Review: Shade the Changing Girl #6

by Matthew Lloyd
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[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writer: Cecil Catellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Inks: Ande Parks (pgs. 7-10, 13-15, 18, 22-23)
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick

The uniqueness of this series is multifaceted. However, the biggest difference in this and most comics is that the conflicts are not physical. So far we’ve seen Loma struggle to come to grips with being a human teenage girl. Not easy for anyone, but especially considering that Loma is not human. Also, the body she’s inhabiting didn’t do her any favors in its previous life. Lots of dirty laundry and closeted skeletons are making it difficult for Loma to make friends and put down some roots in this new life. As this issue ends the first arc, we get a resolution of sorts with Loma’s fight with Megan’s disembodied spirit for possession of Megan’s body. Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as sinister as it sounds. Or maybe it is….

Megan’s back and wants her body.  And she doesn’t seem to understand that if she returns to her body she’ll be in a coma.  Loma desperately tries to convince Megan of this fate, but Megan isn’t having any of it.  What Megan says and does is visible and audible to the people around her, so it get her little sympathy except from River, Teacup and Wes.  Of course, it’s only River and Teacup who are interested in what’s best for Loma.  Well, River, at least. Teacup still doesn’t know the whole truth.  Wes is just in it for Wes, though he probably isn’t aware of his teenage boy selfishness and sees himself as altruistic.  Loma is taken to the nurse’s office and her mom is called (Megan’s mom, that is) to come and take her home.

Megan’s spirit, while not wholly visible, is sensed and glimpsed by those she “visits.”  It has that quality of being haunted.  Megan has no remorse for her actions in her life, and her spirit comes off malevolently to those with which she interacts.  River and Teacup go to her house after school and do what they can to help Loma fight off Megan’s spirit.  Loma successfully defeats Megan’s spirit and she finally has two friends she can count on in Teacup and River.  However, it doesn’t appear that Megan is completely gone in a truly terrifying final panel.

Let’s talk a bit about Marley Zarcone’s work on this book.  While not evoking Steve Ditko’s cosmic other worlds in her style, she nonetheless creates her own take on the spirit world.  The storytelling on the final page was subtle, yet extremely clear.  The final panel forces a look back to the entirety of the final page and reminds the reader that comics are visual and that sometimes the reader MUST slow down and take in everything being communicated in the art.  This finale was just as exciting, maybe more as a Justice League vs. Darkseid showdown, despite being rooted in the psyche and spirit.  It may not be a universe saving victory, but it did save Loma’s life and metaphorically it acts as a win for all teenagers as they learn to come to grips with that other part of themselves. (For a musical equivalent, see the Genesis concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.)

I’ve said it before, but this title manages to work on different level, burns slowly, and is unique in that’s it is more often than not a book about a teenager girl adjusting to life.  If you don’t have the patience or insight to dig these themes and special approach, this could be a tough book for you.  Having two teenage daughters helps put this in perspective.

This is a wonderful conclusion to the first arc that also manages to sew the seeds for what’s coming next.  Oops!  Hope I didn’t give anything away!  Castellucci and Zarcone continue to create a unique and exciting comic that is unlike anything else being published.  This is a smart and emotional comic that gets more interesting with each issue.

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