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REVIEW: 'Crosswind' #5 by Gail Simone and Cat Staggs

Trying to fit in for Cason and Juniper has been an adventure. Swapping bodies have introduced each into strange new worlds. But you can't change who you are on the inside regardless of what everyone sees you as. 'Crosswind' #5 explores this as well as answers some crucial questions about why the switch happened in the first place.


CROSSWIND #5

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Cat Staggs
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 1, 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

Score:  ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Up until now, both Cason and Juniper had adapted pretty well to their new lives in each other's shoe. Juniper as Cason has experienced respect, power, and is desired for the first time. Cason as Juniper has been able to use his intimidation tactics as a gangster for good, righting some wrongs that plagued Juniper in her life. As comfortable as their new situations may be, they're both in danger, and keeping this crazy swap secret has gotten to be impossible. They both look to bend a friendly ear to help cope with the situation. Meanwhile, Cruz's cruelty is on full display and he meets the architect that created this whole mess in the first place. 

Juniper thinks she can slow down Cruz before he comes gunning for her. He's already using Mika to get to her to horrifying effect. A beaten and bloodied Mika is hard to see so fair warning. Juniper's plan goes off the rails and in walks in Mr. Vox, the man responsible for the swap.

His tale reminds me of Stephen King's novel Thinner. In it, an obese lawyer who accidentally kills a gypsy covers it up and is cursed by the gypsy's father to rapidly lose weight. So this swap in a way is its own curse brought on by revenge but that isn't enough for Mr. Vox. Luckily, for him, Cruz is more than willing to help him carry out his bidding.

Gail Simone has put these characters on course to ultimately collide in an explosive confrontation but she also hasn't forgotten their humanity. Juniper may feel more confident and emboldened to send a bunch of goons to rough up Cruz but by the end feels that Mika deserves to know the truth about the body swap. Cason isn't afraid to confide in the lesbian couple down the block seeking their advice once more.

Amid the violence and scheming, these characters feel trapped in a body foreign to them and eventually their yearning to be themselves, their true selves, lead them to reveal their plight and connect with other people. There's a sense of freedom in exposing your true identity, in a way releasing the falsehoods you've told like a flock of doves ascending to the sky. What remains is raw and unfiltered, no longer masked in lies but much more vulnerable, real, and human. And such subtext transcends a body-swapping thriller and lends itself to the beauty of self-realization in real life.

Cat Staggs continues to vividly depict the story in ways that produce a deeper impact. Mika's bruises, for example, are disturbingly realistic and a flashback is appropriately washed in grand mysticism. Staggs conveys each scene with a clear understanding of where the point of impact is whether it's a hug, a punch to the face, or a pep talk.

'Crosswind' #5 sets the stage for the inevitable confrontation between Juniper, Cason, and Cruz. It continues to be an engrossing piece of fantasy and drama. If you like your comics down and dirty, thoughtful but violent then Simone and Staggs have you covered.

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