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PREVIEW: 'BLACK [AF] DEVIL'S DYE' by Vita Ayala and Liana Kangas

 This latest BLACK [AF] collected mini-series is written by breakout star Vita Ayala ( New Mutants, X-Men: Children Of The Atom, Morbius, Bitch Planet, The Wilds ) and rising star artist Liana Kangas ( She Said Destroy ).   When a new drug called VANTA hits the streets, word is it's the hottest thing since Ecstacy. For regular people, it has all the highs and none of the lows of traditional drugs. There is some fine print, however - for empowered Black folks, the drug causes a total and violent loss of control. The Project sends Indigo to investigate, and it soon becomes apparent that this is more than just a new designer distraction for the masses. Indigo together with former Detective Ellen Waters race to find the source of the substance poisoning their people, before it's too late!   The superhero universe where only Black people have superpowers continues to expand, for the first time with a new creative team building onto the exciting world created by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim

REVIEW: 'Crossover' #2 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, and Dee Cunniffe

 "KIDS LOVE CHAINS," Part Two-The event continues to unravel as Ellie, Otto, and Ava rise from the ashes of their comic shop to begin their four-color odyssey to find the truth beyond the dome. Meanwhile: super-prisons! Magic guns! Mysterious government agents! And other stuff, too!

Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe
 Lettered by John J. Hill
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: December 9, 2020
Cover Price: $3.99

Score: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

'Crossover' has all the elements you'd want in a new comic. A stellar creative crew, a meta storyline about comic book superheroes, a potential epic crossover with said heroes. It's a dream collaboration just waiting to happen. And here in issue two, we're still waiting for it to really pop. 

The focus remains on two comic shop workers, Ellie and Otto, who take in a superhuman little girl to protect her from the government's clampdown. A long conversation ensues about what to do about the girl, about the dome, and about the search for Ellie's parents. While they contemplate things, elsewhere another storyline emerges. 

The state of the comic book heroes and villains that emerged into this world from the Event is revealed and sadly it's all a little too convenient and tropey. We've seen superpowered individuals rounded up and imprisoned before but never with so little impact. The reveal is more matter-of-fact than shocking. We haven't met any of these characters so there's no gut-punch just an all-too-familiar allegory to internments of unwanted people to a new world. 

Geoff Shaw and Dee Cunniffe do their best to enliven the otherwise uneventful pages with great art. The pencilwork is detailed, faces full of emotions, and the framing of scenes is cinematic with clever angles. The colors are slightly dark but bold with shadows that give some scenes a more sinister atmosphere. The art is first class as expected. 

Cates is a great storyteller but has played it too safe and too small here to make a coherent exciting issue. With such a great premise we're given very little to work with here because what we expect to happen doesn't and the story is mired in minutia. We want the bigger story, we want the comic book characters to actually "crossover." Perhaps, Cates is saving a big reveal for later but what we're left with is not very engaging or making a ton of sense.