Who are we kidding? Crossovers, by and large, always suck. The yearly JLA/JSA team-ups of days gone by may have been fun, but the early ’80s ushered in the era of the “mega-crossover” event with Marvel’s Secret Wars and DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths, and while those two seminal series may have had their charms, pretty much everything that’s followed in their wake has been pure drivel. It’s well past time, in my own humble opinion, for the crossover to redeem itself.
Don’t count on it happening at the “Big Two” anytime too soon, though. Marvel’s allowing its entire line to be swallowed whole by Civil War II as we speak (mere months after doing the same with their re-tooled version of Secret Wars) and DC seems to be slowly building up to a “blockbuster” of their own that will feature their characters taking on the so-called “Watchmen Universe.” Count me as being decidedly unimpressed — and deathly uninterested — in any of that. So, if anybody’s gonna give us a crossover worth reading, it’ll have to be one of the indies.
Enter Top Cow Productions, who have a corporate “universe” of their own (published, as always, under the auspices of their partnership with Image Comics) centered around Witchblade, Cyber Force, and other franchises, but are eschewing the obvious (perhaps too obvious?) possibilities there and are instead tying together three of the ostensibly “real-world”- set series from the mind of writer Matt Hawkins — Postal, Think Tank, and The Tithe — for a mercifully brief three-part series titled Eden’s Fall that, at least if the first issue is any indication, promises to actually make good use of the characters and concepts from all three titles in order to tell a satisfying, self-contained story.
Hawkins is sharing the scripting duties on this one with frequent collaborator Bryan Edward Hill (who’s handling the writing chores on Postal solo these days — and doing a bang-up job of it), so characterization for all parties involved is as spot-on as you’d expect, and Atilio Rojo is on board to illustrate the proceedings in a no-frills, workmanlike fashion that serves the story quite well and is somewhat reminiscent of 1980s indie comics artwork (which I don’t mean as a “knock” in any way because I love that era). Toss in some competent if less-than-flashy color work from K. Michael Russell and what you have here is a book that both looks and reads quite well without being overtly stylish on any front, and I’ll take that any and every time.
Newbies to the “Hawkins-verse” needn’t worry, either — any backstory you need to know is recapped nicely on the opening “what has gone before–” page, and more detailed breakdowns of each individual series (as well as web links to sample issues of all three titles for free) are provided on the text pages at the back, so this is a very accessible “jumping-on point” for new readers.
Just what there is to jump on to, though, is something of an open question and makes me wonder what they’re hoping to gain by co-mingling these franchises in the first place. Postal — which has apparently been optioned for television by Showtime — is the only of the titles involved here that’s a going concern at the moment, with both Think Tank and The Tithe in sales-related limbo for the time being. Maybe the idea is to breathe some new life into these books and drum up enough interest to precipitate a revival of one or both of them, but a quick little three-parter seems a curious vehicle for such an endeavor. The computer “super-hacker” protagonist of Think Tank and the former FBI agents of The Tithe are both central to the proceedings here, with events in this story picking up more or less exactly where the last issue of The Tithe left off, though, so clearly they’re not playing “second-fiddle” to the Postal cast even though the story itself is set in that series’ “off the grid” haven for ex-cons of Eden, Wyoming. I guess rather than worrying about the business logistics behind this “event,” then, I might be better served to just relax and enjoy it for what it is.
Fortunately for us all, “what it is” happens to be pretty darn good. Hot on the trail of the duplicitous engineer of a series of “false flag” terrorist attacks designed to provoke a violent response against American Muslims, our aforementioned ex-G-men (and women) and their “Dark Web”-traversing buddy track him to Eden (which proves to be suspiciously easy for them to find), but other outside parties seem interested in the goings-on in the town that doesn’t exist for reasons as yet shrouded in mystery. Events move along at a nice clip, “screen time” is shared fairly equally among all parties, and a number of the more intriguing sub-plots from each of the respective series are “ported over” here in a way that won’t seem alienating to new readers. The plot construction in this issue is very solid, the mystery reasonably gripping, and the dialogue nicely expository without being overly so. Chances are pretty good, then, that even if you’re unfamiliar with any and/or all of these individual comics, you’ll find plenty to like here.
The “Hawkins-verse” has been one of the best-kept secrets in four-color funnybooks for a long time (even if we didn’t know it was an interconnected “universe” until a few months ago), and if Eden’s Fall maintains the standard of quality on display here throughout its brief run, odds are good that it’ll steer more people in the direction of Postal, at the very least (which is really hitting a nice creative stride right now) and perhaps even convince the powers-that-be that the other books deserve another arc or two, as well. That’d be a darn good thing on the whole for fans of intelligent, topical books that are relevant to — and resonant with — the world we actually live in.