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"Static in Africa" is the third episode of the third season of Static Shock. It first aired on February 8, 2003. On a vacation to Ghana, Static meets the African hero Anansi.

Plot[]

Flying to Ghana on vacation, the Hawkins family passes the time on the plane by reading; Virgil an issue of "Cactus Man", Sharon, a fashion magazine, and their father, a "Tour Africa" pamphlet. Excited for the trip to the cradle of humanity, Robert Hawkins asks his children if they can "feel the electricity". Virgil, still sore from the 23 vaccination shots he had in order to leave the country, jokes that he can't feel anything. Breaking his children's back-and-forth, Robert tells them that this trip was a dream that he and Jean Hawkins had started saving for when the two of them were little. Virgil, trying to aggravate his dad, responds that he just wants to see the tigers, despite already being aware that there aren't any tigers in Africa. Robert begins to list some of thousands of animal species native to the continent, leading to Sharon and Virgil putting in headphones to drown him out on the remainder of the flight.

Finally arriving at the airport, Virgil struggles to retrieve his family's bags from the luggage carousel. Checking to be sure nobody is watching him, he decides to use his Static powers to move the four bags to a nearby luggage cart. Stepping out of the airport terminal, Robert finds himself in awe of the beauty of his surroundings. Not as impressed as his father, Virgil tries and fails to flag down a taxi. Stepping in to help, Sharon reminds him that their father explained earlier that the passenger cars in Ghana are called tro tros.

After boarding the tro tro, the family is taken on a tour of Accra. The tour passes by Independence Monument and the W.E.B. Dubois Center. Explaining that W.E.B. DuBois was a proponent of Pan-Africanism, the belief in the unity of all Black people and their cultural connection to Africa through their shared blood and history, Sharon asks Virgil if he can feel it. Starting to realize why this trip was so exciting for his father, he optimistically replies that he does.

Later, back at the hotel, Robert snores loudly, making it difficult for his son to sleep in the bed on the other side of the room. Restless, and filled with a new sense of excitement for his trip, Virgil sneaks to his suitcase and pulls out the Static Saucer.

Flying through the skies of Ghana at night, Static attempts to contact Richie over Shock Vox but being so far away from Dakota, this requires an extra jolt before the call reaches him back home playing videogames. Richie picks up asking his friend how the trip is going, and Static responds "It's amazing. There are black people everywhere." Not understanding why Virgil would find that exciting, Richie reminds him that's a given, being that he's in Africa. Trying to explain, Static tells his pal back home that ever since he'd gotten there, he's felt "different. Connected." Starting to slightly understand, Richie mentions that his dad, Sean Foley, "got all goofy too" when he visited Ireland. Finally spelling it out for his friend, Static tells him "I've been carrying this weight around all my life without knowing it, and now it's gone. [...] In Africa, I'm not a Black kid, I'm just a kid.", and asks Richie if this is what it feels like for him all the time. Perplexed, Richie responds "yeah, I guess?", leading to Static exclaiming "It feels good!" followed by a series of aerial tricks.

The following morning, the Hawkins family boards a train to Kumasi, but unbeknownst to them a mysterious figure lurks around the corner watching over the family. On the train, the family is approached by Professor of Archeology at the University of Ghana, Dr. Anokye, who asks to sit with them and introduces himself to Robert. Robert tells the professor that his family are tourists, and Dr. Anokye responds that perhaps they're distant cousins, as it's possible their ancestors were separated from each other during the slave trade. "That's true." Robert tells his kids, "About 16% of all American slaves came from Ghana". He goes on to tell the Doctor that he wants to show Sharon and Virgil where the Ashanti kings used to live, leading Anokye to suggest they visit the Prempeh Jubilee Museum, but before he can finish his sentence, a loud thud is heard from the roof.

Just then, Osebo the Leopard rips open the train cars ceiling and drops in. Recognizing the criminal, Dr. Anokye clings tightly to his briefcase, but Osebo assures him he'll be taking it with him one way or another. Overhearing the commotion, the mysterious stranger sneaks up behind the villain and attacks. Revealing himself to be none other than Anansi The Spider, the most famous crime fighter in all of West Africa, the two begin to fight; Anansi reminding Osebo of the ancient stories in which "the spider always captures the leopard." Virgil teases that Anansi should "hit him with a web-blast", but Anansi informs him that he's not "that kind of spider". Revealing the Web of Tricks, Anansi makes it appear as though the floor of the train car disappeared, leading Osebo to cling to the ceiling. Realizing he had been fooled by an illusion, the villain attempts to continue the battle, but outclassed by Anansi, Osebo calls his henchman demanding they demolish the train.

