"Attack of the Living Brain Puppets" is the ninth episode of the second season of Static Shock. It originally aired April 6, 2002.
Richie is complaining to Virgil about the vending machines at school, how they keep breaking down and that it takes a long time to get them fixed. Because of this, he thinks of running for the upcoming class president election, in order to provide a solution for this problem. His two competitors are Joey Bombora and Madelyn Spaulding, placed in opposite poles of popularity. While Joey is popular among the students simply because of being himself, Madelyn's haughty attitude makes her an unfavored contender — which becomes even more so after she publicly berates Richie's campaign for being based only on vending machines.
Soon enough, Madelyn finds out she possesses telepathic powers as a result of being exposed to Quantum Vapor. During the Big Bang, she was interviewing a homeless man for a school project when she witnessed the explosion in the distance. Somewhat distraught, she's sitting alone at a table when two punks come along and pick on her. Angered, Madelyn tells them to "buzz off", and soon they start doing so by actually "buzzing" off. At this moment, she finds out that besides having the power of telepathy, she can also control other people's minds as well — and begins to feel pleased with that.
The next day, Joey is to give a speech before the students. Madelyn, from behind the scenes, takes over his brain and commands him to resign his participation in the elections in favor of Madelyn; however, Richie witnesses her doing so and tries to warn Virgil, who initially does not believe him until they see Madelyn standing on a drum can in self-worship as other students circle around her, acting like mindless zombies.
While probing Richie's mind, Madelyn uncovers Virgil's identity as Static, and decided to make him her next target instead of Richie. That night, she uses her powers to tap into Virgil's mind while he is sleeping, causing him to have a nightmare of her. As soon as he wakes up, however, he finds out that it is more than a nightmare, as he opens the door and sees his father and sister with a dead-like stare in their faces, trying to stop him from leaving his room. Trapping them in his room, Virgil goes out to see that pretty much the entire neighborhood (or at least the high school students therein) — Richie included — has fallen prey to Madelyn and is now behaving like a horde of undead.
Blending in with the crowd, Virgil finds out that they are headed for the school, where Madelyn gives her speech to her brain-dead mental puppets. As he tapes the speech, he sees that Madelyn had let her power go up her head, as she proclaims her intention to take over not only Dakota, but the world as well. Static shows up with the tape in his hand, and Madelyn sics her "zombies" on him. Even though he manages to outsmart the mind-controlled students for a while (even when depowered after being showered in water), he is eventually caught by the brainwashed football team.
As Madelyn gloats over Static, he defiantly claims that she cannot rule over him. Upset, she decides to dominate him by force, while he fights back with his own powers. As a result, Static charges up enough electricity to blast Madelyn's powers back at her, break her hold over the students and drive her into a near-catatonic state, erasing her memories of being a metahuman (and also possibly causing a severe mental reboot as a side effect).
- Madelyn returns in "She-Back!", with a new, improved power (telekinesis) as a result of Static frying her mind.
- The homeless man who was hit by the Big Bang with Madelyn became Ragtag.
Home video releases
- Joey Bombora's election posters misspell "Freshman" as "Fresman".
- In "She-Back!", several flashbacks to this episode are shown. However, since the flashbacks were made specifically for that episode, instead of made up of clips from this one, Madelyn wears different clothes in those.
- When Madelyn orders the brainwashed students to attack Static, she says, "Get me that superhero... and his little tape, too!" This is a reference to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, in which the Wicked Witch of the West threatens Dorothy and her pet puppy Toto in a similar manner.
- Static's immunity to mind control is carried over to the comics, where it is explained that the electromagnetic field produced by his body prevents him from being controlled in any way — such as when he managed to resist the influence of the Anti-Life Equation during the Final Crisis. This may explain not only the massive knockback he caused on Madelyn's psyche, by using his powers on her with less restraint, but is also shown later to be the reason why Brainiac's controlling device broke down just seconds after being placed on him in "A League of Their Own, Part II".
- This marks the second time a villain has learned Static's secret identity. Omnifarious was the first.
- When Virgil runs into Richie after Madelyn has taken over everyone's minds, Richie screams and points at him to single Virgil out. This is a reference to the ending scene of the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Richie imitating Donald Sutherland's character.
|Phil LaMarr||Static/Virgil Hawkins|
|Jason Marsden|| Richie Foley|
|Kevin Michael Richardson|| Robert Hawkins|
Omar Harmozi (uncredited)
|Michele Morgan||Sharon Hawkins|
|Kimberly Brooks||Madelyn Spaulding|
|Danica McKellar||Frieda Goren|
|Miguel Sandoval||Principal Aguilar|
|Crystal Scales||Coed #1|
|Philip Tanzini||Joey Bombora|
Richie: That control freak! Last week she came up to me and criticized the way I was chewing!
Boy #1: Hey Spaulding, you got a problem?
Virgil: (after locking a controlled Robert and Sharon in his room) Are you two all right in there? (Robert and Sharon moan) Glad to hear it.
Madelyn: Attention, students: this is your President speaking. Get me that superhero....and his little tape, too!
Richie: (about Madelyn) And speaking of politicians, what's up with Her Royal Weirdness?