Thursday, October 07, 2010

Book Review : Crossed - Garth Ennis & Jacen Burrows 8*

I am sure that if you invited Garth Ennis over for tea, he wouldn't rape your Gran and bugger your cat before stuffing your nephew in the blender, I'm sure he wouldn't. But, these thoughts are running through his head.

Crossed is probably the nastiest thing that Ennis has ever written, and that's saying something for the warped, nay sometimes deranged, mind that came up with Preacher, The Boys, Dicks and The Pro (the world's first prostitute super heroine). Crossed fits somewhere in the zombie apocalypse genre, although its hideous and evil hordes are most defiantly not dead.

So what do we have, a fairly typical zombie style world as we know it ends scenario, with visceral gore and arterial amounts of blood.  With Ennis' twisted mind and darker than dark sense of humour though, this isn't just a Dawn of the Dead blood fest, the enemy here are evil, cruel, malicious and determined, they are not at all the slow, dim-witted inhabitants of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.

The plot follows the (mis)fortunes of a small group of survivors, and plots their own moral corruption in the face of the endless horror that surrounds them.  Stan and Cindy witness the first few terrible moments of the 'crossing', Stan and a few customers from the diner he was eating at run panic stricken through streets filled with crazed rapists, killers and cannibals until the cool and determined Cindy arrives on the scene in the nick of time to save them from the Crossed.

The story is told partly in flashback as various of the survivors tell their own personal tales of horror, each even more blood soaked and disturbing than the last, as the party struggle to survive, too scared to enter towns full of the Crossed they travel cross country in an attempt to reach Alaska, where they hope that less former inhabitants will equal less current Crossed.

Ennis leaves the cause of the plague / infection / disease an enigma, only discussed by survivors with no real knowledge beyond their own experiences.  The effects of the crossing though are depicted in constant carnage and the next amputation or evisceration is never more than a page turn away. Crossed contains the entire 10 issue run of the comic (Ennis says he has no more Crossed stories in him) and is illustrated by Jacen Burrows who is known for his work on Transmetropolitan and Chronicles of Wormwood.

There will be a sequel to Crossed called Family Values, written by David Lapham ( Stray Bullets, Young Liars), Family Values will feature an entirely new cast, and so your nightmares will no longer feature a huge bald man who shouts "Horsecock!". No, it will probably be something worse.

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