I knew how I had wanted to start this review after the title page alone. Now, there’s just so much more that I won’t be able to even start to tackle. I’ve been told I needed to read work from Donny Cates before, Venom specifically. Time and again at Golden Apple, they urged me, “Give it a try!” It’s not that I didn’t believe them, it’s that there is so much to read! (Now I see he’s writing Thor, and I’ll have to find my way into that, as well.)
I was reading some other Image comic for review, and the first two pages of Crossover were featured in the back of the issue. It beckoned me enough that when the opportunity to review Issue #1 appeared, I agonized, “Do I have enough time to read and review another series?” You can see I was fighting the urge to taste test Donnie Cates’ work. Well, as you can see, I bit, and it bit back!
The title page… A lot of books put intellectual quotes on the title page to sort of push your brain in the direction the author wants you to go - like a warmup comedian. I always read the quotes, but a lot of times dismiss them… like many warmups comedians. If your book can’t draw me in on its own, then a quote won’t help you... like a bad comedian; however, the two quotes that are juxtaposed on the title page of Crossover #1 had me cackling loudly and for several minutes after I walked away. I was already a Donnie Cates fan, and it had nothing to do with his writing, but everything to do with his sensibility.
And then, I found my way back to my laptop and read the story of a catastrophic event in which superheroes from all written comic books appeared over Denver, Colorado, immediately throwing fisticuffs and killing an uncountable number of civilians. They eventually put themselves in a bubble so they could continue duking it out, but that’s just the backdrop - the seed from which the story of very real people had germinated.
If you’ve been to any comic book convention, you’ll have seen the religious extremists marching with their yellow signs and calling down fire and brimstone onto the cosplaying heathens. Well, imagine that but times fifty. Like with many comic book worlds, there is fear of those with powers or that are “fake.” You can tell who they are just by looking at them. I won’t give away the visual metaphor, because the image was a powerful one to me. Somehow, it dug very deep and burrowed into my soul. I saw the defenseless of all kinds suddenly on the page.
The story focuses in on one cosplayer that works at a comic book store, a young woman named Ellipses or Ellie or El, and she suddenly finds herself drawn into a much greater story. A story of society, humanity, and what it means to be heroic, and perhaps a beautiful and harrowing reflection of our own times.
This is how you start a comic series. This is how you win over readers. This is how you get me to read Venom.
Creative Team: Donny Cates (story), Geoff Shaw (art), Dee Cunniffe (colors), John J. Hill (letters and design), Mark Waid (story edits)
Publisher: Image Comics
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