If you're like me, you read the preview for SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL #1 in the back of DOOM PATROL #1, tilted your head, and closed the comic eager to learn what would happen next. That's how a preview should work. The story about Loma, an intrepid adventurer and alien running away from her problems, is the second title to be released in DC's Young Animal imprint. The introductory issue maintains the offbeat sensibilities established in Doom Patrol and affirms the imprint is here to cultivate the unexpected.
Writer Cecil Castellucci and artist Marley Zarcone create a bright and imaginative world for Shade, The Changing Girl. Reading the first issue is almost like walking through a dream. Snippets of explanation are presented throughout the book, and put in context, they're just enough to get you through the basics. Loma, a being from the planet Meta, idolized the poet Rac Shade and stole his madness vest to travel to Earth as he once did. My single sentence description leaves out the hows and whys, and those parts turn the comic into a wonderful journey.
The pages walk you through layers of reality, madness, reality, madness—it's like a poetry cake and the icing is Zarcone's fluid and emotive art. And though yes, Loma is fantastical and alien, you can find more than a few relatable grains in her personality. I'll touch on the most obvious and maybe superficial: one's desire to follow dreams. How often are we told to look ahead and above with eyes wide open for the opportunity to seize what we want? You know, fortune favors the bold and all that. Loma's certainly bold and also maybe a tad reckless—okay, maybe a lot reckless.
I'm not saying I support her methods. She pursued her dreams by breaking the law and used at least one person to do so. However, I admire her gumption. She shrugged on the vest, and by doing so, reached into the unknown. The action took a measure of bravery and put her into the body of the comatose human teen named Megan.
You don't need me to repeat the plot to you beat by beat, but what I'm trying to point out is that none of what Loma's doing is easy. She made a choice to depart Meta and slipping into existence on Earth isn't as simple as smiling, nodding, and figuring it out. I couldn't help but think of how differently Loma handled attempting to fit in with humans compared to someone like J'onn J'onzz. He tried to imitate what was around him. Loma does that to an extent, but as she tries to control the madness within, she kind of says, "Eh," and does what she wants. She's not set on becoming an exact replica of the Megan everyone knew before she was comatose; she's being her own version of the teenager. I can't wait to see how those around her react to Megan's new nature.
We're only halfway through DC's Young Animal's titles busting out of their cages. Stay tuned as I look at Cave Carson and Mother Panic’s first issues in the weeks ahead. While you're waiting, go ahead and hit the comments to tell me what you think about Shade, The Changing Girl #1.