Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #103 by Drew Barth

Crossing Into Reality

When a comic starts off with a quote from Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, you know it’s going to be fun. When you couple that quote with an event in which every superhero suddenly lands in Denver in a fight so massive they have to bubble the entire city to keep the mayhem from getting out, you have a different kind of fun. That kind of fun is Crossover by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe, and John J. Hill. I’ve talked about first issues at length in the past, but it’s always nice to jump into a new series that is doing so many things well right from the start.

Okay, so what the actual hell is Crossover? For the most part, like I said in the beginning, it’s superheroes landing in Denver and having it out. But what happens after that? As this story is set in the real world, akin to DC’s Earth-Prime, casualties and widespread carnage the likes of which no one has seen before. The explosion of superheroes eventually causes one of them to shut off the whole of Colorado from the rest of the world while their crossover event takes place. From here, we’re introduced to Ellipses—a woman whose parents were in Denver when the crossover event happened and who still dresses in a domino mask and yellow trench coat despite the new stigma against superheroes. The world has taken a turn for the weird with a pre-Comics Code fervor against comics complete with religious protests and a firebombing.

What is really interesting in this first issue is how far Cates, Shaw, Cunniffe, and Hill go when asking about the reality of comics. This first issue outright asks if we the readers or Superman is more real in our reality. It’s a Morrison-esque analysis on our perceptions of reality intertwined with comics. And with a first issue, the creative team is here looking to see where they can bend that reality as this is our world, more or less. People carry around issues of Hulk, Rawhide Kid, and Supermanin Provo, Utah and feel incredibly ordinary. But then there’s a looming threat somewhere out of sight that has the entire world on edge. Wait, no, that’s ordinary too. What isn’t ordinary is the idea of crossing over, of the comic characters coming through the veil of reality into our own world. As this is the first issue, that hasn’t been explained just yet, but it also doesn’t feel like it needs explaining as much as it needs examining.

From some of the creative team’s previous endeavors with God Country, it’s hard to resist the hooks dragging you deeper into this first issue. It wants to show so much more, but knows that it needs to keep something hidden just outside of the panel to draw you into the rest of the series. Outside of world-building, those hooks are the most important thing to begin a series with, and this one has so many to bring you in.

Get excited. Get real.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.