By Dustin Cabeal
The first thing to point out about this issue is that the collaboration is confusing and awesome. Where else in comics can you have Kenneth Rocafort and Dan DiDio be the storytellers and then Justin Jordan and Dan DiDio be in charge of dialogue? In a way, it’s a bit old school in which the artist is in command of the story with some guidance from the writers, but everyone’s getting credit and no one’s making millions off of the dead.
The story feels out of place in the DCU, but not in a bad way. It’s not their typical superhero narrative, and much like The Silencer, it vibes differently. It’s as if DC has figured out that they can and should protect their main properties and leave the exploration to other stories like Sideways.
There was some event in Gotham in that Dark Knights Metal series. I don’t know what happened because I’m avoiding reading that series, but I have enjoyed some of the results to come from it. The main character of Sideways is a guy named Derek. After the Gotham event, he found he had powers. Now, the power set isn’t exactly new and revolutionary. He’s got some super strength, but his main ability is to create riffs and step into them and be somewhere else. It’s like a dimensional crack. He’s still learning his abilities which is something that has been a lack in the DCU. Everyone seems too polished in their roles. The story doesn’t actually start with this information but instead introduces him and his friend that designed his costume. She’s wearing tiger pj’s, and I wish I could say I haven’t seen something fairly close in real life, but I can’t.
The flow of the story is refreshing in that it’s a day in the life of Derek. He has to go through his day at school before he can piss off in his costume. The first thing he does is start a video stream and try to get followers. He’s an actual modern teenager in that way. What also rang true about his character was the fact that he’s very quiet and distracted in school, but then a completely different person outside of school and in the costume. And it’s not just a “Peter Parker” clone (pun intended) thing, but rather a relatable trait that I’m sure most readers will pick up on. The dialogue and flow of the story are solid.
What’s particularly great about the issue is the artwork. I’ve been a fan of Rocafort’s since discovering his artwork, but his work here is elevated since his last series at DC. The artwork is telling the story, and the dialogue is accompanying it. You can, for an exercise, read this without the words and get the overall gist of what’s going on. I could go into a whole thing about that’s probably one of the reasons, so many people site comics as how they learned to read, but I’d just be talking out of my ass. Rocafort’s linework and designs are still the same. That’s not a bad thing; he’s extremely talented so seeing him remain consistent with his artwork but grow as a storyteller is an amazing thing for everyone reading this comic. The coloring is thankfully a perfect match for his linework. It makes his art look like it did back in his Top Cow days. It also makes the book stand out in the best way possible as it looks different than most comic books.
The fear of any new “line” of books or something that isn’t branded with a known character, is that they’ll find cancellation before they find their audience. I hope to read a lot more of Sideways. It’s a perspective that hasn’t been done in DC for a while. No, it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s different enough that I’ll gladly take it and enjoy it. While I have no intention of picking of DNM, I’m glad to see some of the titles coming out of it are interesting and refreshing step for DC.