[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Written by: Cecil Castellucci
Illustrated by: Marley Zarcone
Inks (pgs 6-14, 16-18) by: Ande Parks
Colors by: Kelly Fitzpatrick
The best science fiction are ones that attempt to address social issues under the guise of aliens and monsters. Young Animal Comics has consistently approached things with a similar approach. Whatever the outward appearance of the stories, there’s always something deeper underneath. Shade the Changing Woman continues in that tradition.
Shade takes Rac’s advice and tears out her heart and buries it so that she will no longer feel anything. It doesn’t quite work as she continues to sense her emotions, but at a great distance. Meanwhile, on Earth, her friends and family are experiencing their own issues without a “simple” solution. The returned soul of Megan has landed Megan’s parents in the insane asylum after being convicted of producing homemade drugs.
River is at a crossroads as his job lands him in conflict with his own personal beliefs about aliens. Even meeting a “good” alien at work does little to ease his mind. Wes is at a similar spot as he is visited by Megan’s soul, and she’s not done as she begins a tour of revenge.
The analogy between interstellar aliens and earthbound aliens is not lost. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but the execution delivers an impact that is truly felt. River’s comment about the inhumanity of what’s going on at his work delivers the sentiment in a genuine and strong fashion. Treating everyone with dignity and respect is a requirement of proper human behavior. River recognizes the humanity in the aliens even if everyone else doesn’t.
The back up story illustrated by Jamie Coe is a surprising, yet exciting direction for the series. Wes, as a future astronaut at the end of his career, has gone into space to stop Megan’s soul from doing what it should’t have done. For all the ambiguity about Wes, this action shows he’s learned something.
The emotional depth and complexity of this issue is a perfect example of why Young Animal Comics are unique in their approach to story telling. It’s wonderful to see comics produced in this way. This may not appeal to the average readers, but it is certainly notable and significant. This title consistently finds an emotional line that is different and compelling. The emotional resonance with this book is unparalleled.