Sideways #5 – Justin Jordan, Writer; Robert Gill, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Dammit, Derek
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: I’ve read a lot of comic books starring teenage superheroes over the years, from the extended Tim Drake Robin run to the classic Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis, but there’s one thing they have in common – the majority of them tend to make better life choices than your average teenager. Not so with Derek, the lead character of Sideways, who is just as impulsive and sullen as many teenagers can be in real life. Whether this is a plus or a negative for the title will heavily depend on your interpretation, but I find it gives the book a genuine vibe that works really well for it. When the issue starts, Derek is being met by his former tormentor, the Fuginaut, who explains that he needs his help to close up rifts in the world that have been opened by Derek’s experimentations with his powers as well as by the events of Dark Nights: Metal. Derek is skeptical, having issues with his powers on the best of days. Before he can argue, the Fuginaut is gone.
The rest of the issue shows Derek trying to juggle all the elements of his life and failing miserably. His relationship with his mother goes from bad to worse as he accuses her of ruining his life before storming out – if this book continues following down the patterns of Spider-Man, that may not have been a good move. The latter half of the issue brings in an intriguing new supervillain named the Showman – a viral superstar who has picked up on Sideways’ ill-advised attempts at internet fame and has decided to stalk him to his high school. Ernie and her sister wind up playing a surprisingly big role in bailing Derek out of the fire – like in Brimstone, I find that the supporting ladies are actually more intriguing than the male lead in places. There’s an overarching mystery involving Derek’s mother’s employers and their interest in Derek, but I wouldn’t be nearly as invested if this title hadn’t done a good job of getting us invested in Derek’s story in the first place. Aside from The Terrifics, this is probably my favorite of the line.
Corrina: It’s not that Derek makes poor decisions. It’s that he makes the same poor decisions, over and over, and never learns anything. At least Peter Parker learned about using power responsibly early. (In his origin….)
We’re five issues into this series and Derek is as much of a dumb-ass as he was in the beginning, with no progress in sight. Contrast that with how Kenan, a bully, began to change even in the first five issues of New Super-Man. That book, I enjoyed, and understood Kenan, even as he did some pretty stupid and nasty stuff. I wanted to see Kenan succeed and grow.
Not so Sideways, where Derek constantly doubles down on his lousy choices. Oh, sure, he berates himself for it, but then he does the same thing again, all the while making everything all about him, like his snide comment to his mom, or pulling sympathy from his best friend.
I have zero interest in what happens to Derek, success or failure, it seems no growth will ever happen with this kid.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this issue for review purposes.