I’ve oft repeated that the design of these comics is to show what can’t be shown. To tell the stories that can’t be told. Usually, this is because they couldn’t tell these stories with the budget available. In this case, though, the story couldn’t be told simply because they didn’t want to tell it. Because this is an honest to goodness Wade-centric story. A story that treats her character to a back story, introducing her parents as more than just a couple of extras.
It’s a little bold, too. In the opening pages, we’re treated to an infant doused in its parent’s blood— an image even more intriguing once we discover that said infant is supposed to be Wade.
This is a big deal! The Sliders comics are taking a step in the direction of having their own voice! To put their own stamp on the series, and make us debate whether or not they’re “canon” or not. (Okay, we won’t do that. If we had the choice of what is “Canon” in Sliders, “The Chasm” would eat a dick.) But still, to posit that those doubles of Wade’s parents we saw in “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome” were actually doubles of Wade’s foster parents (no wonder she was so convinced that place was Home— in fact, the whole thing kind of falls flat when you think that the best test for checking if you’re Home would be just to have Wade call her house and see which set of Parents answer the phone).
Anyways, the comic has the theory that Wade’s parents were hippies, who were gunned down by overzealous National Guards at an anti-nuclear power rally. First off, sure, in the 80s Americans were totally being gunned down by the National Guard. But second, that’s a pretty far out reason for Wade’s hippy-dippy nature (or at least Season One Wade’s nature. Season Two’s nature I guess is the violence part coming out). It’s a pretty large revelation to throw out of the blue, but I’m going to go against everything you’d expect me to say and I’m going to tell you that I think it works more than it doesn’t.
Part of the reason this comic gets away with its bold direction is having Wade give Remmy a passionate infodump that was goofy panels of her wearing U2 shirts and having Cure posters:
No, I’m kidding (sort of). But the Double-A story of this comic is totally crazy, and having A) Wade dealing with these past demons, B) having to confront them head on when she runs into doubles of her biological parents, and C) having to do all of this while on a corporate space station is a lot for one comic to handle, double size or no.
But seriously, there are some pretty radical concepts here: on this Earth, “scientists” or whatever developed some vegetation that took over the whole planet? But then businesses like, bought space or something? And now the human race lives on a bunch of tiny shitty space stations that are like a mix of Blade Runner and Silent Running. Which is fine, both those movies are pretty alright.
So it turns out that these space stations are slums. And in an idea that we’ll return to soon, Multibiz (the company that owns all this shit), doesn’t really have people’s best interests in mind. They’re there to make a profit, and people in Space live their lives in dept and dishonor. (So if you know what I’m talking about, this comic is basically “Season’s Greedings” in Space. Which is definitely not a bad thing! [This also brings up the point that this comic is definitely supposed to take place in Season Three, which is interesting, but I’m going to have to ignore those kinds of hints until we get to them in the show.])
Here’s the thing. The more that I read through (that’s past-tense read [at this point, at least]), the more I become surprised by this comic. Because everything that’s come before this tries to taint my experience of this comic. I want to hate it. But I can’t. And maybe that’s because there’s an alt-Bennish, and an alt-Pavel, or because Young Wade loves the Cure.
But really it’s because, unlike every other comic, this one is about something. It strikes the same balance between ‘message’ and ‘enlightenment’ that the show does on it’s best days. Yes, it comes off a little preachy, but it’s really more subtle than most hours of TV are. Plus, the moment when the rebels alert the Space Station dwellers that MultiBiz created the vegetation that destroyed Earth by burning a message into the rainforest so they could read it from Space is kind of awesome.
And of course, there’s Wade. And there’s even Wade’s parents, who have two defined arcs that intertwine over our-Wade. And Wade gets an extra day with her parents that isn’t brutally maudlin. It’s an honestly satisfying conclusion. Which after “Blood & Splendor” is shocking.
That’s the funny thing about his particular comic. The entire series tried to be action— it tried to be Season Three. But here we have a comic that takes place in that oh-so-derided of Seasons, and it strikes an emotional balance we haven’t seen since Season One. Quinn even says the words “luck of the draw” in the comic. So you just know it’s on the right track.
It’s certainly true that these comics are generally pretty bad. But they’re a part of Sliders, and we can’t deny them. They won’t waste your time. They are, much like the show itself, extremely indebted to the time they were made, and must be judged by the criteria of the mid-90s. For most of you Sliders die-hards out there, these are probably the last thing you’ve never seen. So, just like Wade gets to spend more time with her Parents in “Deadly Secrets,” so do you all get one more day with these people. Cherish it.
Okay, guys, that’s it for the comics!
Next week, Quinn takes “loves thyself” a little too seriously (Double Cross).