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A pair of white go go boots would definitely complete the look – Shade, the Changing Man #3

June 23, 2011

Steve Ditko’s time at DC never gets the play that Jack Kirby’s does. He didn’t have the sheer volume that Kirby turned out, and it’s kind of hard to compare Hawk and Dove to the Fourth World. Even within Ditko’s oeuvre, Shade, the Changing Man certainly doesn’t have the cachet of, say, the Creeper, but his brief original run (which was done in, like so many other books, by the DC Implosion) had its moments.

The character of Shade, his origins and his environs are all a bit bewildering to a neophyte, a category which included me at the outset of this post. The short of it is that he’s from a planet in another dimension (Meta), he was wrongly accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, and now he’s a fugitive from the law. Oh, and he has something called an M-Vest which gives him some powers and lets him change his appearance. Hence the “Changing Man” appellation.

All of that takes a back seat, though. The real star of the comic was, no surprise here, Ditko’s art. Here he is illustrating a flashback featuring Shade and an ex-fiance who’s sworn revenge on him, laid out with his classic 3×3 panel format:

No one could do other dimensions and the trippy points between like Steve. Here’s Shade travelling through said weirdness, and check out the demons he confronts there, which sort of remind me of Ditko’s later work with Marvel’s Dire Wraiths:

I’ll end the scans with this, perhaps my favorite aspect of this early Shade mythos. The “big bad” was a mechanized creature named Sude (which was manipulated by others, sort of like a Wizard of Oz type thing) that looks like it’s a demonic cross between Pac-Man and Mr. Kool-Aid:

Michael Fleisher had the somewhat thankless task of plugging words into Ditko’s art and general outline. The end result is plodding and a tad verbose, almost making one wish for the tsunami of exposition that was Mr. A. It makes this book — and the rest of the series — to be a not all that rewarding a read, though the art is nice to look at for a spell.

Shade had his ass Vertigoed and repurposed in the ’90s, but he’s been largely forgotten since. I really don’t care. He looks like if Starfox raided Magnus, Robot Fighter’s wardrobe and the concept behind him isn’t all that engaging. But I’d pay good money to see Sude make a latter-day appearance. Maybe he could team up with the modern Egg Fu.

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