Books

Comic Review: “Crosswind” #1

Synopsis:

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Crosswind #1 (2017)

From the mind of acclaimed comic book writer Gail Simone (Secret Six, Batgirl, Deadpool, Wonder Woman) and drawn by fan-favorite artist Cat Staggs (Smallville Season 11, Star Trek, Wonder Woman ’77) comes Crosswind, a suspenseful crime fantasy published by Image Comics.

Crosswind focuses on the lives of Cason Bennett, a hitman from Chicago, and Juniper Blue, a wallflower Seattle housewife. Other than being stuck in their restrictive lifestyles, they’re strangers with absolutely nothing in common. Their paths eventually cross when an inexplicable event occurs that causes Cason and Juniper to switch lives with one another. Thrust into each other’s world with nobody to trust and no familiar place to turn to, Cason and Juniper have to navigate each other’s lives while trying to discover who (or what) did this to them.

Review:

As someone who readily collects graphic novels, Crosswind is a different genre than what I’m accustomed to. The majority of comics I tend to favor predominantly involves superheroes, ones based on movies or TV shows, or series that come as highly suggested by friends and peers. Crosswind isn’t exactly a series that I’d go out of my way to read; in fact, if I hadn’t been scouring some comic book websites, I may never have heard of it.

So, why did I decide to check this new title out? The two individuals who created the comic: Gail Simone and Cat Staggs.

Gail Simone is highly regarded as a writer in the comic book industry, and I tend to agree. I’ve read some issues of Birds of Prey, Action Comics, and Wonder Woman during her time with DC Comics and found her to be an excellent storyteller. To see her publish an original story idea with Image Comics, something she raved about in interviews leading up to Issue #1’s release, tickled my curiosity.

And then, there’s Cat Staggs–an artist I never heard about until she began drawing cover art for Smallville Season 11. I remember being impressed with her art style and how well she drew Tom Welling in the Superman costume, something I felt robbed of in the final episode. She even illustrated one of the one-shot Smallville Season 11 Special comics called “Titans.” The comic was not as detailed as her cover art, but the characters still looked closer to their TV portrayals than some previous issues drawn by other artists. Afterward, I began to notice her art in other comics, such as the Star Trek series based on the 2009 reboot movie and Wonder Woman ’77, based on the television series starting Lynda Carter. So, when her name was attached to the new project with Simone, naturally I was interested to see how well the two would work together.

Described as “Goodfellas meets Freaky Friday,” Crosswind‘s debut issue introduces us to its two protagonists and a look at a day in their lives.

We’re first introduced to Cason Bennett, a handsome hitman from Chicago with a stylish lifestyle, complete with a gorgeous girlfriend named Mika, a high end German car, and luxurious apartment. But beneath the stylish suits, cool sunglasses and high luxury lifestyle, he’s an individual who tries to live as a casual as possible. He’s good at his job, but even the great ones can have doubt, especially when forced to take out a close friend that supposedly ratted Cason’s mob boss, Mr. Randolph, out to the FBI.

Then we’re introduced to Juniper Blue, a housewife from Seattle who is blessed with attractive looks, is very smart, and is a dreamer. Unfortunately, she’s so beat down by her life that she often keeps her feelings suppressed. She’s sexually harassed daily by the neighborhood teenagers, her step-son hates her guts and treats her like dirt, and her husband, Jim, is cheating on her behind her back. When she puts her concerns and problems on the table, Jim dismisses them as “nonsense” and puts the focus on his needs, such as preparing the perfect dinner to impress his supervisor in order to keep his job.

Both Cason and Juniper live their lives on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but the common thread of being trapped in their environments is evident.

When the switch happens at the end of the story, it raises a lot of questions. How will they respond to their new surroundings? After being constantly beat down by those around her, how will Juniper react to being put in Cason’s dark world? And how will Cason, who isn’t one to be pushed around, react when when pushed around by Juniper’s family and neighbors? And who is the mysterious yellowed eyed individual that initiated the swap, and what is his plan?

While we don’t get a long look at how the main characters lives are leading up to the switch, Simone does an effective job of creating the worlds they live in and an idea of who these characters are in such a short window of time. The dialog between the characters flows effectively, and doesn’t bog down with an over wealth of information. Although I’d like to see more backstory on Cason and Juniper, I get the sense their backstories will be flushed out as they are forced to adapt to their new lives.

If the story doesn’t draw you in, Staggs’ art is sure to mesmerize. Crosswind has the feel of Monet’s painting style, especially in its environments, but it’s much more detailed with the focus on the individuals of the story. At many points throughout, the all the characters, especially Juniper and Cason, have a lifelike quality to them, allowing them to establish non-verbal distinctive personalities. The subtle details, from simple hand gestures to facial expressions and body language, give an idea of who Juniper and Cason are and how they act in certain situations. We’re only given a glimpse at how different they are when they switch, but Staggs pulls it off effectively in showcasing that Cason and Juniper are not who they appear to be.

One other thing I noticed was the use of colors in each of their environments. Juniper’s world has a softer pallet, even when muted by the overcast skies of Seattle; in contrast Cason’s is dark, full of reds and shadows that represent his profession. Although we’re only given a glimpse of these characters when they switch, I can’t help but wonder if the lighter and darker colors of Seattle and Chicago’s environments will change as well.

Crosswind is not your typical comic book, and not recommended for young readers, but is a fascinating title to read. Although it’s just at the start of the story arc, it promises to be a dark, twisted tale of reality blended with the supernatural. The dark humor will help to enhance the story, but all this creates a fresh new spin on the body switch genre. Its unresolved questions make you anticipate what’s going to happen next, making it a worthy addition to your new monthly comic book purchases.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

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