CrossGen Comics was somewhat of a shooting star in the comics industry, lasting only from 1998 until 2004, but in that brief history managed to shoot up to the position of third largest American comics publisher in the world. CrossGen in particular was known for its slightly different way of doing business in the industry, as well as the fact that it was made up of some of the most distinguished and established creators in the industry, all having deserted some of the biggest studios in the industry in order to join CrossGen’s ranks.
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The whole idea behind the CrossGen comicdom was to create a unified universe that revolved around a single aspect, this case being the red and yellow twin sigil known simply as The Sigil, and coming from the hands of the masters, CrossGen comics spanned a number of genres, from straight up fantasy to operatic sci-fi and even a little Victorian crime and mystery in between.
One of their “different” ways of doing things was in the publication of the Edge and Forge compendia as they were called, basically anthologies that pulled issues in tight continuity from across their range and presented it all as a 220+ page graphic novel. These compendia were released in chronological order and by following the compendia, you would literally be following all the happenings in the CrossGen universe.
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Edge (Volume 1) pulls together Mystic chapters 15 and 16, Sigil chapter 15, Scion chapter 15, The First chapters 8-10 and Ruse chapter 1. Each different title begins with a full synopsis of what has come before and this makes Edge (Volume 1) literally the best starting point to hop on at if you are interested in jumping onto what was the CrossGen bandwagon.
Ruse:The world no longer holds any mysteries for Simon Archard, the greatest detective of his age. But just as he contemplates retirement, a mysterious new menace takes the stage, a hideous evil playing for very high stakes indeed. Aided by his beautiful and charming assistant, Archard embarks on the case of his career.
Ruse is written by the legendary Mark Waid who is probably known for his lengthy run on DC’s Flash and is set in a strangely mystical Victorian setting and lends itself to a proper mystery detective series. The setting and writing style lends a very British feel to proceedings, but once the magic starts kicking in, plot twists galore start springing up and it becomes an absolute treat how the arrogant and misunderstood Archard sets about solving these mysteries with only his wits and intellect to go on. Veteran penciller Butch Guice and inker Michael Perkins deliver some extremely satisfyingly detailed artwork that helps put you in that Victorian mystery type of era, and ends up being simply delicious to look at.
Mystic:Ciress is a world that runs on magic, and those with the most magic run the world. Socialite Giselle Villard, whose disinterest in magic bordered on disdain, had become the most powerful mystic on the planet. All she really wants is time to herself, but will high politics and threats from beyond leave her any peace?
The man who made Green Lantern popular again and opened up the title to a whole new generation, Ron Marz, handles the writing task on Ciress, coming up with what can only be described as a comedic fantasy tale of sword and sorcery with underlying political machinations keeping the intrigue going in the background. Ciress may not be the deepest of works, but it is fun enough to read and Ron Marz strives to maintain a light as possible atmosphere wherever he can, even going as far to toss some fun romance into the mix just for kicks. Of course, Ciress is certainly helped on by some fantastic artwork from Brandon Peterson on pencils and John Dell on inks, who push forward an extremely sexy bit of work.
Sigil:Samandahl Rey was a loner, a wandering ex-soldier who wanted nothing more to do with war – until the Sigil granted him incredible power and changed his destiny forever. Now the entire Planetary Union is depending on Sam to free its citizens from the threat of the lizard-like Saurian race.
Sigil comes from the pen of Mark Waid once again, and with this he explores a more complex and political wrangling theme as he paints an expansive sci-fi military opera experience that touches the far corners of outer space. There are a lot of twists and undercurrents to explore, but at the same time he balances out the story with generous doses of action, both mystic and physical in form. Sigil is perhaps not the most original of reads, but it isn’t too bad as a whole. Industry veterans Paul Pelletier and Mike Perkins provide the art for Sigil and while Pelletier’s pencils are more than detailed enough, his fairly unique rounded facial shape carries throughout all of his characters and unless you like these what sometimes feels a little chunky proportions, you may not appreciate his work all that much.
Scion:Ethan is the youngest prince of an ancient empire locked in an uneasy truce with it Eastern rivals, until an accident leads to the first open warfare in generations. Young, headstrong, and somewhat naïve, Ethan embarks on a quest to avenge his brother’s death, taking him deep into Eastern lands.
Ron Marz is back on the reins for Scion, and this story plays out as a more traditional sword and sorcery fantasy than some of the other CrossGen titles. While the story is fairly simple to follow, there are some decent plot elements and twists thrown in that make Scion an enjoyable enough read. Jim Cheung together with inker Don Hillsman II provide the art for Scion, and thanks to Cheung’s clean and slightly minimalistic and angular lines, Scion looks simply fantastic. It is only occasionally that Cheung’s faces let him down, but other than these rare occasions, the level of detail and beautifully atmospheric visuals adds to Scion’s overall charm.
The First:They are a race of godlike beings, their past lost in a fog of myth, their present mired in comfortable routine – until a new power emerges that could topple their preeminence. Faced with its first true threat, their society begins to teeter, and soon the mystery of the Sigil-Bearers threatens to plunge the First into civil war.
The First is scripted by one of the most outspoken female creators in comics, Barbara Kesel and with the First she delivers an intriguing story wrought with political wrangling and super-being mischief and mystery. The First is a tightly scripted book and will keep you guessing as to just what who is trying to achieve. Bart Sears provides us with his usually well defined and sexually charged pencils, producing some of the most gorgeous characters ever to look at. Andy Smith is responsible for the inks and together with some fantastic colouring makes for a stunning and unique visual spectacular.
So in summary, Edge Volume 1 provides the whole package, covering almost every base in the comic world that you could ever wish for in terms of genre and art. Its stories are all well written and delivered, and feature some of the best art that you can possibly find on the shelves today. It is printed on crisp, high quality paper that simply brings the colours and art alive, and to be honest, it would be a real shame if you missed this perfect starting point into what truly was a unique comic universe.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrossGen_Comics