Fun-Size Roundtable: Crossover #7

It is June 16, 2015. Reality has begun to collapse. Something once believed to be too ridiculous to ever actually happen has. A man who built an empire by sacrificing his name to a dark and foreboding tower has just announced a con to become President of the United States. Everything that has occurred before or since is but a faint echo of this moment in time. Things will only get more fantastical from here.

It is August 20, 2014. Five days ago, a pathetic little man with pathetic little ideas started a harassment campaign against his ex-girlfriend. From the wreckage of this relationship, the collapse of reality would be fostered and calcified until its entropic ends were met. Today, a scotsman begins a Dear John letter to a multiverse they still, in spite of themselves, love. They plead for the multiverse to embrace diversity over regurgitating old stories and old heroes.

It is April 1, 2015. A small group of men, faced with the potential of something new, opt to plead for a return to the past. Fittingly, one of them is a nazi. In this moment, a Convergence of reality will act as a mystical ritual to reject the alternative of a diverse multiverse in favor of a Rebirth of the old.

It’s October 30, 2013. Our dreams have begun to die.

It’s May 6, 2015. The Marvel Universe is dead. The ruins are being kept together by an egomaniac, needy game-player. A so-called Great Man of History who sees his place as a Great Man as the most important thing in the world. The past must remain existent. The future, he claims, would be death.

It’s May 27, 2015. A second reality is scheming to overlap and consume the reality we know. It is a reality dreamed up by reactionary figures who see the “lesser races” as in need of extermination. The fascist ideals of old racists forced down upon a reality of diverse alternatives. A Single Vision brought about by Cthulhus Sleep.

It’s January 11, 2017. In nine days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. The collapse of reality has concluded with the invasion of a superheroic reality upon a non-superheroic one. The consequences are devastating.

This is not a dream. This is not a dream. This is not a dream.

Donny Cates Proudly Presents…

Crossover #7

Written by Chip Zdarsky

Art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks

Colors by Dee Cunniffe

Letters by John J Hill

Brason T. (@UltimateBrason)

Crossover #7. Credit: Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Chip Zdarsky, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Dee Cunniffe, John J. Hill.

As someone only vaguely familiar with Crossover from friends who have read it, and someone who has read a couple of Zdarsky’s Marvel runs, this issue really works. I struggle with self-doubt and my place in this world, and that is exactly what this boils down to for me. Fun, lighthearted coloring from Dee Cunniffe combined with grimmer dialogue and scenarios that compliment each other as well, showing that these characters are more complex than some conversations surrounding comics give them credit for. 

The overall idea of these characters coming to life sounds sillier when they really dig into it, which I’m not sure if that works in the context of the larger series. Trying to bridge that Twitter meme-culture built around Cates & Stegman with their works in Western comics is certainly a neat idea I trust Zdarsky with, but not really something I need to see again. Luckily the frequent references to other writers actually doesn’t get tiring here. Final verdict: definitely check this out if you get the chance.

Gabrielle Cazeaux (@gabrielle_doo)

Crossover #7. Credit: Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Chip Zdarsky, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Dee Cunniffe, John J. Hill.

I didn’t know what Crossover was about, but I heard it was good. I didn’t imagine it was this good. I know going meta has been over-used during the last few years, and for some people that will be enough to decide to avoid the book. It can get pretty annoying for me too when the joke is just that it’s something meta, so I’m glad that is not the case at all with this. It’s used to not only create a fun and intriguing story but as a metaphor to explore the feelings of the protagonist, who in this case, is also the creator of the story. It can be very on-the-nose, but I sincerely have no problem with that, and sequences like the one where his persona hugs him and supports him are just very endearing and plain cool to me, and I never even read something from Zdarsky! I don’t know if the rest of Crossover is as good as this issue, but, most probably, I’ll at least check it out.

Christa Mactíre (@christawolf94)

Crossover #7. Credit: Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Chip Zdarsky, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Dee Cunniffe, John J. Hill.

When Sean asked me to review this comic, I admit I didn’t know what to expect. I was going in completely blind with no expectation of what I was about to read, no preconceived notions, nothing. All I knew was that he needed my help, and like a good friend, I said yes.

So, Crossover #7. The story is that someone is killing comic creators, and the characters they made are coming to life. This issue follows Steve Murray (aka Chip Zdarsky) and his attempts to flee from the mysterious killer, only to cross paths with his comic book version of himself. I won’t say more beyond that, but I will say that as someone who A) adores metafiction and B) continually puts fictionalized versions of herself in her own work, I loved seeing someone take that same mechanic and use it in a way to subvert our expectations of what the encounter would be like, and build something better in its place. If nothing else, I’m definitely interested in catching up with the rest of the story. If you like metafiction and the storytelling possibilities it offers, this is an excellent starting point!

Alfie Taylor (@AGeekForFun)

Crossover #7. Credit: Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Chip Zdarsky, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Dee Cunniffe, John J. Hill.

I came into this issue knowing two things: “I like Chip Zdarsky,” and “everything I’ve heard about Crossover makes me doubt I’d enjoy it.” I left with a certainty in the former, but did not gain an inclination to delve into the rest of the series. 

Crossover #7 shows Zdarsky’s knack for efficient plotting. He seamlessly weaves together a nakedly personal tale that a newcomer can pick up and enjoy. The trio of Hester’s pencils, Park’s inks, and Cunniffe’s colors were sublime. The inherent balancing act of illustrating a comic about comic characters invading reality shouldn’t be underestimated. Regardless, Hester and Park make it look effortless with their pairing of fantastic character acting and heavy uses of black, keeping the inherent fun of the premise drenched in contemplative shadow. Cunniffe turns it up another notch – never over-rendering, always letting the inks speak – but being skilled enough to know when to employ a little extra glow on a car’s headlights to guide your eye. As someone whose own life has created an online character, If we hacks must go meta and birth an invincible imp to protect us, then the least we can do is love them back.

David Mann (@davidmann95)

Crossover #7. Credit: Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Chip Zdarsky, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Dee Cunniffe, John J. Hill.

To my own shock I’m quite familiar with Crossover since I pick it up for my dad (glad he enjoys it!). While there are moments where it collapses in on itself entertainingly, mostly its ‘what if us nerds got sent to concentration camps with all our favorite characters’ premise is so profoundly dopey as to transcend the visceral offense it deserves, and the high concept doesn’t extend far past trying to overwhelm you with references. At heart it’s little more than a pretty curio overly enamored with its banal excesses.

But then there’s Crossover #7. The guest art team alongside Cunniffe and Hill manage to mimic Geoff Shaw’s knack for blending the mundane and mad that does so much to sell a reality in the idea of reality breaking down. Zdarsky however does more than fit: the exploration of fact and fiction blending moves way past shiny cameos here in ways that serve to expose the lack of ambition of the rest of Crossover as much as anything else. A brief rumination on the narratives we offer up about ourselves, why, and what comes of them, this is clever, raw, startlingly personal storytelling that’s infuriatingly better than this series deserves.

2 replies on “Fun-Size Roundtable: Crossover #7”

Leave a Reply