As promoted, Crosswind is Freaky Friday meets Goodfellas, but its first issue is such a fresh take on the body-swapping premise that even the most skeptical readers will be immediately taken in by the divergent life stories writer Gail Simone (Batgirl, Wonder Woman) and artist Cat Staggs (Adventures of Supergirl, Wonder Woman ’77) have crafted for its protagonists.
Cason is a hitman with a conscience who begins the book by killing one of his oldest friends, for an offense Cason is convinced he didn’t commit. Loyalty to the organization and his boss is one thing, proving it like this, however, is testing Cason’s last nerve.
Juniper is a beleaguered housewife with a philandering husband, a teenage stepson who hates her, taunting bullies next door, and a dinner party to arrange for her husband’s demanding boss tonight. It’s all too much for her frayed nerves, and our dear, disheveled, doormat June is about to crack.
Simone’s characters are instantly relatable as they struggle with the relentless obstacles constraining their lives. As the people surrounding them pile on the problems, you sympathize with how trapped they are in static lives they don’t enjoy and can’t escape. And perhaps more importantly, you realize that all these ancillary characters deserve the Pulp Fiction–esque medieval world of hurt that I’m sure Simone will unleash after our leads switch lives. The real treat as the series progresses will be to watch June learn to live Cason’s life and to watch Cason try not to kill everyone in June’s life in a single sitting.
After establishing all the moving pieces in the debut, I was relieved that Simone was in no hurry to reveal exactly how these characters swapped lives. Cason had a particularly creepy encounter with a homeless man that foreshadowed the switch, but June’s day didn’t include a corresponding engagement. We’re just going to have to trust that Simone has a plan and will reveal the need-to-knows when we need to know.
Staggs’ delightful game plan with the art focuses on the characters rather than their settings. The contrasts between hitman and housewife exist in the details present with the character designs, and background details aren’t going to be telltale clues for plot development in this issue. Cason’s smooth good looks and ‘60s suave body language effortlessly reveal a confidence in his abilities and distress at their use. As June’s neighbors rudely observe, she’s good looking and in great shape. But her defensive stance and defeated personality soar off the panels as Staggs focuses on her facial expressions. You’re uncomfortable right along with her, and that’s the measure of success for Staggs’ style. The juicy emotional moments of rage-level anger for him and complete despair for her will hook you on this series.
It may share a basic premise with Freaky Friday, but make no mistake, Crosswind #1 is quality hard-boiled fiction more Nicholas Pileggi than Mary Rodgers. I’d bet Jamie Lee Curtis and Ray Liota would enjoy the hell out of this book—I know I did.