TITLE: Shade the Changing Girl TPB vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy
COMPANY: Young Animal
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Inkers: Ande Parks, Ryan Kelly
Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Young Animal Curator: Gerard Way
Back in 1977, Steve Ditko would create “Shade, the Changing Man” about a man named Rac Shade, a fugitive from the militant planet, Meta which is in another dimension.
Shade is wanted for stealing a powered M-vest which allows him to create a force field and enabled him to project an illusion of a large grotesque version of himself.
Unfortunately, “Shade, the Changing Man” was one of the titles from the DC Implosion and was canceled after its ninth issue.
In 1990, DC Comics imprint Vertigo would feature the return of Rac Shade revamped by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo. This time Rac Shade is a poet sent to Earth to stop a growing tide of madness from consuming the planet. Shade sports an M-Vest which would be known as a Madness-Vest capable of warping reality.
The character would go through many deaths and each time, brought back in a different form.
The series was quite popular and lasted 70 issues before getting canceled in 1996.
But with DC Comics imprint Young Animal, we saw the return of the M-Vest in “Shade the Changing Girl”.
As Young Animal tends to incorporate the DC Universe and try to establish a connection, the connection for the storyline is that a female bird-like Metan named Loma (who happens to love Rac Shades poetry) and her boyfriend named Lepuck were lounging at the Meta Museum after hours. As the two see a coat, They take out the coat and Loma tries it on. And she is instantly transported to a new dimension (where Earth is located).
We are then introduced to a teenage girl named Megan who was literally brain dead. But when Loma’s soul and essence is transported into Megan, Loma must now learn how to deal with living in a human woman’s body. While Megan’s parents and schoolmates are not prepared for Megan to return.
We learn that Megan is not a kind soul at all. She can be considered a “Queen B”.
She was the worst friend any one can have, she is selfish, demeaning and tries to make people feel like crap. She bosses them around and many people hate her, including her friends who fear hear, because she was so dominating and made them do whatever she wanted them to do.
But one day, while she went with her boyfriend and members of her swim club for a swim in the lake, because of the drug use they were using, somehow Megan ended up drowning in the lake, while her friends, including her boyfriend, had no interest saving her.
And as Loma tries to live in Gwen’s body, she wants to make things right and make Gwen a respectable person.
Problem is, she’s trying to adjust to human life and understand it, so the new Megan, who tells everyone to call her Shade, makes it seem like she’s on drugs, because she’s no longer super mean and she talks in a way that no one really can’t understand her.
While her female friends hate her guts and don’t want her back, her boyfriend (that left her out to die) wants to be back with her but she shows know interest. The only person she really likes is her neighbor, River, a kid who is into sci-fi and figures out that she’s probably an alien when he sees her vest manifest and Teacup, one of her friends that left her out for dead but somehow is the only one still wanting to be her friend.
But a new life is not all Shade needs to worry about because she must contend with the angry Megan who is inside her and is angered by how Shade is changing her persona. But can Loma suppress Megan?
And will Shade let her secret of being an alien remain a secret or will she let her human friends know?
Meanwhile, back in Meta, Melloy Loran, a scientist who had a relationship with Rac Shade and was in charge of the M-Vest (and has never gotten over him, thus she is spiteful and revengeful) wants to do anything it takes to get the M-Vest back.
When reading “Shade the Changing Girl”, I thought that at first that it was much too different from “Shade the Changing Man” and wasn’t sure I could get into it. When the book started with Meta aliens, I was thinking this book was going to be a fail. But the more you read each issue (which issues #1-6 are presented in the TPB), you realize how cool this series really is. It’s actually pretty awesome.
Featuring colorful artwork, really cool penciling and a storyline that gets better with each issue, I can only hope the artwork and writing remains consistent, as a few Young Animal comics unfortunately go through artists changes and loses that consistency. But I do look forward reading the next TPB when released.
Like other Young Animal TPB’s, the short stories of “Cryll’s Big Surprise”, “Dial H for Hero!”, “Real Life” starring Element Girl, “Life with Honey” and character design sketches.
Overall, “Shade the Changing Girl” is a wonderful series and for those interested in knowing what the series is all about, especially those who were fans of the Vertigo “Shade the Changing Man”, will find this series to be entertaining and a whole lot of fun!