Review – Crossed #6 (Avatar, 2009)

Note – this is a picture of a Happy Tree. It is not the cover of Crossed #6. The cover of Crossed #6 does not have a happy tree on it. The cover of Crossed #6 depicts an attack in a fast food restaurant and is not very nice at all and I would rather look at the Happy Tree instead.

For anyone interested, my relationship with this title is troubled. It did (and still does) evoke a reaction from me, which is more than can be said of a lot of comics out there, but it’s difficult for me to actually determine if I actually like ‘Crossed’. Then again. can you really like a title like Crossed, which seems determined to imagine the worst scenarios that can be visited upon normal human beings, and then illustrate them for the purposes of comic book entertainment. Regardless, I stick with it, I keep it on my pull list. I started off with issue #0 last year, and I am not about to give up now. Its a 9 issue limited series (10 if you count #0), so we are two thirds of the way through it now.

There is not a lot to Crossed, really. Most everyone in the world has been infected with some sort of virus that causes a nasty looking rash to appear on their faces, making a cross, meeting somewhere around the bridge of the nose. Check out the covers, that will give you an idea. These people, the Crossed, are psychotic, driven only by murder and mutilation and sex, and these proclivities can be configured by these miscreants in such a way that all 3 can be implemented at the same time. They (the Crossed) are pretty creative in how they murder and mutilate and rape, but, you know, how nice is that? It’s not an admirable quality to be ‘creative’ in the ‘art’ of death and violation of fellow humans. Naturally, there are a few survivors, but none of them are particularly interesting, though I do have sympathy for the self-reliant woman (whose name I do remember – Cindy) and her son (whose name I have forgotten). I want them to make it through this horrible business. There are others that have been around for pretty much the whole run, including a bearded guy with glasses, that I don’t know the name of. He is just sort of there, and occasionally speech bubbles appear near his mouth and……anyway, there are some others who are relatively new.

Take this issue as an example (seeing as I am supposed to be reviewing it). There are some new guys. They are a gobby survivalist who thinks everyone owes him because he had some tinned food and bottled water. Fair enough. There is a guy who, in flashback, we learn lost his wife and children on the beach to the infected. There is another guy who keeps himself to himself – an elderly guy, never really had any friends before. Want to take a punt at what sort of thing he was into before the ‘Crossed’ apocalypse? Lets look at the clues – isolated man, keeps himself to himself, never had friends before, repeat – AN ELDERLY MAN WHO HAS NEVER REALLY HAD FRIENDS BEFORE. Do you think he could be a bit, y’know, weird? You’ll just have to read and find out, but you probably will not be surprised by the ‘reveal’ near the end of the issue.

Sorry, let me just clarify – these characters (gobby guy, beach guy and elderly isolated guy) – did they just wander in on this issue? I am having trouble remembering. I am waiting for something horrible to happen to someone, at the hands of the Crossed and its making me lose concentration when I read this title. Then I get to the end of this issue (or book, or chapter, or more appropriately ‘part’, considering the amount of offal and limbs that are served up to the reader during an issue of Crossed) and….dunno. It just leaves me with the memory of some hideous deaths – I mean, young children being clubbed and stabbed to death and dismembered, it’s hardly going to leave you with a smile on your face.

Will I continue to keep Crossed on my pull list? Yes, although I cannot explain the reasons why. It’s like a bad relationship that has gone on far too long to get out of. I will just keep hanging on in there, figuring that it will get better. There are 3 issues to go. Do I like Crossed? No. Are there comics out there that do this apocalyptic survival thing better? Yes indeed – try The Walking Dead, there are characters in that title that you care about and can remember the names of. Its horrific without being so in your face explicit to the point of being offensive. Thats what Crossed does. Thats what Crossed exists for. Maybe it really does exist as an exercise in showing inventive ways of murdering / abusing / violating human beings. The fact that there are survivors in this story is not to provide an insight into how humans would deal with this kind of terrible ordeal. For example, would a 9 issue run be enough to truly understand how a man would cope with seeing his wife decapitated and his young children stabbed and bludgeoned into red paste? Maybe you could begin to get a sense of the horror and loss, but in Crossed, it is dealt with in, as a rough estimate, a page or two. It reads like this – guy loses family in terrible way, and as a result he is a bit withdrawn and a bit sad about it.

