Who is Huntress? Is she Helena Wayne or Helena Bertinelli? If you’ve been reading Worlds’ Finest then you already know, but if you haven’t…well you would still need to read Worlds’ Finest to find out BUT this serves as a nice prelude to that series so if you’re a long time fan of this grape-clad superheroine, Crossbow at the Crossroads might be worth picking up. If you’re not a die-hard Huntress fan however, you can probably skip this.
For starters, what’s this book about? Well, Crossbow at the Crossroads is a 6-part mini series that serves as a prequel to the ongoing Worlds’ Finest series, starring Huntress and Power Girl, which is also written by Paul Levitz. It doesn’t take place in Gotham nor does the rest of the Bat family have anything to do with what happens here. Nothing from Earth 2 is ever mentioned and the hints at an ongoing series don’t occur until the very final page. It’s just a brief adventure with Huntress that has little to no impact on her overall story in Worlds’ Finest and instead serves more as an unsatisfying teaser to that series more than anything else.
Synopsis: Huntress heads to Italy to fight sex traffickers only to attract unwanted attention from Interpol and the mob. It’s not a bad premise at all and it kept me interested at first, but for some reason it just fell flat. I’m not sure if it was how repetitive each chapter felt, the way Huntress did (or did NOT) bring justice to the main villain, or if it was the lame “please buy Worlds’ Finest!” ending that made this story so disappointing, so…blah. It’s as if midway through the creation of this book it was decided that this would not be a complete narrative but an advertisement for the New 52 second wave instead.
I did enjoyed Huntress’ inner monologue and some of the infiltration scenes were quite a bit of fun, but the artwork is the main highlight of Crossbow at the Crossroads. If you’ve been reading Batwing lately then you’ll be familiar with Marcus To’s work, however I think you’ll see rather quickly that he draws a far better Italy than Africa. The entire art team of To, Dell, Dalhouse, and Passalaqua create some beautiful imagery, dynamic fight scenes, and there are a few very stylish page layouts. The covers of each of these issues (and the cover of the TPB itself) aren’t that great though, but they were done by Guillem March, not Marcus To. I like Guillem March, but he has a knack for exaggerating the female form in terrible ways that don’t look right at all. And you’ve got to put some of the blame on the colorist as well for this cover. It looks like Huntress has pink eye and the red nose of a drunk.
So I would say that this is a good premise that addresses a tragic real world issue and it does it with attractive artwork and some entertaining action scenes as well. But about halfway through the story puttered about to a non-conclusion topped with an advertisement for another comic book. That ending took what should have been a stand-alone Huntress adventure and turned it into something that can’t stand up on its own.
Several pages of preliminary artwork. There are 4 pages of early character designs by Marcus To which are interesting to look at especially if you compare her to previous incarnations. Huntress’s new look is a nice blend of all her previous costumes minus the exposed belly button. The next two pages are less impressive because they are tiny thumbnail scribbles of page layouts that don’t really look like anything and you’re given no context whatsoever. It would be nice to see some sort of evolution of layout to the finished product so we could have a better idea of how To’s creative process works. And lastly, the final two pages showcase original cover designs by Guillem March. Each of these are presented in tiny thumbnail images but thankfully some of them are accompanied by his notes.
Six issues worth of comic book for $14.99 ain’t bad but Amazon’s $8.38 offering is awfully tempting. I say if you’re a fan of Huntress or just a fan of the New 52 Worlds’ Finest then this prelude is totally worth the price.
You don’t need to read this prelude in order to enjoy Worlds’ Finest and the story itself isn’t something you’re going to re-read again and again. So in the end, Crossbow at the Crossroads is best recommended for the die hard fans of Huntress and Levitz’s World Finest series and basically nobody else. It’s not a terrible read, but it’s not a memorable read either for casual Bat-fans or casual DC Comics fans. I know that was at least the case for me. I read this series once before when it came out less than a year ago and I had little to no recollection of what happened in this book before opening it up again.