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Review: Shade, the Changing Man #1

Shade the Changing Man #1 cover
Cover by Steve Ditko

Shade, the Changing Man #1
Published and © by DC, June-July 1977

Title: “Escape to Battleground Earth!”
Synopsis: A mishap allows Rac Shade – a former Metan security agent wrongfully accused of treason and murder – to escape to Earth.

Writer (story): Steve Ditko
Writer (dialogue): Michael Fleisher
Penciler: Ditko
Inker: Ditko

Review: One of the coolest developments of the Bronze Age was seeing longtime artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko set free to share their own creative visions. Ditko didn’t get nearly as many shots in the writer’s chair as the King; that’s a shame, because Shade, the Changing Man bristles with a manic creativity similar to Kirby’s best work from the era. Though scripted by Michael Fleisher, Shade is all Ditko: groovy alternate dimensions, street thugs in fedoras, meditations on crime and punishment. The real crime? That the DC Implosion ended this book after just eight published issues.

Grade: B+

Second opinion: “Ditko was given the opportunity to strut his stuff, and he came through. … One of the more underrated series of the late 1970s.” – Jim Kingman, Comic Effect #26, Spring 2001 … “… one of the most riveting and strangely intriguing comics ever published.” – Ed Via, The Comics Journal #49, September 1979 … “It’s the rare comic that can be labeled ‘unique,’ yet … Shade earns the distinction.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Ditko + other dimensions + crime and justice = very cool.

Notable: First appearance of Shade, the Changing Man.

Character quotable: “Soon the puny earthlings will prostrate themselves in awe before the power of Zokag!” – Zokag, self-described all-powerful demolisher

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on March 18, 2009.

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