Comic book crossovers were once a novelty. A major event that came around once every few years that brought together fan favorite characters under a single title to face a larger-than-life threat.
Among the most famous crossover storylines are Infinity Gauntlet, the Dark Phoenix Saga, Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars. However, as the years progressed, Marvel and DC began to view these events as easy cash grabs more than anything else; ways to bring readers in over the desire to see their favorite characters interact with each other. Something that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has largely been able to replicate with movies like Civil War and Infinity War.
Within the last couple decades Marvel and DC have pumped out at least two major event storylines every year, with most years having at least one running at any given time. In 2014 alone Marvel released The Trial of Jean Grey, Original Sin, The Death of Wolverine, Axis and Spider-Verse.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my fair share of event comics. I was a huge fan Donny Cate and Ryan Stegman’s Absolute Carnage for Marvel back in 2019. However, Marvel and DC continue to oversaturate the market with huge event crossover comics, destroying the novelty they had before the 2000’s.
That novelty is something Cates and artist Geoff Shaw were able to recapture with their most recent independent book, Crossover. While not the first comic to feature characters from across multiple independently published comics, Crossover is the first to do so at such a large scale. Spoilers for Crossover ahead!
However, as exciting as it is to see Hitgirl kill zombies from the Walking Dead alongside Madman and Savage Dragon, the main draw of Crossover is its storyline and characters.
Crossover is a about how the real world would react if a portal opened over Denver, Colorado and all of the characters from your favorite comic books came out of it. There would be mass hysteria, demonization of entertainment and many people desperately hoping for the world to go back to normal; for their entertainment to remain strictly as entertainment.
The two protagonists of Crossover, Ellipses “Ellie“ Howell and Orion “Ryan“ Lowe, both represent the core of Crossover, a story of comic book fans coping with their fandom invading reality. Ryan’s priest father always despised his love of entertainment, believing it was the work of the devil, and the Crossover only fueled that hatred. That hatred was so deep rooted that it caused Ryan to destroy the one place he likely felt most at home in: the local comic book store, which also happened to be Ellie’s home.
From the first issue it is even established that these two are meant to have a greater connection, a destiny binding them together. However, as we learn in the most recent issue, this destiny was predicted by Donny Cates himself, so how much truth is there in what he foretold. After all, if this Donny is within the comic, then a different one is actually behind the story.
The idea of comic book creators actually interacting with their creations is not a new idea, but it is one that Crossover picks up and runs with starting with Chip Zdarksy and Phil Hester’s seventh issue. How would these characters react to meeting their creators? Would they hate them for dictating their livelihood, or would they be grateful for their creation?
The novelty of Crossover isn’t Madman holding Valofax from God Country. The mind-breaking meta writing of having the creations interact with their creators is the true novelty of Crossover. With Cates bringing himself into his own story, it is only a matter of time before we see Ellie and Ryan interact with their creators; a moment I cannot wait to read.
The first ten issues of Crossover are currently available in local comic book shops and bookstores, or online here.