The original writer of Static, and of a bunch of other 90s comics, died on Wednesday, at 47. Very sad - particularly the details of his later life (and his heartbreaking last comic, at the link).
I mentioned yesterday that the early/mid 90s were a threadbare time for superhero comics, but this wasn’t true across the board. Milestone - the DC imprint Washington wrote Static and Shadow Cabinet for - consistently published exciting, thoughtful stories, the kind of work critics faint-praise with “solid”, but which was in very short supply at the time (all the virtues fans ascribed to then-hot Valiant - strong storytelling, world-building, etc. - were truer of Milestone).
As Milestone founder Dwayne McDuffie repeatedly pointed out, the comics had to be good - as a Black-run imprint in a traditionally White industry they needed to be twice as good to have a chance of success. They usually were. But McDuffie was right: outside their own efforts, what hype Milestone received was for their “diversity”, not their characters or stories - giving the false impression that the books were only ‘a good thing’ rather than, you know, ‘good’.
It’s been years since I read any Milestone - I collected all the comics (except Hardware - not even Milestone could do a Metal Suit Guy book well), but I sold my collection of everything years ago. So I’m left with broad emotional traces, not particular examples of Washington’s writing. I do remember how refreshing Static was, and while Shadow Cabinet didn’t invent the secret black-ops superteam, it did it with more scope and elan than most of its ilk. I think the first thing I ever posted to USENET was a review of a Static or Blood Syndicate book.
So RIP Robert Washington, and thanks for being part of a rare bright spot in comics during a miserable time. I wish the industry had rewarded you for it.