An interesting plot gets a little too clever.
It’s difficult to read a comic that’s so determined to wink at the reader that it trips over its own feet as it does it. But that’s exactly what Crossover #2 does.
There’s a lot of promise in this story. There really is. However, it can’t get out of its way long enough to fulfill that promise, and that’s truly the biggest flaw in this issue from Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe, and John J. Hill.
Picking up from last issue, Ellie and Otto need to figure out what to do about Ava, the fictional girl who escaped the Denver dome. However, forces are plotting against them, as Orion is recruited by the US Government to find the hopeful figure that saved Ava from the camps. Meanwhile, the young girl is definitely more than she seems.
I actually really like the plot here. The skeleton of the story is really interesting, especially the clandestine operations of the antagonists. Also, Ellie is extremely likable, and when the story focuses on her, it really shines.
However, the script is way too busy nudging the reader, as if to say “do you see what I did there? Ain’t I a stinker?” The most notable sequence of the issue, beautifully rendered by Shaw and Cunniffe, shows the inside of a prison facility full of superheroes. The script clearly called for an homage to the infamous Spawn/Cerebus issue that went meta to advocate for creators’ rights. You’ve probably seen it- dozens of famous superhero hands sticking through prison bars, reaching for Spawn and freedom.
However, after giving the spread the benefit of the doubt, I turned the page. There was Spawn himself, practically screaming “see what we did here?!” to the reader. It’s groan-inducing at best and just plain annoying at worst, especially because this is just one example of it.
However, on the flip side, Shaw and Cunniffe do amazing work. The book is absolutely gorgeous, and the art conveys a lot of the smaller moments that the script falls flat on. Shaw’s depiction of Ellie is especially strong, as he makes her feel genuine and very human. Cunniffe does some amazing things with his colors too, using tricks to differentiate the real world and the fiction, and some stunning flashbacks.
This epic is being tempered by all the winking the story does. It could be something interesting, but doesn’t ever go beyond the surface.
Crossover #2 is available now from Image Comics.