Just then, guided by Osebo's collaborators, the train switches to a sidetrack, assuring a crash if nobody is able to stop it in time. Aware of the danger, Anansi leaps through the hole in the ceiling and runs along the side of the train towards the front car, avoiding Osebo's henchmen along the way. However, in Anansi's absence, the villain makes his move, and grabs Dr. Anokye's briefcase. Robert steps in, trying to stop Osebo, but is quickly flung aside. Shocked to see her father man-handled in such a way, Sharon makes an attempt to slow the criminal by stepping on his tail but is brushed off just as easily. Wanting to protect his family, but unable to use his powers in the presence of onlookers, Virgill attacks Osebo with a flying suitcase, but it's not enough. The train shifts, throwing the pair out of balance, and Osebo escapes through the hole in the roof, boarding an awaiting helicopter. Though, not before Virgil is able to place a tracking device on The Leopard.

With his henchmen back on the train, Osebo radios for them to abandon the train just as Anansi enters the control room. Throwing the henchman out, the superhero pulls the braking mechanism, but it's too late. Without extra help, the train isn't going to stop in time. Realizing that the passengers are all focused on what's going on outside, Virgil powers up, and uses his electric abilities to help further slow down the speeding locomotive. Crashing through the cautionary fence at the edge of a cliff, the train stops just in time to not go over the edge. Unshaken, Robert reminds his son that he told him Africa would be exciting. Unaware that he received Virgil's aid, Anansi leaves to search for Osebo before he can be told about the tracking device.

Stuck in a remote village with his family, Virgil contacts Richie back home in Dakota once again to relay the days events, but before they can work together to formulate a plan, the call is cut short by Sharon. She informs Virgill that Robert secured them a hotel room as they won't be able to leave until the following day before quickly leaving again after spotting a merchant selling Kente cloth. Alone again, Virgil spots Dr. Anokye eating a plate of fufu by himself outside a nearby restaurant. The professor offers him a seat and some of his food, but focused on the case, Virgil asks what it was Osebo stole from him. Revealing that it was a map of ancient Kumasi, Dr. Anokye tells Virgil he believes he's found the location of a long-lost palace at the bottom of Lake Volta that may possibly filled with artifacts worth millions. Interrupted by Anansi, the hero announces he's lost Osebo's trail.

Asking if the hero can keep a secret, Virgil takes Anansi back to the hotel room and shows him the tracer. Explaining that his friend, Richie, was responsible for the design, Virgil informs Anansi that he's the only one who can track them. He reveals that this is because he's also a superhero, leading to Anansi enlisting his help in tracking down Osebo. With Robert and Sharon rapidly approaching the room to announce they found a local Burger Fool, Anansi casts an illusion to make them believe Virgil's asleep. With his family members fooled, the two begin their search, riding on opposite sides of the Static Saucer, as Anansi is able to stand upside down.

The pair finally locate Osebo and his henchmen loading crates of TNT into the back of a pick-up truck. Curious as to whether or not Static is an illusion, Anansi assures him that he's a "flashy" American. The villain tosses a lit bundle of dynamite at the heroes, and they leap off the side of a cliff to avoid the ensuing blast. Regardless, the duo is buried under rubble, convincing Osebo he's finally beaten The Spider. Unbeknownst to him, Static was able to generate an electric force field around the two, expanding it to free themselves from the debris after the villain left. Returning to the hide out, Anansi informs Virgil that Lake Volta is formed by a damn, and if Osebo were to destroy it, the lake would pour into the valley, allowing him to find the hidden palace, destroying thousands of homes in the process.

At the damn, Number Two reports that he's seen no sign of the heroes on his lookout. Little did he know, Anansi and Static would descend on him mere seconds later. Lifting the henchman into the sky, Anansi demands to know the location of Osebo. Receiving the information they desired, the heroes somersault Osebo's underling in the air before tossing him into the nearby lake.

Making their way to the dam's bottom tunnel, the heroes get the drop on an unsuspecting henchman, with Static using his powers to wrap the metallic Static Saucer around his head until he passes out. Overhearing Osebo discussing his plans with his henchman, Anansi remarks "He's so happy. It's a shame to disappoint him." Taking advantage of the tunnels electric lighting, Static overpowers the overhead lamps, blinding the henchmen, allowing Anansi to take them out one by one before following after Osebo. Staying behind, Number Two attempts to sneak up on Static, who outclasses him once again.

Back on the surface, Anansi and Osebo meet face to face for their final duel. Surrounded by illusions of Anansi, the villain threatens to blow the damn with them both within the blast radius, but Static arrives just in time to knock the detonator from his hand. Now in a safer position, the two rivals begin to fight. Osebo backs Anansi to a cliffside, but using his ability to walk on walls, the trickster causes Osebo to lose his footing and jump off the side. Catching his claws on the wall during his descent, Osebo's fall slows just enough to leave him unconscious, but otherwise fine when he hits the bottom.

Back at the hotel, Virgil and Sharon pack for their return trip. Entering the room, Robert tells the kids that he just read a story in the newspaper announcing that the Ghana government is funding an expedition to uncover the Ashanti palace now that Dr. Anokye has had his map returned. Robert leaves the room to head downstairs hoping to read more about the story, and Sharon accompanies him to check out the hotel gift shop. Following their exit, Anansi makes his presence known. Saying their goodbyes, Virgil tells Anansi "I never knew how important it would be to meet a role model like you." Virgil explains that it makes him feel validated to see the representation and tells his new friend "sometimes I wish there was a black superhero back home for folks to look up to." Placing his hand on Virgil's shoulder, Anansi assures him that there is, "and he is my hero too."

