By Dustin Cabeal
Madness is a challenging story to tell. It can be everything and anything, but giving it structure and keeping it feeling like madness… is a difficult task. That’s what this series is up against, and after reading the first issue, I can understand why of all the titles announced for DC’s Young Animal, that Shade had people the least optimistic about it.
The issue is about an alien that takes the madness coat and zips away to earth and takes over the body of a brain-dead girl who was a bit like the boy from the Twilight Zone movie, but it was her hostile personality that was holding everyone hostage rather than special powers. Now Loma Shade has made it to Earth and experiencing the flashbacks about this new body of hers which gives us a backstory of tragic teenage shenanigans… murderous shenanigans that is.
As far as first issues go, it does quite well. It establishes not one, but two characters and their backstory and then thrusts them into the plot line of “madness.” It works out quite well, but if you go in trying to read it like a typical comic you’ll likely just wind up confused and frustrated. That’s not to say there’s no structure to the story, just that parts are intentionally crazy. The actual nuts and bolts of what’s going on in the story is pretty straightforward.
While I’m not always a fan of psychedelic art, I enjoyed Marley Zarcone’s work on this issue. It wasn’t too much or disappointingly overwhelming, but just the right enough of crazy. I’m curious to see if this balance can be maintained because the only thing worse than too much psychedelic is toning it down to the point it doesn’t exist anymore. Zarcone also manages to illustrate teenagers that look like teenagers rather than little adults.
The backup story made no sense, but I loved it. It was humorous, and while it wasn’t clear to me how it fit into the series, I didn’t care. It entertained me and left me wanting to read more of both stories and at the end of the day that’s what a comic should leave you wanting to do, read more.
This issue definitely didn’t grab me as much as Doom Patrol did, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I had never read anything with the character Shade, but I was also given the impression that it wasn’t worth my time either. With this new version, I’m curious. I want to read more. Also, this is still exactly what I want to see from this line. Sure this one didn’t knock my socks off, but it’s the best thing I’ve read this week. I hope that the rest of the line continues to be strong and that DC and the creators promote their work so that these stories can thrive in single issue sales and the stories can continue to develop and mature. This title already has a special feel to it, but I worry that DC will get nervous and pull the plug too soon and it’ll never fully realize it’s potential. Here’s to the continued madness.
Shade: The Changing Girl #1
Writers: Cecil Castellucci, Natalia Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez
Artists: Marley Zarcone, Gilbert Hernandez
Publisher: DC/Young Animal