Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 364: Shade, the Changing Man #70
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Shade, the Changing Man #70, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated April 1996. Enjoy!
Shade probably should have ended at issue #50, but that would have been rather bleak, and Peter Milligan tried to soldier on with the title for a while until he finally called it quits with issue #70. In that time, though, he managed to bring Kathy George back to life, sort of, by having Shade go back in time and stop Troy Genzer from killing her parents. Kathy’s death was a traumatic event in the series, so Milligan obviously wanted to go out on a high note rather than a downer. With this final issue, he succeeds.
Shade has arrived back in his present after going back in time, and five years have passed since he killed Troy Genzer and saved Kathy’s life. He tracks Kathy down and knocks on her door, trying to convince her he’s not crazy. On the previous page, he managed to get Kathy to take his diary, in which he writes about his feelings for Kathy, and even her own diary that she kept when she knew Shade. She does think he’s crazy, but then she decides to take the books. So on this page, Shade is standing at the closed door, wondering what he should do. Then he looks at his son, George, who encouraged him to come this far. Kathy, obviously, finds something in the diaries that strike a chord within her, and she invites Shade in. George, naturally, is pretty happy about this. Why is George a woman? Why is George so old when he was just born recently? Well, it’s Shade, so it’s pretty complicated. Don’t worry about it!
Richard Case drew the final issues of Shade, and while he’s not as distinctive as Chris Bachalo, who began the series and defined its look, he does a pretty good job. He really doesn’t have a lot to do on this final page – he needs to draw Shade standing in front of a door for three panels, but his pose in Panel 2 is pretty good. This isn’t a great page visually, though, because of Panel 5, as Case doesn’t quite get George’s expression. He’s supposed to be happy, but his smile and his eyes make him look like he’s a mongoose about to attack a snake. It’s unfortunate, because the sentiment of the page is powerful, but Case’s drawing of George doesn’t get across the right tone of happiness and satisfaction that George is feeling at that moment. And if he’s not supposed to be feeling that – if he’s supposed to be grinning evilly – then there’s absolutely no reason for him to be feeling that way, and Milligan doesn’t imply it in the pages leading up to this one. Milligan would probably not end with George looking up at the stars if he wanted this to end cynically, yet Case’s drawing doesn’t really communicate a terribly warm tone. It’s not a badly drawn face, but it just feels wrong for the situation.
Even with that, Case does a nice job leading up to this page, which makes it more unfortunate. However, the way Milligan ends the series is so sentimental without being sappy that I can forgive the odd facial expression. A little. It’s just so nice that Shade and Kathy get a happy ending. Don’t we all like happy endings?
Next: Yet another final issue, one that DC has surprisingly not messed with even though they could. Restraint? From DC? I know! Once again, I’ve already featured this series in the archives, if you care to check them out!