The Seven Soldiers, Superman & Sideways in Sideways Annual #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Sideways and the Seven Soldiers of Victory have been trapped in a realm on the edges of the Dark Multiverse called the Benevolence. It is ruled by a demon called Perrus, and cast-offs from other universes, calling themselves the Unseen, are trapped on the Benevolence with Sideways and the Seven Soldiers. An army of biomechanical spiders are attacking the Seven Soldiers, and Zatanna sends Sideways away to find a means of winning the day. What Derek finds is nothing other than Superman himself.

Sideways Annual #1 cover by Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, and Brad Anderson
Sideways Annual #1 cover by Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, and Brad Anderson

Sideways Annual #1 revels in the multidimensional strangeness that one might come to expect from the great Grant Morrison. It also sees the return of his Seven Soldiers of Victory team, something that excited me from the get-go (I’ve actually been delving into that series recently).

It is somewhat lighter on the metaphysical and mystical themes common to Morrison comics, though I won’t say there is no presence of such themes.

I’ve not actually kept up with Sideways and was only intrigued by the Annual due to the presence of the warped Clark, Lois, and Jimmy advertised at the back of recent DC comics. I didn’t even know the Seven Soldiers of Victory would be in this comic.

I’ve heard Sideways compared to Spider-Man in his more youthful days, and the comparison is definitely apt. The optimism, knowing he’s in way over his head, and sense of humor are all reminiscent of a young Peter Parker, but there are enough differences in Sideways as to not make it feel like a glaring rip-off. It’s more Silencer than Damage in that regard.

The return of youthful Superman from Morrison’s own Action Comics is a nice callback too. He’s daring, sarcastic, and eager, and it’s an enjoyable combination in a young Man of Steel.

Sideways Annual #1 art by Will Conrad, Hi-Fi, and letterers Travis Lanham and Dave Sharpe
Sideways Annual #1 art by Will Conrad, Hi-Fi, and letterers Travis Lanham and Dave Sharpe

Will Conrad contributes the art to the main story with Ibraim Roberson handling a short back-up tale. If you’ve seen Conrad art before, you know what to expect. It has a 3-D rendered aesthetic to it, with a nice shine and smoothness to many of the figures within. It looks good, and Conrad plays with the wild aesthetic of the Benevolence well. Roberson’s back-up story does a similarly good job with the bizarre characters and surreal designs. Hi-Fi gives the color to the main story with Dan Brown on the back-up, and both colorists perform good work in the book too.

Sideways Annual #1 is a strange and high-energy entry into the DC canon. It has fun with some obscure and weird aspects of the DC Multiverse, and it all surrounds a charming and likable main character trying to hold it all together. This one is worth a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.

Sideways Annual #1 comes to us from writers Dan Didio and Grant Morrison, artists Will Conrad, Cliff Richards, and Ibraim Roberson, color artists Hi-Fi and Dan Brown, letterers Travis Lanham, Dave Sharpe, and Carlos M. Mangual, and cover artist Andy Kubert with Sandra Hope and Brad Anderson.

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