Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Collects: Shade, the Changing Man issues 7-13
Published under Vertigo
Welcome back to another long overdue edition of Deciphering DC. Continuing with the original series on Shade, The Changing Man, (read the review of Vol 1 here) who currently appears in Flashpoint: Secret Seven and is slated to appear in one of the DcnU 52 titles, Justice League Dark.
Shade and Kathy continue their road trip through America in their quest to circumvent the madness stream and the American Scream. The issues here start having more of a surrealistic flavour than the preceding ones.
The first issue focuses on a very realist, down to earth topic – garbage. Probably the best issue of this series (yet) this one features a man in search for the identity of a homeless derelict he buried some time ago. In large cities, garbage abounds, but not all of us can see the small places it escapes to. When the madness stumbles onto a man who buried a man whose name he did not know, chaos results. All the garbage of the city comes out, and the writer succeeds in inducing a very claustrophobic feeling.
Next comes a two parter inspired by the hippie era of ‘totally rad’ communes. The madness stumbles upon a man whose goal is to unite the country with love. Of note is the absurd number of communes and their nature – a few I can remember fondly are the Pink Heaven commune, the soppy sleepyheads commune and the crack in the bathroom ceiling commune. Of note is a long running character, Lenny, who is introduced here. She’s a devil may care person who Kathy runs into, and travels with Shade and Kathy here onwards. While over the top and absurd, it all feels good.
The Madness stream takes our heroes to a town out of Norman Rockwell where to be different is analogous to being taken over by aliens. If a person takes coffee without milk, or writes with his left hand, he is taken to a ‘correction’ machine. With the flavour of a sci fi flick, this one works well as a one and done short.
Up next is the three part ‘Edge of Vision’ where Shade becomes involved in a murder mystery, with Stringer, who has been following them from the beginning. The identity of the murderer must remain a mystery, and he’s definitely someone who we have seen before. We also get a view of Shade’s scattered (shattered?) psyche, and all multiple personalities are out for everyone to see. Plus, Kathy makes love to Shade, but it’s not the Shade she (or we?) know.
Peter is traversing really weird territory here, and writes a very different comic. Chris Bachalo is doing some wonderful work here, especially on the Commune issues here.
Rating: 9.5 on 10. Peter Milligan’s knocking ‘em out of the stadium here. I feel this is Chris Bachalo’s career best work
Full covers, 19.99 US$
SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN VOL 3: SCREAM TIME