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"Gear's the name. Technology is my game."[1]

Richard Osgood "Richie" Foley was the best friend and confidant of Virgil Hawkins, and one of the few to know of his double life. Yearning for powers his own, he temporarily became Push, and later Static's crime-fighting partner, Gear.

History

Youth

Richard Osgood Foley[2] was the son of Sean and Maggie Foley.[3] His family was of Irish and Scandinavian descent.[1]

He became close friends with Virgil Hawkins, like him one of the brighter students at Dakota Union High School. The two bonded over their common love of comic books, rap, and basketball,[4] but he knew his father, who was a racist, would not approve of a black friend.[3]

Aiding Static

Richie watched from the sidelines as Virgil and Francis "F-Stop" Stone came to blows. Wade tried to help, but he knew only one way - violence. Virgil joined Wade at the docks and was expected to kill his bully. But other events of the night changed Virgil - and by extension, Richie - forever.

Waking up with electrokinetic powers, the first thing Virgil did was run to Richie for help. Drawing from their admiration of comic book heroes, Richie suggested to his friend he should become a superhero. And after trying out several costumes, they decided on the proper attire for a superhero. And so, "Static" was born.[4]

At first, Richie helped Static be providing him with handy equipment - a mylar disc which he could use for transportation,[5] a "Shock Box" for communication[6] and Zap-Caps, small grenades that stored Static's electromagnetic power.[7]

Jealousy

Over time, Richie became jealous of his friend's powers, and his own lack of them. Static, in his turn, became increasingly irritated by Richie's attempts to "help" him.[7] Richie's jealousy came to a culmination when he met Ragtag. The enigmatic vagabond was one of the unsuspecting victims of the Big Bang, and he was bestowed with the gift to temporarily grant metahuman powers to people. He had already managed to get two kids under his sway, who he dubbed Run and Jump, and by granting Richie with the power to influence gravity, he created Push. But the powers were temporary, and each dose seemed to last shorter. The power made him confident, strong and popular - but he could not see his condition was getting worse with every new jolt of powers. He considered Static's words of warning merely jealousy, but after Ragtag was brought down and the final dose wore off, Richie could see he got addicted to them as well.[2]

Gear

While Virgil was good at concealing his identity, Richie was still vulnerable. Several instances in which Richie was seen conversing with Static were spotted by Static's rogues, and Ebon took advantage of it. He abducted Richie as he had run away from home. After a fight with his father over the latter's racist remarks, an emotionally damaged Richie became an easy target for the Meta-Breed. The combined power of Static, Robert Hawkins and Sean Foley was needed to defeat the Bang Baby gang.[3]

At a later instance, Ebon tried again, but failed. Richie was undergoing heavy changes at the time, sometimes losing control over his thoughts and designing ultra-tech gizmos at the drop of a hat. He created a device called "Back-Pack", improved earlier inventions, and aced his tests with only a short glance at the questions. He and Virgil deduced that it was a delayed effect of the Big Bang: as Virgil had gone to Richie without changing clothes, he would have inhaled residue of the gas. Delayed effects were witnessed before, though not this late, but neither could come up with a more satisfying explanation.

However, the manifested ability was "merely" super-intelligence, which initially disappointed Richie a lot. Shortly after this discovery, Virgil was kidnapped by the Meta-Breed, who suspected him of being Static. Richie went to his friend's rescue and after its success designed his own superhero persona, with a suit and a wide array of gadgets, including constraining coils and jet-powered roller skates. After some pondering, Virgil and Richie decided on the name Gear.[8]

His Own Foes

Gear became a hero on par with Static - definately more than a sidekick, though it took some time to convince the people of Dakota.[1] His powers were strategical, and to the naked eye, it seemed like he had none at all. Leech considered him no threat at all, thinking he only had gadgets.[9] Only technological geniuses like himself could fully understand the danger that his in Gear's brain.

Brainiac definately saw the potential of the boy. After Static and Gear defeated an attempted invasion of the Watchtower, Brainiac installed himself in Back-Pack, and took over Richie in an attempt to take over the planet.[10]

Doctor Odium similarly saw bigger threat in Gear than in Static or his own enemies, the Hoop Squad. The nanotech expert abducted Gear, hoping to find an ally and heir, but his plan was ultimately foiled.[11]

The Future

Gear stayed a valiant ally of Static in the 2040's. He had grown considerably, also in belt size. Whilst on a mission abroad at the request of Bruce Wayne, Kobra faked a holographic message in which he "told" Static to meet him at Platform 247. A time-displaced young Static commented on his girth, and upon returning to his own time, suggested to his friend to "lay off the fries".[12]

Powers and Abilities

After his transformation into a Bang Baby, Richie manifested augmented intelligence, especially in regard of technical design and calculative abilites. As Gear, Richie employed a variety of high-tech devices and weapons, including:

  • Back-Pack, a robot unit usable as a probe and portable computer assistance system.
  • Jet-Blades, vectored thruster-equipped jet boots, from modified roller blades.
  • Jet-Board, a hoverboard.
  • A sensor and neural interface control helmet.
  • Zap Caps, Mark II, grenade-like balls with metal bands for restraining purposes.

Background Information

Richie Foley is based on Rick Stone, one of Virgil's friends in the Milestone Media comics. Rick, however, did not know Virgil was Static; in the comics, Frieda Goren was his confidant. Static Shock's Frieda, on the other hand, has no idea Virgil is Static.

One of Rick Stone's more notorious storylines was his coming out as gay in Static #16-22 ("Between a Rick and a Hard Place"), and though not related on screen due to censors, Dwayne McDuffie considers Richie gay as well.[13] Subtle hints to this were given in the episodes themselves, mostly by having Richie announce his heterosexuality in a crude manner.[14]

Concerning Richie's transformation into Gear, Dwayne McDuffie stated that Richie was given superpowers because it was becoming "increasingly difficult to work Richie into stories, without having him order Static around all the time over the Shock Box." Regarding the response of fans, he said, "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."[15]

Appearances

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Static Shock, "The Usual Suspect"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Idem, "Power Play"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Idem, "Sons of the Fathers"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Idem, "Shock to the System"
  5. Idem, "The Breed"
  6. Idem, "Grounded"
  7. 7.0 7.1 Idem, "Winds of Change"
  8. Idem, "Gear"
  9. Idem, "Romeo in the Mix"
  10. Idem, "A League of Their Own, Part II"
  11. Idem, "Hoop Squad"
  12. Idem, "Future Shock"
  13. It'll never come up in the show because it's Y-7 but as far as I'm concerned, Richie is gay.

    Dwayne McDuffie

  14. The way I dealt with Richie's homosexuality was to write him aggressively and unconvincingly announcing his heterosxuality whenever possible ("Wow! Look at those girls in the swimsuits! I sure like girls!"), while Virgil rolled his eyes at the transparency of it.

    Dwayne McDuffie

  15. Dwayne McDuffie at World's Finest Online
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