Sideways & the Seven Soldiers dive into the Dark Multiverse to save their lost friend, Guardian.
Writer: Max Raynor, Trevor Scott, & Dan DiDio
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Colors: Daniel Brown
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Art: Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC Comics
Original Review Date: September 16, 2018
After the events of Dark Knights Metal, Derek James gained the power to make rifts in reality. Becoming the new superhero known as Sideways. Unfortunately, his early dies have been a painful affair and most recently his mother was murdered because of his inaction by people after Sideways himself. But before he can go on a quest for revenge, the Seven Soldiers (Zatanna, Frankenstein, Klarion the Witch Boy, the Shining Knight, Shilo Norman the Other Mister Miracle, and the Bulleteer) come to him for aid. Take them to the Dark Multiverse so they can save their missing member, the Guardian…
We pick up this chapter with a bit of a recap of what happened last issue from Sideways narration. How he had opened up a rift to a waterfall on his classmates in a fit of rage before being found by the Seven Soldiers and then taking them to the Dark Multiverse. He notes that he’s never been to the Dark Multiverse yet it feels oddly familiar to him. He’s clearly struggling to maintain his composure but wants to do the greater good. Though he questions if it’s the right thing briefly. Zatanna refocuses Sideways and reminds the group that the less time they spend in the Dark Multiverse the better. But as Sideways only agreed to get them to the Dark Multiverse, he subtly suggests he wants to leave. Klarion countering that the agreement was to take them to Guardian directly. Unfortunately, he explains that’s not how his power works. That the greater the distance he travels the more distorted their arrival point. So while he was able to bring them to the Dark Multiverse, he has no idea where Guardian is within it. He’s still new at using his powers and attempts to use it once more to get them closer. Unfortunately, his powers aren’t working which means they’re all trapped in the Dark Multiverse.
Without Sideways rifts, they begin their search on foot. But none have any idea how long their journey will take as the worlds are constantly made and destroyed. Zatanna is confident they’re heading in the right direction as the world crumbles behind them and leaves only a single direction. Sideways wants to move faster which Shining Knight agrees upon. Of the whole group, she’s the most dedicated to finding Guardian though Bulleteer notes there’s a chance he’s already dead. Although Frankenstein replies he can feel him being alive. Mister Miracle adds on that if Guardian is alive then so are the Sheeda. A notion Klarion supports by saying they’re the final step in human evolution and all they know how to do is survive and kill. Sideways asks the obvious question, the Seven Soldiers claimed they stopped the Sheeda. So why would they still be alive? She explains it’s because of the events of Dark Knights Metal setting events in motion and gives us a brief recap. Ending with Sideways noting he was there and Zatanna implying that the Seven Soldiers needing Sideways might be part of a grander design.
They continue their journey for an unknown period of time before stopping for the night. Creating a fire to provide warmth and light, something Klarion believes will simply attract the Sheeda. Zatanna tries to calm Klarion but he brings up that it isn’t just Sideways but all their powers are weakened while in the Dark Multiverse. That now that they’re stuck together as a group they’re far more vulnerable. Mister Miracle reminds him they’re all because of a new prophecy to deal with the Sheeda. Klarion admits he doesn’t want to face “her” again before reminding us of Gloriana. On cue, we shift over to Gloriana who is watching the group on a crystal ball and she still has a living Guardian as her prisoner. Now that her enemies are all gathered, she sends her Sheeda horde to decimate them. Back with the heroes, they try to find out why Sideways powers aren’t working. Mister Miracle suggesting its stress but Klarion can tell from his aura that his powers are negated entirely by the Dark Multiverse. With this revelation, Zatanna apologizes for bringing Sideways into this but he says he responded to her and could’ve declined. Bulleteer notices somethings wrong when Frankenstein & Shining Knight return with warning of the Sheeda Hordes approach.
The heroes stand united but they stand no chance against the Sheeda. Being easily injured or overwhelmed. Zatanna takes Sideways and puts some distance from the Sheeda and stand by Klarion who then unleashes Teekl on the approaching enemy. But Zatanna knows a losing battle and sends Sideways away to what looks like a darker version of Metropolis alone. Something Sideways is against as he wants to be helpful to Zatanna and the Seven Soldiers. He tries to use his powers to return on his own but once more they don’t activate. Knowing he can’t give up, he tries to think of a plan only to be distracted by a sudden rumbling. The World he was transported to now begins to break apart around him and forces him to flee. But an all too familiar bat-shaped figure approaches and grabs him before speaking. Introducing himself as Peerus, his savior, and if Sideways keeps struggling he might drop him into the void below.
After passing out, Sideways awakens inside a castle where he’s greeted by several figures. A strange porcupine man, a squid-like mermaid, a werewolf, and an ant Superman. Despite their monstrous appearances, the Porcupine man & squid mermaid are fairly polite to Sideways. Explaining that he was saved and is in a benevolent land during benevolent times. The Werewolf and Ant Superman on the other hand aren’t as kind. The Werewolf calling it propaganda while the Ant Superman calls Sideways a spy. A final monsterous figure appears and names the individuals as Spiner, Lori, Rant, and Olsen. Telling them to be quiet and not give Sideways the wrong idea. The strange monster is Dear Lois and explains they get easily excited by new things and can answer any questions he has as she can sense his thoughts. She says this is the Kingdom of Benevolence ruled by Peerus the Benevolent. That each of them, like Sideways, was found by him and saved before their worlds were destroyed. That this place was built in an area outside the Dark Multiverse where they can be safe and hidden. They are then told to All Rise and lower their heads before his benevolence. Something that seems to scare the monsters who ask Sideways to do it and to also stay quiet. A glowing white figure, Kentclark, appears to be the man who was talking and came alongside a hooded figure called the Giver. Sideways apologies for being hesitant to listen to them but Peerus tells him to not apologize and sits on his throne. That he will learn their rules and learn to love him as the monsters do. That he will protect them till their dying day…
This was a very exposition heavy chapter, which is both good and bad thing. It’s good because it fills in some blanks for the audience and Sideways who is clearly unaware of them himself. However, it also feels like there’s a lot of lore we should’ve gotten or would understand if we read Dark Knights Metal or a pre-existing story. As such, it doesn’t really feel like a whole lot happened that wasn’t exposition with only a few standard scenes and the final portion with Sideways being sort of new content. Which, again, makes sense given how new Sideways is. But for reading it felt a bit odd in places. Overall, it was just okay.
The art in this issue is the most notable change for Sideways. The sketchy detailed 90s aesthetic is gone for a more solid and vibrant modern approach. It’s a bit of a drastic change but the characters, especially Sideways, didn’t take a huge hit in identifiability. The solid colors make the teal on his costume deeper but without his mask on, his sideburns are considerably shorter and his age comes off a bit more ambiguous. Funnily, the cover art maintains the old art style. But now it’s switched to a more standard look after 8 issues. It’s nice to see the cover still using the old style but it is rather disappointing.