Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman: Milk Wars Part 3
Shade the Changing Girl/ Wonder Woman: Milk Wars part 3 is the third installment of the Milk Wars mini-series, written by Cecil Castelucci and drawn by Mirka Andolfo. While this issue has some good aspects and art, ultimately it does a poor job conveying Shade’s character and will leave new readers, whom have never read her story, completely baffled.
Wonder Woman, like her other colleagues, has been taken over by Retconn’s mind altering milk and has been sanitized to a neurotic, doting, housewife. She is accompanied by five different versions of Shade, the Changing Girl, each representing a base emotion, much like Pixar’s “Inside Out”. The Happy Shade notices the cracks in the fake reality and tries her best to break Wonder Woman and herself free from Retconn’s control.
This is a very trippy issue, even more so than Part 1 with the Doom Patrol, but what hurts this story is the lack of explanation as to who Shade is as a character. Throughout the issue her five personas are only refer to as their respective emotions so you don’t even learn her actual name. Another aspect of Shade that isn’t explained is her abilities. In her series, Shade is an alien inhabiting a human’s body after stealing an artifact called the M-Vest from the planet Metan. The M-Vest envelopes the wearer in “madness”, distorting the world around them and being able to project that madness into people’s mind. This is never brought up in this issue and doesn’t slow down for new readers. People who have read Shade’s series will, most likely, have no problem navigating this story, but newcomers, who are just reading the Milk Wars arc, will be left in the dust.
One the flip side, the Wonder Woman story in this is interesting. Diana Prince has always been placed in the forefront of the feminist movement, more so now than ever, so its jarring to see her in this anti-feminist position. Its even worst when she talks about having the house clean for Steve (her usual love interest Steve Trevor) and making sure he’s always happy because her job as Wonder Wife. When she is broken free of Retconn's control, its cathartic see her shed the Wonder Wife persona and return to the Wonder Woman she's loved for. There are a lot of intriguing ideas that one could pick apart from repeat readings.
Similar to the previous issues, there are many humorous images, such as the wedding flashback between Steve Trevor and Wonder Wife, and her “babies” which are household appliances. The art by Mirka Andolfo, with colors by Marissa Louise, is flowing and expressive. Andolfo does a splendid job differentiating the Shade’s from each other, not just by their colors, but also by their facial expressions. Even though, narratively, the trippy parts of the story may leave readers confused, they are nonetheless beautifully rendered.
This is a difficult comic to recommend as it is unfriendly to new readers, but it’s a necessary installment of the Milk Wars arc. Shade, the Changing Girl readers will probably not have a tough time, but it will be slog for anyone else. The internal story of the issue isn’t especially hard to follow, you’ll just have no idea who Shade is and what she’s about. This may make readers wonder what her series and, if you’re into psychedelic comics, Shade the Changing Girl is the comic to read. The Wonder Woman parts are enjoyable, and the art is captivating. Check it out, but be prepared to be a little confused.