Crossover #1 Review: A Comic Book About Comic Books

Crossover #1
7/10
Crossover #1 is a comic book about comic books. This high concept story from Donny Cates & Geoff Shaw is bold in surprising ways.

It feels like just yesterday that writer Donny Cates, artist Geoff Shaw, colorist Dee Cunniffe, and letterer John J. Hill made big promises at what felt like an alternate reality SDCC for their new book, CrossoverCrossover, which tells the story of an epic comics crossover event bleeding over into the real world, was one of the most intriguing announcements of the virtual convention, with the team telling readers that the new title would show them things they'd never before seen in a comic. Now that was, have Crossover #1, does it live up to the hype?

Crossover #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics
Crossover #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics

Crossover #1 is a big and bolt, high concept comic that, above all else, sets out to be a big and bolt, high concept comic. After all, the cover is someone seemingly having their mind blown by reading Crossover, so that sets the tone well. While the how and why is shrouded in mystery, this first issue introduces the concept of a huge superhero summer event somehow bursting out of comics and coming into our world, with heroes and villains leaving devastation in their wake. Cates compared the comic to The Leftovers back when it was first announced and, plot-wise, the comparison is apt. Crossover is very much a book about the aftermath of societal trauma, how it deepens the roots of zealotry, and makes others feel alienated. That's the "big" part of Crossover #1, in that it focuses more on the broad scope of the situation and less, so far, on the characters. That's not to say the characters don't seem intriguing — they do — but it's just that, as of now, we know next to nothing about them.

Shaw and Cates work together nicely to tell this story, with Shaw's art building character in expressions and posture, especially at the end. Cunniffee's coloring is the closest Crossover comes to delivering something that's never been seen before in comics, with a surprising amount of world-building done through the colors. Hill handles the letters with skill, placing the captions and dialogue bubbles well with sparing, well-chosen flare here and there.

The "bold" part of Crossover #1 might also be something that divides readers. It's the most "inside baseball" story about comics that I have ever personally read. It's unabashedly the FUBU of comic book stories. That's For Us, By Us for anyone who is young as hell. More than anything else, Crossover is about comics as an art form and culture. It's about comics' history and the role of comics as a niche hobby in a changing world. There are some bits that are written seriously, especially with the "Christians" protesting at the comic shop, that are hard to read without a chuckle, but considering how wild the concept is, it's going to take a few issues to see if it has legs. It might work. It might not work at all.

Crossover doesn't feel like a book that everyone will enjoy, nor does it feel like a story bending over backward to create mass appeal. There is a kind of grace in that. The first issue does what it sets out to do and, while it may have been more intriguing than necessarily enjoyable, most who read this one will want to continue on to see if they get to know the characters better next time.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.