A five-man team of American soldiers are on their way to evacuate a small squad of British troops from the mountains of Afghanistan. Their helicopter suffers an engine failure and crash-lands in the mountains, far from home and well out of radio contact with their home base. Two of the crew members die in the crash, and of the three survivors, one has suffered a potentially life-threatening wound to the leg.
They meet up with the survivors of the SAS squad they're there to rescue, but soon encounter an enemy that has it in for both them and the Taliban: the Stitched, undead creatures that tear any human they reach limb from limb, guided by mysterious men in black robes. With little ammunition, no food, no water, and a wounded companion, the soldiers must figure out a way to get out of Afghanistan before the Stitched or the Taliban find and kill them.
Stitched is both a horror comic book from Avatar Press and a seventeen-minute short horror film. In both cases, it's written by Garth Ennis; in the former, it has art by Mike Wolfer.
Ennis's run on the comic ends with issue #7, but Wolfer opted to continue it beyond that point as writer/artist. Wolfer's issues, rather than dealing directly with the plot of the initial arc, follows the path across the world of a surviving tank of the fluid that creates the Stitched, where it is often used as a biological weapon. It appears to have ended with issue #18.
Tropes encountered in this work include:
- Action Girl: Lieutenant Cooper.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: One might expect that issue #8 would remain in Afghanistan, but instead, it's about the Stitched being exported to foreign markets as weapons. This includes a trader in Sri Lanka and a yakuza in Japan who intends to use them as part of a revenge plot.
- And I Must Scream: The cultists that create the Stitched state that creating a Stitched involves trapping the victims soul inside his own corpse (the reason for why they stitch all the orifices closed).
- The origin of the mysterious black fluid that creates the Stitched; it's the fluid remains of a young girl who had been kidnapped by the cult during the British invasion of Afghanistan in the 19th century, and raped by a demon they had summoned. Tainted by the evil essence, the girl couldnt be put down, and the British were forced to bury her alive; the rattle noises used to control the Stitched are actually effective because the fluid recognizes it as the same sound as the sound of earth being tossed on top of a coffin lid.
- Arc Villain:
- The first segment of the comic, set in Afghanistan has Emad Homayoun, who allies himself with the cult controlling the Stitched to wipe out villages and gain women and children for his human trafficking organization.
- Despite being the main viewpoint character, Rashad Salib sets off the second arc when he tries to sell the Stitched to a collector, before their black magic convinces him to slaughter everyone in the man's estate to become a warlord.
- The third and final arc of the comic has Mr. Kuzo, who heads a crime syndicate that killed the parents of the main character, Kenji's, wife and whom he seeks revenge against, although Hassan, the last of the Stitched's handlers operates as The Man Behind the Man, using Kenji's quest for vengeance as an opportunity to spread the chaos of the Stitched and continue his depraved religion.
- Big Brother Instinct: SAS trooper Dave falls into this with Twiggy (possibly due to his having a younger sister who's not much older than Twiggy).
- Big Damn Heroes: The soldiers in the first arc rescue an entire village of women and children from human traffickers, and manage to slaughter both all the slave traders and a good whack of the necromancy cult they were allied with.
- Black Cloak: The Stitched's handlers.
- Body Horror: Issue #3 deals with how the Stitched are made. It is profoundly unpleasant. The men in the black cloaks take a relatively healthy man, and pour a thick black substance down his throat. Then they stitch shut all nine of his bodily orifices, so none of it can leak out. A day or so later, the man is one of the Stitched.
- The Dreaded: The Cultists are virtual boogeymen of Afghanistan, even the taliban are scared shitless of them.
- Facial Horror / Eye Scream / Groin Attack: it involves stitching their orifices shut. All 9 of them.
- Crossover: Dave and Baz have gone drinking with Kevin Hawkins.
- Gorn: A specialty of Mike Wolfer's and of Avatar Press's. The book's interiors are mild by comparison to the covers, however.
- Hidden Depths: Corporal "Twiggy," the nineteen-year-old American soldier, is more or less a total load for the first two issues. In the third, however, she reveals she's been following the stories of human trafficking out of Afghanistan with an eye towards doing something about it, to the point where she knows the name of the head trafficker.
- Odd Friendship: Bordering on Cool-Kid-and-Loser Friendship between Lt. Cooper and Twiggy in the first arc. Cass is tough as nails, both physically and mentally, a crack shot and the one who goads, bullies and physically drags Lt. Pruitt and Twiggy into making it to rendezvous with the SAS team; while Twiggy is naive, inexperienced, and self-admittedly terrified of everything (although considering some of her later actions, she's probably overstating things), as well as Cooper being an officer and Twiggy enlisted, and yet, the two are close enough friends that Cooper was willing to risk getting into trouble for smuggling Twiggy aboard a helo flight. The SAS team lampshade this, and Cooper explains;"Look, we're in a general support aviation battalion. It's two hundred guys, me, Twiggy, and something from Tennessee called 'Thirsty Kirsty'. So, yes, we're friends."
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Stitched fill most of the criteria of a standard Romero-style zombie, but can wield simple weapons and display an alarming proclivity towards dismemberment, disembowelment, and creative methods of impalement. Their handlers control them by using a tin can on a length of chain with pebbles inside, and the Stitched lash out in the direction of the cans' rattling sound. As long as the rattling sound persists, the Stitched seem virtually indestructible, to the point of standing up to automatic weapons fire; the only way to destroy them seems to be to still the rattling somehow, then take their bodies apart.
- Politically Incorrect Villain:
- Homayoun makes a remark to Twiggy that she is useless because she is a woman and that he would like to rape her, saying it's the 'real use' for women.
- Hassan, the only named Stitched handler, believes women are utterly worthless and unworthy of human rights. When another character's wife approaches him, he tells her she should be beaten for acting without explicit instruction from her husband.
- Rashad Salbib treats his wife like trash and acts ridiculously entitled towards her.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cooper and Twiggy launch into mutual ones the night before the good guys' attack on the sex slavers' camp. It's mostly a sign of just how much stress they're under
- Took a Level in Badass: Twiggy, of all people, takes one at the end of the first arc. After taking a fatal wound to the gut from the head trafficker, she takes his fingers off with a sickle while he's gloating, and delivers a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
- "Motherfucker, I'm half your size! I'm holding my guts in! COME ON! "
- When Lt. Cooper finds them, it's shown that Twiggy completely slaughtered him before dying .
- Trolling Translator: A serious example. Corporal Twiggy says her translator told the Afghani villagers she was addressing that the Americans were bad people, and if they listened to her they deserved a beating, instead of translating what she said.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: SAS troopers Baz and Dave from the first arc. The two constantly berate and insult each other, but are the best of friends.