DC’s New Age of Heroes continues with a book we’ve been excited for since the press release: Sideways, from friend of the show Justin Jordan and the excellent Kenneth Rocafort. However, somewhere along the way, it just didn’t feel…right.
The story opens well, covers a lot of ground, and introduces readers to a young hero who relates to a young audience. And yet after the charming opening of young Derek James surprising his best friend fully costumed, the story just seemed to slog along.
The exposition was relayed as though the reader was incapable of grasping nuance, with the costume fully explained, his social status explained, and his Gotham origins referred to AND explained - How many times do the characters need to refer to the Gotham incident before it gets laid out in great detail? It’s not so much a story with action as it is a teenager talking into a camera on YouTube. It makes sense when you look at the credits, though: Jordan is only handling the dialogue here, while Dan DiDio is doing the bulk of the writing.
DiDio’s pacing is terrible, his scene timing is off, and the exposition vomit was off the charts.
And yet the story is interesting. It felt rushed and over-explained, but I like the premise of this new hero, I like his design, I like his supporting characters, and I REALLY like when he uses his powers in rapid succession at the end. Rocafort has a style that I find very aesthetically pleasing (almost like a lighter-shaded Leinel Yu), and he excels at portraying the various age groups in the story. His physicality translates well, and I really like the way that colorist Daniel Brown accentuates the visuals with a vibrant palate.
This is a very pretty book: Rocafort and Brown work phenomenally together, and I think visually this is the best New Age book on the shelves. However, for the sake of this comic, I hope Jordan is given the reigns to install his playful staccato-rhythm into the narrative.