I love a good backstory and this week’s issue of Crossover sure delivered on that. Donny Cate’s Crossover is easily my favorite creator-owned comic out on the shelves right now, and this week’s issue is easily my favorite one so far. Spoilers for the first three issues of Crossover and Watchmen (yes you read that right) ahead.
This issue begins with some nice commentary on how the ending of Watchmen, while thought-provoking, does not hold up as well today, especially in the universe of Crossover. The Crossover event was this world’s equivalent of Ozymandias’ alien attack at the end of the comic, which united the peoples of the world against a common threat. However, instead of working together with the heroes brought into the real world, they built bigger weapons. To protect themselves, and the normal citizens around them, from the onslaught the countries of the world were planning on unleashing onto them, the heroes created a barrier around the city they were transported to. This barrier is the same one that separated Elle from her parents, and it is precisely where our main characters are headed to now.
Last issue, we learned that a group of heroes were transporting innocents, particularly those transported with them during the Crossover, out of the barrier so that they could be free. In this issue, it is revealed that the group are from a relatively unknown comic known as The Paybacks, a comic Crossover‘s writer, Donny Cates, wrote for Dark Horse Comics in 2014. I actually really enjoyed the presence each member of the team had in this issue and I am definitely interested in going back and reading the entire run in the future. I am excited to see more of them in the next issue. Dr. Blaqk was particularly interesting and I enjoyed his banter with the rest of the characters. However, it is the reveal on the final page of the comic that got me particularly excited for Crossover‘s future thanks to the appearance of one of my favorite independent comic book characters.
This issue sees Elle come in contact with the man that destroyed her home, Ryan. In the last issue, Ryan was told that he was destined to work with Elle to save the world, or something along those lines. Because of this knowledge and the abuse faced by his father due to the lack of consequences for Ryan’s actions, Ryan runs away from home. While attempting to hitch a ride, he is spotted by Elle who is prepared to punch him as hard as she can before he tells her the truth: that he was forced to destroy the comic book store by his father. Their chemistry is palpable, which is important since these two are supposed to fall in love (as stated in the first issue).
Once again, the art by Geoff Shaw and Dee Cunniffe is fantastic. It is amazing to me how well Shaw is able to capture the designs of the comic book characters featured in this issue. The colors are especially exceptional here in the contrasting styles between the Paybacks and the main cast of the comic. The clashing styles work perfectly and add to the conflict of the issue, since those that came out of the Crossover are so easily distinguishable by those around them. I also found it hilarious that Elle mistakes our special cameo character for Superman, as he is anything but a “super man.”
Crossover is the perfect “event comic” for readers that don’t like event comics. The way it takes previous works, such as Watchmen, and play on its conventions the same way that those works played on what came before them is fantastic. The way this issue builds on the previous two proves how much effort Cates has put into his writing. Together with Shaw and Cunniffe’s artwork, the story being told truly shines.