Comic Book Review: Sideways #7
As far as young hero stories go, I’m really struggling with this lone-hate relationship with Sideways. Sideways #6 made it that much harder to like Derek, and that’s not the direction I feel like this story should be taking. I see so much potential from this character, and he is riddled with so much teenage angst that his one defining tragedy is unforgivably his fault. There’s tragedy, and then there’s tragedy that’s the hero’s fault because of their neglect. Particularly when the one who suffers is family.
Even the way this issue began, Derek was just sinking further into that hole. He may have been experiencing all sorts of guilt and remorse. but that didn’t change what could have been avoided if he was a good son. In these cases, sometimes the parent will actually do something to drive the kid away, but this wasn’t one of those cases. Her death wasn’t deserved, and there wasn’t a way to justify it without pointing the finger at who could have changed the course of events. The only redeemable element to this story right now is that Derek wants to find who did this to his mother, and he won’t let anyone walk over the thought of his mother. It does take some maturity to admit where you are at fault, and stand your ground when people don’t respect your family. That always has to mean something at the end of the day, even if Derek still doesn’t quite understand how to approach maintaining those bridges.
It was also very risky to throw Derek into a cliche moment next. There are plenty of ways to deal with the loss of someone close to you, but this felt forced and exaggerated. I will never put it past other kids to be so cold, but what they threw at Derek didn’t come naturally. No one would do that who isn’t looking for some sort of consequence.
On top of that, it was even bold to create this other developing plot involving an epic journey into the Dark Multiverse with the Seven Soldiers. I’m all for distractions, but what I don’t think we need is neglect from the disaster of a personal life that Derek needs to fix. If he wants to be a character we can invest in, then he needs to be a character who can grow as Derek before Sideways. As I always say, the importance of the hero behind the mask is always going to be a priority, and now was that time to show it. Not by sending him off on a journey that rejects his friends and family. That’s not to say that I don’t think this new storyline is bad. I just feel as though it could have been timed better. Maybe he grows from this experience with the Seven Soldiers? He maybe gets the kick in the ass he needs to become a better person along the way? Who knows, but only what we get out of the ending will make that call.
The best thing that this issue had going for it was the fact that Kenneth Rocafort could still cycle through as the penciler. I feared that his role in the artwork would only be temporary, or limited to just the cover art at a point, but I’m glad that this fear was put to rest. The other artists who have had a hand in this series aren’t bad, but it goes without saying that Rocafort taps into a magic that is involved in Derek’s corner of the world that others can’t. I do also mean this literally in terms of the new plot unfolded. Dealing with these kinds of characters are right up his alley. Particularly when what they do is quite extraordinary. The detail and creativeness that went into the Seven Soldiers and their settings was stunning. For this issue in particular, it was more important to focus on how he could bring out the genuine emotion that this series was lacking. Nailed it through looks that truly told you that these characters were feeling the frustrations and guilt. Then we have Dan Brown who does his best work with Rocafort in my opinion. He taps into an array of colors that he wouldn’t be able to use with other pencilers. The kind of mixes and gradients that reveal a cosmic/elegant splendor that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
Sideways #7 was a hit or miss issue. I can’t stress it enough how much potential this series has, but the execution of events and actions leaves much to be desired. It’s okay to be different from most rising hero stories, though not to the point where you lose what is appealing about most of them.