Gosh, really?

So, what are the survivors there for? I think they are there to be tossed to the Crossed at intervals to provide a ‘shock’ factor like ‘ohmygod they just killed one of the main characters!’. But let us not forget – THERE ARE NO MAJOR CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK. NO-ONE QUALIFIES AS REMOTELY INTERESTING OR ENGAGING. WELL, APART FROM CINDY AND HER SON.

So, by the end of issue 6, maybe the penny has dropped. Maybe Crossed is just a very bleak, depressing way to spend your money on a comic book. Maybe there will be no real insight into anything, whatsoever, other than you can look at the pretty pictures of death and misery, blood and gore, pain and suffering.

Its nice and sunny outside. I am going to look at that picture of the Happy Tree again.

That’s better.

2 thoughts on “Review – Crossed #6 (Avatar, 2009)”

  1. Why is it some people just can't see the genius behind CROSSED? The characters are amazing, as is the story and its relentless pace. The simple-minded amongst us maintain it's only a vehicle to demonstrate man's bottomless pit of inhumanity to man. Well, yes, there's that. CROSSED is FAR, FAR superior to that other zombie series, the mediocre WALKING DEAD. "Remember Youtube?" Has a zombie series ever opened with a more satisfying, pitch perfect, poetic voice over than that? Say it to yourself. Roll it over your tongue, taste the true meaning and message in those two words. "Remember Youtube?" Remember when the girl eating the live cockroach used to gross us out? Well, cousin, it's a whole new ball game, now. That them cockroach gnashing's fer amateurs!CROSSED #6 opens with just as brilliant an image, and you guys just can't see it, can you? A horse that's obviously been whipped, racing off, a chain attached to its body. At the end of the chain, a dismembered limb. A torn off leg, to be precise. Fucking brilliant. Completely. With one simple, yet powerful image, Garth has summed up the totality of this series. A man's been drawn and quartered, and the Un-crossed can only hide and look on as those who staged the quartering walk by, stopping briefly only to cull the lame among the herd. Keep up, or you're fodder. And Kitrick's story? Dammmnnnnn! Don't you just love how that decapitating Crossed on the beach sweetly waves to him even as Kitrick's kids ("DAdddeeee!!" "AAhhhhh!!") are being casually bludgeoned and torn apart as uneventfully as you or I might shred raw hamburger meat? Doesn't anyone get what Garth is saying with CROSSED? To my mind, the theme he's doling out to us, via mutilations, murder, rape, disembowlment, dismemberment, and other sordid acts only the truly evil can conceive of ("Then they forced him to eat his eyes…") is simply this: This is who we really are. The sheen of civilization is only a virally transmitted disease away from rotting and crumbling for good. You go, Garth!

  2. Anonymous You make some valid points, but you do not convince me. I get the 'This is who we really are' message. I get it that Ennis is trying to put a mirror to us and let us have a good look at what we have the potential to be. Sick, twisted, evil etc.However.My problem with Crossed is this – I have no emotional connection with any of the characters. I do not care if any of them live or die. If it is Ennis' main objective to show a series of events that catalogue human barbarity, then he has succeeded. But, if he intended to tell an entertaining story in a comic book, then in my opinion, so far, he has failed with Crossed. You did not specify what you found mediocre about The Walking Dead, but that would have been useful in your argument, as it would have highlighted the differences you feel exist between the two titles. For me, I believe the differences are that Robert Kirkman makes fairly believable characters and then writes fairly believable situations, set against an unbelievable backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. Plus, I care about what happens to Rick and Carl Grimes, Abraham Ford, Michonne, Dale, Andrea etc. What Ennis has done with Crossed is that he has put together a bland collection of survivors, and the 'zombies' of this title, the 'Crossed', have more personality, wit and invention.The horse image was particularly powerful though. and I love your'The sheen of civilization is only a virally transmitted disease away from rotting and crumbling for good. 'You could start a book with that line. Good stuff, and thanks for posting here.TWLB

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