Review: Welcome to Showside #5
The first storyline of Welcome to Showside concludes in an epic, mythology expanding fashion with a side of family drama, a touch of drama, and just a pinch of fourth wall breaking antics from writer/artist Ian McGinty, writer Samantha Knapp, and colorist Fred Stresing. The plotting is truly breakneck as Knapp and McGinty fit in Moon, Belle, and Kit’s return to Showside from the Nexus, their throwdowns with both Frank the Lesser Demon and the Shadow King, and also throw in a nice surprise at the end. McGinty also switches up his art style quite a few times with the help of Stresing as he goes pitch black and spooky when Shadow King shows up and a kind of “half-erased pencil” style with a light, soothing color palette when another important character appears. He also continues to have fun with Frank the hubris filled, wannabe “Greater” demons and his army of nerds using a more abstract art style when Frank goes on a rant.
But despite adding some backstory for Kit as well as guest appearances from Kit, Moon, and Belle’s families, Welcome to Showside #5 never really wavers as McGinty and Knapp keep on the straight and narrow arc of rejecting your family’s plans for yourself and finding your own destiny through friendship and inclusiveness. It’s a quite progressive comic without being preachy with the difficult process for demons to get a work visa mirroring the US’ current immigration policy, and Belle’s dad, the crotchety Mr. Stone, a not so veiled Donald Trump analogue as he goes on and on about building a wall to keep them out of Showside. These political allegories are woven together in the background of a joke and action filled narrative and add a nice bit of real world heft to the story without being realism for realism’s sake.
Politics aside, Welcome to Showside #5 is all about Kit choosing good and friendship over evil and power, and McGinty and Knapp show this in a powerful way. It’s like Lord of the Rings, but with funnier jokes and a cooler looking magic system. (Moon’s Great Aunt Esther’s spells are a feast for the eyes and the funny bone in one case.) The page where Kit confronts the Shadow King is the true emotional climax of the issue and series as a whole as McGinty and Knapp physically isolate Kit in the story. This is represented in the art by making the backgrounds completely black, a true negative space that demonstrates his power over Kit. But Kit finds a way to fight back through the power of friendship and something cleverly set up by the first page, which made me want a whole “tween years” Welcome to Showside comic (Prequels be damned.) featuring the leet speaking Tweenomicon, and a lost and lonely Kit, who just wanted a peaceful place to color.
Welcome to Showside #5 ties a nice bow on this dark, yet adorable world crafted by Ian McGinty, Samantha Knapp, and Fred Stresing with plenty of action, humor, and heart. McGinty and Knapp give supporting monsters like Climp plenty to do in this final issue as they make the great point that no one is fully evil or fully good. Kit has also become quite the three dimensional character to go with his nifty design and hopefully there will be more adventures with him, Moon, Belle, and Boo in the future as the Shadow King is still a threat.
Story: Ian McGinty and Samantha “Glow” Knapp Art: Ian McGinty Colors: Fred Stresing
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Z2 Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.