Review: Sideways Vol. 1: Steppin' Out trade paperback (DC Comics)

October 24, 2018

 ·  6 comments

In talking about Marvel equivalents to DC Comics's recent "New Age of Heroes" line, I mentioned Damage to Hulk and Terrifics to the Fantastic Four (and Silencer to Punisher if you squint and tilt your head a little), but I'd forgotten about DC's new pseudo-webslinger, Sideways. As with most of the "New Age" books so far, I enjoyed Sideways Vol. 1: Steppin' Out more than I expected, with the shock of the new (or the pseudo-new) carrying it over the finish line. Titles penned by DC publisher Dan DiDio have often been short-lived, but Sideways feels like it might have some staying power.

[Review contains spoilers]

If "New Age of Heroes" is meant to fill certain gaps in DC's publishing line, then Sideways is a proto-typical teen hero title, of the kind Rebirth didn't offer many of (or at least ones not anchored to the Super- or Bat-lines). Typical, I think, of other DiDio-penned titles (here with Green Lantern: New Guardians' Justin Jordan), Sideways has one foot stuck in the 1990s, with antagonists with names like Killspeed, Tempus Fuginaut, and the Showman; the main villain is ominously (and obviously) Ms. Dominus of Dark Star Sciences. At the same time, DiDio and Jordan succeed in creating a protagonist who's youthful and flip without being annoying (triumphing where New Super-Man failed) and also making his world feel real. DC's Teen Titans titles have struggled for decades now to present real teen heroes with real problems; Sideways has a Snapchat quip late in the book that lands and reads like dialogue from the 2010s and not the 1980s.

Sideways Derek James' personality has to carry a lot of the book, because the book's plotting isn't markedly strong; not only is the company with "Dark" in its name full of villains, but also Killspeed and Showman just coincidentally happen to attack near where Derek is spending his time. For that reason, among the best parts of the book is when the Fuginaut, seemingly a villain, turns ally and mentor late in the story. This was unexpected and welcome, a sign that Sideways' cosmic material might be stronger than its heroes vs. villains stuff, and indeed that looks like the direction the book will be going in the second half of its first year.

Kenneth Rocafort offers strong work in the book's first four issues, managing both far-out multiversal effects and also believable teen figures. Flash's Carmine de Giandomenico is a good substitute in one of Sideways' character-driven issues, though I wouldn't want to see him go too far from Barry Allen. Robert Gill does no disservice, though he draws a bit more toward DC's average house style; in contrast to some of the other "New Age of Heroes" books, I'm glad to see that Rocafort will be back through much of Sideways's second volume.

The last page lets us know the Seven Soldiers of Victory will be on their way next time, and while I won't reveal it here, a number of comics news sites have spoiled for me the arrival of another alt-continuity hero to these pages. In my opinion that's a fine way to use Sideways, giving another shot in the spotlight to characters that might otherwise be off limits. Steppin' Out also does well demonstrating the on-the-ground aftermath of Dark Nights: Metal. In the quick launch of the "New Justice" titles and Metal's relative separation from the day-to-day Batman books, there's been almost no acknowledgment that a giant mountain opened up in the middle of Gotham City, but Sideways offers a regular-person's perspective on the events (see also, for that matter, Killspeed linking all the way back to Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice).

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Sideways Vol. 1: Steppin' Out

Clearly big things are on the horizon after Sideways Vol. 1: Steppin' Out, no less than Grant Morrison coming on for a guest-stint. We're already seeing "New Age of Heroes" titles cancelled, namely Steve Orlando's Unexpected, and the futures of both Damage and Silencer look iffy to me despite that I liked them. But Sideways seems viable, precisely because of the endless multiversal settings it can put its characters in, and I'm curious then how long Dan DiDio will stick with it given his other responsibilities -- we've seen artists leave the "New Age" books, but I wonder if Sideways goes on if we won't eventually see another writer, whether Scott Lobdell or Orlando or Peter Tomasi, or even if DC might fold Sideways into Brian Michael Bendis' teen-focused Wonder Comics. This book's second volume is can't miss, though it's not as a matter of fact even advanced solicited yet.

[Includes original covers, gatefold cover image, Kenneth Rocaford character designs]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sideways Vol. 1: Steppin' Out
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 6 )

  1. great review. I thought about picking this title up as floppies, but I decided not to. I guess I'll get the trade; sounds like a good read!

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    Replies
    1. I liked it. Hearing mixed reviews about the second arc; we'll see!

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  2. You haven't forgotten the solicitation have you? I'm eager for your commentary

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    Replies
    1. The DC monthly trade solicitations?

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    2. Yeah there is some very interesting, unexpected and exciting things in the latest solicitations. I'm particular intrigued by the Batman Grant Morrison omnibus that is going to apparently organise the Batman & Robin series and the Return series into some kind of reading order. The Jack Kirby and Authority omnibuses have got me salivating too.

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    3. I wondered about that "reading order" line. I'm always in favor of that, but then again, not sure if the reading order for Morrison's run was so unclear to begin with. Anyway, that post should be up Monday.

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