Mild spoilers ahead. Sideways and his friend, Ernie, are under attack by the villainous (and also-teleporting) Bolt! He's been hired to bring Sideways to Dark Star Laboratories, and isn't shy about taking Ernie hostage to do it. Sideways uses his "rifting" powers to break her away from his grasp and send her to safety, and Bolt and he start fighting.
The fight goes poorly for young Sideways. It doesn't take long before Bolt manages to drop him in front of a bus, which (somehow) doesn't kill him but does the trick of knocking him unconscious.
Derek awakens in the clutches of Ms. Dominus at Dark Star Laboratories, and discovers not only that she has been tracking him for the use of his dark matter powers from the very beginning, but she also killed his mother!
That's when things go boom...
Sideways, as a character, is a little too derivative: Part Spider-Man, part Nightcrawler, part paint-by-numbers teen hero. But Sideways, the comic, has right from the start been just a little bit left of center in the funnest ways possible. There’s not many comics I can think of whose first issue ends with the hero standing in his tidy-whities facing a villain, only to accidentally dismember her in the next issue. It’s been the little outside-the-box quirks that have made this such a fun book, which is why this issue is disappointing in just how safe it plays itself.
Right from the start, Bolt proves to be a pretty generic villain for our titular hero to fight. We never truly sense that Ernie is in peril, and the ensuing battle between Sideways and Bolt plays out in a very predictable manner, without much thought given to how it could have been written to better suit the fact that both characters can teleport. Why not go big? Why not teleport all around the world, or even into other multiversal worlds? This was Dan Didio’s chance to swing for the fences, and write a really cool and kinetic, literally all-over-the-place fight scene, but instead he whiffed and let Sideways fall in a lake and get hit by a bus.
Similar to Bolt’s blandness as a character, Ms. Dominus and her ever-so-on-the-nose “Dark Star Laboratories” are plainly rote and uninteresting. I’d really liked to have known more about her, though, but sadly with the series’ impending cancellation, we’ll likely never get the chance. But I do find it interesting that in villain-speechifying, she sets the table for what this series might have been:
It’s easy to lament and wonder at what might have been, but we’ll never know for sure. The book’s previous arc, featuring the Seven Soldiers of Victory (the Morrison version!) and more Silver Age Supermen and Jimmy Olsens than you can shake a stick at, AND the New 52 Superman… well. Let’s just say that if Didio had gone for broke like that from the start instead of too often playing it safe, this book might not be facing the dreaded cancellation monster. Sideways is a fun character, and I hope when it’s all said and done he isn’t forgotten. (Paging Dr. Bendis, paging Dr. Bendis and his upcoming Young Justice revival…)
On the art side, Kenneth Rocafort is a smooth line and a keen eye for panel layout, but he needs to work on his expressions. Too often, characters just look blank, even when they should be anything but:
His visuals generally are striking, though, so that’s a relatively minor qualm.
The end may be nigh for Sideways, and unfortunately this issue acts like it. Instead of playing up the innate qualities of what has made this book so fun, writer Dan Didio instead chooses to utilize a more straight-ahead superhero fight-scene approach. Here's hoping the series' final two issues fare better - Sideways is a hero who deserves a chance to shine.
Sideways #11: BOOM!
Writing - 6/10
Storyline - 5/10
Art - 7/10
Color - 6/10
Cover Art - 6/10
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