By Gail Simone and Cat Staggs
Crosswind #1 is an example of what happens when you cross a story about assassins dealing with an internal leak to the feds, and the tale of a bored, mistreated housewife. What do you think a bored housewife and a respected assassin could have in common? ‘Not a lot’ is correct, but as the story unfolds it becomes apparent how these two characters can help each other out. Simone (Clean Room and Batgirl) is winding a tale that crosses two genres, a dramatic assassin drama and a slice-of-life story, into an intersecting look at the internalization of loss and feeling undervalued.
This book not only wows you with the story, but the art from Staggs hits all the right notes to create a suspenseful yet endearing tale. The panels breathe life into every page, with the background environment setting the stage for each emotionally charged panel. The story starts out on a snowy mountainside where the emotions run high as Cason, our assassin, has to make a heavy decision. We then seamlessly switch gears to a suburban settings with Juniper, an overlooked and desperately unhappy housewife. The sunny days are made to look terrifying with the shadowing and imposing look of her world filled with harassing neighbors and a borderline abusive husband. The art does a tremendous job to set the tone for each scene, tying together the two concurring stories with adjoining styles and themes.
The ability to relate to each character, both Juniper the housewife and Cason the assassin, comes not only from Simone’s character development, but also the likeness that comes through in Staggs’ drawing. The facial expressions mean more when the character is made to look familiar, but distinct. The characters of Cason and June could wear different clothes or change their hair and we the readers are still aware of who they are among other characters. That creates a bond between readers and characters, and also drives the value of what they do. It is so easy for the readers to fall into this world Simone and Staggs are creating from their tag-team effort.
The book becomes uncomfortably relatable at points, with the most cringe-inducing moment being when June is being harassed by some overly friendly neighborhood boys. It is a situation most people can relate to in some extent, and watching how the scene plays out and then witnessing the aftermath of it is powerful. June has a near panic attack and receives little to no sympathy from her demanding husband. This scene, specifically how the art comes together with the written story, is what will buy your investment into this tale and also to Staggs and Simone as a team.
By the end of Crosswind #1 a major shift happens that no one, except the vagabond who gave Cason an eerie warning, could have predicted. The events that take place will definitely leave you hanging onto every inch of the last few pages. Staggs and Simone come together, yet again, to deliver a climatic note to the very first issue of this series. That is a great sign of things to come from these two comic industry powerhouses. The whole story is paced perfectly, as every event is a slow build toward an eventual mess for both of our main characters. The slow build of tension and anxiety builds for poor Cason, every attempt at relief is thwarted and he is at his boiling point. Not a good place to be for a hitman. Then, on the other side we have Juniper (June) who is experiencing more of a slow burn, with just little hits chipping away at her confidence, and sanity. The art follows each in perfect time with the story, and the colors, body language, and facial expressions match the mood perfectly as each descends into stress.
This premiere issue of Crosswind is a sign of great things to come from Staggs and Simone. The book has style, violence, action, and a story that makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way. The pages are filled with two characters that are both easy to relate to and easy to feel sorry for. The book could have taken the easily predictable way out, with a story about a man of action finding common ground with a housewife, but instead, this story is honest, smart, and brave. This book will surely win over an audience; it demands your attentions and emotional investment from page one and will surely keep it throughout the series.
Crosswind #1 will be released June 21st from Image Comics