If you’re looking for weird, Shade, the Changing Girl is for you. As part of DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint, author Cecil Castellucci is unafraid to make this book as strange a trip as possible. However, as odd as it is, at the core, it’s still a story of self-discovery and independent choice.
Fan of previous Shade iterations will recognize several familiar aspects. For example, Meta is still alive and well, Rac Shade’s persona is very much a part of the book, and the madness coat remains integral.
Things are different this time around, though, in that an alien, birdlike creature named Loma steals the madness coat in an effort to enliven her own existence. She ends up possessing a brain-damaged young woman on Earth and living this girl’s life. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that the original owner of the body led a dark existence, one Loma doesn’t necessarily want to continue.
The artist, Marley Zarcone, lives up to Castellucci’s bonkers script with equally bonkers art. Though cartoonish in style, Zarcone delivers surrealistic panels that absolutely maintain an unstable tone. I think it’s also important to mention Zarcone’s attention to detail. One panel features an utterly mundane moment – two kids walking along a sidewalk through a residential neighborhood. Something caught my attention, though. Zarcone included grass growing between the cracks of the sidewalk. Though not substantial to the overall story, that sort of nuance really won me over.
Finally, Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors are the perfect compliment to Castellucci and Zarcone. Though almost primary in terms of hue, Fitzpatrick makes sure to include interesting patterns in most of her panels. I don’t know enough about the medium to get specific about the kinds of patterns, but you will rarely see a solid background color in this book. That small touch adds depth to an already carefully constructed book.
Shade, the Changing Girl is not the stuff of super heroes. It’s also not full of action or violence, though there is always an atmosphere of potential danger. However, it bursts with story, mystery, and evolving characters. If you like that sort of thing with a heavy coating of weird, this book is for you.
(Did you enjoy this review? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)