The price of inaction weighs heavy on Derek as he copes with his mother’s murder. But the universe doesn’t wait for a hero. Even one who’s grieving…
Writer: Dan Didio
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Cover Art: Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC Comics
Original Review Date: August 10, 2018
After the events of Dark Knight Metal, the DC Universe was changed in ways forever. With the rise of ancient threats as well as new ones, we too have gotten new heroes. Derek James was one of the many unwitting bystanders in Gotham during the event. After a fateful trip into the Dark Multiverse, he returned with the power to create rifts. Portals he can use to travel from one spot to another. Now he’s become the new hero, Sideways, and has had a bit of a rough debut. Between facing the interdimensional being Tempus Fuginaut, other metahumans, and his normal life, Derek’s hardly had anytime to rest. Resulting in him ignoring calls from his concerned mother and unwittingly allowing her to be murdered by people seemingly after his power…
We begin this chapter with a flashback to one day prior where a group of six magical beings are meeting. Originally, they were a team of seven but have been reduced to the six they are now. Something has happened to their seventh member and they need Sideways assistance to rescue them from the Miracle Mesa. One of the six present explaining the Miracle Mesa was the hunting ground of gods and would willingly sacrifice Sideways if it meant saving himself.
In the present, we find the police visiting Sideways home. They have questions for his adopted father Flynn but they also need him to come and identify the body. All of which we discover from Sideways inner thoughts was only two hours ago. He feels responsible and wants to join them but Flynn doesn’t want him to see his mother in such a state. Unsure of how long the process will be, he leaves Sideways at home telling him to keep a phone nearby. But all this reminds Sideways is how he ignored all her calls earlier that day which led to her death in the first place.
Although he agreed, Sideways simply uses his powers and rifts over to the morgue to see his mother. Apologizing for everything that happened between them. Ignoring her calls, keeping secrets, and never talking to her. All of which stems from him gaining superpowers and learning his place in the multiverse. He breaks down and pleads for her forgiveness before his father and the police arrive. Forcing him to rift out once more before being discovered. A week passes with him going through the motions. Avoiding his best friend Ernie and remaining distant from his father. At school, he gets confronted by Ernie about closing himself off. But he continually pushes her away, not entirely because of his grief, but because he plans to find his mothers killer and doesn’t want her or anyone else involved. Unfortunately, he’s too good at the act and draws the attention of the bully Freddy. Freddy calls him out on his attitude but makes the mistake of saying she wasn’t he real mother. Receiving a push hard enough to send him flying dozens of feet. At his limit, Sideways begins to vent and make a scene. But the crowd doesn’t care. One of which tells Sideways he needs to hydrate after throwing a water bottle on him. In a fit of rage, Sideways opens up a rift to a waterfall and washes the crowd away. Exposing his secret in a truly dramatic display.
Almost immediately after what he did, Sideways realizes what a mistake it was and prepares to flee. But his powers won’t activate when three of the magical beings from the opening arrives. One is a woman who froze time to keep the scene from growing, Frankenstein who grabs Sideways, and the snarky one who was willing to let him die. For those who don’t know any of these people, we’re finally given an introduction. Including the obvious Frankenstein; they are Klarion the Witch Boy, the Shining Knight, Shilo Norman the other Mister Miracle, the Bulleteer, and finally Zatanna herself.
Together, the group makes six of the Seven Soldiers and with Sideways help, they plan to find their seventh soldier the Manhattan Guardian. Together they can stop Glorina and her Shedda hordes. In exchange for his assistance, Zatanna can wipe the memory of his emotional outburst from his classmates memories. Initially, Sideways doesn’t want to help them and focus on his own issues. But when he’s told that by helping the Seven Soldiers he’d be helping everyone he decides to help. Remembering that his mother would want him to focus on saving the living and focus on catching her killer another time. After agreeing, Zatanna gives Sideways his costume and they prepare to save the Manhattan Guardian. Which unfortunately meant exploring into the uncharged Dark Multiverse…
Let’s deal with the obvious elephant in the room first. While the death of Sideways mother gives you heavy shades of a certain web-slinging hero, it does enough differently that it stands on its own. For the first 6 issues we got to see the pairs shaky relationship and rather than be a random murder of convenience, it was indirectly because of Sideways very existence. She died investigating into why Dark Star Sciences was interested in him. Giving it a considerably more sinister tone. It also makes his decision to ignore her calls all the more heartbreaking since it was so much more on his shoulders. Especially given that she was trying to get him to see Dark Star Sciences repeatedly.
His meeting with the Seven Soldiers also sets him on the right path rather than him actually going on his roaring rampage of revenge. While it is his decision to put off finding his mother’s killer, it ties into his sense of heroism. Something we’ve seen multiple times despite his youth and occasional angst.
I’ll admit I had no idea who all but three of the Seven Soldiers were when they were first introduced in this issue. Klarion, Zatanna, and Frankenstein were pretty obvious to know who they were. The rest, on the other hand, were not for someone uninitiated in that area. But now that we do know them (or got a reminder who they were) we can seemingly begin the first story arc. Exploring the Dark Multiverse and whatever horrors await.
The somewhat rough but still vibrant art style and stylistic use of the negative space around each page continue to let the series stand out. Giving me a sort of 90s or Spawn vibe. However, the cartoonishly evil schoolmates stood out in a not so good way. It’s understandable that some people can be fed up with him and chew him out about it. But they seemed oddly insensitive like the plot simply demanded they cause him to have an outburst.
But overall, Sideways #7 was okay. The character continues to grow and improve which is great. He has potential and this upcoming arc will likely serve to unleash more of it.