REVIEW: Image Comics’ Crossover #13

Comic book characters have come to life in Denver, a city now encased in a protective dome as the government and law enforcement frenetically scramble to contain the situation. However, some characters have already escaped, and one of them is killing off comic book writers one by one. That one is none other than Negan from The Walking Dead, who is working in coalition with someone inside the dome, someone with a vested interest. Image Comics presents the season finale of Crossover as the title ties up all its convoluted ends. Written by Donny Cates with art from Geoff Shaw, colors from Dee Cunniffe, and lettering by John J. Hill, Crossover #13 gives an emotional send-off to an incredible series while also making provisions for future continuation.

The opening page of Crossover #13 offers a glimpse into the final scene from the book. Writer Donny Cates is lying on the ground in a puddle of his own blood, with the floor around him showing signs of an epic battle. In the present, Ellipses, armed with the Valofax, leaps into action as her friends back her up. An all-out brawl breaks out where the heroes quickly dispose of Negan's forces, but the man is far from giving up. He hits Cates with his baseball bat, Lucille, and holds him hostage in exchange for Valofax. Meanwhile, Director Pendleton enters the armory containing comic book weapons in search of a particular item that will give him an edge over the others.

By his own admission, Donny Cates has hogged the limelight for far too long. While the metatextual journey has taken the prolific author from one milestone to the next, picking up an Eisner nomination on the way, it is now time to give the story back to the readers who are anticipating a crazy conclusion with bated breath. Cate delivers, with a gripping final act and an exciting climax wrapping up the story in one fell swoop. Consisting of a litany of high-stakes moments and deus ex machinas alike, Crossover #13 sets the stage for a heartfelt send-off as emotions bog down the end of the book. Cates' self-critical narration across the narratives tears down the barrier of time and space as real-life experiences overlap with the fictional space, lamenting the failures but also celebrating them since they are the building blocks of the world. Even in death, Cates hogs the limelight.

The most notable aspect of Crossover #13 is the high-spirited artwork brought to life by artist Geoff Shaw from just a few bold lines and religious inkwork. As the characters clash in the true nature of a crossover, Shaw rises to the occasion, capturing the characters in all their glory, including Cates' likeness, giving the comic that meta edge. Adding to the animated energy of the book are the colors from Dee Cunniffe, who douses every corner in bright, eye-catching shades. The tag team works wonders. From the golden glow emanating from the powerful Valofax or the striking wide pages with graphical visuals, the book provides exciting art.

While the flashy action and tacky lines are part of the ride, Crossover #13 tries to cram in more than it can, packing the issue with melodrama and shocking revelations till the last moment. The story follows a rushed narrative that rolls from one plot point to the next as conflict resolution takes the highest priority. Cates aptly steers the plot to a favorable outcome and gives the readers the story they had wanted. Somewhere along the line, he inserts himself into the story, projecting his inner desires to break free from his past through his work, which effectively has led to the creation of something new. As meta as the series is, it could not help but play one last gag. Crossover #13 shockingly passes the blame on to the next creative head, ending the series with the promise of more misadventures in the future.

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