Crossover #1 Transcends Its Premise With a Meditation on Superhero Events

Longtime creative partners Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe and John J. Hill reunited and returned to Image Comics for their latest creator-owned title Crossover. True to its title, the new comic book series explores the perspective of bombastic, explosive comic book crossover events that are commonplace with major comics publishers. But more than just a grounded, person-on-the-street perspective on the cataclysmic stories where worlds live and worlds die, the new series is both a meditation on the comic book medium and culture around it, and it's a truly special read for comic fans.

The ordinary world has to suddenly contend with the appearance of their beloved superheroes gripped in a world-shaking battle with plenty of innocents caught in the crossfire. As humanity attempts to move on from the devastating event, the comic book community faces heightened scrutiny, especially those who get irrevocably caught in the world between Supes and the ordinary people that have faced their wrath.

RELATED: Crossover: Image's Ambitious New Series Lands a Walking Dead Homage Variant Cover

On a superficial level, the creative team is indeed crafting a story about what it feels like to be an average person caught in the explosive maelstrom of a comic book crossover event. But right from this opening issue, it quickly becomes clear that more than just a commentary of a super-powered slugfest, Crossover is a meditation on the nature of the comic medium as a whole and the communities that have developed around it. The entire creative team's appreciation for the medium is evident from cover-to-cover as a celebration and love letter to it, with underlying themes about finding joy and hope while recovering from tragedy.

The entire team has been working with Cates for quite some, including colorist Dee Cunniffe and letterer John J. Hill. Shaw, Cates' collaborative partner and co-creator of the acclaimed Image Comics miniseries God Country, swaps out the cosmic approach he took with characters like Thanos and Cosmic Ghost Rider for a more grounded approach than a lot of his work. There is plenty of bombastic action from the opening, when the central premise hits the ground like an atom bomb. But in keeping with the person-on-the-street perspective, the visuals quickly shift to a more emotional, slice-of-life style. Cunniffe's color palette underscores this artistic approach and, when the true stakes of the story are gradually revealed over the course of the issue, the blend of grounded, more emotionally raw visuals with traditional superhero comic book sensibilities mesh well as the story goes into motion.

RELATED: Crossover: Cates Began the Image Title Before Becoming a Major Marvel Writer

Crossover feels deeply personal for the creative team, with its exploration of the comic book medium's impact on their lives and the way they see the world. At the same time, the creators are also well-aware that they're playing in and around a genre fueled by its sense of escapism and wish-fulfillment; the proceedings aren't overly somber or self-serious. There is an understanding that this all is supposed to be a lot of fun, and this issue largely delivers on that promise with a wink, while teasing a deeper exploration of the medium and genre overall. Superhero and comic book deconstruction have certainly been done before, but Cates and Shaw are bringing more than their personal touch to this, with a take on the industry that feels more timely and important than ever.

KEEP READING: The Crossover Team Teases Image Comics' Must-Read Series

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Sam Stone (8294 Articles Published)

Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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