Little Known Black History Fact: Milestone Comics

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    Milestone Media was a comic book company created by a group of Black artists and writers. It aimed to feature various ethnic groups as the main stars for its monthly titles. Milestone was published by DC Comics, although the comic universes wouldn’t collide until much later.

    Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle created Milestone in 1993. Icon, Hardware, Static, and Blood Syndicate were the first four books Milestone produced featuring characters that were Black, Asian and Hispanic. The company was unfairly typecast as a Black comic book company, which may have hurt its sales at the time.

    Comic book stores were reluctant to promote Milestone’s titles because of they didn’t think readers were ready for Black or ethnically diverse comics. Much of Milestone’s titles took place in the fictional Midwest city of Dakota, which was styled after Detroit, according to one account. Known as the “Dakotaverse,” DC Comics characters did not interact with this self-contained universe except for a special edition release in 1994.

    Milestone was folded in1997, but it would not be the end of some of the company’s characters. DC Comics absorbed the Dakotaverse into its comic universe world in the 2000s. McDuffie, who worked for DC Comics’ main rival Marvel, worked as a writer and producer for Static Shock. Static Shock made its debut on the WB network in 2000, running for four seasons.

    The main character was a Black science whiz named Virgil Hawkins who gained electrical powers after a freak accident. Static Shock’s creators gave him the Hawkins name to honor the first African-American man to attend law school.

    McDuffie, who at the time found success as a writer and producer for popular cartoon series such as Ben 10: Alien Force and Justice League Unlimited, wrote a two-part series titled Milestone Forever, which explained the fate of the Dakotaverse characters and how they became part of DC Comics universe.

    McDuffie died at the age of 49 in 2011. DC Comics honored McDuffie in 2012 with a short documentary that was part of a DVD and Blu-Ray disc set for its Justice League: Doom release.

    McDuffie was also honored by Marvel in 2012 via its Ultimate Spider Man cartoon series with a character named “Mac” who owned the fictional Damage Control company that McDuffie created in 1989.

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