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Comics 411: Thoughts on the Return of Milestone Comics

August 26, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Milestone Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last week we asked Who is the Most Underrated Character in Comic Books? Here’s what some of you had to say:

Zeus: “Silver Surfer hands down. The guy was key to some major storylines, has near limitless power, but still has relatable weaknesses. One of the most introspective characters Marvel has had, which probably limits his popularity in many ways. The Rise of Silver Surfer film hurt his reputation greatly in my opinion.”

Deandouglas04: “Silver surfer is very underrated. Forgot to add him
The question
Kyle reiner
Animal man”

Steed: “Captain Marvel (the Monica Rambeau version)
Martian Manhunter
Captain Atom
Silver Surfer
Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan)
Robin (Tim Drake version who was the best in the role)
Spiderwoman (Jessica Drew)
Black Lightening”

William Jansen: “Judge Dredd is often forgotten because he isn’t a part of any big juggernaut like Marvel or DC. His universe isn’t intertwined with other universes (there has been occasional intercompany crossovers, but they are few and far between). He doesn’t have any iconic partners or foes, that then go on to have famous adventures on their own.

Judge Dredd is awesome, but he is his own thing in an industry dominated by huge shared universes and thus gets left out of a lot of conversations.”

Ken Wood: “Cyclops. He gets tons of hate and is always overshadowed by Wolverine but he’s the shiz. Storm too. They’re the freaking leaders of the X-Men and they’re both awesome.
Gen 13. It’s one of the greatest comics ever and not nearly enough people are familiar with it.
Wildcats. They are another really awesome team that doesn’t get their due.
Kyle Rayner. Everyone always thinks of Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern but Kyle had a really great run and may be even more interesting than Jordan.
Guy Gardener. He is hilarious and an awesome addition to the Green Lantern Corps.”

Tayo Jones: “The Question is often overlooked these days. I love his design and how he was reinvented by Denny O Neil (RIP).

I feel Kyle is also pretty underappreciated now. Ever since Hal came back, Kyle has been pushed to the side. True he played a huge role in Sinestro war and BN, but half the time most people think he Is boring compared to Hal. He is barely used in other media, except video games.”

Deandouglas04: “Martian manhunter doesn’t get enough love. One of the most unappreciated characters in DC. He is just as strong as Superman and has a variety of abilities but the writers make him look stupid
Martian Manhunter is one of my favorite characters. Alongside magneto. He is one of my heroes I look up too
Still hate to this day that cyborg replaced MM
Beast boy
Silver samurai
Red tornado
Mr . Miracle
Mr terrific
Black lighting
Are very underrated”

LITMnooch: “I absolutely Adore Jamie Madrox and was so excited to see him in X-men the last stand just for him to be a Decoy.

He did well with his X-factor series but that seems long forgotten even though they had some great things going on in that series (personally Madrox’s heartbreaking fatherhood storyline really hit me in the feels as I’d just had a baby with my separated Wife at the time!)

The world needs more Madrox!”

John: “Nextwave proved that Elsa Bloodstone, Machine Man, and The Captain were all solid characters that could carry perhaps not their own books but should be used more often.”

Jarvin Driftwood: “Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew). Much like She-Hulk she’s had some uneven writing from what I’ve read over the years. And both have dealt with the whole “female-[established hero]”.”

Benjamin Kellog: “All my prior ideas for underrated characters were mentioned in the article, so I’m going to mention one I “rediscovered” recently which I feel has been seriously underrepresented for a long time. Where, oh where, has Streaky the Supercat been?! I was familiar with him from the “Krypto” cartoon from a decade or so ago, but hadn’t actually seen him in the comics until I picked up a Silver Age Supergirl collection which had a good number of his first appearances. The origin story of an irradiated kryptonite meteor giving him the standard Kryptonian power set isn’t terribly original, but his still-catlike habits and increasingly odd behavioral patterns make him a great addition to the series. He doesn’t seem to have come back following the Crisis; there have been Streaky-like cats in Supergirl’s possession, yes, but none with the classic powers or personality.”

Too many awesome comments to list but big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss our…

Thoughts on the Return of Milestone Comics
Some of you reading this may not remember Milestone Comics but they were a pretty big deal back in the day. Founded in 1993 by a coalition of African-American artists and writers, Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle believed that minorities were underrepresented in comics and wanted to change that. Sounds pretty familiar and something that’s still prevalent in the headlines today. 

The comics were set in the “Dakotaverse”, Milestone’s first wave of comics consisted of Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static. While DC took care of the distribution and marketing, Milestone existed free from their continuity and were able to focus on a demographic that was largely ignored. Milestone had a number of things going for it but came at a time when the comic book industry was going through fluctuations and Milestone cancelled a number of low-selling titles in 1995 and 1996. Milestone closed down its line completely in 1997.

It didn’t entirely disappear though.

Milestone Media was reformed in January 2015 by Reginald Hudlin and two of its co-founders, Denys Cowan and Derek Dingle. DC announced they would once again license the Milestone IP for usage as a comic book line and in other media. Fast forward to 2017 and DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee shared that the planned relaunch and reboot of the Milestone line that was announced is still going to happen. Eventually. 

“We couldn’t be more proud and excited about the opportunity to bring the ‘Dakota’ Universe back to DC,” said Lee. “This is a huge step forward for us in bringing readers a more diversified lineup as part of the new DC Universe, and we’re anxiously looking forward to telling new stories that are socially and culturally impactful and representative of the world in which we live.”

DC’s plans were for a separate line co-existing in the broader DC Multiverse but in a separate dimension, ‘Earth-M’. There was a plan for titles including Static Shock, Icon, Rocket, and Xombi, with creators including Hudlin, Cowan, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ken Lashley, and Christopher Priest. In addition to reviving Milestone characters of the past, Milestone Media said they’ll also be introducing new characters and including new creators in the mix.

Unfortunately the line hit some speed bumps but beginning in early 2021, DC will revive Milestone via a number of different projects scheduled for release. The revival was revealed during Saturday’s DC FanDome streaming event.

All the plans mentioned above have been completely revised for the 2021 relaunch, which will feature an all-new Static Shock digital comic series beginning in Feb. 2021, written by Reginald Hudlin, now a full partner of Milestone, and drawn by a mystery artist, as well as an additional Static Shock graphic novel by Hudlin, with art by Kyle Baker. A series reviving Icon and Rocket, by Hudlin and Milestone founder Denys Cowan, was also announced.

Milestone also plans to utilize the characters outside of comics, with Hudlin mentioning potential animated and live-action movie projects, including a Static Shock movie, as well as potential podcast development. Lee also teased future YA content featuring the characters.

Ahead of the February relaunch, DC will release digital editions of the original Milestone comics, starting in September with the release of Milestone Returns No. 0, an all-new primer intended to introduce the concepts to new readers.

First, Static is the character that has shown the most appeal with audiences so it’s smart to push him. He’s got plenty of appeal and a huge upside for continued crossover success. Like I mentioned above, Milestone came at a weird time for the comic book industry; speculators were starting to figure out that comic books weren’t the best investment they thought, comic stands were filled with gimmick covers, and the vast amount of upstart publishers created a bad mix for everyone. 

I believe the timing is right for Milestone to get that deserved second chance. The characters still have loads of untapped possibilities and if the marketing is done correct, this could be a solid line of books. Here’s to hoping!

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!