Shade, the Changing Girl #1
Written by Cecil Castellucci, Art by Marley Zarcone, Color by Kelly Fitzpatrick
Oct 11, 2016 Web Exclusive
In so many ways, Shade, the Changing Girl is a prime example of the best of what comics have to offer. It is morally complex while elevating pulp tropes, and wonderfully illustrated. Shade isn't the weirdest comic you will ever read, but it is weird in all the right ways while sticking to a fairly grounded moral premise that could unravel in any direction. It is a simple fish out of water story, only that fish is an aloof and impetuous inter-dimensional alien, Loma, and she's not so much out of water as she is inhabiting the mind of a cruel teenage American girl, Megan.
The first issue hit shelves last week, a bright, colorful, surreal spin-off from the sci-fi camp Shade, the Changing Man. The previous Shade makes his presence in this story as Loma's idol, and the story kicks off when she steals his infamous Madness Vest, which allows her to visit Earth as a teenage girl, where she wants to experience what she sees on an old sitcom she watched on her home planet via intergalactic TV signals, Life With Honey. Of course, the vessel Loma inhabits is nothing like the titular character of a sitcom; she's comatose, for one, but she's also a cold and manipulative bully. The setting is tense, since it doesn't appear that anyone is particularly thrilled that Megan has returns. Of course, they don't know that she's actually possessed not only by a distant traveler, but that traveler is gripped by the madness that brought her here in the first place.
The story is beautifully illustrated by Marley Zarcone, with fantastic colors from Kelly Fitzpatrick. The pair create a surreal world that toys with reality and perception to illustrate Loma's unstable relationship with this dimension. Writer Cecil Castellucci is navigating a terrain that is full of possibility, and the first issue hints at big mysteries that are set to unfold. But again, the really best parts of Shade are when the artwork projects as much drama as the script, through character expressions and illustrated movement. A lot of ground is covered in just a few pages, exploring both characters through vague, train-of-thought prose and small dialogues from background characters.
Perhaps it is the connection to Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo's rebooted Shade, the Changing Man from 1990, but there's a lot of similarities between this new series and the late '80s Vertigo comics renaissance that gave us Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Grant Morrison's Invisibles. Like those titles, Shade and her other counterparts in DC's new Young Animal line are combing the most absurd aspects of comics history and turning them on their heads with stunning results. If this is the quality Young Animal wants to be known for, they are off to a great start. (www.dccomics.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
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