Advance Review – Crosswind #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Cat Staggs
Release Date: 21st June 2017

When a new series bills itself as “Freaky Friday meets Goodfellas”, you know it’s probably going to be worth a look.

It also doesn’t hurt that the creators involved are Gail Simone and Cat Staggs, and their seamless collaboration here in establishing the premise of new Image Comics series Crosswind bodes incredibly well for the rest of this story.

The opening chapter introduces us to our two protagonists; slick Chicago hitman Cason Bennett and downtrodden Seattle housewife Juniper Blue.  Cason is struggling with the usual complications that go hand in hand with his line of work, being forced to ‘off’ one of his friends in the opening pages, while June is being forced to deal with her disdainful, possibly unfaithful husband and the aggressive sexual advances of the local neighbourhood youths.

On paper, their lives couldn’t be further apart, but for some reason, their paths – and bodies – end up inexorably linked, leading to a fairly dark and, in all likelihood, unapologetically violent take on the usually lighthearted ‘body swap’ genre.

Staggs’ typically polished artwork really helps to ground the story with its emotive, almost photorealistic approach.  Cason’s struggle, as well as the violence which inhabits every corner of his life, feels real here, and June’s downtrodden existence is given an added layer of menace by just how authentic it all feels.  It’s a fantastic looking book, and Staggs establishes her style confidently before deviating from it sharply in the closing pages – pages that you can feast your eyes on below.

Simone’s dialogue flows as well as you’d expect from the acclaimed creator, with some worryingly realistic-sounding misogynistic abuse and plenty of her trademark flair when it comes to delivering the profanity.  She also does well in acknowledging the duality of the leads; Cason is a hitman, but he also has a conscience and clearly isn’t a monster by any means, while June has an inner strength to her character that stops her from ever being painted as a full-fledged victim.  It’s these apparent contradictions that are likely to come to the fore as the series progresses, and I’m glad Simone opted for this approach rather than painting them as merely a pair of generic stereotypes.

As a 21-page establishing shot, this first issue does a terrific job of showcasing the massive potential of this series, and takes its time in introducing us to the two compelling leads.  Beautifully illustrated and with a fresh take on a fairly worn-out trope, Crosswind is a fantastic new series from two creators working in perfect synergy, and I really can’t wait to see how it plays out – in particular the moment where Cason, in June’s body, meets her dick of a husband.  It’s gonna be glorious.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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