By Kelly Gaines
Don’t let the bright colors and swirling patterns fool you- Shade the Changing Woman #2 takes Shade’s new arc down a darker road than before. Post Milk Wars, Loma/ Megan/ Shade, has died and been reborn, shedding the skin of her former identities and settling into her role as the new Shade. Accompanied by her Raq Shade spirit guide, the Changing Woman is trying to find her place in a world that doesn’t seem to want her in it. I’ve heard the criticism that Shade the Changing Girl stripped the Shade mythology of its previous complexity. If you’re one of those critics, don’t jump ship just yet. This series is barreling towards a dizzying existential crisis and taking all of us readers along for the ride.
What is an alien, or the soul of an alien, to do when her body is destroyed, and former life disintegrated? Crash in your best friends dorm room, apparently. Shade (who has finally dropped the pretenses and picked ONE name), leaves the carnage of Milk Wars both dead and alive and drifts fluidly through the madness the way most young people do- trying to figure out what the fuck comes next. She breaks through to River, who has graduated high school and moved onto a promising college career and sets up shop in his dorm room. As far as roommates go, having the literal embodiment of madness sharing your space is probably a lot to deal with. In #2, River tells Shade she has to move on. The decision seems to be one part irritation, one part heartbreak, and three parts a crush on his friendly RA. Which, by the way, even in the DC Universe alien stowaways are a public safety no-go. Adding fuel to this college nightmare fire is River’s reluctant involvement in an alien hunting task force. He tells Shade that moving on from his role in her life is for her own good- and he’s probably right. River’s cryptic new bosses have an especially disgusting project underway- a zoo for aliens. River is horrified to realize that this glass-encased existence might be Shade’s fate if she’s ever caught. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though there is anything River can do but hope. Shade stays one step ahead of the hunters.
Speaking of hunters, Megan is back. Maybe. Megan, evil earth girl whose body Shade stole to come to earth and defeated in a psychological battle of wills, Megan MIGHT BE BACK. I say might be because, from the look of her eyes and the few actions we witness, This young man has the soul of Megan. Or Megan’s soul has this young man’s body. How is she alive? Milk Wars. It all comes back to Milk Wars. For all of the Young Animals heroes, reality has changed. Shade and her friends barely managed to slip through the cracks back into existence, but there’s no telling what or who else slipped in with them. It looks like Megan’s soul hitched a ride, and is looking for revenge. It’s dark as hell.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! If you want a terrifying snapshot of what makes human beings behave the way they do, imagine this: alien races pinpointing the human mind and emotions as our weakness, and learning to weaponize madness. That is exactly what happens in Shade the Changing Woman #2. A plot from light years away if formulating to dive deep into the human condition and “push” every little insecurity, every flaw, every dark thought to its absolute limit. When the madness finally consumes Earth, the energy released will have untold value to the alien species. Luckily, Earth has a hero who exists in the madness. Maybe. If Shade can get her shit together. Read Shade the Changing Woman, but make sure to brush up on Shade the Changing Girl first. And if you read Shade, the Changing Girl, read MIlk Wars. I cannot stress this enough. None of the current Young Animals arcs will make sense without a base understanding of the events of Milk Wars. That goes for Shade, Cave Carson, Mother Panic, and Eternity Girl. Without Milk Wars, the fabric of these stories feels too thin, and the creative decisions seem sloppy. Do yourself and everyone you recommend comics to a favor and look into Milk Wars. Wikipedia it. Read the reviews here on Comic Bastards. Youtube it. DC Comics Website it. There are so many ways to get around reading the build-up to these titles and still jump in now. DO IT. I promise it’s worth the effort.
Shade the Changing Woman #2
DC's Young Animal