Nerdy high-school junior Derek James’ life has become even worse since he was caught at Ground Zero when a strange mountain emerged from the center of downtown Gotham, while his adoptive mother was in the middle of selling him into slavery (i.e. setting him up with an unpaid internship with some science firm for whom she does PR). After Derek somehow wound up on the other side of Gotham, his mother went into super mother-hen mode, refusing to let him drive himself to school or go out anywhere. Not that Derek has anywhere to go but to see his one friend – fellow nerd and cosplayer Ernestine.
The irony is that ever since that weird encounter, Derek can go anywhere he wants. Whatever energies he was exposed to have given him the ability to teleport through rifts he can open in the fabric of space, as well as some degree of super-strength and enhanced durability. Outfitted with a costume that Ernestine made him, Derek is ready to live every teenage boy’s dream – becoming famous filming his exploits on-line! Unfortunately, Derek’s new powers seem to have gotten the attention of beings who would see him dead…
I know that Brian Michael Bendis’ big premiere at DC Comics is scheduled for Action Comics #1000, but you could have told me it was Sideways #1 and I would have believed it. Virtually everything about this book’s story and dialogue reeks of it being a “What If?” take on Ultimate Spider-Man, where Peter Parker was given teleportation powers instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider.
Everything about the story and the characters here reeks of Bendis’ Spider-Man. Nerdy smartass teen male protagonist? Check. Cute but nerdy female best friend as a Mary Jane expy? Check. Adopted with an over-protective foster mother? Big ol’ check. Heck, even Derek’s costume as Sideways looks like a variant black Spider-Man suit for the days when the Venom symbiote was in a jaunty mood and wanted to add some accents for style’s sake!
Ignoring that the story mixes the plots of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Jumper, there’s little to distinguish Sideways so far from every other comic book about a young man given great power who must learn how to use that power to help people. If it weren’t for that Sideways might work as a parody or tribute of DC Comics’ Marvelous Competition in the same vein as the upcoming The Terrifics series.
That seems to be the intent, as DC Comics’ description of the series makes a joke about how “with that much power comes great liability,” but Sideways #1 does little to make its hero stand out as a character. I’d much rather read a series about Ernestine – Derek’s onesie-wearing best friend – as to the best of my knowledge there’s never been a superhero comic built around a geeky teenage girl who watches Anime and cosplays. And take it from a card-carrying teen librarian – there’s a market for that!
Still, Sideways #1 is competently executed, if uninspired. The artwork by Kenneth Rocafort is largely excellent, though his linework gets a little too involved at times in the close-ups. The colors by Daniel Brown are well-chosen, giving Derek’s largely black costume some excellent definition by varying the shades of grey as the light hits it. The lettering by Carlos M. Mangual is top-notch. This is not a bad comic but there’s nothing here that excites me enough to pick up a second issue.
Sideways #1 goes on sale on January 31, 2018. Reserve it now on Comixology.