Virgil Hawkins is an African-American high school student in the city of Dakota who lives with his widowed father and one sister, Sharon. One night, while meeting his friend Wade down by the docks, and was invited to join his gang, a rival gang showed up and a gang war ensued. The police soon arrived, and while launching a tear gas canister to break up the fight, the canister struck a platform containing barrels of an experimental mutagen, causing the barrels to ignite and explode, the entire dock area and its occupants were exposed to a strange purple gas which leaked from the barrels. As a result of this accidental exposure to this mutagen in an event later to become known as the Big Bang Virgil gained the ability to control and manipulate electromagnetism, and uses these powers to become a superhero named "Static." Countless others who were also exposed gained a wide variety of mutations and abilities, and Static spends much of his time dealing with these "Bang Babies ", many of whom use their abilities in selfish, harmful, and even criminal ways. Virgil's best friend, Richie an inventor and science whiz, is aware of Virgil's dual identity and often assists him by making excuses for him when he has to change into his 'Static' identity and by inventing crime-fighting gadgets for him.