What I thought of Shade the Changing Girl #1

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I loved Pete Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man which was one of DC’s precursors to what became Vertigo, and this soft reboot from writer Cecil Castellucci and artist Marley Zarcone is part of DC’s Young Animal imprint overseen by Gerard Way. A sort of Vertigo-lite as it were.

Shade the Changing Girl’s brief is this…

Far away on the planet Meta, Loma’s going nowhere fast. She’s dropped out of school, dumped her boyfriend, and is bored out of her mind.  She longs to feel things. That’s where her idol, the lunatic poet Rac Shade, and his infamous madness coat come it. Loma steals the garment and makes a break across galaxies to take up residence in a new body: Earth girl Megan Boyer. Surely everything will be better on this passionate primitive planet with a dash of madness on her side and this human girl’s easy life. Only now that she’s here, Loma discovers being a teenaged Earth girl comes with its own challenges and Earth may not be everything she thought it’d be. Megan Boyer was a bully whom everyone was glad was almost dead, and now Loma has to survive High School and navigate the consequences of the life she didn’t live with the ever-growing and uncontrollable madness at her side. Not to mention that there are people back on her homeworld who might just want Shade’s coat back.

Rather than inhabiting the body of a serial killer, we now have a school bully which I suppose helps the intended audience identify with her more, but it seems on initial reading a bit facile.

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In fact like Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol reboot this also feels a tad forced. It’s trying too hard to be ”out there” that it’s forgotten to do anything original so is retreading old ground, though the scenes of Loma on Meta are promising the dialogue ends up being stinking of cliche.

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It’s alright but on the whole utterly unengaging. I don’t care about Loma, or the supporting cast or the American teen drama that’s going to unfold, it just isn’t interesting enough as it seems muted compared to Millligan’s insane, but brilliant work and here’s the problem with Young Animal. Trying to recreate what’s past isn’t enough. Being crazeee is no substitute for telling an interesting story, and there’s not enough going on here to make it work for me in future.

On the other hand Gilbert Hernandez’s back-up strip featuring Cryll, an old DC character who was the sidekick to another old DC character called Space Ranger.

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It’s actually not a solo GIlbert Hernandez strip, his daughter Natalia does most of it, but its nice to see a talent pass from one generation to another. This wee strip is more fun and has more joy and weirdness in it that both Young Animal titles so far, plus it isn’t trying to be Grant Morrison or Pete Milligan. It’s an Hernandez strip which is good enough for me.

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