Sunday, September 7, 2003

Shades Of Blue #3 - A Review

Written by: James S. Harris
Penciled by: Cal Slayton
Inked by: Cal Slayton
Colored by: N/A
Lettered by: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: Digital Webbing

The subject of how to get more young women interested in comics seems to be a common point of discussion among those in the business of late. Some have noted the popularity of manga comics among young women and have started trying to play off of that. Some publishers began employing manga-styled artists to pull the artistic chores on their books while some comic shops began stocking more and more Japanese manga and anime.

Others, more canny than this first group, realized that the attraction lay not with the artwork but with the stories and characters that were more relatable to a teenage girl than, say… the latest exploits of Elektra or Wonder Woman. Not that they are unsuitable role models for the independently minded woman of today but supermodel ninjas and Amazon princesses are not relatable figures to the average teenager.

This is odd when you think about it. How many recent comic book figures have found success because of the fact that young men could relate to them? Static comes to mind. So does that kid from Invincible. And then there’s the mother-loving wall-crawling menace known as Peter Parker; the patron saint of all nice geeky guys who can’t get a break. Why does nobody do a nice, simple comic about a girl getting super-powers she doesn’t really want but tries to use them responsibly in the face of a hostile world while still trying to live a normal life?

That book exists, dear reader. And it is called “Shades of Blue.”

The book centers around Heidi Paige. Heidi is a typical teenage girl who got electrical powers and permanently blue hair after being mysteriously attacked at the mall. She is trying to unravel how she got these powers and why, with the help of her new friend K.T., her next-door neighbor
Marcus (who has a very obvious crush on Heidi) and Jack, a jock named Jack who just as mysteriously developed the power to change his body into diamond.

These four kids, along with the other regulars and the story thus far, are detailed in an extensive, picture-filled gallery on the title page of the book that does a better job of catching up introducing new readers to the title than the majority of mainstream titles. And unlike some other books allegedly written for young women (Marvel’s Emma Frost, with its Greg Horn covers comes to mind), the artwork by has neither gratuitous cleavage nor provocative cheesecake shots. Indeed, Slayton draws the most realistic teenage girls I have ever seen in a comic.

In a week that witnessed the release of the latest issues of many of my favorites; this is the book that held my attention the longest. But worry not, readers. Though it is an independent title, it is far from inaccessible to you, though your comic shop may be small and its clerks unable to order small titles. The entire run of the series so far, the original series (in single issues AND trade paperback form) as well as a spattering of t-shirts and other merchandise can be found at .

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