Out of all of the projects in DC Comics‘ current arsenal, the return of Milestone Comics has already gotten a lot of attention, as fans are eager to see the imprint’s beloved characters reimagined for a new era. The new initiative has already updated Static Shock in Static: Season One, and this week will see the same treatment given to two more beloved characters, Augustus Freeman/Icon and Raquel Ervin/Rocket. Icon & Rocket: Season One will publish this Tuesday, and will bring the duo’s hero and sidekick relationship back to readers after decades away. During a recent virtual press conference, the team behind Icon & Rocket: Season One dove into the experience of modernizing the heroes.
“I love Icon & Rocket so much,” co-writer Reginald Hudlin explained. ‘I love those characters. For over 20 years, I’ve had all these ideas that I want to do right for them, so it is a joy to finally get to play with these toys.”
“I mean, for me, I just remember having conversations about Icon & Rocket with Dwayne [McDuffie], and he gave such a beautiful definition of why the concept worked,” Hudlin added. “He described them as a unity of opposites: male, female; young, old; human, alien; conservative, progressive. And that’s exactly right. It’s such a perfect pair because they’ve got nothing in common except they care. Icon getting pushed out of his cynicism by a young, naive, but passionate Rocket. And I just thought, well, that’s just a great dynamic, period. And if you add super powers to it, it’s even better.”
“I mean, my exposure growing up to Milestone was definitely primarily through the Static comic. And once I got the call from Reggie to be a part of this, went back and read all of the Icon & Rocket comic books,” co-writer Leon Chills revealed. “And on top of everything you mentioned, there was also the fact that it was my first time being a part of writing a comic book. So initially I was kind of suffering under the weight of the moment and the pressure, and was suffering a bit of writer’s block until I realized the blessing of being able to do this with Reggie, which allows me to kind of just swing for the fences, and he’ll tell me either that’s dope, or maybe not that. So it’s been an amazing experience. And I love Icon & Rocket as an, I guess, elder millennial now, there’s a part of me that definitely still feels very young, and then a part of me that’s realizing I’m getting older. So I love being able to write to both of those point of views with both Icon & Rocket.”
“When you do stuff like this, you go, ‘Okay, if this is the last story I get to tell, not just about Icon & Rocket, but just period, if this is my last will and testament as a storyteller, you want it to have everything.’ And I feel like it deals with our heritage historically, at the same time it deals with kind of broad philosophical issues,” Hudlin echoed. “But more importantly, it’s an empowerment story. It’s about this teenage Black girl who takes charge of her life and changes her direction and makes an ally out of one of the most powerful beings on earth. And I just thought, well, who doesn’t want to see that? That feels good. And she focuses on how to change the world around her. And Icon’s mission is, let me use this as a teaching lesson for you to really understand how the world really works. I just think that is an exciting story that I’d certainly want to read. And that’s always where I start as a storyteller, well, what do I want to see?”
“Yeah. I mean, it means everything for me. I think the more I write, the more I’m realizing, I feel like my purpose as a writer is to put Black characters at the forefront of genres that they’re usually pushed to the side in,” Chills added. “And unfortunately, the superhero genre is definitely one of those. And so to be able to be able to be a part of telling the story of Black superheroes is amazing. And the special thing about these heroes in particular as well is that they were also created by a Black creator. So it just feels, it’s just an honor to continue the story that he was telling and bring it to new audiences.”
For artist Doug Braithwaite, the idea of joining Icon & Rocket was also a personal decision on multiple levels.
“It is a project that is very close to my heart because of the writer, Dwayne,” Braithwaite explained. “Fortunately, I met him a couple of occasions, but what he contributed to this medium is well and above anything that a lot of creators manage in the whole of their career. So yeah, I’m very proud to be working on this project with such great talent. And it’s funny, when I was up for the project, I had two or three other projects ready to go, and when this came up, I just thought, this is the only opportunity I’m going to get to do this and tell the story the way I wanted to tell it visually. And it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity from my point of view. I’m kind of really pleased with the way it’s going and the reaction that it’s getting from everybody.”
Icon & Rocket: Season One #1 will be released on Tuesday, July 27th wherever comics are sold.