There are a lot of comics out there, but some just stand out head and shoulders above the pack. With “Don’t Miss This,” we want to spotlight those series we think need to be on your pull list. This week, we take a gander at the Freaky Friday with high stakes, “Crosswind.”
Who’s This By?
“Crosswind” is mini-series co-created by Cat Staggs and Gail Simone. Cat Staggs provides the illustrations and colors while Gail Simone provides the word. Simon Bowland letters.
What’s This All About?
Cason Ray Bennett is a brash hitman for the mob who isn’t exactly enamored with his job, which oftentimes involves killing his best friend for supposedly snitching to the feds.
Juniper Elanore Blue is an anxious housewife who isn’t exactly enamored with her life, which sees her stuck with an abusive husband and disrespectful step-son.
When our story opens, Juniper is being forced to juggle cooking a massive dinner for her husband and his supervisor on a serious time crunch, driving her angsty step-son around, meekly fighting off some seriously nasty neighborhood “kids,” and fighting off her own anxiety. At the same time, Cason is called upon to help clean up a job gone bad, one which pulls him away from the arms of his lover.
But, as fate (or something more sinister) would have it, these two strangers soon find themselves in the ultimate predicament – swapping bodies and getting trapped in each other’s lives. While it sounds like this happens early on, we actually spend a good chunk of the first issue getting us used to the lives of the characters, settling us into their personalities before they are thrown into two very different but very stressful situations.
Who did this to them and why are questions that hang over these events as the story unfolds from there and the less I say, the better.
So, Why’s This So Great?
The focus is on the characters.
Let me elaborate. Many times (in fact, most times) in body-swap stories, the focus is on the two characters learning something about themselves. Usually, as Charles Battersby brings up in the interview with Gail Simone at the end of issue #4, the story focuses on one or both characters learning about the trials and tribulations of being a different gender than they were originally as well as confronting the sexism that the, more often than not male, character partook in. That, and attempting to reverse the swap, is the end-all-be-all of the story. To say that there are problems with this set up seems like stating the obvious and Charles does a much better job touching on that than I will (especially in terms of the transphobic elements of it) but, beyond that, it isn’t an interesting set up.
The people aren’t the focus of the story and the action isn’t borne out from their personalities. “Crosswind,” by having the personalities of the characters be the center and driving the narrative, eschews many of the problems of the genre, and keeps the story engaging. Moreover, Cason and Juniper don’t dwell on the fact that they have swapped and instead focus on filling the roles they have been dropped into as themselves. The story, and the humor, comes from them being smart and themselves in a new environment as well as the lingering question of why they were swapped and by who.
Additionally, Stagg and Simone create a supporting cast that are all engaging and memorable. From Juniper’s awful husband to Mika to Tucker, they all leave an impact and help to make the world of “Crosswind” feel larger than just that of Cason and Juniper.
But beyond the story, Stagg’s artwork breathes additional life into this mini-series. While their photo-realistic style won’t be to everyone’s taste, and it definitely took me an issue or two to get used to it, the series wouldn’t feel the same without it. It grounds the story, making the violence hit harder and the world feel more unforgiving. Yet, at the same time, the artwork slows down, allowing for silent pages of introspection and peace for these characters.
The two-page spread in issue two is the perfect example of this, juxtaposing Cason cleaning a hotel room with Juniper cooking dinner, both perfectly at peace. Yet the paneling is all tilted, like a wall of photos that’s been disturbed by a particularly hard slam of the door. It’s a choice that adds motion to the events and, as each line of panels goes on, it slowly settles, reflecting the mental state of our characters who are no longer frazzled.Continued below
There is a skill on display in this mini-series that should not be missed out on.
How Can You Read It?
The first five issues are currently out in shops as well as digitally and issue 6, the finale of this mini, comes out today. If you are on the fence and don’t want to track down the singles and are willing to wait a couple weeks, the trade drops on the 24th of January. I’d say that this is the end of “Crosswind” but I have a feeling Stagg and Simone have an announcement hiding somewhere in their sleeves.
There’s been nothing concrete yet, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this series.