NYCC: Marc Bernardin Pumps New Energy into "Static Shock"

Four weeks ago, John Rozum announced his departure from writing "Static Shock," a series DC Comics had positioned alongside "Teen Titans" and "Hawk and Dove" as one of its titles representing "The Next Generation of Justice" in the New 52.

Now, Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have turned to one of the next generation of comic book writers to take creative control of DC's most electric personality, announcing today that beginning with "Static Shock" #7, Marc Bernardin is taking over writing chores on the series.

A former senior editor at "Entertainment Weekly" and EW.com, Bernardin transitioned from journalism to comic book writing in 2009. Having enjoyed previous success with "Wolverine: One Night Only" and "X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler" for Marvel Comics, Bernardin ventured to DC's corner of the comics industry in 2010 when he co-wrote a run on "The Authority" with Adam Freeman.for Wildstorm Productions.

Known for writing quick, clever dialogue, Bernardin would appear to be a perfect fit to write the razor sharp Static, a teenaged superhero created by the late Dwayne McDuffie Denys Cowan, Derrick Dingle and Michael Davis in 1993.

One of the original characters from DC's Milestone Comics imprint, Static has been featured in two eponymous titles, as well as a WB animated series entitled, "Static Shock," which aired for four seasons.

Bernardin spoke to CBR News about his plans for young Virgil Hawkins, a character he considers "a young hero in the Spider-Man mold, trying to juggle heroism and everyday life."

CBR News: Since transitioning from entertainment journalist to comic book writer, a majority of your work has been for the X-titles over at Marvel. What's your comfort level with the DCU, or does that matter what with the launch of the New 52?

Marc Bernardin: I've been a DCU reader for a good long while -- though I know that's a bit like saying, "I love living in houses, so I could totally build one." And yet, superheroic storytelling follows many of the same beats -- the big differences come with the tone of the universe and the characters you're working with, be they X-Men, Justice Leaguers, or members of The Authority. And, yeah, the reset-button of the New 52 makes it a little easier for the new kid to find his footing.

What about Static in particular? Did you read the original Milestone series back in the day?

I picked up an issue or two when they came out, but "Static" happened to hit stands the year I graduated from college. As such, my attentions were elsewhere -- jobs, girls, apartments, girls, booze and girls! But I checked in every now and again and I appreciated what they were going after: a young hero in the Spider-Man mold trying to juggle heroism and everyday life.

Did you know Dwayne McDuffie and did you ever get a chance to speak with him about his creation?

I only got to meet Dwayne once, at a party during the San Diego Comic-Con a few years back. I spent the entirety of that brief encounter geeking out over his brilliant Marvel miniseries, "Damage Control," which was a very real influence over "Monster Attack Network," an original graphic novel I wrote with Adam Freeman, and the Task Force X episode I wrote for "Justice League Unlimited." I'm a sucker for heist stories. But, no, we never got to talk Static.

What is it about Static that interests you as a fan of comics? And what about in terms of being subject matter for a writer?

As a fan and as a writer, one of the great things about Static isn't just that he's a new hero, it's also that he's a young hero. He will make the mistakes of youth and, even though the New 52 is resetting a lot of heroes to their early days as do-gooders, there's nothing quite like the fumblings of a teenager.

In the first issue of new "Static Shock," it was revealed that Virgil and his family have recently moved to New York City. As a native New Yorker, I'd imagine that must please you immensely, allowing you to showcase your hometown. But is that a good thing or is it more stifling creatively than having the series set in the fictional city of Dakota?

No, I love "Static Shock" taking place in New York City. Not only does it allow us to show off lots of different facets of the city, both beautiful and horrific, it let's us eventually tell a "Going Back to Dakota" story. Because the "Hero Returning Home" is a story as old as stories themselves.

I know it's early going and we've only read one issue of the new series, but what can you tell us about the direction you'd like to take "Static Shock?"

The thing I told editor Harvey Richards and poobah Eddie Berganza when I got the gig was that I wanted to get to know Virgil a bit more than we have so far. The thing that defines a hero is choice. They choose to do the hard thing when everyone else would do the easy one. They choose to put themselves in harm's way. So we need to know more about the kind of person who makes that kind of choice, especially one so young.

A lot of villains have been introduced and have been solicited to appear in the first few issues of the new series, which, to date, has been written by John Rozum and Scott McDaniel. Will Sunspot, Virule, Slate Gang, Piranha and Pale Man continue to be featured rogues when you take reins of the series, or do you have a whole new legion of doom you're ready to unleash on Static?

Part of my self-imposed mandate is to give Static as robust a rogues gallery as possible. Some of the villains that have been/will be introduced are going to be part of that gallery, for sure, but we're going to add some that aim to test Static's resolve in ways that he can't prepare for.

Virgil's a geeky kid who loves his science, and he also happens to have a sweet new gig at S.T.A.R. Labs. How much fun is it writing Virgil when he's not battling evil-doers, when he's just an awkward teen trying to get through the day?

Man, that's a crucial part of who Virgil is, and that's what makes it all come together. Granted, it's causing me to do a bunch of research to pretend to have the same knowledge as a teenage wunderkind, but it's worth it to make him as vibrant a character out of the costume as he is in it.

I love the fact that Hardware, another classic Milestone character, is featured in the new series. How important is Curt Metcalf to Virgil's story and will he be suiting up as Hardware to fight crime alongside Static?

I think Hardware and any other Milestone characters are arrows in the quiver that we'll deploy when the time is right. Hardware is a very real part of Virgil's life, but as it stands now, I think we'll explore just how much somewhere down the line.

History, or at least Wikipedia, tells us that Virgil Ovid Hawkins was named after the first African American to go to law school, and Virgil Ovid Hawkins was himself named after the Roman poets Virgil and Ovid. Is Static worthy of an epic story like Virgil's "Aeneid" and if so, might the writer of such an epic be you?

I think every hero has an epic story in them. The thing is, most of those epic stories are tragedies. After all, the great heroes -- Beowulf, Arthur, Robin Hood, Steve Jobs -- almost never survive their own stories. If they did, we'd never know their names. My challenge is to make sure that Virgil Hawkins is that kind of a hero, that he acquits himself well in the coming battles -- and to be equal to the task that Dwayne McDuffie left for me to pick up.

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