Crossed #1, or a word of warning about comics

(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…

 photo crossed1.jpg

…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.

 photo crossed2.jpg

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.

 photo crossed-022.jpg

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.

Which is to say, he and his wife are hacked open and raped while watching his kid torn apart. No, it’s not handled tastefully.

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.


  1. Coz says:
    Ah yes, classic Garth Ennis. You can always tell when he’s writing because people whose pov/opinions he disagrees with don’t just get a comeuppance like you’d expect in other stories – they get violently and horribly destroyed while the narrative grinds their face into the ground and yells at them for being stupid. The Boys has a lot of that too, and I actually found it a lot harder to read than Crossed. Something about Crossed being a giant grossout gorefest feels more honest in how gratuitously mean spirited it is than The Boys which attempted to sell itself as a take-down of modern comics but mostly just came off as Ennis airing his petty grievances against the whole superhero genre.

    Have you read any of the stuff done by other writers? I find it mostly to be an uneven mix but I’m really enjoying Wish You Were Here. It’s found a middle ground where it’s still grimdark as shit but the characters aren’t absolutely unlikable and there are occasionally moments of humanity/times when being a ruthless asshole doesn’t pay off.

    1. Farla says:
      I read all of The Boys, shamefully. It had this weird wobble to it where occasionally it would say something decent and give the sense that it was well meant and just very over the top and stupid about it so I kept coming back to see what note it resolved on, and then it resolves with elevating the joke guy while destroying the life of the only woman in power by airing a recording of her having sex.

      I didn’t touch the rest of them because I felt bad enough I read a thing where the guy’s got a face-loincloth. If they’re less this then I’ll check them out.

      1. Coz says:
        I kept up with the spoiler thread to find out how it finished and yeah, yeeeeah. I usually enjoy spiteful things but Ennis manages to tire me out on a regular basis. He really likes his unlikable characters and his get-it-done-by-any-means hardasses and while I can get behind them to one degree or another, there’s a point where I just throw in the towel.

        Wish You Were Here is the only one I would recommend as being possibly an improvement because it bothers to explore aspects other than pure spite and it’s set far enough down the timeline that the survivors have settled into a stable survival location and most of the plusfaces are seen at a distance so there’s time for character development. Family Values manages to cram in even more edgy rape and Psychopath is the most spiteful shit, even more so than the first volume. I’ve only read bits and pieces from Badlands but it sounds like a real mixed bag.

  2. Zolnier says:
    …Think I’ll skip this one. *Runs far away*

    So is the one with the cannibal kids. I think Fever and watching Broadchurch has drained me a bit on child cruelty.

    Also I think Garth Ennis has like two stories in him.

    1. Farla says:
      The kids are barely even cannibals. They’re basically murdered for being unclean.
      1. Zolnier says:
        I was imagining they were taught to swarm and consume unwary travellers. They just ate the dead didn’t they?
        1. Farla says:
          It’s somewhat unclear. Their teacher was killing people to feed them and they knew she was doing it, but she swore they hadn’t done so themselves. They certainly weren’t able to fight back once the adults decided to murder them.
          1. Zolnier says:
            Doing anything else this Halloween Month?
            1. Farla says:
              Up until the new pokemon game, it’s all horror posts! WWZ and miscellaneous stuff.
              1. Zolnier says:
                Ah WWZ, that knew how to do morally ambiguous child murder. Also you’d think the protagonists would figure something was up when the kids didn’t try eating them. I’m guessing their real motive was taking care of kids is hard.
              2. Farla says:
                Oh, that doesn’t matter. They even reference the fact they look and act like regular kids and it just doesn’t matter. They’re unclean.
              3. Zolnier says:
                I guess they must hate those plane crash survivors Alive. Well okay this time there was murder involved but that’s not the issue, those kids aren’t Kosher is what’s important.

                Also wait are the not-zombies really harmed by salt? How the fuck is this an apocalypse if they can be killed by my bowel of chips?

              4. Farla says:
                It’s okay if adults do it. But kids are supposed to be protected from bad stuff, and these ones weren’t, so something something shoot them in the face.
              5. Zolnier says:
                Wait, children are children until bad thing happen to them, then they’re trash? Oh my God… Garth Ennis ghost wrote Wither!

                Or this view is way too common. Honestly that view of defilement is pretty puritan for someone who goes on and on about moral ambiguity.

                Let me guess, we then get a loving splash page of crying five year olds getting shot in the head?

                Hey out of curiosity, ever read Miracleman? That is an awesome dark comic book.

              6. Farla says:
                You’d be surprised how much you’ll see it once you start looking for it. We like to think we’re all enlightened because we don’t demand women kill themselves to restore their honor after a rape, but we still think victims are lessened for it, and the worse the crime the worse it makes them. We say it’s reprehensible to use children in war, but we have no interest in caring for the ones taken. We’re disgusted when the bad guys recruit teens, but it’s fine to lock up any who do get recruited and throw away the key.

                And I have read Miracleman! It’s a good counterpoint to this kind of thing, isn’t it? At least you come out of that feeling queasy for the right reasons.

              7. Zolnier says:
                Plus Miracleman had heroes who while fucking weird in thinking had a logic behind them, and a valid sense of ethics.

                And when they had to kill a kid that was to save billions from an actual threat.

  3. illhousen says:
    “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.”

    I like how you started with “lets recommend some decent comics” and ended with “oh, hell, lets talk about rape zombies”. Pure undiluted hatred truly suits you.

    So, this is Garth Ennis? I remember reading Preacher by him. It started decent enough, but then I kinda forgot why I should care about all those people. Especially since the protagonist wasn’t even smart about using his power which is something I’m seriously starting to loath the more I read modern fiction.

    I think I might read something else by Ennis, but I don’t remember right now.

    1. Farla says:
      I’m not sure if Ennis has done good stuff or not because he and Ellis are just close enough in theme and name that no one can keep the two straight when discussing good and bad works.

      Rape zombies feature in multiple series, so it’s downright unethical to not mention this when you’re advising people that they should get anywhere near comics. (Rape zombies, incidentally, were done okay by Ellis! Crossed is Black Gas if Black Gas was a pile of shit.)

  4. Space Blizzard says:
    This is why I don’t read American comics except in very rare circumstances.


  5. antialiasis says:
    [warning: description of gore/rape ahead]

    …Wow. I think the most disturbing thing about that linked image is that it’s more ridiculous than horrifying. The wife’s overblown swearing while her skull has a massive hole in it, the way her expression and posture look like she just finds this whole being raped thing an annoying inconvenience, the way the kid’s being torn apart in mid-air but the parents are not paying attention to that in any fashion, the fact he’s holding himself up on all fours being raped while staring teary-eyed at his own strewn guts… This isn’t even properly portraying horror. It’s not scary, just faintly revolting. Why on earth would you choose to portray the scene like this?

    1. Farla says:
      Because the purpose is humiliation. Like I said, it’s the money shot. Look at that hippie loser getting assraped while his wife bitches and nags about how much of a disappointment he is! Just like he deserves for having hope.
      1. Zolnier says:
        How is she even able to form words with that wound?

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