The All-New CrossGen Compendia

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You’ll have to forgive me for quoting myself here. The first part of this review is taken from my All The Rage Column.

Well the new sized Edge and Forge will be out soon and I’ve been lucky enough to get a look-see at an advanced copy of each. I’m impressed. Apparently there has been a lot of talk on the web and within the industry that the quality of the art would suffer due to the reduction in size but this is seriously unfounded. The books are a nice size, the art is clear and sharp with the typical vibrant colours one would expect from CrossGen. I’m a fan, simple as that.

All this praise before I even mention the price…$7.95! I found 3 comicbooks worth of stories in each volume that I really wanted to read (Edge: Ruse, Way of the Rat and Scion; Forge: The Path and 2x Route 666). Now I will go back and read the rest and I will probably find some good tales that I enjoy BUT it doesn’t matter 3x $2.95 = $8.85. So at $7.95 I’d be in profit just for reading 3 stories out of 8!

There’s also the overall design to consider. The small size is nice, it’s easy to carry and read (little hard to balance on your knee on the toilet ‘cause it’s so compressed and a little small to read on the ground when you’re on the toilet so that’s one downside). This is a great little package and one that I hope really takes off. It makes the Marvel B&W essentials look like nasty expensive toilet paper by comparison. I was reading Forge in work and a female co-worker picked up Edge and started to flick through it. This is someone who has no comicbook interest and who has never thrown a second glance at my ‘normal’ comics in the past. She thought the thing was brilliant - and surely that is what CrossGen are hoping for.

I contacted CrossGen with my thoughts on the new style and I got a nice reply back from Ian Feller (the Director of Corporate Communications). He was glad that I’d be able to put at rest people’s fears over the quality of the books. I asked him (as I loved the new format so much) would the earlier volumes of Forge and Edge be available in the new format, he said:

“As for reprinting the older compendia in the smaller version. It doesn't look likely right now. If we do eventually sell through the large overprint we did on the early editions, we would likely go back to press for the smaller size. But if and when this may be I couldn't say.”

Well I’ve read them both now and I must say I am very impressed. I really didn’t think I’d be able to get into them at all as they were all in the middle of stories but that is the mark of good writing, that it is accessible to anyone at any point.

Out of the whole package I only found that I couldn’t get into The First. It looks good but it just didn’t rock my boat. Probably just me.

Ruse: This was as good as I remembered with the whole Sherlock Holmesian feel. Big dramatic episode that lost none of its power on the smaller page.

Sigil: This is a wide screen Sci-fi adventure like Babylon 5 or Star Trek. Explosive and fun.

Scion: Not the sort of thing I’d normally go for. This is almost Arthurian, a sci-fi Prince Valiant. That said I did enjoy it as it was well written and extremely accessible.

The Way of the Rat: Oh come on, it’s Chuck Dixon, how could I not enjoy it. This is a great oriental tale that would fit nicely into the world of Lone Wolf and Cub. Magic, honour and a talking monkey, great fun.

Mystic: A world where magic is real and science is odd. I enjoyed this when it first came out but I kind of drifted away from it. The two episodes presented here have brought me back into the fold. Our main protagonist is visiting the lands of the magical masters she holds within her. The first tale is almost like a Neil Gaiman story and the second was just plain tongue-in-cheek, knowing, fun.

Crux: I’ve obviously missed a lot here since I last read. All the same I was able to hop on and enjoy. This is the tale of the last Atlanteans who awaken after mankind has left the planet. This week we’ve got a tale set in a replica wild west.

The Path: Dark samurai action. This is bloody, violent and exceptionally good. Fans of Lone Wolf and Cub and Slaine will adore this.

Negation: Another one I really didn’t think I’d get into. More sci-fi action mixed with politics. Not my favourite by a long chalk but still an enjoyable read and great entertainment.

Meridian: Ugh, girlie fantasy...which I will quietly admit to enjoying (look out for a nice piece of art towards the end, all I’ll say is it kicks that ‘follow the arrow’ thing from Robin Hood’s ass.

Sojourn: Another fantasy story. This has amazing artwork and I found the story to be very interesting. It was quite wordy thought this did help make it very easy to jump on to.

Route 666: Oh yes. Contemporary horror, very nice. This is far superior to the horror that has been coming out of the independent companies. This will definitely appeal to the Buffy crowd.

Frankly a full review is a waste of time here. You will find at least 1 or 2 stories in each you really like and a few others you find to be good enough entertainment to justify your expenditure. The only real question is why these books aren’t being pushed more. $7.95! I haven’t read the CrossGen universe for a while and I am very glad to have made its acquaintance again. I love monthly comics but if DC or Marvel brought out something like this I’d probably never buy another 22 pager again.

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