Home > B, Static Shock > Static Shock 030-31: “A League of Their Own”

Static Shock 030-31: “A League of Their Own”

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Story by John Semper Jr. and Ernie Altbacker (part 1) Dwayne McDuffie (part 2)
Teleplay by Ernie Altbacker
Directed by… uncredited again. Huh.
Originally Aired: March 1st and 8th, 2003
DVD: Do you really still need me to tell you?

Summary: A cosmic anomaly causes the Justice League to call on Static’s help in recharging the Watchtower; however, when the league is called away, Static and Gear must deal with Brainiac, who shows his usual persistence.

Arc Notes: Static’s first encounter with John Stewart and the remaining Justice League members. Revelation that parts of Brainiac survived the explosion at the end of “Twilight.”

Debuting Characters: First time we see Ritchie in his ‘Gear‘ identity – more on that infra.

Team Members: Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, J’onn, Flash

Featured Villain: Brainiac

Background:

In between the previous episode and this one, the biggest change to Static Shock occurred, as Static’s friend Ritchie started operating as the hero Gear.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to work Richie into stories, without having him order Static around all the time over the Shock Vox. The chemistry between Phil and Jason is great and we didn’t want to lose that, it was a core appeal of the show. Meanwhile focus groups were saying that kids loved the idea of Richie getting powers so he and his pal could hang out together while fighting crime. The answer seemed pretty obvious. Gear worked out very well for us, the ratings improved after he showed up and he arguably bought us an extra season on the air.

Dwayne McDuffie, creator, Interview with toonzone.net

In a cute touch, Ritchie’s other choices for his new superhero name were ‘Hardware‘ and ‘Steel.’

Of course, Saturday mornings being what they are, Ritchie’s character didn’t copy his comic counterpart in one important aspect – the comic character was one of the first openly gay characters in comics. However, McDuffie’s stated that animated Ritchie was gay, but the production team just couldn’t make it obvious without incurring the wrath of BS&P due to the show’s all-ages rating.

Thoughts on the Episode:

Rivet gun alert – this story is especially blatant about two stories being stitched together into a two-parter, but it at least can excuse itself because it’s a very clever swerve; this is the only two-part story in the show’s history and it gives no indication at the top of the first part that it will continue into a second. I always like doing it that way, and the way these two parts are set up, it’s not even obvious that the story doesn’t have sufficient time to conclude. Instead, the heroes deal with a problem in the first part, then, unbeknownst to them, have to deal with the fallout from their actions in the second.

Aside from the thrill of seeing Static interacting with more than merely Batman, the first half of the story isn’t much. To its credit, it does get to the point very quickly, and it’s fairly interesting to see the League attempting to deal with a problem that isn’t necessarily caused by a villain, but rather is ‘just’ a cosmic version of a natural disaster. The JLA has always been portrayed as somewhat humanitarian in its mission, but it’s rarely shown on the series (Wonder Woman and Superman helping out during a hurricane at the start of “Paradise Lost” comes to mind). A quick beatdown of Static’s villains by Flash later – it’s amusing how even the supposedly least-dangerous member of the League cleans house there – and Static and Gear are onto the main part of the episode, namely the classic storyline of two kids being left home alone while an insane computer virus menaces them. Well, maybe that last part isn’t so classic.

Nevertheless, aside from a cute solution to the Brainiac problem via Gear downloading thousands of MP3s into the JLA mainframe at once, crashing it, and the amusement of the JLA’s headquarters being stocked to the brim with killer robots of all makes and models, the first half of the episode is mainly served to establish the JLA’s personalities for the Static Shock viewers who may have been unaware of them and set up the basic relationship of the more stringent league contrasting with the friendlier high school heroes. There’s not much bite to it, and it seems altogether like a standard team-up… until the end of the episode, when it’s revealed that Brainiac has hitched a ride on Gear’s tech pack and taken control of Static’s friend. Few actual Justice League cliffhangers hit on quite that level.

The second half of the episode, while a bit rote (it seems mainly designed to get in a scene with Static facing off against a possessed league, a situation which would be reprised with Flash in “Eclipsed”), has a much better character focus, as Static refuses to write off his friend, to the point that he earns himself a dressing down from Batman. By staying on that point, the story retains its focus on the real lead character of the show, which is the most important thing. Although the more limited budget of Static Shock meant the show couldn’t duplicate the sheer scope of Justice League, this episode accomplishes enough to largely be faithful to the feel of Justice League.

The one quibble I’d have with the episode is that it didn’t really take the opportunity to pair off Static and GL, since their storyline when GL would eventually guest star on Static Shock was that GL was one of Static’s favourite heroes. A little more interaction would have been nice, but as hinted at by McDuffie in his comments above, the producers had no idea that they’d be renewed for a fourth season, let alone that John would be making a guest appearance there.

Grade: B. Not perfect, but a good effort.

Random Thoughts:

  • Why was Hawkgirl wearing her spacesuit while in the Javelin? Batman wasn’t.
  • Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure this is the only time Batman was shown in one of the space suits.
  • One of the themes of Unlimited was that the new Watchtower was heavily armed; however this episode shows pretty clearly that the old version had its share of armaments, although they may just have been Brainiac re-purposing the technology on-board for his own needs.
  • Explaining the physics behind superstring theory are quite a bit beyond my three astrophysics credits from undergrad, so I leave you with Wikipedia’s entry.
  • Another dent in the Wayne Foundation Javelin budget in this one, as one gets digitized here.

Line of the Episode: “Whoa, that’s a big robot That’s like a Shaq-sized robot” Well, he’d know.

Flash Line of the Episode: “You know something, sweetie, you’ve got an odor problem.” I hear some people are into that.

Next Side Story: Last of the Static Shock episodes, this time starring GL.

Next Justice League: Green Lantern vs. Despero. Plus, a really big tree.

Story by John Semper Jr., Ernie Altbacker
Teleplay by Ernie Altbacker
Directed by [Uncredited]
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Categories: B, Static Shock
  1. May 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Wow I’m really the only comment to your incredible writing.

  2. May 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    If only more than 93 people could hear this..

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