Crossed #3 is about how how if kids have seen bad things, you should murder them because they are forever tainted by this. It is revisited again as the series goes on to add that in retrospect, killing those kids was absolutely the right thing to do.
In the third issue the main group steps in a trap, and there’s someone on a rooftop who shoots him. They shoot back, only to find the woman wasn’t infected, and neither are the little kids who come out.
Turns out that she’s their kindergarten teacher, and was killing people and feeding them to the kids, because in all zombie apocalypses somehow the most plentiful game is still man. They head back to her hideout to patch her up, and she tells them not to blame the kids. Note the pictures above. They’re unarmed and generally nonthreatening.
They murder the kids. They have a little chat about it first, mind you.
“That’s not all they are anymore,” she says. “We can’t rehabilitate them,” she says. And this is taken as fact.
The kids have been connected to something awful and taboo, and so they are no longer children. It’s not simply the murder, because the comic was quite capable of just having her killing people for their stuff. The fact they ate human flesh and are inherently tainted by it is a crucial bit of the argument here.
There doesn’t seem to be anything off about the children. They’re not aggressive, they’re not creepy. They are, in fact, surprisingly undamaged by the general horrors of this world, but that’s basically everyone in the comic. None of that matters, they’re ruined. The woman who chose to do these things gets patched up and they do attempt to keep her alive, although it’s futile. But the kids who saw her do things and ate the food she gave them have to be murdered. You can’t rehabilitate a kid from seeing an adult kill another adult. They’re just monsters now.
There’s a token effort to add that they’d be hard to deal with, but it’s mostly in the respects of hard to deal with because they’re monsters.
That’s her son, who she’s been carefully insulating from the horrors. The other children might have infected him with their experiences. Kids who have been through horrible things should be murdered before they ruin your precious angels with their suffering. They don’t even deserve the courtesy of being killed quietly.
Also, that guy suggesting they keep the kids? A wimp who turns out to be a gay serial killer. Remember, people who don’t think children like this are irredeemable monsters who need to be put down for everyone’s good are wimpy gay serial killers.
So they murder some crying, screaming children, because children who see bad things are less than people.
And that’s not the end. This is revisited, with the characters repeatedly thinking back to it…and how super justified it was.
Next episode the rest of the group is subdued, and it’s because the two of them murdered those kids.
“It was the only real choice.”
“It was the hard thing but the right thing.”
“You could even call it moral courage.”
As I said, the comic dwells on this to give the appearance of deepness. There’s never any actual question about what they did, and they only think back to it like this for angst porn points, about how hard it was to do the absolutely right and justified thing and how really is serves to show how morally courageous they are, how in fact they’re superior to anyone who didn’t do this. The worse the thing they did, the better it proves they are. Because it was necessary, and they shouldered that necessary burden for everyone.
And it’s again brought up in the end, where again, “We were right,” without any room for doubt.
You can feel bad that the world happened to include children that needed murdering, but since it did, the children definitely needed to be shot, and their willingness to make this hard choice, this great sacrifice on their part, just further proves their worthiness as survivors in this world, unlike, for example, that weakling from issue one who didn’t shoot his wife. Any unease felt about murdering kindergartners is transmuted into manpain that shows how hard life is for him.
This comic is unusually unashamed about all this, but the basic idea actually pops up more often than you’d first think. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think the core elements are what you see here – the more horrible it is that children have to go through something, the more people want an excuse to get rid of them. The same innocence that means they should be protected from these things ends up being the justification for why they’re no longer deserving of protection or even basic consideration
It’s a visceral reaction, in all the worst ways. In the comments for the last post, I said it’s ultimately about the kids being deemed unclean. They’re gross. And that’s the real reason they have to die.
Bear in mind, also, the main character will later kill someone for much less of a reason than starvation. But eating people is a taboo and children doing bad things is taboo, so the kids are monsters and he’s just a guy in a bad situation.
(As an aside, this is about the only thing I thought the Walking Dead did right. A little kid in this situation would see horrible things just like an adult, and they’d likely end up having to do horrible things too. But that doesn’t change them instantly into monsters.)