Shock to the System
They're Playing My Song
The New Kid
Sons of the Father
Winds of Change
Bent Out of Shape
Synopsis: Based on characters from the DC Comics series, superhero Virgil Hawkins and his classmates confront real problems and issues faced by today's teens: peer pressure, gangs and growing up in an ethnically diverse, urban neighborhood.
Meet Virgil Hawkins, a mild-mannered teen in the wrong place at the wrong time when a chemical explosion rocks the streets of Dakota City- changing him from supergeek to super-hero. Based on the Milestone/DC Comics property, this animated series about the adventures of the first African-American teenage superhero follows quick-witted Virgil, who finds himself imbued with electromagnetic superpowers after being exposed to a mutagenic gas. Taking on the guise of Static, an urban hero of his own creation, he must learn to control his powers, figure out how to patrol the skies at night and still make it home in time to study for school. Virgil's greatest discovery becomes the real "charge" he gets out of helping people and making a positive difference as a super-hero in his community. The series confronts real problems and issues faced by today's kids, including peer pressure, gangs and growing up in an ethnically diverse urban neighborhood.
Review by James Harvey
After a long wait, fans of the beloved Static Shock animated series can rejoice – the first season has arrived on DVD, courtesy of Warner Archive! Static Shock: The Complete Series collects all thirteen episodes from the first season for the first time, a massive step up from the show’s previous DVD release, which was in 2004 and collected just the first six episodes of the series! Getting these early adventures of Virgil Hawkins, and his super hero alter-ego, in one collection is something viewers have fans have been waiting over a decade for.
To touch upon the series briefly, Static Shock was something of a landmark series at the time. A teen hero series with an African-American lead that, while bright and colorful, never really talked down to viewers. In fact, it dealt with some weighty stuff. Just look at the finale to the first season where Virgil deals with the recent passing of his mother while dealing with a foe with major issues with his own father. The series doesn't shy away from some real-life and personal issues that other shows would avoid like the plague. Even look at the first episode where Virgil finds himself in the middle of two local gangs for example, or when Virgin find's out his best friend's dad is a bigot.
This is a show that definitely brought a brighter, sunnier look to the DCAU, but didn't use that as an excuse to play down important issues. Yes, there is plenty of humor and kid-friendly action, but when it really dives into these characters, it goes to some pretty deep places. Geeze, given the current climate in the U.S. and the world, some of these episodes are more relevant today than when they originally aired. Every accolade and award is definitely well-earned, without question.
Is every episode a home run? No, some are definitely stronger than others, and a couple might get a little too preachy (such as "Sons of the Father"), but each one bring something worthwhile to the table. Static Shock also makes sure to balance things out by having some episodes that are just plain fun. The show manages to find a good balance between straight super-heroics and delving into important issues. For a closer look at each episode included on Static Shock: The Complete First Season, check out the episode reviews right here in this subsite.
So, the episodes get a strong thumbs up all around, but what about the Warner Archive release itself? Static Shock: The Complete First Season features all thirteen episodes from the first season. All episodes are presented in standard format and look great, easily on par and maybe a shade better than the original Static Shock - Volume One: The New Kid release over ten years ago. The video is clear, and the colors are strong and vibrant, but there are some aliasing issues. The audio is crisp and clear, without an issue to be found. For a DVD release, this is solid stuff.
That said, there are a handful of issues with the release itself. The first disc in this two-disc collection is simply a repressing of the original Static Shock - Volume One: The New Kid one-disc release. Nothing new is added nor is anything released. All the original text and content seems to still be there, including copyright dates (with the 2004 date), the "The New Kid" subtitles, the same bonus content, menus, and so forth. It's fine, but it's a little jarring to not only see all this older content and dated design work. It looks especially odd when, after popping in the second disc, it goes to the standard design used by Warner Archive (The Zeta Project: Season Two has the same menu system). It's pretty jarring. By no means is it a deal-breaker, just a little surprising. The package art from The New Kid is also reused, with only some text swapped out to note this is a season collection title.
Outside of the bonus content copied over from the original The New Kid DVD, there is no additional bonus feature included. It's not a surprise by any means, given the current DVD market, but somewhat disappointed given how much of an impact this show had at the time of it's release. I'm sure there's content available somewhere to use. Again, a minor complaint and not a deal-breaker by any means.
It's also worth noting this is a two-disc DVD-R set, not a regular DVD. To note, that's not an issue when it comes to be able to produce a quality release. Again, the audio and video is solid. It's just noteworthy in that these discs will not have as long of a shelf-life as a regular DVD, so the utmost care is required in order for viewers to get the most out of these releases for as long as possible. Personally, I still find this to be a worthwhile purchase even if DVD-Rs are used.
Warner Archive's DVD-R release ofStatic Shock: The Complete Series is well worth picking up (and long overdue). After waiting years to see this series properly released on home video, it's great to see Warner Archive giving Static Shock the treatment is deserves. And with a Static Shock: The Complete Second Season release confirmed in the works, it's reassuring that long-time Static Shock and DCAU fans will get to add another this series to their collection. The episodes are solid, even if some are better than others, and the transfer is great for a standard definition DVD release. While the packaging lis a little lacking, it's not a deal-breaker (nor should it be). It's finally here - Static Shock: The Complete First Season - and it's well worth adding to your collection. Recommended!