"Shock to the System"
In a warehouse situated somewhere in Dakota, a masked teenager thwarts an electronics robbery, wielding a variety of electrical powers and flying around on a manhole cover. Magnetically removing their metal weapons, he subdues them in short order, sticks them to the ceiling by their coats, and finally creates a sign suspended in midair, directing the police—just arriving on the scene—to the building. Watching his handiwork, he thinks back to two days ago, when in his own words, he was the last person anyone would call "hero material".
Virgil Hawkins, an ordinary kid living in a black neighborhood, heads from home, with his sister Sharon and father Robert, to high school, with one thing in mind: To ask Frieda Goren to homecoming, with some coaching from his best friend, Richie. As he works his way around to the subject, though, he runs afoul of Francis "F-Stop" Stone, and nearly receives a beating, but is saved thanks to the intervention of another of his friends, Wade. Coming home from school, though, Virgil runs into him again, flanked by his friends, and soon finds himself cornered in the back of an alley. There, he is held back as Francis pounds him mercilessly, only stopping when Wade happens by again. Warned by their lookout, the bullies make a break for it while Wade finds his beaten friend, and orders him to meet him under the bridge in half an hour, not listening to his protests that that's when he has to meet his dad.
Thirty minutes later, still not too sure about it, Virgil meets Wade, alongside the rest of his "crew", and is stunned when they ask him to join them. Wade tells him he won't always be around to save him from Francis, but that joining them will keep him safe. Virgil, well aware of the dangers of joining a gang—and, indeed, his father's stance on the subject—is unsure. A while later, he comes home, writing off his injuries on the very flimsy excuse of "football injuries" before he goes to his room. Upstairs, he receives a call from Richie, who has already heard about his apparently joining Wade (he protests that he just gave a sort of noncommittal nod), as has most of the neighborhood. Richie himself can't believe it, as Virgil's own mother died from gang fire. Virgil, realizing how bad the situation is, begins trying to think of a way out when Wade calls on another line, telling him to meet at the dock, now, and hangs up.
He arrives at the dock, finding Wade and the rest of his gang preparing for a huge throw-down with Francis' gang, as well as a great deal of large metal canisters. When he is handed a gun, Virgil realizes exactly how bad the situation is, and throwing it into the water, tries to back out; unfortunately, he finds himself face-to-face with Francis himself. Just then, police helicopters arrive, casting a searchlight on everyone and breaking up the fight. Everybody scatters, ignoring orders to stay where they are, until finally, a canister of tear gas is fired down—right next to one of the canisters, causing an explosion and the release of a cloud of purple gas. Everybody who breathes it in begins coughing, then exhibiting strange physical reactions; one's face begins to stretch, as another's eyes begin glowing, while police move in with gas masks on. Virgil himself crawls over a fence, on the edge of the spreading cloud, and falls over the side.
The next thing he knows, he is in his bedroom, both alive and free. Soon, however, Virgil also realizes that his own blanket is clinging to him with inexplicable fervor. He narrowly gets it off of himself, and goes to the bathroom to shave—when the razor begins buzzing as soon as he approaches it, even though it's not even plugged in. He drops it, stunned, and realizes that he himself is somehow giving off electricity. Excited, he calls Richie, and tells him to meet him at the junkyard, where Virgil is already showing an impressive control over his abilities, he glides around on the hood of a car, showing off. Richie watches and concludes that he could be a superhero, just as Virgil crashes into a pile of cars. Back at Virgil's house, they go through a series of potential costumes, before finally settling the one he will go on to use in the fight at the warehouse.
Back at the warehouse, Virgil lets the burglars drop from the ceiling to the floor, allowing the police to arrest them. A moment later, he notices that among the electronics in the warehouse are the new lab computers for his own school. Meanwhile, as the students work on setting up the homecoming, Richie tries to cover for his friend until Virgil arrives, in costume, personally delivering the computers and introducing himself as Static: "I put a shock to your system!" He then proceeds to single-handedly put up most of the decorations, turn the lights on, and blow an electric heart in Frieda's direction, causing her hair to stand on end, as he wonders why it's never this easy for Virgil. Richie, watching with the rest of the crowd, muses that he's "a natural".
Elsewhere, in a hospital, several of the gang members exposed to the gas continue to mutate in a variety of unsightly ways, with the doctors helpless to do anything and waiting for a haz-mat team to arrive. Among them is Francis, literally burning up, until he breaks free of his bed restraints, and blasts out the window. Landing on the streets below, surrounded by fire, he remarks that "This is going to be fun", and strides off into the city...
Visiting an electronics store, Virgil and Richie watch a news report covering recent events, beginning with Static's interruption of the warehouse burglary. Offended when he hears that one of the burglars has labeled him a "mutant", Virgil decides on the more dignified term "metahuman" for himself. Next up is the gas explosion at the docks, which has been nicknamed the "Big Bang", and its victims "Bang Babies"—people undergoing all sorts of mutations, possibly numbering in the hundreds. While Richie realizes the weight of this, Virgil has already distracted himself with a CD, discovering that on top of all his powers, he doubles as a human CD player.
He is forced to stop when he sees Frieda Goren nearby, watching somebody in the corner turn sweaty, hunching over, and finally mutating into a slavering werewolf; the man is another Bang Baby. It goes wild, tearing up the store, driving people screaming out the door, Virgil and his friends among them. Outside, they have the misfortune to run into Francis Stone, now the self-styled "Hotstreak". He pushes Virgil aside, and then shoots a blast of fire from his hands at the werewolf, sending it running away—Francis, they realize, is a Bang Baby as well. He is no less a bully for it, though, turning his attentions to the three people before him. Virgil is sent sprinting down an alley, shielding himself from a wave of fire with a trash can lid, while Richie tries to defend Frieda from him, getting most of his shirt burnt off for his trouble. Just as things are looking bad, Static comes flying in on the same trash can lid, drawing Hotstreak's attention away.
