The New Age of DC Heroes is adding another new face to the ranks this week with the debut of SIDEWAYS #1 featuring, well...Sideways.
If that name doesn't sound familiar to you just yet, you’re in good company! Derek James, the hero of this brand new series by Kenneth Rocafort, Dan DiDio and Justin Jordan, is as new to this whole "superhero" thing as you are to him, so you're both starting off on pretty much the same foot. But that said, there are some things you might want to know about Derek and the origin of his powers before you get too much farther into things.
If you haven't been keeping up with everything that's been going on in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s DARK NIGHTS: METAL, you might want to hold onto something for a hot second because things have gotten a little bit wild. A massive Dark Multiverse that rests just beneath the DC Multiverse has basically invaded our world, and in the process, a giant mountain erupted from the ground in the middle of Gotham City. If that sounds crazy to you, that’s probably because it absolutely was! There are also interdimensional demons, evil Batmen, Joker dragons and…and…
Look, you should probably just go read Dark Nights: Metal. It’s WAY too massive and crazy to explain in one little paragraph. The point is that the Dark Multiverse hasn’t just been something that affected the superheroes of the world. Obviously, when a literal mountain crashes through the heart of a major metropolitan area, that's something that everybody has to deal with, whether or not they happen to put on a costume and fight crime in their down time.
That's where Derek comes in. He details his story a little bit here in this first issue, but if you want to see the whole situation from another angle, you can start by picking up the Metal prequels, DARK DAYS: THE FORGE and DARK DAYS: THE CASTING. Those will catch you completely up to speed.
But getting back to the mountain in the middle of Gotham. An event like that is bound to have some collateral damage, right? Which, really, is exactly what Derek is. As far as origin stories are concerned, it’s not a tragic one. No one really got hurt as a direct result of Derek’s run-in with that mountain, but things certainly started to change. Whatever happened to him on that day—and it’s not entirely clear, you have to figure that more details will arrive later—it gave Derek the ability to "rift" through space, essentially allowing him to teleport anywhere and everywhere he wants to go.
There are a couple problems, though, and maybe not the ones you'd expect. Derek has the suit, the name and an account he uses for livestreaming his leaps through space, but he isn't actively a superhero, so it's not like he's got any villains knocking at his door (at least, not yet). What he does have is one extremely overprotective mom.
Sideways #1 presents a variation on the traditional superhero origin story that feels pretty unique, which is to say that the incident which gave Derek his powers was huge, public and not something he can easily hide from anyone. Sure, his rift ability is top secret, but everyone knows that this weird mountain sprouted up in the middle of Gotham, and everyone knows that he was caught in the middle of the whole event. So, his mom… Well, she's pretty freaked out, naturally.
As far as Derek’s mother is concerned, she almost lost her kid in a natural disaster, so she's doing what a lot of parents would do in her shoes and being a bit overprotective of her son. It’s a feat that may be more challenging than she realizes, considering her son can literally just go anywhere in the blink of an eye.
Family dynamics aside, Sideways also sets up some conflict that’s a bit more serious than an overprotective mom and the slog through daily high school life. You're going to have to read the issue to find out exactly what that is, but needless to say, there might be some consequences to all of Derek’s flagrantly shirking the laws of time and space for fun.
Who could have guessed, right?
Derek's story is only just beginning here at the dawn of the New Age and there’s no shortage of mystery to go around. Surely, if the invasion of the Dark Multiverse gave Derek his powers, we can probably assume he wasn't the only person affected, right?
...But if that's the case, what's going to happen when it’s the wrong person who gets them?