Rick Stone is one of Virgil Hawkins’ (Static) close friends. We see him throughout the series, usually briefly in his role as a supporting cast member. In other issues which will be highlighted here, he figures more prominently. In issue one, he’s on the receiving end of a gay taunt from a “friend” about his performance at a school assembly the day before. He replies with: “I don’t have to listen to your limp dick gags.” Another student tells Rick to lighten up; it was just a joke.
Skip ahead to issue #5 when Rick, Virgil, and friends Chuck, and Felix are playing an intense superhero roleplaying game. Virgil gets a lucky role and an exasperated Rick says, “I wish I could get rolls like that with Airburst.” Chuck jumps in an exclaims Airburst is “so gay.” The tension escalates a little before Rick diffuses it by throwing an empty plastic soda bottle at Chuck.
Another gay taunt happens at school (issue #11). Chuck has insulted Rick by calling his shirt “fruit-flavored.” Once again, Chuck excuses himself by labeling his rude comment as a joke. Rick’s patience is reaching a limit though, and Virgil and best friend Frieda have to keep the two boys separate.
The boys are hanging out at one of their houses, talking about action movie heroes (issue #15). Virgil brings up “Captain Thunder.” Chuck proclaims, “He’s so gay, man!” Virgil questions Chuck because Thunder is strong enough to punch through mountains, and tries to enlist Rick in his argument. Instead of getting involved, this time Rick states, “he is kind of a Boy Scout” and walks away. Rick apologizes to Virgil for not sticking up with him the next day at school.
Yet again the boys are together when for no apparent reason Chuck calls Rick “Richard the Pink, Knight of the Tutu.” Again, Rick blows up, but his point is completely diffused when Chuck makes another joke, and he, Felix, Larry, and Virgil laugh. Virgil has remained silent and non-supportive of Rick. Later, Static is on patrol when he comes across some skinheads attacking others on the street. They start to run off with Static in pursuit when one of the figures calls out for help.
It’s Rick, who’s kneeling next to an unconscious boy. Static is shocked that the boy who shouted out is Rick (he’s unaware that Static is his friend Virgil). Static asks what prompted the attack and Rick confesses it was a gay bashing (issue #16). Static flies the boys to a hospital. In transit Rick says he’s gone to a gay teen support group, and implies that he was attracted to the other boy. The skinheads attacked them when they left the meeting. Meanwhile, Static is secretly freaking out over the news is friend really is gay. The two boys are admitted, and Static flies away. Virgil is shocked to learn that
Frieda is aware of Rick’s sexuality when he brings the incident up to her. Virgil decides to act as if nothing has changed (for now). At the end of the chapter, Rick, face bruised and bandaged returns to school. When questioned by his friends, Rick confesses he was gay bashed, and for the first time, puts Chuck in his place. Rick talks about a plan to organize a teen group for the school and asks his friends for support. (Issue #17)
The scene continues with the next issue with Rick angrily walking away from Chuck who’s still trying to turn it all into a joke. Later, Rick is sorely disappointed with Virgil when he protests that everyone is looking at the two of them, and telling Rick he should’ve kept the secret to himself. Virgil finds out that Frieda is angry at him for this when he calls her and a recorded answering machine greeting instructs him to see his “phony, homophobic buddies.” (Issue #18)
Rick discovers some students don’t think he’s a pariah when Frieda, Daisy (a girl that is dating Virgil) , and a new boy have lunch with him the next day (issue #19). They make plans to go to a gay rally after school that afternoon. Daisy confesses her mother is a lesbian and will go with the kids. The tension at the rally is already high between gay activists and homophobes when the kids arrive. Violence erupts when members of the Sons of Odin, apparently led by a mutant named Hotstreak, initiates intimidating actions against the gay protesters. Static appears just as things get out of control. The requisite fight involving Static and Hotstreak follows. The police take care of the other Sons of Odin and Static stops Hotstreak. With the mutant handcuffed in a police wagon, Static leaves the scene, assuming everything will be fine. However, a Son of Odin member has infiltrated the police force and creates an accident scenario that frees Hotstreak. The mutant grabs Frieda out of the crowd, and from atop a light pole threatens to harm her unless Static returns. He has unintentionally made himself a good target. It isn’t the police who shoot him though; it’s Rick from the sidelines. It isn’t elaborated where the gun comes from, but the implication is it came from Ducky, the new student. (Issue #20)
Rick is feeling guilt and remorse over the shooting as he and the rest of the gang take a subway trip to see a movie playing at a theater on the somewhat seedy Paris Island. (Issue #21) The feelings worsen after he’s realized someone will figure out he’s responsible for the shooting, and as these things work out, two police officers visit his home as he returns from walking the dog. One officer instructs the other to help kindly Mrs. Stone bring some more cookies from kitchen as a diversion to speak with Rick alone. He has a talk with Rick, and reveals that he’s figured out Rick shot Hotstreak. But he’s a compassionate, if not completely by the book, officer because he’s devised a story that will satisfy the investigation and end any attention to Rick, who quietly agrees to comply. Later in the story, Virgil comes to visit Rick. The two boys go for a walk, and Virgil awkwardly apologizes for his homophobic behavior, ending by saying: “Good. Then we could, like, be like it never happened, right? Still friends?” Rick doesn’t want to let him off so easily and replies, “As long as you remember that it did happen, sure…why not?” (Issue #22)
It’s interesting to note that Rick’s gay-bashing and coming out story happened eight years before Terry Berg’s gay bashing story written by Judd Winick in Green Lantern. Winick’s story caused a media controversy whereas as far as I know, this earlier story caused barely a ripple outside of its readership as noted by letter writers. In 1994 Bill Clinton has been in the White House since January of 1993 and with the later story, Bush has been in office for approximately the same length of time. In those eight years the Internet became pervasive and conservative and evangelical elements in this country came to the forefront.
The last development of any kind with Rick happens in issue #27 when he gets a part time job working a hot dog cart. Rick and Virgil remain friends through the series (it ended with #44) and has a cameo appearance in #1 of the Static Shock mini series of 2001.
Rick first appeared in Static #1 and is confirmed gay in Static #16. The character transitioned to the Static Shock animated series. Rick is also part of the supporting cast in the Static: Season One mini series by Vita Ayala, ChrissCross, and Nikolas Draper-Ivey.
Created by Dwayne McDuffie and John Paul Leon. Art by John Paul Leon, Steve Mitchell, and Noelle Giddings (first image) from Static # 5 and Wilfred, Angel Gabriele and J Scott J (second image) from Static #17.
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