FINALLY, after many long years and several false starts, Milestone Comics is really actually honestly returning! Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story!
Milestone was da bomb, as we used to say at the time, back in the day. It was the first truly progressive and diverse comic-book imprint, a group of Black creators got together to launch a line of new and dynamic superheroes. And despite the oft-repeated perception of being strictly a publisher of Black superheroes (even a few years ago I saw someone online disparage Milestone because he said “all the heroes were Black and all the villains were White”, which is completely false), Milestone titles included heroes (and villains) of every shade. Black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and, yes, White. It was also ahead of its time in featuring LGBT characters. Milestone was truly a company for everybody. And I’m glad it’s back, with the only regret being that The Maestro Dwayne McDuffie (Peace Be Upon Him) is not here to participate.
Anyway, this special one-shot issue is set to introduce the rebooted Milestone continuity and preview its new debut line of titles. Reginald Hudlin is the writer, with the art chores being divided between a group of artists including Jim Lee Denys Cowan, Nikolas Draper-Ivey, Ryan Benjamin, Khoi Pham, and piece of shit homophobe Chris Cross.
The major change in continuity is that “the Big Bang” doesn’t happen at a massive gang-fight, instead it takes place at a Black Lives Matter protest march, which is all the more topical. This particular march is mostly being lead by High School students, but the local police show up armed and girded for war. They begin shooting what they believe is simply a new form of tear gas into the crowd, but the gas starts killing many of the protestors and transforming others, including Virgil Hawkins who was at the march with his friends and finds himself with strange new electrical powers that he spends a couple of weeks learning to control. When he returns to school he discovers that the kid who always bullied him, who was also at the march, has also developed superpowers, his being fire-based, and the two have a fight with their new abilities right there in the school hall, with an outcome that harkens back to Static’s original origin in a clever way. The only questionable part about this to me is with Virgil using his power at school in front of other students I guess this means he’s not going to be having a secret identity as Static? Everyone’s just going to know who he is? I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the series.
Also clever is the way this story ties in Hardware’s origin to the Big Bang. Here we learn that the experimental tear gas was developed by Curtis Metcalf at Alva Industries, who gave it to the police despite Curtis’ warnings that it was dangerous and not ready. Curtis was watching the protest on TV and immediately realized that he was going to be set-up to be the fall guy for this, so he left work and headed for a secret lab where he had his special armor ready. And sure enough, the police were already after him. So it also looks like Curtis won’t have a secret identity as Hardware, but he’s also on the run as a wanted criminal, as he tries to find a way to clear his name. That’s definitely an interesting twist that at the very list should put to rest the idea that Hardware is simply “Black Iron Man.”
And we see that Icon and Rocket have already been operating publicly for some time when the Big Bang began. What’s interesting here is that they’re operating on a global scale, not just local. They began taking out drug dealers in Dakota but have expanded to foreign drug suppliers. We see them destroying a drug kingpin’s compound in Columbia.
And while it was initially disappointing to me that Blood Syndicate, which had been my favorite Milestone title, was not among the new series’ in this relaunch, we do get introduced to Holocaust, who is sounding like a radical revolutionary as he recruits other “bang babies” to join him in his plan to take over the city. No other classic Blood Syndicate characters appear in this issue, but I’m interested to see where they go with this.
A couple of new characters are also introduced in this issue, there’s an Asian husband and wife who find themselves merged together to create some new individual superbeing, which looks as fascinating as it is gross, and a Batman-like masked vigilante who appears to be violently racist. We also get brief glimpses of Dharma from Shadow Cabinet.
This is a very satisfying issue that has me eagerly awaiting the new ongoing titles, I think it’s safe to say that the new Milestone is in good hands. Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS
Categories: MILESTONE COMICS