Written by Dwight L. MacPherson
Illustrated by Igor Noronha
Adam Graham, a 15 year old, activates his parent’s time machine and goes back in time. He doesn’t just go backwards though; he goes sidewise into a parallel universe. Now the date is 1902 and Queen Victoria’s preserved brain has a tight grip on London. Graham is saved by Tesla who leads the SteampunX and a fun adventure begins.
First of all, Macpherson and Noronha should be complimented on the concept. This is Doctor Who meets the best Steampunk has to offer. It should be a lot of fun and truthfully, it is. Giant robot contraptions with historically brains at the control, the minister of compliance is none other than Moriarty, Tesla leads a rag tag group with agents named Wells and Fawkes. It has all the ear marks of a kid’s version of A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
That is also its biggest problem. Despite the critical acclaim Moore’s Literary Adventure gets, it rings false to this reader. There is a disconnect in the story telling and how cool the idea is. Much like the more recognized work, Sidewise suffers from its own ideas. MacPherson is so quick to fill the panels with everything cool about the parallel history that he forgets to connect the dots. It feels like Final Crisis, big ideas with a lack of big execution. Granted, it is only 21 pages in and still heavy on exposition, it is possible that when it is 80+ pages in it will settle into a groove as opposed to a concept.
Noronha’s art is just as mixed a bag. The design work is somewhere in between a more traditional American Animation style (think a refined Mr. Magoo) and the aesthetic of manga. This seems to be a bridge between older characters and younger, but it is a problem and makes for a clunky panel regardless of the remarkable consistency of the line work. However, he does a remarkable job with the kinetic chaos of the script. It feels exciting, even if it forgets to make sense here or there. The colors are dynamic and probably the most overall accomplished unit of the whole.
Sidewise is full of potential. It screams PX!, Doctor Who, and Steampunk but falls short of the awesomeness of any of its influences. Fortunately, this is a comic that is not even at the full issue mark by the industry standard and if this were the first issue of a monthly publication, there is enough good to make me check out the second, here is hoping that its potential can be realized.
Story 6 (gets a whole extra point for having a super cool premise)
The Zuda reader is baffling. Evidently, the artists are allowed to work at their own pace. I believe this book produces a page a week, others come in four or eight page installments a month. The freedom is a great thing, but the interface does not work differently for each comic. Instead it advances everything at one page; or ten pages; or from to the beginning or end. Given that none of the books are released in ten page installments, it means that getting to the page you are on is a pain in the ass and even though there is a membership for commenting, there is no bookmark system. Other then that it is smooth, nice looking and works well with any size screen (especially in the full screen mode) and its controls are familiar and intuitive.
Interface - 7
Overall - 6