Story-Arc: Steppin’ Out.
Writer(s): Dan DiDio & Justin Jordan.
Illustrator(s): Kenneth Rocafort, Robert Gill & Carmine di Giandomenico.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: October 23rd 2018.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.
Following the events in Dark Nights: Metal, new and old heroes are given the opportunity to make a memorable impression within the DC Universe and on fans. This New Age of Heroes attempts to fill in a gap in DC’s repertoire by offering readers new story arcs to dive in and enjoy. This colossal task was oddly approached with the launch of so many different series almost simultaneously, but also with so many different creative teams working on each project, looking to hit the jackpot among fans. To top it off, the artists were given much more credit in these new line-ups, even though all the series so far features multiple artists working on the same project; nothing like a rocky experience, right? However, so far, the new heroes introduced have failed to leave a good impression with them all showing significant resemblances to Marvel’s superheroes. With Damage being the Hulk, the Silencer being the Punisher and the Terrifics being the Fantastic Four, things weren’t looking too good for these comic book series. Is it any different with Sideways?
Unfortunately for us, Sideways is the latest rip-off by DC Comics and this time—if the costume alone doesn’t give it away—it takes our friendly neighbourhood superhero, Spider-Man, and merges his character with Doctor Strange’s ability to open portals to create our new dimension-jumping Puerto Rican teenage hero. This is the story of high school junior Derek James as he wakes up one morning after falling into a rift to another dimension during the Metal DC Comics cosmic event and returning with the power to open rifts to wherever he thinks of. Known around school as the kid who needs his adopted mom for absolutely anything, he secretly wishes to gain fame and popularity through Youtube videos where he does live-commentaries as his superhero-self known as Sideways. What he doesn’t know is that there are larger powers at work who doesn’t appreciate the manipulation of dimension that he carelessly indulges himself in.
I’m not going to lie, the ideas put together here, while disgraceful after having read the past three series in this New Age of Heroes line-up, still convey some potential. A teenage kid with the ability to open rifts that can ultimately have great repercussions if not used properly really brings into play a nice setup for stories that can build the character’s personality and help develop him from innocent and careless to mature and wise. However, there’s far too little reward in this first story arc as it fails to sell Derek James as a worthwhile character. His attitude is despicable and his mentality is beyond childish. There’s also no hooks thrown our way to connect with him as he continuously makes horrible decisions that lead him to realize too late all of his mistakes. And to make matters worse, the writing blatantly ignores these faults and skims over them, to lead the stories in directions that should never have even been possible. In fact, the role of the time and dimension guardian known as Tempus Fuginaut is a fine example of the many inconsistencies in this story. His motives dramatically change from his first to second appearance, and the explanation is quickly skipped over. All that came to mind was… Thank you, next.
The other issue that arises from this volume is the rough and ragged pencilling. The artwork is actually quite fine throughout the volume, but there’s something about the style, in addition to the colouring, that makes everything feel faded and old. The worse thing about this artwork has to be the facial expressions as every person seem like they have the flu or are high on some kind of psychoactive substance. However, the suit design remains intriguing, but its resemblances to Spider-Man takes away any originality from it. And then there’s the villains in this story arc. None of them truly stand out, and some of them are actually quite bad and unmemorable with dialogues so basic that you’d think it was a joke at first. In fact, the only times this story actually started being interesting is when it revolved around the Tempus Fuginaut character and his dimension. Besides that, the world in which Derek James lives is as plain as it can ever be.
With Sideways being the latest rip-off of Marvel’s property, it makes you wonder why DC Comics would believe that these new characters would honestly help complete their arsenal when anyone could and would be better off checking out the original classic heroes over at Marvel or simply stick to the canonical series within DC’s collections. If anything, I doubt any of these new line-ups will survive the long run for now.
P.S. In a recent episode of Arrow on the CW Network (season 7), the Silencer makes her debut as a villain. Quite interesting to see the character actually find itself as a Z-list character before even finding its own footing in the comic book world. Oh, and yes, you read that right: Z-list. I mean… They actually even changed her character, where her powers were just the result of a gadget.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!