Review – Sideways #8: The Seventh Soldier

Comic Books DC This Week
Sideways #8 cover, credit to DC Comics.

Sideways #8 – Dan Didio, Writer; Max Raynor, Penciller; Trevor Scott, Inker; Daniel Brown, Colorist

Ray – 7.5/10

Ray: Dan Didio’s cosmic teen superhero adventure heads into a new era and adds a new artist in the process, as Max Raynor steps in for Kenneth Rocafort. The second arc, following on the events of Derek’s mother’s death and his subsequent angry identity reveal at his school, pairs him with the stars of one of the best DC Comics stories of all time. That would be Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers, the trippy split-story narrative that brought seven obscure and reinvented DC heroes together as a team.

Now, with one of them – the Manhattan Guardian – missing, the remaining six have recruited Derek as their seventh, using his rifts to get close to their missing partner. The only problem is, Derek’s powers have taken them into the Dark Multiverse, and he quickly finds out that leaving isn’t nearly as easy as getting there. The team starts unraveling as Zatanna tries to explain to Derek the purpose of their mission, with Klarion, in particular, blaming Derek for getting them stuck there. And as if things weren’t bad enough, soon the Sheeda are attacking.

The new Seven Soldiers. Credit to DC Comics.

Fans of Seven Soldiers will remember the Sheeda as the beastlike army of the Big Bad, Gloriana. Sure enough, they’re just as hideous here – a massive horde of misshapen monsters, spiders, and other bugs. Arachnophobes probably shouldn’t read this issue. They quickly start overwhelming the soldiers, and one by one they go down. Even Klarion’s Teekl turning into a giant wildcat can’t save the day. Zatanna sends Derek away with magic to save him, and while trying to find his way back in the middle of a ruined city that begins collapsing on itself, he gets snatched up by a mysterious flying being known only as Perrus. Perrus turns out to be one of the heroes of this word, the leader of a creepy band known as the Unseen.

They all seem to be variants of existing versions of DC heroes, including a Lori Lemaris who’s a half-skeletal fish monster and a Lois Lane who gets around on a giant brain with legs? Okay? It’s all very creepy, but by taking Derek away from his supporting cast, this issue loses a bit of what makes the series work.

Corrina: I’m not sure this series ever fully worked.

Derek has been aimless from the start, without a definite goal. The Terrifics are investigating their connection to each other and the dark universe. The lead of the Silencer is out to protect her family. Derek shifts from issues to issue, letting events push him around, without any agency, except the choices he made that got his mother killed. Spider-Man had a philosophy after his first issue that we can all quote. Derek, after seven issues, has….???

I thought after his mother’s murder, we might see Derek strive to do better and be focused on finding her killer but instead, the tone shifts again to the Seven Soldiers.

This book has no idea what it wants to be. It’s good to see the Soldiers, I suppose, though if you haven’t read their book, it’s a bit confusing. (And, wow, Zatanna is all over the place in the DCU lately. Hope she has a magic transporter spell for herself.) But Derek is thrown out of that adventure and I’m not sure he’ll ever go back.

So, in short, this title is a mess.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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