Continuity[]

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • The original title of this episode was "Role Models."[1]
  • Vic Dal Chele directed this episode, though for unknown reasons no director was credited.[2]
  • The first half of the episode was storyboarded by Larry Houston, and the second half by Don Manuel.[3]
  • When Osebo's bomb blows up, the resulting explosion is reused footage from the scene of Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest, Part III" in which one Wayne/Lex T-7 blows up another droid.
  • The airport that the Hawkins family lands in displays a sign on the wall reading "OTOK". This is likely meant to "Kotoka", the name of the international airport in Ghana's capital, Accra, where the Hawkins family landed.

Production inconsistencies[]

  • Virgil's seating position changes frequently between shots during Anansi and Osebo's duel on the train.
  • No director is credited.

Trivia[]

Static flies over Independence Monument

Static flies over Independence Monument in Ghana

  • Multiple promotional pieces were made for this episode with Static in front of Independence Monument.
  • This was the favorite episode of many cast members. Including Dwayne McDuffie[1][4] and storyboard artist Larry Houston.[5]
  • W.E.B. Dubois was one of Dwayne McDuffie's favorite authors. During his 1990 run on Marvel's Deathlok, Dwayne tapped Dubois idea of the "double consciousness" that he said was "an inescapable consequence of being Black in America."[6]
  • When discussing this episode, Dwayne McDuffie has said "It's a pretty straightforward superhero team up, but in the course of the adventure, Virgil's unusual experience of being in a country where pretty much everyone is Black creates a context for referencing the larger social meaning of a Black superhero in our society."[6]
  • Virgil says he wishes there was a black superhero back home. When this episode aired, John Stewart had been appearing on Justice League for a year and a half. Dwayne McDuffie has touched on this, stating "Static wants a black hero back home he can look up to. He never says there are no other black heroes, although he implies that there are none with the stature that Anansi has in Ghana."[7]
  • According to Dwayne McDuffie, "... a comparison of this story with the underlying Anansi myth will reveal a pleasing level of complexity of theme (it's fundamentally about stories -and who gets to tell them)."[8]
  • Despite airing in February, Dwayne McDuffie has stated that the episode wasn't commissioned as a Black History Month piece, but instead was the result of wanting to get Virgil out of Dakota for a couple times over the course of the season.[8]
  • The episode centers highly on the Ashanti culture.
    • Anansi, the spider, is a trickster in West African folklore.
    • Osebo is only a minor character in one of the legends; a leopard tricked, caught, and killed by Anansi.
    • Dr. Anokye is likely named after Okomfo Anokye, cofounder of the Empire of Ashanti.
  • Accra has been the capital of Ghana for over 200 years.
  • Robert and the bus driver say Ghana was the first black African colony to achieve independence. From the British, in 1957.
  • Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region.
  • The dam seen when Sharon explains the meaning of Pan-Africanism to Virgil, though unnamed in the episode, is the Akosombo Dam.
  • Virgil refers to his sister as "Shoppa Zulu", a reference to the Zulu king Shaka Zulu.
  • Virgil asks Anansi to "hit [Osebo] with a web blast" and poses his hand in Spider-Man's traditional web shooter pose.

Cast[]

Actor Role
Phil LaMarr Virgil Hawkins/Static
Jason Marsden Richie Foley
Carl Lumbly Anansi
Michael Jai White Osebo
Michele Morgan Sharon Hawkins
Kevin Michael Richardson Robert Hawkins
Roscoe Lee Browne Dr. Anokye

Quotes[]

Robert: (to Sharon) Aw, honey, you look so beautiful. Like an Ashanti Princess. Your mother would be so proud.
Virgil: Yeah. You look so African, maybe we should leave you here.

Virgil: (to Anansi, about Osebo) Hit him with a web blast! (does Spider-Man's traditional web shooter pose)
Anansi: I am not that kind of spider.

Sharon: I'm gonna miss Africa so much.
Virgil: I don't know why. You're bringing most of it home with you.

  1. 1.0 1.1 STATIC SHOCK IN AFRICA
  2. VIC DAL CHELE'S THINGS
  3. Larry Houston tweet (Jan. 28, 2021)
  4. Dwayne's World - Ask The Maestro (Nov. 1, 2005)
  5. Larry Houston tweet (Aug. 1, 2021)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Dwayne McDuffie Interview" Conducted March 2005 by Danny Fingeroth via e-mail and phone segments transcribed by Steven Tice Copy-edited by Dwayne McDuffie and Danny Fingeroth - Write Now! Magazine #10 July, 2009
  7. Dwayne McDuffie on ToonZone forums June 23, 2004
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dwayne McDuffie on ToonZone Forums February 8th, 2003
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