Dwayne McDuffie (1962-2011)

Comics professionals and fans expressed grief yesterday over  the untimely death of Dwayne McDuffie, who just turned 49 on Feb. 20.

Although I had never met McDuffie in person or online, like many super-hero enthusiasts I immensely enjoyed his contributions to DC’s animated offerings. His work on the Justice League cartoons and DVDs (including the recent and excellent Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths) was far more entertaining and compelling than the majority of titles published by the Big Two in the past several years.

Despite my fondness for his work in animation, however, I  believe McDuffie’s true legacy can be found in the creator-owned Milestone line of comic-books published by DC in the 1990s.

Founded by McDuffie with Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis, Milestone sought to make comics multicultural through the introduction of such characters as Static, Hardware, Icon and the Blood Syndicate. Each of  Milestone’s original four titles – co-created by McDuffie – possessed a sense of relevance and vitality that I hadn’t experienced in mainstream comics since the classic Lee-Kirby-Ditko Marvels of the 1960s.

Milestone presented a truly original spin on super-heroes and it was a shame the line only lasted a few years. At least a generation of children discovered the greatness of Static through the cartoon series.

As a side note, I can’t help but notice that McDuffie’s 49th birthday fell about three weeks before mine. It’s a sobering reminder to a middle-aged fanboy like myself of just how fragile life can be …

The panel at the top of the page is taken from Static #1 (DC, 1993). The story was written by McDuffie and Robert Washington III and drawn by John Paul Leon and Steve Mitchell.

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