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Comic Book / Crossed

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"This fucking world, it finds a way to damn us all...!"
"You're either dead or alive. That's all there is. You stay the second until the first looks so good you can't ignore it. Because, seriously? You don't even want to think about the third."
Richie, Crossed: Dead or Alive

Crossed is a comic series written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Jacen Burrows (for the first ten issues). To describe it succinctly, this is what happens when Garth Ennis goes to his really bad place.

Beginning in 2008, people throughout the world begin coming down with a virus, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids and overcomes its victims almost instantly. Once a human succumbs to the virus, they get a distinctive facial rash across their forehead and face and a desire to murder, rape, cannibalize, set aflame, desecrate and rape again anyone they come across, like the "reavers" of Firefly. Within a day of the virus's appearance, most communities are bands of isolated survivors who are trying to A) stay alive and B) remember why they want to stay alive in the first place.

Crossed is largely devoid of Ennis's trademark Black Comedy, though occasional glimmers do shine through. It is a grim, grim book, sure to prove an endurance test for most readers. While works like The Boys and Preacher might wallow in silly violence for some sick laughs, Crossed (or at least the original) actually shows a lot of restraint in how it treats the violence, devoting a lot more time to putting a human face on the misery of the survivors. The carnage is described a lot more than it's shown, but when it's shown...

Following the success and near-instant optioning of the original series, Avatar Press opted to turn Crossed into a franchise. It consists of the original series, two follow-up miniseries, an ongoing anthology comic, a spin-off set in the distant future, and two webcomics.

