Thursday, June 24, 2004

CrossGen Three Pack

Okay gang my mind is turning into mush after spending the entire week reading nothing but CrossGen Comics, so I'm doing three quick looks to wrap up my coverage of their books here. The three I'm covering are all different styles of books, but have one thing in common that I think is what kept them from being all they could be.

[The Path Volume 1 cover]

Probably the best use of the sigil power was in The Path series. This samurai epic has lots of political intrigue and questions of faith. When a young priest sees his warrior brother struck down by his gods, for only being gifted with the power of the sigil which power threatens their mastery.

He vows vengeance on them, but first must deal with political intrigue at home when a mad emperor thinks to use the priest's power to further his own ends.

[Ruse Volume 1 cover]

This series seemed to be the ultimate fakeout at first. Described in early PR as a sort of Holmesian detective world series, it instead turns out more like the old TV show Scarecrow & Ms. King with sharp banter between the two leads being the big appeal. While any mystery is just window dressing, which was disappointing.

The book makes a point of not having any sigil bearers in it, but is still very weighed down by the universe as a whole through the hints that one of its leads has the same glowing eyes as other like minded characters in their other sigil verse series.

[Way of the Rat Volume 1 cover]

Very much in the Jackie Chan line of movies, this martial artist devoted series follows a thief who gets more than he bargained for when he steals a mysterious ring.

Set on an alien world version of ancient China, this book is filled with madcap kung fu action, humor and a talking monkey. A light popcorn level read, that never really went very far but had fun with itself and its readers.

All of these series, and the ones I've covered previously this week aren't really that terrible in terms of quality. Some even have interesting explorations of ideas that if given more time could have led to something more substantial.

Yet at all of their heart was one fatal flaw. By trying to evoke certain time periods or story types, but not be able to be that. Mainly due to having to fit into the weak universe level sigil verse mess that Alessi had long ago decided was the heart of the company.

There really isn't much point to trying to capture a Victorian England detective story, or ancient China martial arts action, or even Japanese Samurai epic, if you must place them on these strange alien worlds. This cuts them off from the depth and history that such stories should have going for them naturally. And comes off as someone trying to claim to be wordly, because they visited the It's A Small World ride at Disney World.

This was a realization that CrossGen made late in the game, and tried to right with series like Route 666, El Capitan and others. Yet by then their die had been cast, and the initial push they had was gone.

Coming tomorrow, I look at how CrossGen began looking at their early PR and sharing my own experiences from when I won a trip to visit their headquarters. Then on Saturday I'll look at the apparent end of the company. So stay tuned!

1 comment:

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