"Aftershock" is the second episode of Static Shock. It originally aired September 30, 2000.
Visiting an electronics store, Virgil and Richie watch a news report covering recent events, beginning with Static's interruption of the warehouse burglary. Offended when he hears that one of the burglars has labeled him a "mutant", Virgil decides on the more dignified term "metahuman" for himself. Next up is the gas explosion at the docks, which has been nicknamed the "Big Bang", and its victims "Bang Babies"—people undergoing all sorts of mutations, possibly numbering in the hundreds. While Richie realizes the weight of this, Virgil has already distracted himself with a CD, discovering that on top of all his powers, he doubles as a human CD player.
He is forced to stop when he sees Frieda Goren nearby, watching somebody in the corner turn sweaty, hunching over, and finally mutating into a slavering werewolf; the man is another Bang Baby. It goes wild, tearing up the store, driving people screaming out the door, Virgil and his friends among them. Outside, they have the misfortune to run into Francis Stone, now the self-styled "Hotstreak". He pushes Virgil aside, and then shoots a blast of fire from his hands at the werewolf, sending it running away—Francis, they realize, is a Bang Baby as well. He is no less a bully for it, though, turning his attentions to the three people before him. Virgil is sent sprinting down an alley, shielding himself from a wave of fire with a trash can lid, while Richie tries to defend Frieda from him, getting most of his shirt burnt off for his trouble. Just as things are looking bad, Static comes flying in on the same trash can lid, drawing Hotstreak's attention away.
Then, for the first time in their metahuman lives, the two teenagers attack one another with their powers while the others retreat to a safe distance; Frieda finds a phone and starts dialing. Static gains the upper hand at first, using his defiance of gravity to his advantage and avoiding the fireballs flung his way as he tosses some metal from a construction yard his way. Hotstreak burns the counterattack in midair, and then suddenly catches Static off-guard when, shooting jets of fire from his hands, he propels himself from the ground and tackles Static bodily into a nearby park. Static lies stunned, as Francis stands above him and prepares to finish him, when he is suddenly soaked by a fireman's hose, soon joined by two more, subduing him. Frieda's call has saved Static, who when questioned by Richie about being put down for the count, can only say that he "choked".
At Virgil's home, his father and sister debate the growing Bang Baby situation over dinner. Sharon supports Static, but their father has a low opinion of him. Barely anything is known about the Bang Babies, but most appear to be using their powers to commit crimes and torment people. What's more, Virgil's father unknowingly puts his son at unease when he decides that Static could very well keep changing and become a monster, and not even know it himself.
The next day sees Virgil and Richie in the high school science lab, comparing samples of their own blood under microscopes, with inconclusive results. Next, Virgil visits a medical clinic, where his doctor agrees to run a test on his blood; whether or not they'll tell his father remains to be seen.
Later that day, in fact, his father addresses the city council, forcing them (with the support of the people) to acknowledge the urgency of the Bang Baby issue. When pressed regarding the investigation into the gas canisters and their owner, the mayor keeps her response vague, promising answers as they come and hurriedly moving back to the subject of the budget. That night, feeding the ducks at a pond, she meets with a gaunt older man, discussing the events of the meeting. Across the pond, Richie and Virgil hide in the bushes, listening in on their conversation with creative use of a trash can lid and Virgil's powers. He is Edwin Alva, an extremely rich businessman, who amid their discussion, claims that his company would welcome an investigation before driving away.
Virgil follows him, suiting up as Static and closely tailing his car. He again uses his powers to listen as Alva gives orders to York, his right-hand man, over the cell phone. Static breaks into the company building, finding the lab and coming in on York just as he finishes backing up and promptly deleting the company's data on their mutagen formulas from the databanks, rendering them safe from investigation until they're out of the spotlight—until Static steals the disk from him. York attacks the young metahuman with a handheld laser, and after a destructive battle, traps him inside of a transparent tube. Static finds that his electrical powers bounce right off of the surface, keeping him inside as gas begins to fill the chamber.
Coughing, still unable to directly damage his container, Static also begins to notice the growing air pressure inside the tube. Painful as he finds it, he sees his only chance at escape, and putting everything he has into another blast of energy, builds the air pressure to dangerous levels until the tube finally shatters. He crawls away, draws a table over to himself, and propels himself out of the lab, through the halls, past security and out of a window to escape, briefly bouncing off of a shocked Edwin Alva's car. Alva watches him go with a pair of guards, the gears already turning in his mind.
Meanwhile, in a secured room at the hospital, an orderly attempts to force Hotstreak to take a pair of pills. Eventually, he is satisfied, and leaves, unaware as he spits them, flaming, back out.
The next day, Richie and Virgil talk about the disk, sure they'll put Alva on lockdown and learn more about exactly what was in that gas, when they hear chaos coming from the town square. Hotstreak has escaped, and is wreaking havoc in the park, terrorizing everybody nearby and raiding a hot dog stand while he's at it. Virgil realizes he has to stop him before anybody gets hurt, and again taking the role of Static, grabs a garbage can lid and flies into battle. Taken by surprise, his fun ruined, Hotstreak goes berserk, unleashing a barrage of fireballs up at Static. Static tries to evade them, but one connects, destroying the lid he's flying on and knocking him to the ground—as well as burning the disk to ashes.
As Hotstreak advances, pressing his advantage, Static rises, bringing his full power to bear, and for perhaps the first time, fully getting into his groove as a superhero. He now meets Hotstreak head-on, throwing huge piles of debris his way. Much of it is destroyed by his fire, but Hotstreak is finally driven on the defensive and hit. Knowing he's at a disadvantage, he runs a short distance away, bringing the fight—both combatants now beginning to tire—to an unadorned clearing. Hotstreak declares that he has Static exactly where he wants him, in a place with no metal to work with, rendering him helpless. Static responds that he only brought them here to keep them away from any more innocent people, and as Hotstreak scoffs at this, adds that here in the city, there's always metal, visible or not—and promptly raises a sewage line from the ground, breaking through the surface to dump gallons of raw sewage onto Hotstreak, putting out his flame and handily defeating him.
Later that day, Virgil goes over the day's events, claiming that although, as Richie claims, he stopped Alva, it amounts an empty victory; the evidence was lost, and Alva is still free. That's when he receives a phone call from Doctor Harris regarding his blood test: Everything looks fine, although his electrolytes are unusually high, something normally attributed to too much salty food. Besides that, he's perfectly normal, a fact Virgil celebrates as soon as he hangs up, flipping off of his bed and surrounding himself with electricity before an incredulous Richie.
Home video releases
- Static Shock: The New Kid (DVD)
- Young Justice: Invasion – Game of Illusions: Season 2 Part 2
- Static should not have been able to use the CD in the music store with his powers. A CD uses laser lights to read microscopic indentations in the disk. These indentations then transferred into electrical impulses that are converted to vibrations producing sound within a speaker. Without a laser to read the indentations nor a speaker to generate and amplify the vibrations there would be no sound.
- The plot for this episode bears strong similarities to the earlier produced Batman Beyond premiere "Rebirth" in that both protagonists are set on their path by the actions of a wealthy businessman, have a tape (or disc) with incriminating evidence against them, lose the evidence in one form or another, and proceeds to try and take them down in future episodes. Also, both businessmen are later revealed to have a son who tries to take down their father and becomes an enemy of the protagonist themselves.
Hotstreak: (to Frieda) You know, Frieda, you've always been real cold to me. How about we change all that?
Virgil: "Mutant"? That's degrading.