Crosswind is a new Image book from Gail Simone and Cat Staggs. It is being pitched as “Freaky Friday meets Goodfellas,” which is an intriguing premise. After finishing the debut issue, though, it seems like there is a lot of lost potential.
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Cat Staggs
Publisher: Image Comics
The issue opens with Cason Bennett, a playboy hit man for what seems to be the mob, and Juniper Blue, a housewife seemingly trapped in her terrible life. We briefly get introduced to their status quos: Cason is tasked with finding out who ratted to the feds, and Juniper has to deal with her demanding, philandering husband while dodging aggressive verbal abuse from neighborhood kids. As the issue closes out the Freaky Friday part hits and, spoiler, Cason and Juniper magically swap bodies.
There is not much to like in Gail Simone’s script. I think a serious body swap story would be hard to pull off, but could be interesting. Here, Simone largely misses the mark. In an attempt go gritty and dramatic, she segues into melodrama. The dialogue, the action, the characters…everything is grim and bleak, but there is almost no nuance. One character is a bland stereotype, the other is a stereotype turned up to 11. It is all laid on too thick to take seriously, but there are no winks or nods to indicate I should take the story any other way.
Then comes the body swap. I think the trope inherently lends itself to comedy, especially with the fish-out-of-water elements, so she is already fighting an uphill battle. Obviously the point of the swap is to get another person’s perspective, and after one issue, I’m having some trouble seeing how these characters can grow from the experience. I assume Cason is going to kill Juniper’s husband, but what is Juniper going to learn? I’m not sure, mostly because we knew almost nothing about them pre-swap. Finally, Juniper’s abuse is especially problematic. A story about abuse needs to be handled with sensitivity. Does a body swap really belong in that sort of story?
Cat Staggs’s art is also a pretty big miss in my opinion. She goes for a photo-realistic style, which is fine and fits the tone of the book, but my biggest issue was the coloring. Shadows, shading, highlights, nothing is blended. Instead, any efforts to give dimension to a figure ends up with blobs of color that sometimes look like a skin condition. This effect is called posterization, and clearly it was an artistic choice, but I’m not sure using it for a whole comic book was the best choice. I think scenes with Juniper tend to look a little better, but the dark, shadowy Cason-centric panels are pretty rough. To make matters worse, most of the posing is pretty stiff, without much energy or dynamism. And finally, there aren’t any interesting layout choices or spreads, so it is hard to really see what Staggs could do if she was “let loose.”
While I commend Simone’s attempt to put a new spin on an old trope, Crosswind is not a great book. It seems like everything in the script undermines her attempt at originality. Add in art that is more of a distraction than a draw, and Crosswind #1 is a big whiff.