Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review - Crosswind #1 (@ImageComics)


"So, you know, good job, I guess."

A crosswind is any wind that cuts across a direction of travel. The effect is usually that it blows a traveler off course as it pushes them sideways. It's an extremely applicable as a title as well, as best evidenced by Crosswind #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Cat Staggs and lettered by Simon Bowland.

A slick and ruthless Chicago hitman. A smart but downtrodden Seattle housewife. When an inexplicable event strikes these two random strangers, their bodies, souls, and lives are switched to potentially deadly effect. It's Freaky Friday meets Goodfellas!

Crosswind #1 thrives on the notion that there are gender stereotypes that directly feed into how society responds to various genders. Simone writes Cason as a ruthless, Chicago hitman and Juniper as a bullied, suburban housewife and sets them each as such very effectively. Juniper is constantly harassed because of the fact that she's a woman; it's something that Simone writes as more than just unfair treatment as a one-off, but rather a way of life for her (and most women). In fact, the entire issue is a set-up as Simone lays the groundwork for the two characters daily lives and how they interact/react to those around them. And that's what makes the premise behind the series fascinating, in that Simone is going to reverse the roles in a way that allows the characters to learn more about themselves and how being perceived differently is a big deal.

Staggs' artwork is the right kind of gritty. She sets the tone of the book with an illustrative style that feels like painted photographs, infusing the tale with a sense of realism. Because of her approach, the characters show off very real emotion throughout the issue--most notably, there's one panel where Juniper clearly looks distressed with her mouth slightly down-turned that the reader better understands what she has to contend with. The panels are laid out in a somewhat haphazard way that works well to present the reader with the full extent of both of the main characters' worlds. When it comes to the actual event that is the catalyst for the remainder of the series, Staggs doubles-down on the juxtaposition between gender roles by offering a somewhat jarring switch with chaotic panels and a blacked-out page.

Crosswind #1 is a new take on an old concept that seeks to upend some preconceived notions about things. Juniper and Cason are both in for very rude awakenings after the switch as they reconcile their personalities with their appearances. Simone has written a strong first issue that sets the tone well by clearly defining the parameters of society each character is used to contending with. Staggs' artwork is a great match for the script and conveys a bevy of emotions. Crosswind #1 is off to a fascinating start and things will likely get even more unpredictable as the series unfolds.

Crosswind #1 is available now.

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