ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shade The Changing Man vol.1: The American Scream

Updated on July 15, 2010

Vertigo is probably my favorite comic book imprint, Made up of comics by DC for mature readers that also have a tendency to have stories not involving superheroes, Vertigo has included some of my favorite series, including "The Sandman," "Lucifer," "Transmetropolitan" and many others. I have sampled several of the different series in my time as a comics fan, particularly the small group that started the imprint off, in the late 80s and early 90s, made up mostly of reboots of old cancelled superheroes from the 1970s that had a tendency to go in strange, decidedly non-superhero, directions.

I had heard of this series, "Shade the Changing Man," but didn't know all that much about it until I encountered it in a bookstore, reissued in a new series of trade paperbacks.What I discovered was a strange, unsettling, but very interesting story.

The story  concerns a young woman named Kathy George whose parents and boyfriend are killed by a psychopathic killer named Troy Grenzer. Grenzer is caught and condemned to death, but, on the day of his execution, something...odd happens. Reality seems to break down, the electric chair comes alive, and Grenzer's body mysteriously disappeared. Outside, where Kathy is sitting in her car, she is suddenly surprised by an individual who looks like Grenzer, but who insists he is in fact another entity named Shade who is using Grenzer's body to come to Earth to defeat a monstrous creature called the American Scream, made up of the repressed insanity of all Americans.

After Shade manages to convince Kathy that he isn't Grenzer, the rest of the volume follows the duo dodging the police (who think Shade is Grenzer, escaped from his execution) while defeating the American Scream when it tries to use people's insanity to destroy the world.

The comic is very trippy. This is particularly true whenever the Scream gets its hooks into someone: to give one example, an obsessed JFK fanatic in Dallas, begins to manifest the heads of all the people in the car when JFK was assassinated, each repeating their famous lines over and over again, and also creates a giant JFK head constantly asking who killed him, eating anyone who can't answer. The constant shifts (Shade's physical features often change, and more than once he forgets who he actually is) make the story both confusing and engrossing, as it becomes deliciously tangled up in its own logic. The colors used are also unsettling. I rarely like the coloring used in comics in the 80s and 90s, which in my opinion is often way too garish and separates what's happening on the page with reality too much. But the strange, not-quite right color scheme here fits perfectly, giving an air of unease that works well for the surreality of the series.

Shade as a character is not my favorite. This is just the first volume, and we do get some character development as we go along, but he's way too much of a blank, as if Peter Milligan, the writer, wasn't quite sure what he wanted from his hero when he started the story. This unfortunately makes it rather hard to relate to him. Kathy, on the other hand, is an interesting character, a woman who's not quite sure she's sane, and who is more than a little creeped out by the fact that her traveling companion looks remarkably like the man responsible for the deaths of everyone she cared about, while simultaneously being fascinated by him. I also liked the two detectives following our heroes, who don't quite know what's going on but do know it's something strange, and who are dogged in their pursuit for some sort of answer that makes sense. They never really come off as antagonists, merely another pair trying to figure out the mystery who occasionally work at cross-purposes to our heroes.

All in all, this series has potential. It's not the strongest of the early Vertigo titles (that honor going to "The Sandman," in my opinion), but it is an interesting idea done well enough for me to want to read more to see what will happen. Read it if you want to discover a very trippy and quite interesting story that is strange but fascinating.  

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 

      8 years ago

      Great overview - I am familiar with Sandman and you have got me keen to look further - I definitely need to check Shade out.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)