Advance Review – Crossover #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Donny Cates
Artwork: Geoff Shaw
Colours: Dee Cunniffe
Lettering/Design: John J. Hill
Release Date: 4th November 2020

To say that the Earth was not prepared for almost every single fictional comic book character to explode into the real world just a few years ago and begin waging war against one another would be a massive understatement. Fast-forward to the present day, where the state of Colorado has been encircled in a forcefield by these heroes as their seemingly never-ending skirmish continues, and the world has grown to hate superheroes, comics and anything associated with them.

Crossover is the latest offering from the dynamite creative partnership of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, and believe me when I say that my clumsy attempt to sum it up in the preceding paragraph is merely the tip of the storytelling iceberg here.  It features bold ideas aplenty, including the way different subsections of society react to the fictional being brought to life in such a violent, shocking way, and I found myself absolutely hooked from the first page to the last.

Boasting a relatable, likeable protagonist and a conversational narrative style which keeps the pages turning throughout, Cates ensures that while the scope of the story is undeniably epic, the focus is kept narrow for the most part, prioritising character and personal drama over large-scale superhero shenanigans. The way Ellipses Howell circumnavigates this bold new world is utterly fascinating, as she tries to douse the flames of hatred on both side of the divide while protecting the things she loves most.

Shaw’s artwork is fantastic as always, but feels markedly different from a lot of his previous work in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on it. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the trademark Shaw flair is there, but this feels slightly more subdued than normal.  Yes, the everyday world is still expressive and filled with emotions, but it feels – almost by design, it seems – far more restrained than the bombastic flashes of superheroic carnage.

Dee Cunniffe’s colours also go a long way towards establishing this distinction, as well as his usual depth and energy to the page, and while I’m not sure if it’s he or Shaw who is responsible for one of the particularly striking visual flourishes used to identify a certain character, it works absolutely beautifully to highlight the shocking absurdity of the situation.

Honestly, I could rant and rave about this book all day, but the best way to experience it is to pick it up for yourself when it goes on sale next week.  Wildly ambitious and relentlessly creative, Crossover may end up being the coolest thing Cates and Shaw have ever done, which is certainly saying something. I loved absolutely everything about this comic, and I hope you will too.

Rating: 5/5.


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