Shade, The Changing Woman #6 is the finale issue of the series and concludes the story begun in Shade, The Changing Girl. Loma Shade is still missing her heart, but she knows it’s what she needs to handle the conflict unfolding in the Madness and save the Earth at the same time. Does the series end on a high note?
So much happens in this issue that I almost wish there was one more issue and the finale had been split into two parts to let the climax breathe a little more. Writer Cecil Castellucci’s style for the series maintains the poetic feeling the series has carried throughout, emphasizing dialogue and emotion over action. However, because the climax also involves the whole series’ cast gathering together at the end, that assembly of characters feels very rushed so that the resolution in the issue’s second half feels too quick as well with only so many pages left after the cast is assembled. I think that’s why a heroic sacrifice that occurs near the end of the issue doesn’t feel as affecting as it could have and seems less like a really impactful moment and more like a mechanic to facilitate plot.
Marley Zarcone and Ande Parks, who provide line art and additional inks respectively, bring their best to the finale, making generous use of an effect where everything is doubled just enough so the panels look like they would be in 3D with the appropriate glasses. The backgrounds in the Madness are a delight, whether filled with drawn spirals or added textures and pixelation from Kelly Fitzpatrick’s excellent coloring work. There are several other effects used in the coloring in this issue that couldn’t be done without a really smooth collaboration between the coloring and line art and Fitzpatrick delivers stunning work on every page.
This is Shade, so expect every color in the crayon box to be present and then some. The ways in which those colors are used with multiple effects layered next to or on top of each other is what makes the coloring in Shade really have a personality of its own. It’s hard to describe the artwork in the Shade series without overuse of the words “trippy” and “psychedelic,” but Zarcone, Parks, and Fitzpatrick really capture those adjectives in ways that don’t feel like they’re reaching towards aesthetics of past decades, but instead expertly wielding those styles in a way that feels fresh and exciting to look at. Saida Temofonte’s lettering work continues to be solid, though I wish there were more sound effects during the action scenes. I feel there are opportunities there for the lettering to get really weird and it would have made the action feel more exciting as well.
Overall, Shade, The Changing Woman #6 doesn’t necessarily end with a bang, but the artwork really delivers on all the fronts readers of the series would expect and then some. As far as endings go, the issue didn’t leave me wanting more, but I don’t think it was so underwhelming that fans of the series will feel deeply disappointed.