Then, for the first time in their metahuman lives, the two teenagers attack one another with their powers while the others retreat to a safe distance; Frieda finds a phone and starts dialing. Static gains the upper hand at first, using his defiance of gravity to his advantage and avoiding the fireballs flung his way as he tosses some metal from a construction yard his way. Hotstreak burns the counterattack in midair, and then suddenly catches Static off-guard when, shooting jets of fire from his hands, he propels himself from the ground and tackles Static bodily into a nearby park. Static lies stunned, as Francis stands above him and prepares to finish him, when he is suddenly soaked by a fireman's hose, soon joined by two more, subduing him. Frieda's call has saved Static, who when questioned by Richie about being put down for the count, can only say that he "choked".
At Virgil's home, his father and sister debate the growing Bang Baby situation over dinner. Sharon supports Static, but their father has a low opinion of him. Barely anything is known about the Bang Babies, but most appear to be using their powers to commit crimes and torment people. What's more, Virgil's father unknowingly puts his son at unease when he decides that Static could very well keep changing and become a monster, and not even know it himself.
The next day sees Virgil and Richie in the high school science lab, comparing samples of their own blood under microscopes, with inconclusive results. Next, Virgil visits a medical clinic, where his doctor agrees to run a test on his blood; whether or not they'll tell his father remains to be seen.
Later that day, in fact, his father addresses the city council, forcing them (with the support of the people) to acknowledge the urgency of the Bang Baby issue. When pressed regarding the investigation into the gas canisters and their owner, the mayor keeps her response vague, promising answers as they come and hurriedly moving back to the subject of the budget. That night, feeding the ducks at a pond, she meets with a gaunt older man, discussing the events of the meeting. Across the pond, Richie and Virgil hide in the bushes, listening in on their conversation with creative use of a trash can lid and Virgil's powers. He is Edwin Alva, an extremely rich businessman, who amid their discussion, claims that his company would welcome an investigation before driving away.
Virgil follows him, suiting up as Static and closely tailing his car. He again uses his powers to listen as Alva gives orders to York, his right-hand man, over the cell phone. Static breaks into the company building, finding the lab and coming in on York just as he finishes backing up and promptly deleting the company's data on their mutagen formulas from the databanks, rendering them safe from investigation until they're out of the spotlight—until Static steals the disk from him. York attacks the young metahuman with a handheld laser, and after a destructive battle, traps him inside of a transparent tube. Static finds that his electrical powers bounce right off of the surface, keeping him inside as gas begins to fill the chamber.
Coughing, still unable to directly damage his container, Static also begins to notice the growing air pressure inside the tube. Painful as he finds it, he sees his only chance at escape, and putting everything he has into another blast of energy, builds the air pressure to dangerous levels until the tube finally shatters. He crawls away, draws a table over to himself, and propels himself out of the lab, through the halls, past security and out of a window to escape, briefly bouncing off of a shocked Edwin Alva's car. Alva watches him go with a pair of guards, the gears already turning in his mind.
Meanwhile, in a secured room at the hospital, an orderly attempts to force Hotstreak to take a pair of pills. Eventually, he is satisfied, and leaves, unaware as he spits them, flaming, back out.
The next day, Richie and Virgil talk about the disk, sure they'll put Alva on lockdown and learn more about exactly what was in that gas, when they hear chaos coming from the town square. Hotstreak has escaped, and is wreaking havoc in the park, terrorizing everybody nearby and raiding a hot dog stand while he's at it. Virgil realizes he has to stop him before anybody gets hurt, and again taking the role of Static, grabs a garbage can lid and flies into battle. Taken by surprise, his fun ruined, Hotstreak goes berserk, unleashing a barrage of fireballs up at Static. Static tries to evade them, but one connects, destroying the lid he's flying on and knocking him to the ground—as well as burning the disk to ashes.
As Hotstreak advances, pressing his advantage, Static rises, bringing his full power to bear, and for perhaps the first time, fully getting into his groove as a superhero. He now meets Hotstreak head-on, throwing huge piles of debris his way. Much of it is destroyed by his fire, but Hotstreak is finally driven on the defensive and hit. Knowing he's at a disadvantage, he runs a short distance away, bringing the fight—both combatants now beginning to tire—to an unadorned clearing. Hotstreak declares that he has Static exactly where he wants him, in a place with no metal to work with, rendering him helpless. Static responds that he only brought them here to keep them away from any more innocent people, and as Hotstreak scoffs at this, adds that here in the city, there's always metal, visible or not—and promptly raises a sewage line from the ground, breaking through the surface to dump gallons of raw sewage onto Hotstreak, putting out his flame and handily defeating him.
Later that day, Virgil goes over the day's events, claiming that although, as Richie claims, he stopped Alva, it amounts an empty victory; the evidence was lost, and Alva is still free. That's when he receives a phone call from Doctor Harris regarding his blood test: Everything looks fine, although his electrolytes are unusually high, something normally attributed to too much salty food. Besides that, he's perfectly normal, a fact Virgil celebrates as soon as he hangs up, flipping off of his bed and surrounding himself with electricity before an incredulous Richie.
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