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The Break-Thru Crossover Saved Firearm's Bacon | CBR

This is “Can’t Cross Over,” a feature where I look at instances when comic book writers had to adjust their stories to deal with crossovers.

Today, we look at how the Ultraverse crossover, Break-Thru, literally broke through the opening arc of Firearm.

Okay, let’s first take a look at where Firearm stood heading into Break-Thru. The opening arc of the series (by James Robinson, Cully Hamner and John Lowe) introduced us to Alec Swan, who used to be known as an operative named Firearm due to his very special gun (and I guess a general propensity for guns) that could kill most anyone through explosive charges. He is now a private investigator in Pasadena who specializes in Ultra-related cases (“Ultras” being what superhuman characters are called in the Ultraverse).

A woman’s fiance goes missing and Swan investigates and he is soon attacked by an Ultra who claims to have killed the man. Swan kills the Ultra, but is then attacked by friends of the first Ultra. They have Swan high in the air and drop him, when he is saved by a second Ultra and brought to a second location.

That sets up Firearm #3, where Swan discovers that the Ultras who captured him hunt men for sport and then eat them (that’s why they specialize in former military men who have gained a lot of weight since they left the service).

They want to hunt Swan, and use Swan’s client as motivation for him to either not give up too easily or not to try to escape…

Okay, so let’s go to Break-Thru #1 by George Perez and John Lowe and pretty much all of the Ultraverse writers (but Gerard Jones did the script). The concept is that at the end of Exiles #4, a blast of energy killed most of the Exiles and it consumed Amber Hunt and now Amber Hunt was giving off some serious radiation and was compelling people to want to fly to the moon. So any Ultra who could fly wanted to fly to the moon…

It all involved the Entity (that had possessed Amber) that apparently gave the Ultras their powers.

Anyhow, the way that the Break-Thru crossover worked is that it just sort of “broke through” the various titles in differing ways. The cover motif was clever, with the Break-Thru logo breaking through the title’s regular logo…

In this instance, Alec had survived the initial hunt in #3 (and killed a few of the bad guys) and was thought to be dead following an explosion. He couldn’t let his client die, though, so he decided to go back to kill the rest of the cannibal Ultras.

He was doing well at first, but then they had him cornered…

But then Amber Hunt shows up in the sky, compelling Ultras to fly to the moon and so one of the top bad guys just flies off, giving Swan a second chance…

Swan then takes down the remaining bad guys…

With the last Ultra getting it in the head when he thinks that Swan won’t kill him while they’re in the sky…

That’s a really weird thing to just drop into the middle of an opening arc of a series, right? But Robinson did a marvelous job working the ridiculousness of it all into his story as well as he could. The after-effects of people wanting to go to the moon was the set-up for the next issue of Firearm, which I recently wrote about here.

If any of you have any suggestions for other good examples of comic book writers having to alter their stories to adjust to major comic book crossovers (or situations like this one), drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

In their latest examination of plots adjusting to crossovers, CSBG shows how the Break-Thru crossover saved Firearm's life in his own series!

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