Review: Shade the Changing Girl #11

Loma Shade hits Hollywood, or mostly a rest home for old actors and actresses in Shade the Changing Girl #11, and finally meets her idol, Honey Rich, who is ready to die. However, Shade grabs Honey just before she reaches the afterlife, and they switch bodies. For most of the issue, Shade is in Honey’s body, and Honey is in Shade’s body. It’s a little bit of a mind screw from writer Cecil Castellucci, artists Marley Zarcone and Ande Parks, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick. The plot veers from poetic meditations to soap opera, but Zarcone and Fitzpatrick’s visuals and the bits of Rac Shade poetry keeps the story beautiful. Who doesn’t love a comic book that has a cut out paper doll double page spread?

At this point of the series, I enjoy Shade the Changing Girl #11 far more as a character piece, a meandering poem about love and death that happens to be a comic, or a gingerly paced road trip than Castellucci’s “plot beats” of the Metans and Shade’s friends River and Teacup trying to track her down and/or grab the M-vest. It bypasses the logical, structural part of my brain and goes straight to my emotions thanks to the sincerity of the expressions that Zarcone draws both Honey and Shade that overcomes the general strangeness of the body swap.

Their first meeting is happiness personified with Shade leaping and exclaiming, “I’ve come light years to meet you.” Even though all her friends are dead and her show all but forgotten, a girl from the planet Meta still deeply cares about Honey Rich. It’s like the bendy, pops of color from Fitzpatrick version of It’s A Wonderful Life where Honey doesn’t realize how much her life and career meant to certain people, er, Avians.

The body swapping, location hopping story of Shade of the Changing Girl #11 is tied together in a sort of sunny way by Kelly Fitzpatrick’s use of yellows and golds from the stars above Hollywood on the first page to the life Shade. breathes into Honey. It kind of climaxes with the sixteen suns that shine about Honey’s rest home and alert River and the Metans to Shade’s location. Throughout the book, it reoccurs in the background when a life altering decision is about to happen like when River asks Teacup to go to L.A. with him to find Shade, or Mellu reveals his true motivation for wanting the M-Vest and becomes slightly sympathetic. The colors that Fitzpatrick chooses throughout Shade #11 are like notes on a keyboard with the rainbow, M-vest induced bursts acting like glorious chords during memorable parts of the story.

Shade the Changing Girl is a comic that is all about what it means to be human through the POV of an alien girl in a teenage girl’s body. She’s been faking it until she’s kind of, sort of, well, not really made it as a human being, and that little mantra easily applies to acting and is even said by Honey while she is in Shade’s body. Like actors who play a variety of different roles, we have to act certain ways around certain people to get what we want or make sure they don’t hate us and *insert any human motivation here*. Shade learns this important truth while in the body of her favorite actor and finally learns that there is a huge difference between the character Honey Rich and the actress who played her. People tend to have this problem with actors who play characters that share their name like when Kesha tried to hug Jerry Seinfeld, or Ilana Glazer from Broad City has to continuously turn down bong sessions with fans.

Shade the Changing Girl #11 ends on a couple plot twists. I like one, and one came way out of left field, but does connect to this issue’s themes of bodies changing and shifting identity. There is only one issue left until the series goes on hiatus, and hopefully, Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone can hit all those emotional beats in the finale and dovetail the River and Mellu/Lepuck side-plots with Loma Shade’s journey.

Shade #11 pays homage to the world of the silver screen as well as life and death in a visceral way thanks to a double page spread where artist Marley Zarcone and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick shows Shade forcibly breathing life back into Honey Rich. Cecil Castellucci’s writing is as thoughtful as ever, and I am still beaming at her extremely clever use of “changing girl” when Honey and Shade go out on the town one last time.

P.S. This comic pairs very well with Lana Del Rey’s latest album, Lust for Life especially the title track, which talks about “climbing up the H of the Hollywood sign” like Shade does on the Becky Cloonan cover of Shade the Changing Girl #11. There are also lines from poems interspersed with the “Lust for Life’s” regular lyrics, which is like the lines from Rac Shade poems that pop up in each issue of Shade.

Story: Cecil Castellucci Art: Marley Zarcone with Ande Parks
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick Backup Art: Marguerite Sauvage 
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

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