both of them making action poses as they prepare for a fight – and what a fight it is. Draper-Ivey has an eye for action scenes as he makes use of dynamic movement such as dash attacks and dodging alongside varied camera shots such as dutch angles and faraway shots. He also shows a great understanding of Static and Ebon’s powers as he draws these amazing sparks and crackles of lightning for Static and these gaseous plumes of smoke for Ebon that often woosh across the page. There’s also an amazing bit of panel work where Draper-Ivey utilizes the lightning as the gutters for the page where Ebon and Static fist appear, announcing their presence.
Draper-Ivey’s coloring in these scenes are absolutely perfect as well. Utilizing many of the techniques that readers have seen over the course of the series, Draper-Ivey makes these pages look absolutely beautiful with deep blues and for Static’s clothing and Ebon’s darkness, replacing the latter’s purple coloring for this slight transition to heroism. Both of their color schemes contrast very well against the stark white of the laboratory setting that this issue mostly takes place in. Draper-Ivey continues to make use of various RGB motion blur and TV static effects for the lightning and backgrounds of many panels which gives this book a very distinct visual feel and one of the coolest design choices from any comic in recent years.
One of the best parts of the Shadows of Dakota mini-series has been the sheer amount of emotional resonance that Ayala and Draper-Ivey have been able to capture both through the dialogue and most certainly through the facial expressions of the characters. In the backstory readers get for Dr. Lennox, Draper-Ivey uses a variety of pulled in shots to focus on her blank stares of superiority and the smug smirk that she and her father shared when discussing their scientific advancement. These panels fully express the characterization that readers have only gotten bits and pieces of throughout the story and makes one of the later panels even better as she loses her cool demeanor and gains a crazed look in her eyes after injecting herself with a bang baby ability (also further showcasing Draper-Ivey’s anime influence). And in the final pages, when Virgil gives the eulogy at Quincy’s funeral, the pain on his and Quincy’s parents’ faces are palpable. After everything, they still have to deal with the tragic loss of a close loved one through a senseless death. It shows that everything that has happened in the book still has far reaching consequences even after the bad guy has been defeated.
With this stunning and somber conclusion, Static: Shadows of Dakota stands head and shoulders amongst the best that the Milestone Revival has produced thus far. This series’ thrilling action and art, amazing writing and dramatic storytelling should elevate it to the very top of any DC Comics readers pull lists. Hopefully, after the success of this series, readers get to continue to see the adventures of Virgil Hawkins as Static for years to come!
Static: Shadows of Dakota #7 – Morality in Darkness
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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