Rita DeMara (the second Yellowjacket) returns from the future to the present day after she finds a Bad Future where Hawkeye is killed and Black Widow is about to be executed, with the implication of both being the last Avengers left. When she arrives to the present-day Avengers Mansion, she finds one of the Avengers and tries to tell him what she saw, only to be promptly killed.
The following day, during an anniversary party of the Avengers, they face Kang the Conqueror's forces who were following an old man, who they recognize as an aged Gilgamesh. Later that night, the babysitter Marilla is killed. When the Avengers find her body, they must face the possibility of an Avenger being her murderer.
The Crossing contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Several arcs were left incomplete or unresolved, most famously the story of two Kang henchmen, twins named Malachi and Tobias, who had been plucked from an earlier timeline by Kang. From their backstories and designs, readers figured out that they were intended to be the lost children of The Vision and The Scarlet Witch, but the story was aborted before The Reveal could take place. A later story retconned them into being Space Phantoms, and the return of the twins eventually took place in Young Avengers instead.
- Advertised Extra: The 2012 collected edition just shows Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. This was likely done to cash in on the then-recent success of the Avengers live-action movie, since Thor barely has any role in the actual plot of The Crossing.
- Backstory Invader: In Force Works #16 (October, 1995), the team has a new member called Moonraker. Young Rachel Carpenter fails to recognize him, but the others remember him being a team member for about 8 months and dating Spider-Woman for 6 months, which puzzles Rachel since Spider-Woman is her mother and she should have already met her boyfriend. This is used as an early indication that someone is messing with the team's perception of reality.
- Bat Family Crossover: As mentioned above, this was a story that ran between Avengers, Iron Man, War Machine, and Force Works.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Wasp opens her cocoon and presents her new form just in time to blast Neut.
- Captain America, absent from most of the story due to problems in his own series, suddenly appears throwing his shield to save some curious civilians from lost shots.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: This story attempted to retcon that Tony became a Manchurian Agent for Kang since the Avengers first fought him. This itself was retconned in Avengers Forever to have been by Immortus since Operation Galactic Storm.
- Continuity Snarl: One of the go-to examples for pointing out how ridiculously complex comics became in the 90s. Notably, Marvel's Iron Man Index, which goes through every issue of Iron Man through 2008, spends an entire page figuring out the reading order for "The Crossing" before essentially giving up. This was written by the same people who do the ''Official Handbook" and are masters of Marvel trivia... it's so snarled that the experts can't tell what's going on.
- FaceHeel Turn: The thing that pissed many fans off, as the story had Mantis side with Kang and The Reveal of Tony Stark as a puppet for Kang all along. As mentioned under "Retcon", these were changed into a Space Phantom impersonating Mantis and Tony wasn't a puppet for Kang since their first battle, but instead was one for Immortus since the events of "Operation: Galactic Storm".
- Killed Off for Real: Rita DeMara, Marilla, Amanda Chaney.
- Male Gaze: The first issue has a completely gratuitous close-up to Black Widow's back.
- Manchurian Agent:
- The story "revealed" that Iron Man was a puppet for Kang since his first battle with the Avengers, having brainwashed Tony. As part of damage control, given the fan backlash, Avengers Forever retconned that Tony was really brainwashed since the events of Operation Galactic Storm by Immortus and the events of The Crossing itself were to stall the Avengers until Onslaught came around.
- In the climax, Kang told Giant-Man that he first attempted this with Hank before moving onto Tony and is thus the cause of Hank's various psychological issues. Avengers Forever retconned this too as a lie by Immortus.
- Redemption Equals Death: Tony Stark. Granted, Death Is Cheap and Stark returned within months (as the adult Tony was used in Heroes Reborn and Avengers Annual 2001 established that Franklin, who was unaware of what happened, resurrected the classic Tony and fused him with the alternate Tony)
- Retcon: Both by the story and to the story.
- By the story: Tony Stark being in the thrall of Kang since the Avengers' first battle with him. "Kang" also said he was the cause for Hank Pym's breakdowns, as they were due to an attempt to control him before he moved to Tony.
- To the story from other comic books: The entire story was revealed to have been a confusing diversion that was intentionally contradictory in Avengers Forever.
- "Kang" was actually Immortus, pretending to be Kang, and masterminding the scheme to delay the Avengers from preparing for Onslaught's arrival as part of his gambit to control the timestream.
- The aforementioned retcon that Iron Man was under Kang's thrall since the Avengers' early days later got retconned itself to being under Immortus's control since the events of Operation Galactic Storm. Likewise, the aforementioned Kang/Immortus saying he was the cause of Hank's breakdowns turned out to be a lie, so Hank went back to being his old crazy self.
- Mantis, the adult Luna, Malachai, Tobias, the Swordsman/Cotati and Moonraker/Libra were revealed to have simply been Space Phantoms playing their parts so convincingly they didn't even know they were Space Phantoms. As a result, the real Mantis never allied with Kang and was off in space at the time, being very confused when this was brought up. Tuc was the only new character who wasn't explicitly said to be a Space Phantom.
- Malachai and Tobias, intended by Harras to be revealed as the children of Scarlet Witch and Vision (long before Young Avengers) were reduced to mere impostors.
- Masque hung around the Avengers for a few issues before being kidnapped by an android called Benedict. Much later, it was revealed that Masque was a rogue shape-shifting duplicate of the original Madame Masque, Whitney Frost, and that Benedict kidnapped Masque to get her back under control. The shapeshifter gave her life to save the real Madame Masque shortly after.
- When the Avengers were pulled into the pocket universe ("Counter-Earth") by Franklin Richards, he "restored" several characters to how he wanted them to be: Teen Tony and the dead Earth-616 Tony had merged somehow and been turned into the "real" Tony, who returned from Counter-Earth. Kurt Busiek had plans to explore this that never materialized. The Wasp was also changed back into her human form.
- Cybermancer was revealed to be an alternate universe Suzi Endo who had crossed to 616 and allied with evil-Tony. The real one was returned and became Cybermancer herself, and an off-and-on cast member for Rhodey and Tony.
- Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Played straight or inverted, depending if you consider that the first time they fought, Iron Man was the hero and Hawkeye the villain, but in this story Hawkeye is a hero. In the aforementioned first fight, Hawkeye's trick arrows gave Iron Man a run for his money, but when they fight in this saga, Iron Man's current armor is totally impervious to anything Hawkeye throws at him.