TITLE: ICON Vol. 1, Issue 1
YEAR: May 1993
COMPANY: Milestone Media
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: M.D. Bright
Inker: Mike Gustovich
Colorist: Rachelle Menashe, James Sherman, Noelle Giddings
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Back in 1993, the comics world would see a major milestone taking place in the industry, a comic book imprint founded by African-American artists and writers under a major comic book company, DC Comics. Created for the fact that minorities were underrepresented, Milestone Comics had the potential to be something huge.
While the comic books would be published by DC Comics, they were not under DC Comics Editorial Control but only that DC retained the right to not publish any material they objected to.
And that year, Milestone Media would release several titles which would include “Hardware”, “ICON”, “Blood Syndicate” and “Static”. The setting for many of these heroes/villains were in the fictional Midwestern city of Dakota.
And possibly one of the most entertaining comics from Milestone Media was Dwane McDuffie and M.D. Bright’s “ICON”.
The story begins in 1839 with an alien escaping from a huge alien spacecraft that looks damaged and is about to blow and the alien manages to escape via an escape pod.
The escape pod crashes on Earth and an African American woman in South Dakota sees the crash and when she walks up to the escape pod and touches it, the alien reverts to a small baby and is taken in by the woman.
In 1993, the baby is now a power lawyer named Amistad Augustus Ervin, who feels that he should be doing more with his life rather than living the life of a lawyer who makes a lot of money.
Meanwhile, in Paris Island, the City of Dakote, a Housing Project is where Raquel lives.
A writer who is inspired by Toni Morrison, unfortunately she has no typewriter, so she can’t do her work.
One day, she rode with a few friends who wanted to steal from an upperclass neighborhood in Prospect Hills. As her friends try to steal as much as they can, Raquel is more interested in the books the wealthy owner of the home has in their book shelves.
Thinking they are stealing from a White person’s home, they assume when they see a Black man (Armistad) coming out that he’s a butler. But Armistad reveals himself to be the owner of the home. But before he can explain, he is shot by one of the burglars.
But Armistad gets up and while he is shot several more times, instead of arresting the children, he excuses them and tell them to leave and also gives them a stern warning to never steal again. Armistad shows his power after he catches Raquel trying to climb out of a gate and he gets her and flies with her. Armistad gives each of them a talking and let’s them go.
For Raquel, what she saw was amazing and instead of letting things go and let things be forgotten, she goes back to the Armistad’s home to give him her plan. For the man to become a superhero named Icon and she will be his sidekick.
And Armistad takes her offer by creating a costume for her and alien technology to protect her and become a crime-fighting duo.
I really enjoyed the Milestone Media comics of the ’90s and the direction that Dwayne McDuffie and friends took their characters. Featuring real world thoughts and interactions, as Armistad (ICON) is an alien but grown up in America and saw how race relations have improved since he grew up in the 1830’s and now has become a wealthy lawyer. While Raquel is the opposite, having grown up feeling that White people are against Blacks and has a strong distrust.
But it was interesting to see how Armistad, who has refined sensibilities and Raquel who doesn’t, become a crime fighting duo.
In some ways, it has a mixture of Superman (in terms of alien wanting to use his powers for good on Earth) and Batman and Robin in terms of crime fighting duo and the elder having to teach and groom the youngster. And so, seeing an African American crime fighting duo was cool to see!
Of course, the settings are much different, especially in the Dakota Universe that the Milestone characters are part of.
The themes are what you don’t usually find in mainstream comic books and that’s why I was happy with stories that were featured in “Static”, “Hardware”, “ICON”, etc. to take on various real world topics and issues of race is a big topic featured in this very first issue.
I can’t recommend enough for those who have the opportunity to check out back issues of Milestone Media comic books to check them out and read them.