Look, I love Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s work on Crossover so far. The last two issues, while I wasn’t able to review them, have some of the best writing of any “crossover” comic I have ever read and that is largely due to the focus on the characters Cates and Shaw have created for the story. However, what Chip Zdarsky, Phil Hester and Ande Parks did with this issue is nothing short of spectacular. It is not hyperbole to say this is one of the best single issues of any comic I have ever read. Minor spoilers for issue seven of Crossover ahead.
Most comic book creators are on the run after several of their co-workers are found dead. This leads many, including Chip Zdarsky himself, to believe that the characters they have created or written are now coming after them to exact revenge for the pain and suffering they have been put through. Zdarksy fears the worst, going into hiding as a diner cook, running away from the world he once inhabited.
One night after hanging out with a friend, he notices a strange figure following him in the darkness. Zdarksy naturally assumes this is one of his creations out to kill him. He thinks back to every character he has written that would desire revenge against him. However, the one that lingers in his mind is the parody he and Matt Fraction had created in their comic, Sex Criminals. Like any comic writer looking to be a little meta, Matt Fraction had decided to write parodies of him and Chip into the comic. Zdarsky imagines that this fictional caricature of himself has it out for him because he is only Chip’s outward egotistical jerk persona, likely not feeling complete due to the simplicity of his fictional persona. Luckily, much to Zdarsky’s surprise, the Chip that came out of the Crossover has a different agenda.
Zdarksy’s writing throughout this issue will leave readers questioning what it means for a story to be “meta.” The idea to write yourself, as a comic creator, into a story and have your fictional self deal with a parody you had created in another work is so far down the rabbit hole it is insane. Although, I firmly believe that almost all the best ideas are. Readers will continuously question, not just their own sanity, but the sanity of Zdarksy, Hester and the rest of the creative team while reading. That is not to say the brain-breaking, mind-bending writing present in this issue will leave you hanging. In fact, I believe this is one of the most brilliant ideas I have ever seen executed within a single issue. Zdarksy, Hester and Parks take the world Cates and Shaw created and spin it in a wholly unique direction.
Hester’s art is simple at first, showing how normal Zdarksy’s life is now that he is no longer creating comics. However, this simplicity slowly is shaved away and replaced with a sort of franticness amplified by the snowstorm Zdarksy finds himself in. The weather outside acts as a nice analogue to the uneasy tone of the comic’s most intense moments. Parks’ inkwork alongside Dee Cunniffe’s colors are what truly bring this comic to life. As neat as it would have been to see a new colorist alongside the different creative team, Cunniffe is the one most responsible for the look of the characters coming out of the Crossover, with the classic comic-grading effect covering them from head to toe.
Not only is the seventh issue of Crossover the best issue of the series so far, but one of the best comics I have ever read. Even if you haven’t been actively reading Crossover, I highly recommend checking out this issue. Zdarksy is easily one of the best comic writers working in the industry today, and this issue further cements that.