(Contains gore and rape. If you’re at all bothered by that, or possess a sense of taste in general, you should probably skip this one.)
I want to do a recommendations post on non-manga comics, and while I was writing up my opening caveats, I realized it couldn’t really express how, while 90% of everything may be shit, comics plumbs certain depths within that you don’t see much elsewhere. That you would not expect to see elsewhere. That basic sanity would tell you simply would not exist. There are many great comics, but you absolutely do not want to just dive in on your own.
For example. Crossed is a zombie-styled comic in the modern infectious vein. People gain a cross-shaped rash over their faces and turn into monsters who, as usual, prefer to tear into the uninfected rather than each other. Unusually…
…the not-zombies are also insane sadomasochists and quite vocal about it. When not getting off on being killed, they enjoy raping their mutilated victims.
A while back, I praised the zombies of I am a Hero for their humanity and resulting pathos. Crossed is the complete opposite. Not even the humans have humanity. If you feel anything for anyone in it, it’s despite the comic’s best efforts.
The comic opens after the outbreak (there’s technically a 0 issue showing the beginning, which manages to be even worse) with a bunch of uninfected humans hiding out in the caves. One of them thinks he’s figured out the weakness of the crossed.
It’s not immediately obvious just how much the comic hates him for this – the rest of the group shoots him down for thinking that’s the solution, but what you don’t realize is yet that when the main character snaps and insults him for thinking there’s any solution possible at all, this is not only the one and only truth but the main character is being downright nice and openminded compared to the comic’s view of matters.
This is a horrible situation. Part of being human is not wanting other people to die, and losing someone you love is worst of all. But the comic doesn’t care. This guy is grasping at straws instead of accepting his lot of living in Grimdark Shitsville, and he has to pay for this. So instead of throwing it into the not-zombies’ faces, the way he described it working, he draws a magic circle because remember, any hope is completely delusional and baseless, and he deserves what he gets.
You might think that sounds like something we’re meant to be sad about, but no, it’s meant as humiliation. This is karma, the money shot. The only message from the whole thing is hoping or wanting to save someone instead of giving them up for lost is wrong and you’ll deserve to get gutted and raped by crazy zombie people while watching them tear your kid apart.
And to make sure you really, really understand the state of comics – Crossed isn’t even the worst. This comic that involves a lovingly rendered splash page of two people being raped by not-zombies as others dismember their kid has some of the better treatment of women you’ll find. I wish I was joking.
Join me later this month when I recap its multi-issue love song for the moral justness in murdering crying kindergarteners.