'Shade, the Changing Girl' #7 is out now from DC's Young Animal

Cover to ‘Shade, The Changing Girl’ #1. Art by Becky Cloonan/DC’s Young Animal

By Arpad OkayShade, the Changing Girl is entering real Shirley Jackson territory. Our Merricat is named Loma and tracing the origins of her madness is no easy business. Even before she donned the vest of Rac Shade and became trapped in the world that birthed her favorite sitcom, Loma was an outsider. What spoke to her broke the rules. We’re shown her life in a series of glimpses: she was always mad.

It all plays out like Godard’s take on neorealismo. Friends telling tales and listening to records, a character study, but styled with the wild aesthetics of Besson and Gaultier going full Fifth Element. The ephemeral may be dripping with neon feathers, but the concerns beneath the surface are for the eternal. The universal malaise of being a member of society if you are in any way an individual. Loma waxes philosophical on why we love what we love. She spills on her life leading up to Earth, and how, no matter how far away you run, there’s always someone waiting on the other end to grind your ambition into dust. Loma was a problem child from the start, and damned if we don’t grow to love her for it.

That’s the problem. We feel her pain, and we forgive the shit she pulls. Loma tells us she’s bad, as if warning someone beforehand justifies it when you break their heart. Are we listening? No. We love her, we love what we see of ourselves in her, we give her a pass. Damn the cost.

I think the overarching question is, what do we own? Shade, the Changing Girl looks at the pieces, what lead from there to here, but it doesn’t justify. Instead of having it all be in service of creating the present, the events of the past aren’t robbed of their individual importance. We see the injustice. We see the mistakes. We decide. Loma glibly wonders what her ex-boyfriend is up to. The answer is being tortured in space prison because of her actions. It’s in her nature to abandon the things she brings into her nest. Does that make it right? Rac Shade, poet, mad oracle, he gets it. The life you dream about is beautiful, says Shade. And it also sucks.

DC’s Young Animal/$3.99

Written by Cecil Castellucci.

Art by Marguerite Sauvage.

Letters by Saida Temofonte.

9 out of 10