"Where the Rubber Meets the Road" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of Static Shock. It premiered on March 27, 2004. This "Very Special Episode" features on Rubberband Man's battle with dyslexia.
Rubberband Man has dyslexia, and it is affecting his super hero career. He failed to stop Tarmack, who got away with Alva's very dangerous fusion engine. Static finds out and tries to give Rubberband Man some encouragement.
Adam Evans, better known as Rubberband Man, lets Virgil and Richie play video games at his place while he takes Sharon out to dinner. Virgil and Richie notice Adam owns no books nor magazines, and his sizeable collection of fan-mail is completely unopened. During his date, Adam looks at his menu but doesn't read it, so he tells Sharon he'll order what she does, which she considers romantic. Their date is interrupted by a news report of Tarmack breaking into the Alva Industries complex, so Adam has Sharon read the news ticker explaining where the break-in is, blaming his inability to read it himself on a glare.
Tarmack easily breaks through Alva's advanced security measures, claiming he "shoulda hired a bouncer", prompting Rubberband Man to turn into a ball and bounce him. Static and Gear soon arrive as well, but the three are unable to stop Tarmack from taking one of Alva's devices, partially because Rubberband Man couldn't identify the "OVERRIDE" button that would have sealed the exits. Tarmack then gives the device to Specs and Trapper, who pay him a thousand dollars for it, insulting him all the while.
Edwin Alva tells the three heroes that the device was an experimental fusion engine, a nuclear reactor which can generate enough energy to level the city, and gives them each a device with a set of instructions for deactivating it. Meanwhile, Tarmack starts spending his payday at a Metahuman bar, where he brags to Carmen Dillo about his "cool thousand bucks" for the engine theft. Carmen laughs at him because Alva's offering a million for its return, and offers Tarmack "a buck to go rob Fort Knox" for him, prompting Tarmack to stick him to a rotating ceiling fan.
Static, suspecting why Adam couldn't identify the right button, goes to his home and confronts him with a newspaper, asking him to read his CD reviews. Adam admits he never does because he's dyslexic, and dropped out of a learning program he'd taken as a child to overcome his disability, because he never had the patience for their reading techniques and felt dumb for it. Static tells him he's not dumb, citing his successful career as both a famous musician and a superhero, and encourages him to put the work into his reading techniques.
Gear shows up and tells them Back-Pack's detecting a huge energy reading in Westwood Flats, and the three go there to find the engine. Tarmack then breaks into Specs and Trapper's hideout and threatens to return the engine for Alva's million unless they give him a bigger cut. They explain their plan to use the fusion engine to power a device which will level entire city blocks unless they're paid millions in ransom. Specs and Trapper then attack Tarmack to avoid giving him a cut, but destabilize the fusion engine in the process.
At Westwood Flats, Rubberband Man fails to read a "DANGER: CONDEMNED" sign on a clearly uninhabited tenement, which collapses on him due to its proximity to the fusion engine. After Static helps him escape, Back-Pack pinpoints the jolts to Specs and Trapper's hideout. Static and Gear subdue Specs and Trapper while Rubberband Man follows Tarmack as he escapes with the fusion engine. At the docks, Rubberband Man bounces Tarmack into the water, incapacitating him. Unfortunately, the engine's magnetic containment field was damaged, triggering a meltdown which will cause a massive explosion unless Rubberband Man completes the shutdown procedure in two minutes.
Rubberband Man makes the shutdown instructions big enough for him to read by duplicating them onto his arm, and uses the techniques he was taught to sound out the words. He manages to complete six of the seven steps this way, but has trouble reading the final word of the last instruction explaining which way to turn the aluminum collar. He realizes the word is too long to be clockwise, so he turns it counterclockwise, completing the shutdown sequence with only a second to spare. Static and Gear then arrive to shutdown the device, only to find it already deactivated. Static asks Adam how he managed it, so Adam tells him "I did the work."
In the final scene, Static and Rubberband Man break the fourth wall to inform viewers of the millions in America alone who have dyslexia and other reading difficulties. They encourage those who have these disabilities to take classes to overcome them, and conclude by assuring that anyone can learn to read.
Home video releases
- When Tarmack is playing pool, he's shooting with the 14 ball instead of the cue ball.
- When Alva discusses the theft of the fusion engine to Static, Gear, and Rubberband Man in his office, Gear's left glove disappears and reappears between shots.
- This episode marks the final appearances of Rubberband Man, Specs, and Trapper.
- At the end of the episode, Static and Rubberband Man break the fourth wall to educate the viewers on dyslexia; this is the second Static Shock episode to have a character do so. Static also did it in "Jimmy" to raise awareness of the dangers of guns in the vicinity of children.
Gear: Voice command. Not bad. Backpack: Jam anything plotting coordinates.
Rubber-Band Man: Sixteen letters, too big for clockwise. So it must be... Counterclockwise!