Shade the Changing Girl #12
Publisher: DC’s Young Animal
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artists: Ande Parks, Marley Zarcone, Katie Jones
Cover Artist: Becky Cloonan
Letterer: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Review by Anelise Farris
Shade the Changing Girl #12 is advertised as a “brain-melting” finish to the first arc. After reading the comic once, then taking a much-needed break and reading it again, “brain-melting” is precisely the word I would use. In this issue, the Metans meet Hollywood. Lepuck forces Honey to evacuate Shade’s body. Teacup and River visit Honey’s dying body that is currently inhabited by Shade. And, Shade makes a decision about what it means to be her own person. Phew.
The previous issue brought Shade to Hollywood in pursuit of Honey: her favorite classic TV character. Here, we witnessed both how much Shade has learned about human behavior and also how much she still does not understand. However, the concept of time and age became much realer to her when she and Honey switched bodies. After finishing issue #11, I became more uncertain about Shade’s future and whether she would ever establish her own identity on Earth. Much to my relief, Shade the Changing Girl #12 delivers a powerful story about what it means to quit hiding and claim one’s identity.
When I used “brain-melting” above, I meant it in the best way possible. The writing is thoughtful, weighty, and the art is perhaps the wildest we have seen in Shade so far. Psychedelic colors and trippy patters are not all that we see here. There are pages in which the panels are completely scattered in different directions. Lepuck tells us to spin a pencil and start wherever it lands. Did I mention how fun this comic is?
As I have said before in my reviews of this series, Shade the Changing Girl is not a light comic. It is, like all the best sci-fi, complex and philosophical. For all of its outlandishness, Shade the Changing Girl is wonderfully relatable and “truer” than a lot of the general fiction or nonfiction I read. This comic explores what it means to be human, to inhabit a body, and to experience love and empathy.
Buy it! Shade the Changing Girl #12 is one of the heaviest, weirdest comics we have seen from this team so far. Not only do they manage to pull it off, but they also ensure that readers will be eager for more. On its surface this is a lighthearted, coming-of-age comic that just happens to involve aliens. However, for those of us who enjoy comics that push us to really think, Shade the Changing Girl offers an intriguing look at human nature.