Comic Book Review: Sideways Annual #1
As hard as I am on Sideways, it is always because I want a series like this to succeed. It has all the potential to become something memorable, but sometimes (like with this current arc) the series goes sideways in the wrong way. It helps refresh the mind when you can at least sit back and appreciate how far the series has still come. It makes a big difference when you get to this point where you have your own annual. It’s a good milestone, even if it isn’t for hitting 25 or 50 issues.
Being an Annual, this was a bit different from what I was expecting. Usually when you read that word, you are prepared for something that’s different from what’s going on in the main story. However, that is not the case here. This first annual takes the risk of picking up right where the last issue left off. For someone like me that was a bit problematic for the fact that the main story right now is entirely great for the direction it stole from Derek on his road to legitimacy as a hero. This would have actually been a great opportunity to press upon a different corner of Derek’s world to better understand him. We could have gotten a stronger background story for his mother. We could have followed things a bit more from his friend’s perspective. We could have even taken a trip in another direction in the Dark Multiverse to further tease the origins of Derek’s powers considering the way the previous issue ended. That’s what this could have turned out to be, but here we are instead.
Now what I will say was good writing about this issue being an annual was the focus on making this accessible to new readers. For where this issue chose to pick things up for the story, they found the right points to make sure that readers had some awareness to what was going on. Maybe you don’t know his lifestory summed up, but you might know enough not to be completely lost. That matters if someone wants to read this and work their way back. Sideways isn’t that long of a series yet.
So with that said, there was still some appeal to where this story picks up after the rescue of the Action Comics’ Superman. If anything, this is a big issue because t marks the first real team-up that Sideways has had with a big-name hero. It might not be the actual Superman from the New 52, but it is as close as it gets. Having someone who knows what they’re doing to measure up to is a big development. That is how a hero like him grows. Especially when making so many mistakes up to this point. I was very impressed by how this story started to come full circle from the point that Derek was sent away from the Seven Soldier’s fight. That alone really saved this story when I thought this was something that would drag on more than need be. The “Unseen” story at the end was worth the read as well. There are certain things about the Dark Multiverse that leave a lasting impression upon our world, and this was one of them for what it set up through Derek’s adventure with the Seven Soldiers.
The fact that they had Will Conrad and Hi-Fi on art for this annual made this a big deal for me. Two quality artists on top of others such as Ibraim Roberson, Dan Brown, and Cliff Richards. The combination of these artists created the most stunning work you could produce for the climax to this story arc for Sideways. Will Conrad was the perfect choice for this annual because he is a penciler who knows how to give you highly visualized work. He doesn’t skip a beat in the detail he puts into characters, actions, and the world around them. It also helps that Conrad is the kind of artist who is very good at drawing a lot going on at the same time. There was a lot to draw between the Unseen, the massive army of spiders, and all the action in-between. He handled all of this with clarity, and a clear sense of patience to other developments as well. Hi-Fi’s colors are usually mind-blowing, but working with Conrad there was so much room given to give us a pallet of colors with full depth. The colors were bold, they had range to them, they popped, but more important than anything else it put energy into the intensity of this being a climax.
Sideways Annual #1 turned out a lot better than I initially thought it would be. It honestly just felt like another issue of Sideways, but longer than the normal. Nothing too special, though it was better written than some of the other issues up to this point. I’m glad that this issue found a way to bring things to a close so we can get back to the things that really matter for Derek back home.