Shade, The Changing Man, Vol 3: Scream Time

19 Aug

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Artists: Chris Bachalo, Bryan Talbot, Mark Pennington

Collects: Shade, The Changing Man issues 14 -19

Published under VERTIGO

And now, we come to the third and final (at least till date) volume of Peter Milligan’s Shade, The Changing Man. The inevitable confrontation between Shade and The American Scream does occur here, and we learn a few secrets about Shade, Kathy, Wizor, the American Scream, the zone of madness and the Madness Vest.


The first issue takes Shade to Santa Fe via the Madness Stream which features bizarre characters, trials and punishments for weird offenses. A mesmerizing tale, and though I haven’t visited Santa Fe yet, I remain eager to do so. The story features a priest who turns judge, jury and executioner and a girl who seems to be Shade’s only hope. Milligan’s wonderful script is full of gems like “You’re guilty of being guilty.”

Next follows a four part storyline where Shade & Kathy change paths. Kathy tries to come to terms with her life, when she discovers that it can’t be the same ever again. Via the Madness stream and a series of dreams, she learns that the Shade she….um, made love with (see review of Vol 2 here) wasn’t really Shade, and that her connection to the Madness stream is deeper than she had imagined. Meanwhile, the Madness stream takes Shade to the Wild Vest, where – of all things – he meets the spirit of the Madness Vest and we finally learn the origin of the Madness Vest, The American Scream and what Wizor has to do with it. All the events up to now start making sense (see review of Vol 1 here) and there is a reconciliation of sorts as Shade does the Vest’s bidding and so ends the current storyline. Of course, I doubt that’s the last we’ll see of Wizor or the American Stream.

The last story in this collection is a short centered around the spirit of Christmas and what it signifies on Meta, as well as here on Earth. In the course of this trade, we see Shade catching a dose of realism – he isn’t the red headed romantic any more. Of course, having a number of alternate personalities dancing in your head will do that to you some time or the other.

Milligan really hits his stride here, but I don’t know how he can continue this series for long without interest sagging as the basic premise of the series comes to an end here – if I didn’t know that the series lasted 70 issues, I’d think it ended here. The resolution seems a bit quick, but Milligan has always been throwing curveballs and, well why not? I thought the same way about a lot of series where after the premise ended, there wasn’t a lot to continue with, but I’ve been wrong on occasions (the most recent occasion was the conclusion of the war against the Adversary in Fables, another stellar story from VERTIGO you should be reading) and this is a place where I’d love to be wrong. I absolutely love Milligan’s writing; Bachalo has never been as experimental as he is here.

This volume features Jamie Hewlett take over cover duties from Brendan McCarthy, but there’s no jarring change in tone – the colours seem as bright as ever, the schemes as psychedelic as ever.

I can’t see another volume on the horizon, though there should be one, as Shade is featuring in the DC Universe in a big way. I guess with more requests, DC will give in. So people, write letters to Hellblazer (Peter Milligan is currently writing that title, and letter columns are back) or let Dan DiDio or another executive know, if you chance on them at conventions (For all those who think otherwise, Dan’s a very sweet person, has been very patient with me and my queries) and support the industry by buying what is available, and asking for more.

Rating: 10 on 10! I don’t think it can get better than this. I’m waiting right here, Milligan! Come on, prove me wrong (I’d love if you could do that)!

Contains full covers, 19.99 US$

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