When I first heard about this sequel to ‘Crossed’ I was sceptical. I figured ‘Crossed’ to be something that would not, could not be done – how do you follow up on something as grossly unique and sick as Crossed? Well, it has been done, minus Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows, and all I can say is WOW. If anything, the intensity, fear, gore, terror and depravity of humans and the ‘Crossed’ is more pronounced, more keenly felt in this terrific drama from David Lapham – yes, David Lapham, recently of ‘Young Liars’. He has done Ennis’ creation proud, with a barnstorming opener that manages to fit in family drama at its rawest, a siege, and, of course, the ‘Crossed’. My god they are a terrifying, awesome enemy. The art, by Javier Barreno, fits in well with the Jacen Burrows stylings of the original ‘Crossed’, and that is not meant as a slight. His art is brilliant in its staging, it capturing of the everyday and the apocalyptic.
If you were a Crossed fan, I don’t need to tell you that you need to give this a try. If you are a Lapham fan, try it, but be prepared to be more shocked, as this is no ‘Young Liars’- it is much more ‘out-there’. For the rest – if you think of your worse nightmare, of vivid, bloody, needless slaughter, of desperate struggle and a nihilistic, darker-than-dark atmosphere pervading everything….well, if you want to read that in comic form, dive in! ‘Crossed Family Values’ #1 is out now.
It is not easily forgotten, and it has me hooked. This could be something I did not expect to say, but this could easily outstrip the original ‘Crossed’ in terms of quality, drama, terror and excitement.
The first series of Crossed finishes this week. I say series – it was due to last for one nine issue run, but Avatar have decided that this uplifting tale of Brotherhood, Solidarity, the Milk of Human Kindness and World Peace* has legs, and like the lucky / unlucky few of the non-Crossed throughout the series, it can run. But I digress. This is merely to point out while looking through some New English Library paperback covers, I came across the origin of Garth Ennis’ warped and terrifying creations! Look!
They both have their ‘qualities’, shall we say. I think the Crossed win the scary competition just because I know they are bloody relentless, despicably cruel and vilely inventive in their tortures and evil. And they have amongst their racks, one called horsecock. He has that name for a reason other than you may think. It is because he uses a horse cock as a bludgeon. Those proto-crossed also have something of the night about them, and something of the zealot.
Anyway, looking forward to the finale to Crossed ‘Season 1’. And if you are wondering what Garth Ennis makes of all of this sequel stuff, you may find an answer (diplomatic? truthful?) here;
*Again, when it comes to Crossed, I take the piss. Crossed is anything but uplifitng.
In other news, that happy and life affirming* series, Crossed, has taken a surprising turn. You may well have thought that with the upcoming issue #9 (of 9), that that would be that. But no. The world of the ‘Crossed’ will live on this spring. But Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows will not be the creative team. Instead, we will have the estimable David Lapham, who most recently gave the world the thoroughly twisted rock n’ roll acid nightmare of ‘Young Liars’, and art by Javier Barreno. Interesting in so many ways – and a lot of them are dark and perverse and you do not want to think too long and hard about it. But one point of interest is the fact that you don’t get many creators ceding creative control over of an owned title like Crossed to another team. More about it here;
I think it is going to be immense, disgusting, perverted and shocking, but also rather brilliant. We shall see – it’s out in May. Lapham talks it up here;
Depending on your state of mind, you may or may not want to have a look at the grisly, macabre, disturbed and blacker than a black hole humour of Jacen Burrows Crossed covers. He is doing the new series covers as well you know. If you are easily offended, then do not click here – seriously;
* I am taking the piss. For ‘happy and life affirming’, read ‘thoroughly dark and depressing, savage and bleak’
Check this out.
Two comic book (limited) series, written within a couple of years of each other. Both deal with apocalyptic scenarios, both written by British men who publish some of the most important and entertaining comic book titles in the US. Both of the titles in question are controversial, bloody and grim. The titles are ‘Blackgas’, by Warren Ellis, and ‘Crossed’ by Garth Ennis. The point of this post is – are these titles the product of a game of bloody one-upmanship between Warren Ellis & Garth Ennis, to produce the most hideously gory, depraved and debased comic books in mainstream US comic publishing history?
These titles share some similarities. Examples?
1) Both titles are set in an apocalyptic situation.
2) Both titles have the majority of the human race transformed into brutal, merciless killers, yet the aggressors retain some intelligence, which marks them apart from other apocalyptic scenarios where the human race is destroyed by itself (and where, typically, you would expect to see zombies as the root cause).
3) At the heart of both titles is an exploration of the unspeakable horror that humans can wreak upon fellow humans.
4) Both of these titles do not shy away from portraying the full horror of events. The weak and innocent (babies and children, as examples) are not spared the ignominy of brutal and painful violation and death. I would guess that for a ‘realistic’ portrayal, Ennis and Ellis are being honest in their storytelling and not shying away from detailing atrocities, and describing events how they probably would unfold. I understand that. Trust me, if you haven’t read either title before, the writers and artists make you bear witness to some horrors (and it is my opinion that the titles wallow in these atrocities a little too much at times. I am thinking specifically of the ending of #1 of Crossed, and the Maternity ward scene that occurs in Blackgas Volume 2).
5) Then we come to Jacen Burrows, who is a creative link between the 2 series. As the regular artist on ‘Crossed’, and as a cover artist on ‘Blackgas’, he seems to be creating a bit of a niche for himself as an artist that deals in the detail of scenes of peril of children, as well as some of the more creatively stages scenes of death, mutilation and destruction of the human body in mainstream comics. In some of his double page spreads, there is a real ‘Where’s Wally’ vibe to the detail, where you can pick out lots of individual scenes of murder and grief.
Whatever your opinion is of these titles, it is hard not to agree that they are certainly transgressive, and I believe that both ‘Crossed’ and ‘Blackgas’ have pushed the boundaries of the depiction of horror in mainstream comics. I would welcome any comments on what others feel about this Blackgas / Crossed & Ellis / Ennis thing. Are Ennis and Ellis on a bet or what? Does Ellis mind that Ennis seems to have taken some inspiration from Blackgas to produce Crossed? Are they all wallowing in despair and pain, like a print version of the various torture porn films from a few years back? Should we just applaud the fact that they are producing some groundbreaking horror titles? In ‘Crossed’ I think we have a genuinely terrifying enemy in the afflicted, i.e. the ‘Crossed’, but whether the whole story bears up to closer scrutiny is still unclear, several issues in (for instance, I still care little for most of the non-infected ‘survivors’).
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=5916 – Warren Ellis talks ‘Blackgas’
http://www.zeros2heroes.com/component/option,com_pablog/Tag,Crossed+%232/ – Simply the best review of a comic book ever, it also happens to be a review of Crossed #2. If I could choose a comic book review to take on a desert island with me (and hey, why not?) this would absolutely be the one.
Top titles for the week are Crossed #4 and Unknown Soldier #6;
Crossed #4 overcame last issues uninvolving character focussed moral dillemas and instead concentrated on good old fear and terror. It works a treat. Enough to give any comic reader bad dreams, this title is the ultimate in perverse horror and sheer terror – ‘Crossed’ has the fear in spades.
Unknown Soldier #6 continues the quality of this title, with its own very real take on the horror of violence, the tyranny of man and the haunting, disturbing truth about child soldiers and child abduction in Africa. Absolutley essential comic, and my title of the week.