I've been re-reading Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle's Crossfire series (Eclipse Comics, 1984) having finally found the wily and elusive #2 a few weeks back. Crossfire ran for 26 issues and one spin-off mini series from 1984-1987, following Bail Bondsman by day/vigilante by night Jay Endicott through a series of Hollywood based adventures informed and seasoned by Mr. Evanier's life experiences in that land of make-believe.
Crossfire was originally a spy/thief for hire with a flying suit named Jeff Baker, who met his violent end in Evanier's DNAgents series. As of Crossfire #1, Jay Endicott, an honest, perpetually broke bail-bondsman has taken on the identity and work of Crossfire, with a secret agenda to work for justice. His cast includes a parade of colorful oddballs whom Jay aids and bails, as necessary, and who are occasionally helpful to him.
I'm happy to say, the series holds up well to my fond memories of it. Dan Spiegle was and still is one of comics' master artists, and his work on this only improved as the series went on. Its really a shame he isn't better recognized, because his work on this and DC's Blackhawk was excellent. In Crossfire, Spiegle was called on to draw cars, ships, city streets, and even a dinosaur or two, and delivered it all with his beautiful linework. He could also draw clothes, interesting faces and different body types; which skills are seemingly a lost art these days.
Mark Evanier played some really clever storytelling tricks in this series, including a story told backwards, another story told as a series of 2 and 3 page TV promos, and one issue told as a movie script. I've long enjoyed Evanier's essays, from those that ran in the back of Crossfire, (often worth the price of admission alone), to POV, his series of essays first featured in the Comic's Buyers Guide and now at his current web home. His writing on Crossfire really worked that accretion of Hollywood anecdotes into some exciting and well-told action tales. Through it all, Jay was a fundamentally decent guy with a sympathetic streak that led him to meet some...very interesting folks:
That's Howard Hughes writing a pre-Crossfire Endicott into his will, by the way. Jay finds it years later and discards it, thinking it a Mintz forgery.
Crossfire was initially more of a companion series to DNAgents, early issues featuring some odd-fit superhero elements, like costumed assassins and Endicott's artificial blood, provided by his girlfriend, DNAgent Rainbow. The series reinvented itself, veering toward the more realistic after the switch to black and white with #18. At that point, Endicott had to destroy his Crossfire costume to trick his way out of prison, and abandoned it for a plainclothes masked look. His unusual blood was never mentioned again.
I think the series really improved after #18, with the stories taking on kind of a "hopeful noir" tone, as Endicott began to feel increasingly burdened by his clients and debt. Crossfire also got a new supporting cast and a new girlfriend, but it wasn't to last. Eclipse had to cancel Crossfire with #26, but Evanier and Spiegle had time to give the book a proper ending, with of all things, a dinosaur. Trust me, it makes sense in the context of Crossfire's final story.
This was a great book, and a personal favorite that's been overlooked by pretty much everyone. Apparently, a new 8 page Crossfire story is in the works, to be featured in an upcoming anthology. If you ever get the chance to read that, or buy up some back issues, I'd say give 'em a try. If nothing else, there's the occasional naked lady, and you can't go wrong with that.