Shoehorning the idea of Shade and Madness into a teen girl is brilliant, and I’m shocked it didn’t happen earlier. Writer Cecil Castellucci does a magnificent job of showcasing Shade’s perspective — even if it’s technically not Rac Shade from Milligan’s run — as well as the captured youth that Shade inhabits, as well as the conflict that ensues by doing so, while also filling in new readers on the background of Rac Shade as well as the circumstances on Meta.
It’s also delightfully raw and emotional, in a youthful way that SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN occasionally touched on.
I will say: narratively, it is slight. It’s very low-stakes — yes, like with Milligan’s SHADE, Shade is being pursued by others in order to get the Madness Vest, but that’s more or less a MacGuffin. There’s little conflict — the twelve issues are mostly about this Shade reveling in the joys of Earth and making friends, which I find absolutely fantastic.
Similar to Milligan’s run, it’s overly infatuated with Americana, although in this case it’s all high schools and music and old TV shows, as opposed to repeatedly watching JFK die.
Castellucci does amazing work bringing Shade into a new generation, and Marley Zarcone’s art brings a vibrancy to the story that recalls a looser Mike Allred, especially with some of the more inventive layouts that are interspersed through the issues.
It’s an absolute delight, especially the second storyline. Shade discovering the world solo, luxuriating in everything they enjoy? I couldn’t stop grinning and laughing while reading it, while also relishing the surreal facets of the imagery. I can’t imagine a better re-invention of SHADE than this.