DC’s ‘New Age of Heroes’ line is one of the most baffling additions to the publisher’s huge expansion into different spaces and ideas. The initiative serves as a platform for the different artists in comics to explore new characters, ideas, and concepts. While most ideas spinning out of the line have failed to find their footing, “Sideways” has been a fantastic exception, carving its own space with a brand new teen hero bearing a resemblance to the early days of the “Amazing Spider-Man.” While the series debut was enjoyable, writers Dan DiDio and Justin Jordan need to make sure to sidestep the cliches the story fell into via the debut and make sure readers appreciate Sideways for the unique aspects he brings to the DC Universe.
Written by Dan Didio and Justin Jordan
Illustrated by Kenneth Rocafort
Colored by Daniel Brown
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual
Wrestling with the perils of a lost phone and a death threat from an extraterrestrial keeper of time and space known as Tempus Fuginaut, Derek James discovers that the life of a hero can land you in the hospital, especially when things go sideways.
After a debut containing a striking resemblance to other properties, “Sideways” #2 finally places Derek James into fascinating scenarios and environments he feels perfectly suited for. The most striking sequence of the issue happens because of James’ limited power set establishing actual stakes for the scene. Readers who were curious about his behavior in the previous issue should have a better idea of how James truly is in over his head here. The story even offers a tease at future plot threads and shows how the comic could progress on issues still to come.
While I certainly appreciate the technical nature of artist Kenneth Rocafort, I have never appreciated his art, often finding it too busy and static to the point where it can be difficult to follow the action. Thankfully, his art feels more nimble here. Also, there is certainly something to be said about the ‘New Age of Heroes’ concept which lets an artist shape and define a concept. Rocafort is a very particular artist and with a more restrained set of pencils and an immersive sci-fi landscape to explore, I have never been so happy with his interior work. The page layouts are still breathtaking and dense with lots of detail in the foreground bearing his signature compositional elements. This plot also bears an ambitious double-page spread which should keep fans talking.
Sideways’ power may seem simple but the horror-esque imagery featured throughout the chapter lends a great sense of aesthetic to the work and gives the issue a little more personality that it would have carried otherwise. The plot even sets up a horror-tinged thread linked directly to James’ powers. James certainly feels limited in the story which is where the stakes and ambition in the plotting stem from. While the final sequence in the issue does become muddled and isn’t properly setup, it is still exhilarating to see the character go face-to-face with a villain wearing a hospital gown and a broken arm. Once upon a time, a young Peter Parker use to face the same hang-ups and was more limited in his physicality as well.
Sideways’ more restrictive power set does limit the personality of the character and what he can bring to the table, but this comic certainly seems to tease readers may not know everything he can do with his powers yet. There’s also the mystery of where James’ powers came from in the first place. Tempus Fuginaut is a fascinating link to the mythos of the character but Jordan and Didio must be sure to tow the line between grounding James life in reality and slowly starting to introduce the rest of the characters. Fuginaut leaves the story abruptly and becomes absent from the script early on in a clumsy manner because Didio and Jordan aren’t quite to tell that aspect of the story yet. While this chapter of the series is still engaging, the book is so early on in the plotting stage the best days of the comic is still hopefully coming soon.Continued below
The supporting cast in the title is thin and haven’t made much of a mark on the overall series so far. James’ character has not yet been fully fleshed out either. While supporting player Ernie is likable, she only lends a meek personality to the story which isn’t explored in a much larger capacity. Hopefully, the next few installments of “Sideways” will bring a larger supporting cast from James’ school life or a couple different new friends? The series could also potentially use antagonists which bring something different to the table.
“Sideways” seems to be in a healthy place as Derek shows aspects of his power set and physicality veering towards the early days of “Amazing Spider-Man.” James mysterious abilities and the threads established in this issue also show how the story is different from other comics on the stands. Kenneth Rocafort’s artistic contributions and opportunity to define the visual standards of the comic also continue to show why “Sideways” is worthy of your time and attention.
Final Verdict: 7.7 – “Sideways” #2 adds a greater sense of ambition to the series’ overall formula from an artistic and scripting standpoint.