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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

'Static Shock' S2 DVD: Batman, and Robin, and Static Oh My!


Warner Archive does fanboys a solid regarding the May 25, 2017 S2 DVD release of the neo-modern superhero animated series "Static Shock" a few months after the Archive S1 DVD release. The Unreal TV review of "Static" S1 delves into the lore of the series; the general concept is that (ala fellow DCU superhero The Flash) a freak accident leaves Virgil Hawkins with electricity-based super powers that he primarily uses to battle the Bang Babys who use the powers that they acquire at the same time as our hero to create mayhem for fun and profit.

The creators of "Static" show equal awesomeness regarding borrowing elements from Marvel hero Spider-man for their dude who also realizes that great powers imposes great responsibility. Both Peter Parker and Hawkins are nerdy high-school boys whose lives literally change overnight. They also both have geeky best friends; the Harry Osborne stock character in the case of "Static"is tech-whiz Richie, who is more of a handler than a sidekick. The similarities continue with both of our champions of justice being middle-class urban kids and with the bright colors and overall visual style of "Static" being similar to that of the aptly titled "The Spectacular Spider-man" animated series of the same era.

The elephant in the room that requires attention before discussing the S2 episodes is that fans validly point out that the Archive release includes the S3 episodes "Consequences" and "Trouble Squared." It is inexplicable that getting these freebies is a cause for ill will. This is akin to being upset when any food product give you 20-percent more yummy goodness for the same price. 

The most likely explanation for Archive jumping the gun regarding releasing the S3 episodes is that the good folks there want to balance out the number of offerings in each release. S1 has 13 episodes, S2 has 11, S3 has a whopping 15, and S4 wraps things up with 13 episodes. Fans do have cause for annoyance if Archive excludes the released S3 episodes from the S3 DVD set.

It is fair to say that Archive should have presented the two S3 episodes in the S2 set as bonuses, rather than merely tacking them on after the S2 season finale.

The first five offerings in "Static" S2 terrifically include every element that builds on the strong base of S1. The aforementioned literal hero worshipers find the season premiere "The Big Leagues" in which Static teams up with Batman and Robin especially notable in the wake of the recent death of Batman '66 actor Adam West. Veteran Batman voice-over actor Kevin Conroy brings the Dark Knight to life in this one in which the dynamic duo follows The Joker (Mark Hamill of course) to Dakota, which is the home turf of Hawkins. 

The Joker (a.k.a. "Uncle J") is in town to recruit bang baby henchmen and to conduct his nefarious business without having Batman and his meddling kid trying to thwart him. A spoiler is that The Joker learns that he always must contend with a meddling kid.

"Leagues" follows the "Static" pattern of including a lesson; in this case, working with seasoned pros teaches Hawkins a little more about being a hero. This education continues when Virgil meets super friends of Batman in S3. 

The next S2 offering is a more typical one in that it depicts the evils of drug dealers in the context of a story in which Hawkins and Richie have one of their occasional tiffs regarding the manner in which the former operates Team Static. Including elements of DCU hero Green Lantern in this adventure makes it even more notable.

The third S2 episode is even more pure "Static" in that a bitter Bang Baby is coercing his reluctant meta-human little sister to participate in crimes that big brother considers justified. The ongoing element this time is that Hawkins' big sister Sarah again comes close to discovering the secret identity of her sibling. The resolution this time is highly predictable but still entertaining.

Basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal appearing in the fourth S2 episode is the second of three "New Scooby-Doo Movies" style episodes with special guest stars. (A.J. McLean of The Backstreet Boys" rounds out this trio.) Shaq finding himself at the wrong (or the right) place at the wrong (or the right) times drives much of this action in this tale in which Hawkins learns about handling fame.

The especially aptly titled "Frozen Out" wraps up our discussion of this quintet of S2 episodes This tale that predates the Disney film "Frozen" by roughly a decade centers around a justifiably distraught homeless Bang Baby who uses her icy powers for evil, rather than good. The related secondary lesson in this Christmas episode revolves around the importance of  respecting the many religions in the world. 

The most general lesson regarding S2 is that "Static" achieves a good balance between the three "Hs" that should guide its genre; hero, humor, and heart. You want the spandex-clad freak who saves you to be the kind of man (or woman) who entertains you with quips and with whom you would want to enjoy a post-drama cup of the hot beverage of your choice. 

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Static" is encouraged either to email me or to reach out on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,