What’s the difference between Black Lightning and Static Shock? That’s a question many people ask themselves (or others). Although both characters are part of the DC Comics Universe and possess electrical abilities, they’re not the same or even related. First of all, they don’t live in the same city (Static Shock is in Dakota City and Black Lightning is in Suicide Slum). Secondly, Black Lightning is neither Static Shock’s father nor an adult version of Static Shock, which some people believe. But Static Shock does admire Black Lightning and looks up to him as a mentor. The two heroes recognize the similarities between them, even when it comes to their suits.
Static Shock was created by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek Dingle under the DC imprint Milestone Books (which folded into DC). Static Shock, aka Virgil Ovid Hawkins, is a metahuman, but he wasn’t born with his powers. His abilities develop after exposure to a chemical spill renders him capable of electromagnetic control and generation. This event is known as the “Big Bang.” Virgil is one of the metahumans, known as “Bang Babies,” who resulted from this incident. The character first appeared in Static #1 (June 1993) nearly two decades after Black Lightning’s first appearance in comics.
Black Lightning, aka Jefferson Pierce, draws electricity from his own body. He also can absorb it, direct it, and manipulate electricity in other life forms (like, making someone’s heart stop). While Static extracts electricity out of the air around him and has the ability to manipulate metal.
When Virgil is not on superhero duty, he’s living his life as an awkward teenager who reads comic books and plays video games. In the 2001 miniseries, Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool, he is also into Pokémon. Static’s team affiliations include: Teen Titans, Justice League, Heroes, S.T.A.R. Labs, Young Justice, and the Outsiders (which Black Lightning is also a part of). The character draws inspiration from and is designed to represent a modern-day Spider-Man even though the latter is a Marvel Comics creation.
From 2000 to 2004 Static Shock did have his own cartoon, and fans are pushing for a reboot, whether in the form of a cartoon, a movie, or an appearance in one of the DC Universe TV shows. Last year, DC Comics even announced that the Milestone imprint would relaunch as “Earth-M” and that Static Shock would be rebooted. So far that hasn’t happened, but fans are still optimistic.
Static Shock is such a beloved character that hopes are high he will make a new appearance soon. Fingers crossed for a Black Lightning TV show cameo!