Review: Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations trade paperback (DC Comics)

 ·  1 comment

Dan DiDio's Sideways is spunky as usual, and Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations brings the book to a satisfactory close. There's a few big guest stars here, but not necessarily big moments, and that may be where the title's cancellation comes from. DiDio shows the utility of the the book and how it would be able to distinguish itself ongoing, and he's certainly created a likable young protagonist in Sideways Derek James, but even with all of that going for it, the fact that Sideways doesn't really pop is an indication of trouble. Here's a case where I think DiDio has done a lot of the important heavy lifting, and now the best thing for Sideways might be for another creator to take a shot.

[Review contains spoilers]

It's hard to raise more hype for a book in certain circles than for Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, his New 52 Superman, and Morrison himself to all take a part in a book. And yet, while Rifts is perfectly entertaining, when all of those elements together don't make for a particularly special book, again that's a problem. For me, it comes down to that this book's first four chapters (three regular issues and an annual), the Seven Soldiers/Superman saga, feel like they could be totally skipped, and one could pick up with Derek's search for his mother's killer in the last half of the book having missed nothing.

Seeing the Seven Soldiers is fun, and the evil Sheeda, and a Morrison-ian wink and nod here and there. But there's nothing in the last half of the book that links back to the first half, nor do I feel Derek is significantly changed by his experiences in the first half a tangible way. The Seven Soldiers might have come back had this title gone on longer, and maybe they would even have become an important part of the book. But here it feels like they just come and go and use up pages, without it even really seeming like Derek made a connection with them.

Similarly I know there's a fan base that's happy to see the New 52 Superman again (the early T-shirt and jeans one, at that). But there's not a lot that DiDio does (or maybe that he can do) to root this Superman in that one or (even with Morrison aboard) to demonstrate where in that Superman's story that this takes place. Essentially, this young Superman doesn't have anything much to say to Derek about being a superhero (aside from what Derek gleans by example), nor does he make any references to Metropolis or "this reminds me of that one time I fought ..." and so on. What Derek encounters here is a generic strongman dressed up like the New 52 Superman, and that's not so much resurrecting the character as it is exploiting him.

This is clearly the strength of the Sideways concept, that DiDio and company would have been able to pull out any character from anywhere, like the pre-Flashpoint Seven Soldiers or the New 52 Superman, and team them up with Sideways. But as with the guest-characters in Rift, there's only so much one would want to see of Sideways teaming up with Primal Force or the Newsboy Legion if these cameos are just an excuse for the title artist to draw them. Particularly if no one intends for General Glory to actually rejoin the DC Universe, then stories of that type necessarily have to be one-offs, and without the writer either getting the cameo character's voice or causing the story to have some lasting impact on Derek, then eventually it must all be revealed as so much fluff.

For me, it was when Sideways wasn't necessarily trying to offer so much spectacle and instead just started telling its story that the book came to life. Without interdimensional rifting, Seven Soldiers and Superman, and reinvented Silver Age eccentricies, Sideways is perfectly interesting on its own as Derek hunts his mother's killer, romances his best friend, engages with family drama, teams with a Gotham city cop, and begins to root out the enemies in his midst. None of it is particularly more complicated or better done than DC's other teen comics of this type, or the contemporaneous Naomi for instance, but again DiDio writes likable characters with believable struggles. In this part, I felt more engaged and less impatient than in earlier.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations

Toward the end of Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations, Derek's girlfriend Ernie jokes that Sideways ought join a team, the Teen Titans or Young Justice. It's probably the right idea; the former title skews rather dark right now, but the tone of Young Justice is perfect; there's a certain sense for Sideways, abandoned by the "New Age of Heroes," to find a home with "Wonder Comics" instead. Also I'd still like to see us get our "New Age of Heroes" crossover one of these days, at least Sideways and Silencer and Damage all together (maybe Brimstone can come too). Which is to say, I think there's life left in Sideways yet, and hopefully DC can find a way to harness it.

[Includes original covers, character studies and cover sketches]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations
Author Rating
3.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 1 )

  1. The joke probably has more to do with the fact that new characters who lose their own series usually end up getting lumped into a team book, thereby theoretically mollifying their fans. Sometimes this works out. Often it does not.


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