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I will never understand the mentality it requires to not only conceptualize a world so devoid of hope and humanity, but to actually want to spend time there. Perhaps that's for the best.
After wading through the thick miasma of Crossed +100, The Thin Red Line, and Homo Tortor, I am sure I've seen all I need to see of this series to make an informed opinion of it (as well as possibly picking up some sympathetic PTSD).
This is brought to us by Garth Ennis — a man who should probably just stick to writing satire for 2000 A.D., if only for the sake of humanity's collective psychic wellbeing — and published by Avatar Press (I say "published," but perhaps the more operative term would be "enabled"), with an interesting premise of a Hate Plague that brings out the absolute worst of human impulses. There's certainly some potential in that concept by itself, and something worth exploring in a horror/drama series.
But this isn't horror. This isn't drama. It's porn.
I think I reached this conclusion after I saw a feral child, caged in a public bazaar, violently masturbating in an attempt to infect passers-by with his ejaculation. As I write that I feel the need to bathe.
Even beyond that, the titular Crossed aren't so much infected people as they are Villain Sues, who brutally violate any chance at a satisfying ending. It's as if they understand the laws of the world around them better than the protagonists do. Or, to put it more bluntly, the stories cheat so these gibbering maniacs always win, no matter how improbable. In regular zombie survival horror, the main conflict is born out the tactics — undead don't require food, water, sleep, or all of their body parts. As long as the brain is intact, they will not stop coming. None of this is applicable to the Crossed, who, despite being out of their minds, seem to pull winning strategies out of thin air. Spree-killers being well known for their logic and forward-thinking capabilities.
If the Crossed scenario actually happened it wouldn't be as cataclysmic as presented here, but this is a fantasy after all.
There's nothing worth recommending about this comic beyond what can be gleamed from the cover art alone because the series as a whole seems to be one long excuse to write something that deserves to be left in Jeffrey Dahmer's sexual fantasies. The only reason I endured as much as I did was because I was, regrettably, perversely fascinated by it all. But as I write this, I feel no catharsis, I feel no closure or better understanding of myself, the series, or the twisted architects behind it.
I just feel dirty.
To see better applications of this premise, I could recommend Black Gas, 28 Days Later, or even Firefly. At least they had the wherewithal to build a story around the carnage.
I really don't have a problem with violence, gore or general shock value. Sometimes those things are necessary and can provide a good element to the story.
But not when you're Garth Ennis.
I genuinely did like his run on the MAX Punisher books, but that's about it. Garth Ennis is like an overgrown 10 year old who just discovered swear words and R rated movies. He's less interested in telling any kind of story insomuch as he just wants to be as shocking and "edgy" as humanly possible. Whatever good points or ideas Ennis may have are ruined by the utterly juvenile shock tactics he wraps them in. It's one thing to use violence and sex occasionally and for great effect, it's another to use them all the fucking time.
Crossed takes all of that to the worst extremes. The basic premise is nothing terrible; in fact, it could've been great - a darkly gripping horror story of survival and desperation in a world gone to shit. And the idea of a Hate Plague that brings out the worst of human nature is not a bad concept on its own and could've been an interesting subject to explore. But there is only so much gorn and grimdark you can put into the story before it just looks like utter wankery. The characters are nothing more than props that only exist to either die horribly or commit atrocities. And the sheer over-the-top atrocities of the Crossed looks more laughably stupid and you become desensitized to it really quick. This series might as well be screaming "Look at how edgy and shocking and offensive I am!! Aren't I just so edgy?!?!?!"
If you want grimdark gorn but with an actual story and characters that are not just props and are still genuinely worth rooting for, go read Über instead. It also helps that Kieron Gillen is actually mature and thoughtful writer who treats his subject matter with genuine respect (and his run on Crossed is about the only one I liked in all honesty).
Crossed's gorn art is pretty much its signature, and its definetly off putting, to the point that this reader usually just skips over the gorier parts. Rather, what makes the series worth reading are the stories, which are surprisingly entertaining. Its true that the whole Humans Are the Monsters moral of zombie fiction has been done to death, and Crossed doesnt really add anything new, its just more of it, but its well written more of it, which is good enough for me. Especially entertaining are some of the characters, such as the main characters from Yellow Belly, Shrink and The Livers, who all have some underlying uniqueness.
DEFINETLY not for everyone, I'm not even sure I can recommend it exactly, but I've personally found a bit of entertainment in it.
Crossed is a series of stories set in a post apocalyptic society, ravaged by plague infected, psychopathic Reavers. It's also an excuse for showing some of the greatest excesses in comic book history. The spectacular, borderline gore porn violence is enough to drive most of its audience away. But is there much else left for those who don't mind?
Zombie apocalypse stories are much of a muchness, and there is already far too much. Crossed, however, does enough to stand out from the others. This is largely down to the nature of the "infected" themselves. Though they are gibbering maniacs with no compulsions beyond eating, fucking and murder, they retain their personality and cunning, which makes them particularly inventive when it comes to wanton carnage. They love what they do, and that exuberance tends to rub off on the reader after a while. For all their unpleasantness, the Crossed are fascinating to watch, much like a particularly bad 4Chan discussion.
Infected aside though, the survivors are very much the standard zombie-apocalypse fair. Tip to writers of zombie fiction: "Humans are the real monsters!" has been done. Here, it feels just as tedious. Some of characters are creative and entertaining, such as one soldier who claims to be Prince Harry, but many are supremely unlikeable, unrelatable assholes. I guess the point the writers are labouring is that only the most selfish and determined stand any chance of survival, but the reader can only take so much before they start rejecting these massive pricks out of hand. One character, Steve, is an ex-military prison guard who used to torture Iraqi detainees for fun. That could have been a compelling character, but the writers had to go too far; she doesn't just enjoy torture, she is massively aroused by it. Also there are two sexy, psychopathic, identical twins. Then there is this gameskeeper - I won't say what he does, but after a while, the reader wonders why no other survivor has just got on with it and killed him already. The reader becomes so dulled to this sort of thing, they end up shrugging and saying "yeah, whatever".
Crossed is hit and miss. It all depends on the right characters, and unfortunately, they are often wrong. I say give it a chance, but not a big one.
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