This week marks the launch of Sideways, one of several new titles making up DC’s “New Age of Heroes” in the aftermath of Dark Nights: Metal. So far these new titles have been well-received, with both The Silencer #1 and Damage #1 receiving scores of 8/10 or higher from AiPT! Does Sideways #1 continue this trend of successful debut issues?
The best part of this issue by far is its art. Kenneth Rocafort and Dan DiDio’s work is visually pleasing to look at, and the way they render Sideways’ teleportation powers is very cool. For as much flack as people give the character design due to its similarity to Spider-Man, the costume is still quite neat as well. There are plenty of well thought-out page compositions throughout, particularly when Sideways jumps in and out of panels as he rapidly teleports through several locations. My favorite part of the issue’s visuals are the bright colors; Daniel Brown’s work helps make Sideways fun to look at.
Unfortunately, the visuals are more or less the only fun parts of this issue. As previously mentioned, Sideways ties into Dark Nights: Metal, but the connection feels forced and almost irrelevant. Derek (Sideways’ alter-ego) has backstory that ties into the event, but it’s so loose that one could have slightly rewritten it to omit Metal‘s events and the changes would hardly be noticeable.
Not only does Derek lack compelling emotional connection to his own backstory, he has little of interest going on in the present. He gets bullied at school and the writing for those scenes borders on unintentional parody; most of the characters lack believable motivations and those that have that much still suffer from stilted, predictable dialogue. We meet Derek’s friend as well as his mother, but I don’t remember their names, much less anything of note they contributed to the plot. This is an issue that is driven largely by the protagonist’s thoughts, and his thoughts aren’t all that interesting.
Most comic lines have at least one dud in them, and the “New Age of Heroes” has its first such dud in Sideways #1. The artwork impresses a fair amount of the time, but even it doesn’t soar to the height of the art team’s clearly great potential. The writing, on the other land, lacks redeeming qualities; first issues are supposed to sell readers on the series or at least generate enough interest to warrant picking up the second issue, but Sideways #1 fails to do either of those things. It’s hard for me to think of any reason not to skip this one.