Opening with a historical prologue where Shade witnesses Robert Oppenheimer’s first atomic test, Shade the Changing Girl #10 continues this second story arc’s road trip feel as our protagonist looks for the house of Honey Rich from her favorite Cold War era Earth sitcom Life with Honey. Cecil Castellucci’s plot continues to flit from location to location while Marley Zarcone gets to apply her bendy, trippy approach to art to a Metan vs. Metan action scene with help from inker Ande Parks. Everything is topped off with a nuclear-meets-semitones color palette from Kelly Fitzpatrick.
Shade the Changing Girl uses the vessel of an alien girl trekking across America to explore what it means to be human on both a sad and whimsical level. There’s a wonderful double page spread from Zarcone of a Life with Honey themed board game that instantly brought back memories of playing a Leave It to Beaver board game on a family vacation at a cozy cabin in the California wilderness. It’s a moment of real happiness and nostalgia divorced from real world context. Kid Logan didn’t really know about McCarthyism, the Hays Code, or Cold War, but just old black and white sitcoms shown on TV Land (Which shows Scrubs now.) and stories from my grandparents.
In the character of Shade, Castellucci successfully imitates this limited perspective on the world that we have as kids as she is utterly heartbroken when she shows up to “Honey Rich’s house” and is promptly shown the door by an angry relative. It’s like when I discovered the music of Elvis through the movie Lilo and Stitch, wanted to go to Graceland and meet him, and then was told that he’d been dead for decades. Her coping mechanism is very adult though as she ends up at a local bar drinking with a couple sad old men that she has chirping like birds thanks to the power of the madness vest. This kind of whiplash from very childlike behavior to adult ennui kind of nails what it means to be a young person in 2017 as I go from dusting off the old Nintendo 64 to navigating the world of health insurance in the same hour.
But Shade isn’t just about Shade. There are oodles of storylines featuring her old high school friends River and Teacup, her Metan pursuers, her old boyfriend LePuck, a government agency, and even Honey Rich herself. It’s like each page is telling a different story all skillfully connected by Rac Shade’s epigrammatic poetry and Shade’s wise-beyond-her-years narration. River is a great supporting character and still cares for Shade even though she left down in a dramatic fashion and has everyone worried. His piecing together clues through news reports and using the Internet to track and follow her is an excellent real world version of Shade’s own ability to use the M-Vest to travel through space and time in the blink of an eye.
Shade the Changing Girl #10 has a four page action scene because another issue of nameless Metan pursuers fiddling around and trying to find her would be boring. However, Castellucci, Zarcone, and Fitzpatrick make the fight quite clever like a bar fight meets a ballet with bonus vaporizing guns that go pink and blue. Shade looks human, but she moves with a madness using a shot glass as a deadly weapon instead of her fists. It all climaxes in an atomic pink panel where Shade goes from girl to weapon and walks away guilty among the grey bodies. She critiqued atomic weapons and nukes in the beginning of the comic, but now has become one and even caused collateral damage. There are lines on her face, and the madness vest looks less trippy cool and more ragged like she has aged decades in a single page.
The backup story in Shade the Changing Girl #10 is a darkly hilarious story of fallout shelter and songs that mask the fear behind nuclear war courtesy of Honey Rich and her best friend Carmen. Leila Del Duca nails the fashions of the 1950s and draws faces that seem ignorant, but are actually wise perfect for the tone of this satire disguised as a period piece sitcom.
Shade the Changing Girl #10 is another beautiful installment of Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s comic as Shade wrestles with nostalgia, reality, and death through bar fights, sitcoms, and national parks.
Story: Cecil Castellucci Art: Marley Zarcone
Inks: Ande Parks Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Backup Art: Leila Del Duca
Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review