Review – Crossover Volume #1 Kids Love Chains
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw
Published by Image Comics
Age Group: Mature
Available: June 2021
Imagine everything you thought was fantasy…was real. And now join us, in a world where reality is dead…and anything is possible…The powerhouse creative team of DONNY CATES (Venom, Thor), GEOFF SHAW (GOD COUNTRY, Thanos Wins), DEE CUNNIFFE (REDNECK), and JOHN J. HILL (NAILBITER) have reunited after a string of breakout hits for an all-new, genre-defying series. Collects CROSSOVER #1–6
There is a quote at the beginning of Crossover that may leave some scratching their head. The German philosopher Fredric Wertham is quoted from his ridiculed book Seduction of the Innocent:
The world of the comic book is the world of the strong, the ruthless, the bluffer, the shrewd deceiver, the torturer and the thief. In comic books life is worth nothing, there is no dignity of a human beingFredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent
The work of Wertham in the 1950s to equate comics with violence, homoerotism, harshness and cruelty led to the comics code in the 1960s and a decline in sales. He’s credited with curbing violence and horror in comics but like McCarthy on Communists, he’s an erratic nutjob that nobody should have listed to. Cates gives us a world where..Wertham was right
After a second near-death experience (see God Country) writer Donny Cates decided to play god with all his toys at once merging a universe of heroes, villains, monsters and magic with modern conservative American reality. He takes the publisher staple of a summer crossover event and blows apart his world with a simple idea.. what if comics were real and how would we cope?
After an explosion in Denver in 2017 two realities merge. The comic reality is in the middle of a universe changing event involving multiple worlds and characters but definitely showcasing Image comics best and boldest. To save the world one of the “suits” erects a psychic dome around the battle site and the world move on. There are characters and hints of characters from every main or independent label from DC, Marvel to Dark Horse and beyond.
Five years later Ellie, short for Ellipsis, who works and lives in one of the last comic book shops thrown into an arc where she must save the girl, take on the quest and undertake the journey with a merry band of heroes. Add in the abusive religious cult hell-bent on restarting the war with suits and poor Ryan (Orion) the conflicted son of an extremist Protestant you have a good ole buddy trip style storyline.
Cates takes all the current meta themes like racism, immigration, right-wing propaganda and twists them just enough to create the perfect comic. We are left wondering in this comic who is narrating the tale, not Cates, not Ellie but something or someone else is moving the story forward.
I won’t spoil much more of the story other than to say… A WARNING.. this is a heavy comic with characters, plots and the full history of how society views the genre on display. It is not really for a casual reader other than to delight and amaze but mainly confuse.
The amazing, jaw-dropping and visceral art by Geoff Shaw is played to the extreme in the collected works. The artwork explodes through the double-page spreads (like above) and you can return to this again and again to spot tiny details or action that you miss while marvelling at the spectacle he’s drawn.
The washed-out flashbacks help pause the action. While the quirky where’s Waldo style of hiding Easter Eggs in the issues makes the whole thing fun. Did you spot the Mask (from Mask)? You could spend days examining the background for (wait was that Batman in jail)? And I think you’ll never find them all.
This could have looked a mess, like Ready Player One.. too preoccupied with Easter Eggs that progressing the simple plot. It says a lot about crossover events in comics that they are not a genre in themselves and Cates has decided to pick at the scab of the wound and draw some blood. Cates has been accused in the past of accelerating stories too fast and throwing everything into the pot and he finally seems to listen to fans and critics and use the breathing space between events to grow and expand the plot. This is a solid gold Watchmen style hit! A love story to comics and comic fans. 100% perfect, bring on volume 2
Thanks to our friends at Image Comics for the free preview to allow us to review Crossover Volume #1 Kids Love Chains.
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