    The series includes the following volumes: 
  • The original series, collected as Crossed: Volume One, (September 2008-February 2010) follows a small band of survivors in midwestern North America as they attempt to escape to Alaska, while staying one step ahead of an unusually persistent band of the eponymous infected humans.
  • Family Values (April 2010), written by David Lapham, focuses on a large family in the American South, led by their religious patriarch, who are doomed almost from the start by both the emergence of the Crossed and by the dirty secrets in the family's closet.
  • Psychopath (February 2011), once again written by Lapham, centers around a group of survivors who pick up Harold, an unhinged man who begins manipulating the group for his own (psychotic) ends. Psychopath is unhinged and grotesque even by the standards of the previous volumes. Seriously, if you didn't think the last couple of books were a big deal, this might be the one that breaks you.
  • Crossed 3D (May 2011, one-shot): A small group of military operatives attempts to rescue a doctor and her two assistants from the top floor of a skyscraper that's surrounded by the Crossed.
  • Badlands (February 2012 to July 2016) was a bi-weekly with different writers and artists scheduled for every arc. Arcs of Badlands included:
    • "Of the World in Its Becoming" (#1-3), by Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows, follows a group of survivors in Scotland four years after the rise of the Crossed.
    • "Homo Superior" (#4-9) by Jamie Delano and Leandro Rizzo showcases individuals who were already despicable long before the Crossed, the emergence of which has made them even worse.
    • "Yellow Belly" (#10-13) by David Lapham and Jacen Burrows is about Edmund, a notorious coward nicknamed "Yellow Belly" by his peers, and what happens to him on C-Day.
    • "The Golden Road" (#14-18), by David Hine and Georges Duarte, begins on C-Day as several college students arrive at a writer's retreat on a well-known author's isolated estate. The author's eccentricity turns into a genuine cult-like following in the wake of the Crossed's appearance. At the same time, a sheriff in the nearby town fights through the Crossed in an attempt to save her niece.
    • "Conquers All" (#19-20) by Simon Spurrier and Raulo Caceres deals with an infected Russian gangster, who has a strange reaction to the Crossed virus, and the Los Angeles parole officer that he had unwittingly fallen in love with.
    • "The Livers" (#21-24) by David Lapham and Miguel Garrido has Amanda, the protagonist of Psychopath, being captured by a group of psychotic roleplayers who assume a new persona every time they survive an encounter with the Crossed.
    • "The Fatal Englishman" (#25-28) by Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres is set five years after C-Day, and has four British soldiers try to wipe out the Crossed by breaking into the UK's old chemical weapons stockpile in Porton Down.
    • "Quisling" (#29-32), by Christos Gage and Christian Zanier, has a man named Oliver attempt to ensure his own survival by making an unpleasant deal with an unusually intelligent Crossed that he has nicknamed "Smokey."
    • "Breakdown" (#33-36), by David Lapham and Miguel Ruiz, goes back to Amanda, last seen in "The Livers." After her companions are killed, Amanda continues to try and survive, but her own evolving insanity makes her almost as dangerous to other humans as the Crossed.
    • "American Quitters" (#37-39), by Simon Spurrier and Rafael Ortiz, depicts the journey of a hippie and a biker as they head to San Diego, so they can respectively commit suicide via the "ultimate overdose" and enact a revenge plot. However, after taking in a pregnant woman who is being pursued by her cartel boyfriend, they struggle to keep their original plans afloat.
    • "Gore Angels," (#40-43) by David Hine and German Erramouspe, is set in rural Japan, where several Americans have gone on a shrine tour, one of whom has brought the others to meet a local girl for a specific purpose. Then C-Day hits.
    • "Grave New World" (#44-49), by Daniel Way and Emiliano Urdinola, takes place aboard a ship off the American coast as its crew attempts to outlast the infection. When they take aboard two survivors, the situation rapidly degenerates, both due to the Crossed and to the ship's captain's increasingly messianic delusions.
    • "The Thin Red Line" (#50-#56) by Garth Ennis and Christian Zanier acts as a prequel to "The Fatal Englishman" and is set on the day the Crossed, including the apparent Patient Zero, first appeared in England.
    • #57-61, by Justin Jordan and Georges Duarte, is an arc about Sutter, a man who forms a camp in the woods to take in refugees and survivors. When Jane and Esperanza arrive, pursued by Esperanza's infected brother, they quickly discover that Sutter has his own agenda, which has little to do with actual survival.
    • #62-70, by David Lapham and Francisco Manna, follows former police detective Gavin Land, who's on a suicide run to get revenge on a group of drug dealers and pornographers for the death of his daughter. He is only somewhat slowed down by C-Day, as well as the U.S. Navy's attempts to evacuate refugees from San Diego.
    • "Five Bloody Fingers" (#71-74), by David Hine and Nahuel Lopez, continues the story of Satoshi, last seen in the "Gore Angels" arc, as he deals with his best friend's Yakuza father in an attempt to rescue his friend from the cosplay convention that was being held in downtown Tokyo on C-Day.
    • "Homo Tortor" (#75-80) by Kieron Gillen and Rafa Ortiz features two connected stories: the first has a post-C-Day survivor trying to locate his dead professor's notes in order to learn the truth about the Crossed, while the second, set in 75,000 BC, involves the abduction of a group of early humans by a brutal enemy tribe with some startlingly familiar customs.
    • "The Lesser of 2 Evils" (#81-86) by Mike Wolfer begins immediately after C-Day. A group of survivors camped out on an isolated section of a collapsed bridge are joined by a pair of horror fans who throw the social dynamic of the camp into turmoil.
    • "Shrink" (#87-90) by Max Bemis and Fernando Melek has a lowlife purposely infect himself with the virus, supposedly so his goody two-shoes psychologist older brother can try to discover something revelatory about the Crossed by holding psychiatric sessions with him from the other side of a locked door.
    • "Anti-Crossed" (#91-92) by Max Bemis and German Erramouspe involves a gang of comic book fanatics who have taken a female writer/artist captive for both sex and entertainment, forcing her to create ultra violent and hypersexual superhero comics starring the "Anti-Crossed".
    • #93-100, by Gage and Fernando Heinz, involves the attempts of "Smokey," the unusually intelligent "Alpha Crossed" last seen in "Quisling," to create some kind of civilization in the wake of C-Day.
  • Wish You Were Here, a weekly-ish webcomic written by Spurrier, was launched at the same time as Badlands. Set in and among the islands near Scotland, it followed a group of survivors from the perspective of an ex-writer nicknamed "Shaky", whose earlier experiences come back to haunt his current group. It concluded in August 2014.
  • Dead or Alive, a second weekly webcomic written by Ennis, began in November 2014 and concluded after twelve installments.
  • Crossed: +100 (December 2014 to July 2016) by Alan Moore (issues #1-6), Si Spurrier (#7-), and Gabriel Andrade, takes place 100 years after C-Day. An enclave of survivors seeks to build a future on the ruins of the past, but the relative tranquility of life after the Crossed is hiding something that could potentially be much worse.
  • Crossed: +100 Mimic (April 2018 to October 2018) by Gage and Pat Shend, continuing the story of Crossed +100 and humanity's renewed struggle for survival against the resurgent Crossed.

On March 13, 2013, Avatar announced a series of Crossed "webisodes" written and directed by Ennis, with supplemental webcomics. This apparently got stuck in development hell, as no further word has been said about them. There were also rumors of the sequel to "The Fatal Englishman" being developed, though these appear to have died down as well. The series has not seen further additions since Crossed: +100 Mimic in 2018 and given the closure of Avatar Comics, the series's future remains uncertain.

Crossed provides examples of: