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Review: Shade the Changing Girl #7

Shade7CoverShade the Changing Girl #7 isn’t a “fill-in” story in the slightest. It’s a self-contained narrative about wanderlust,  the power of art and music, and the fleeting nature of  friendship with some interplanetary family drama thrown in for good measure. Writer Cecil Castellucci and exquisitely talented guest artist Marguerite Sauvage (Bombshells, Faith) join forces to show why Loma/Shade left her home world of Meta for Earth, a planet considered “primitive” by her adoptive Metan parents. (The bird-like Avians don’t raise their young, but give them for adoption by the human-like Metans.) The comic isn’t all flashback as they set up a new direction for Shade going into the second arc that is both connected to her obsession with the Metan poet Rac Shade, and the fact that the girl whose body she has taken over is a colossal bully.

The plot of Shade the Changing Girl is steeped in a science fiction milieu that’s a little on the strange side like most of the Young Animal books. But its ideas are universal. I know that some people are born, live, and die in the same place, but humanity is filled with wanderers. As an Avian, it is in Loma’s nature to flit from place to place, lover to lover, and eventually migrate to another planet or moon. Except she’s a little different with her love for Earth and desire to explore what Rac Shade called the “marble of blue” in a rapturous double page spread from Marguerite Sauvage showing Loma (in her Avian form) traveling the world. Outwardly, it seems like Shade is having a good time with her new friends, Teacup and River, swishing around in gorgeous dresses and talking about her past and the upcoming prom. But Castellucci’s blue caption boxes hint that Shade isn’t content with living the life of an Earth high schooler and that she wants to see the Pyramids and ride a dinosaur. (Shade’s Earth bucket list is kind of hilarious and lovable)

It’s always a treat to have full interior art from Marguerite Sauvage, and Shade the Changing Girl #7 is no exception. Her soft flowing lines, soothing color palette, and eye for fashion are perfect for a story that transitions between Earth and Meta, thought and reality and is paced like a bittersweet dream with the words of Rac Shade shocking Loma/Shade back to life. An underlying theme in Shade #7 are that Earth and Meta aren’t so different with similar romantic drama and interests like TV, book, and music, and Sauvage shows this by giving Shade similar dance moves in both her Avian and human body. Shade loses herself in music as faces and figures bleed together. I love that she’s a rebellious teenager on both Meta and Earth.


However, in Shade #7’s climax, Sauvage’s art turns cluttered going from the frills and flounces of a teen movie to pure body horror with a scarlet palette. Shade is becoming secure in her new form as a human girl, but the baggage that Megan Boyer brought to the table is something she must bear. Like the college classes Loma is forced to take or her parents’ restrictions on her in Meta, she is still kept from full freedom as long as she stays in Valley Ville. She wants to live a life free of the misdeeds of someone she never even met, and Castellucci’s straightforward dialogue and Sauvage’s powerful pinks definitely convey this pivotal moment in Shade’s life.

The backup story from Cecil Castellucci, Archie Comics artist Dan Parent, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick is an episode of Life with Honey, the 1950s I Love Lucy-esque sitcomthat Loma watched in Meta to learn about Earth because it’s apparently the most popular show in the universe. Parent’s charming pinup style is perfect for this tale of domesticity in the light of the Cold War, and he channels the physical comedy of Lucille Ball through the women of Life with Honey. Fitzpatrick’s color palette makes the comic look like a romance comic straight from the supermarket racks of that time period. The tale is nostalgic, subversive for its “era”, and even tells us a little bit about Shade.

Shade the Changing Girl #7 is a comic book reading experience that you want to bask in to the accompaniment of your favorite song when you were 17 and wanted to travel the world. ( “Wanderlust” by Metric and Lou Reed does the trick too.) Through beautiful art and poignant narration, Cecil Castellucci and Marguerite Sauvage capture the bitter tang of leaving friends behind to go on glorious adventures inspired by the art we love.

Story: Cecil Castellucci Art/Colors: Marguerite Sauvage
Backup Art: Dan Parent Backup Colors:  Kelly Fitzpatrick

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review