Shade, The Changing Man: The American Scream

shade the changing man the american scream cover trade paperback tpb
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Challenging and more adult than other titles when it was released

Tries a bit too hard, not as edgy as when it was released

Comic Info

Comic Name: Shade, The Changing Man (Volume 2)

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Writer: Peter Milligan

Artist: Chris Bachalo

# of Issues: 6

Release Date: 2003

shade the changing man #1 cover

Shade, The Changing Man (2) #1

Reprints Shade, The Changing Man (2) #1-6 (July 1990-December 1990).  Kathy George has had her life destroyed by serial killer Troy Grenzer.  He killed her parents and her boyfriend was killed by a cop who read the situation wrong.  Now Grenzer is facing death…but as Grenzer is executed an alien from another dimension named Rac Shade has taken Grenzer’s place on Earth.  Wanted by the police, Kathy finds herself travelling America with a man who looks like the killer of her parents, and the madness is growing around them all.

Written by Peter Milligan, Shade, The Changing Man:  The American Scream is a DC Comics Vertigo title written for adult audiences.  Initially released as a DC title, the series was later folded into the Vertigo imprint and features art by Chris Bachalo.

Shade, The Sandman, Doom Patrol, and Animal Man were all the early Vertigo titles.  I loved Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and The Sandman, but Shade always seemed much harder to grasp.  Like the other titles, the heady stories were not as simple as the standard DC superhero book, but it also feel like Shade is trying to find its ground in this collection.

shade the changing man #4 cover american scream

Shade, The Changing Man (2) #4

Shade, The Changing Man benefits from being read more than once.  A lot of the story feels rather obtuse the first time you read it and sometimes you might find yourself glossing over some of the more dense parts of the story…which leads to problems down the line if you don’t get a grasp (or at least somewhat of a grasp) of what is occurring.  The story starts out rather vague and gives more depth to Shade’s character in one of the later issues of the collection, and as a result, the series is a bit of a wild ride.

Unlike a lot of the modern DC and Marvel titles, Shade is a little less structured for collections.  The story has a few different paths all under the umbrella of the American Scream madness that is spreading through the country.  You have Shade and Kathy on the run but encounters with JFK conspirators and Hollywood insiders.  It flows rather fast and isn’t always easy to follow Milligan’s storylines.

Shade, The Changing Man still isn’t my favorite title from DC at the time, but I do still admire Milligan and Bachalo for what they are trying to do as comic books were becoming “more adult”.  Not only were they touching on adult subjects, but they were writing and presenting the story in a style that wasn’t Spider-Man or the Justice League.  Shade has a style all his own that was still edgy for the time.  Shade, The Changing Man:  The American Scream is followed by Shade, The Changing Man:  The Edge of Vision.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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