Juniper Elanore Blue has a hellish life by any reasonable standard, despite living in relative comfort as a housewife in Seattle. She’s reasonably sure her husband is cheating on her, despite only having married her for her looks. Her stepson is even more disrespectful. Worst of all are the teenage boys in her suburban neighborhood, who delight in throwing crude comments at her. The only respite Juniper has are the precious few hours she has at home alone, when she’s free to pick up a good book and pretend she is someone else for a little while.
Halfway across America, Cason Ray Bennett lives the life of one of the characters in one of Juniper’s beloved books. Cason is a “problem solver” for an “outfit” in Chicago. That is to say that he’s a professional assassin, whose problem solving techniques involve definitive ends. Cason lives the high life, wearing power suits and driving a fast car. The only real problem in his life is that he keeps having his nights off spoiled because he’s the only one “the boss” trusts to clean up the messes the less competent problem solvers leave behind.
Two perfect strangers, with no apparent connection…until the day when a switch is tripped. And suddenly Cason Ray Bennett is in a strange body in a suburban supermarket. Meanwhile, Juniper Elanore Blue finds herself in a strange body in a hotel room with a panicky idiot and a dead body…
The concept of two characters switching bodies is one of the oldest tropes in popular culture. Perhaps most famously presented in the novel Freaky Friday and the later film adaptations, there is a long list of clichés involved. The same jokes have been played out on numerous occasions, particularly in the stories where a man and a woman trade places.
Crosswind deftly avoids these clichés, while playing upon the audience’s expectations of those clichés being played out to hilarious effect. It would be far too easy for Gail Simone to crack wise about a manly man like Cason suddenly having to learn how to shave his legs and put on makeup. It’s much funnier to have Cason thrive when he is called upon to throw together an amazing dinner for Juniper’s husband’s boss at the last minute (talking of sitcom clichés), because Cason’s mother made sure he knew how to cook for himself. It’s worth mentioning that Simone’s script also addresses something that few other body-swap comedies have and explores the issues relating to LGBTQ individuals. Indeed, this is about the only aspect of Crosswind that is not played for laughs. To give one example, one of Juniper’s neighbors is a trans woman, who teaches Cason how to do his makeup and offers a sympathetic ear regarding his situation.
The artwork by Cat Staggs is fantastic. Staggs boasts a photo-realistic style that proves a good fit for the grounded setting, but is capable of depicting the characters in the outrageous circumstances in which they find themselves. The level of detail in Staggs’s artwork and use of color is exemplary.
Image Comics has rated Crosswind M for readers 18 and up, and it more than earns that rating. There is sex. There is violence. There is nudity. There are adult situations in all senses of the term. To put it plainly, if Crosswind were to be adapted into a television series (which, it should be noted, is about to happen), it would have to air on one of the paid premium networks in order for it to be done justice. Despite this, I would recommend this story to any teenagers with the maturity to appreciate the story.
Crosswind, Vol. 1
by Gail Simone
Art by Catt Staggs
Image Comics, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: M (18+)