Cross-posted to LiveJournal.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Don’t like? Read the book first.
Okay so after reading Preacher, my sister’s boyfriend got into everything Garth Ennis. One of the stand-alone books that he did was called Crossed.
Crossed is kind of a travesty of comic books. For one, there’s not much of a plot. We know that creatures called the crossed are springing up in towns and cities all over the place. They are evil creatures that pretty much only want to kill. And we follow around this group of people as they walk around trying to survive.
For one, there’s no end goal or real central conflict in this book. With other gratuitously violent books (Brian Keene’s The Rising comes to mind) we usually had some sort of end goal. We knew there was a place we could go where we find a cure or a weapon to help or something. The Rising had the main character looking for his son throughout the entire first book. That was the goal: find this guy’s son. We knew we were going to get sidetracked, and there was going to be a lot of violence, but that was the end goal we were getting to. We were going to make it to this place to find the kid, come hell or high water. Crossed has none of that. We have no clue where we’re going or why we’re really going there other than to escape. What good is this trip going to do? We don’t know. And it makes the gratuitous violence much more pointless and there for shock value.
And boy, does this shock you. Now, I’ve read Preacher. I know how violent and shocking and off-the-wall Garth Ennis can be. He definitely knows how to get things in there that are just going to make your jaw drop. And he gets artists that can render his version of violence in there perfectly. I am not a squeamish person. I can stomach just about any violence that comes my way, however horrifically drawn. Remember, this is only fiction. It’s not really real. But holy Jesus this book. He goes a route in some places that really does border on the offensive for me, not to mention completely turning a lot of other people off. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people who picked this up ended up just leaving it alone after a few pages. Graphically depicted disembowelment, rape, and child murder are just the tip of the iceberg. Even I had problems in places.
And as for conflict, you have a vague notion of good vs evil (the survivors vs the crossed) but even that gets mucked around with. For instance, you have a rather stomach-churning event involving our perceived good guys with some children also trying to survive that will make you question whether or not the good guys are any better than the crossed. And it would be okay if it was there to try and show you what happens to morals when people are thrust into extreme survival situations, but since you don’t get much of a feel for that in this book, it’s another thing added on for shock value.
Also, you never do get any real information on the crossed. They don’t appear to have died at all, so not zombies. You become a crossed if one of their bodily fluids (spit and blood come to mind) comes into contact with you. I’m not even sure it has to be a mucus membrane (like the eye or mouth.) Then you just go nuts and become one of them. We don’t know what they are, where they came from, how this started…nothing. At least in The Rising we had a fair idea of some of this stuff. We knew that the zombies in that world were actually dead bodies possessed by demons. This has nothing. They’re evil, they like to kill and fuck, and you can kill them like you kill any regular human. How did this become a threat?
So aside from there being no plot, a whole lot of gratuitous violence there for the shock value and terribly written bad guys/monsters, what else does this book have?
Really crappy main characters and a horrible time-skip thing.
The main female is a hard-ass bitch who is solely concerned with trying to keep her son alive and acts like everyone else is just following along. She rescues the main male from the initial attack for some reason you never really fathom and he starts out being a pussy and ends up being a stone-cold asshole killer.
There’s a blind chick and a couple of gay guys. You get some dude who acts like everyone owes him everything and you aren’t surprised or upset when the main male shoots him in the head for kicking the dog that they end up with. Oh and there’s this weird ass scene where they find out that one of the members was a serial killer before this whole apocalypse happened. Comes right outta left field there. No indication of it beforehand.
Aside from the old man serial killer (who you remember just for that) the characters are pretty forgettable. The main chick doesn’t even do a good job of keeping her son alive and despite all her protests about not developing feelings for anyone, she falls in love (in a way) with the main male character.
Not much in terms of character development either, as most of them get killed right after a decent development, making the point moot. The couple of crossed that get names (like Horsecock) end up being more comic relief than scary.
SPOILER: I’m sorry but the scene that opens with one member of the crossed hitting another with a penis and screaming the word “Horsecock” is just too damn funny. (You can Google that image if you just search for “Garth Ennis Crossed.”)
Oh and that stupid time-skip thing…
The story is supposed to be set ten months after the initial event, with flashbacks to what has happened before where we are in the current story. They do NOT do a good job with this. For one, I didn’t even realize we were in a flashback until I’d notice someone and go “wait, isn’t he supposed to be dead?” That is not a good sign folks. For two, the flashbacks give us no information except 1) how some people got into the group and 2) how a couple discovered the crossed. That’s it, that’s all you get and you get that all in like 2 or 3 of the several flashbacks. The rest is just more of the violence and shock value.
Final Thoughts: Oh ye Gods. Even if you’re an Ennis fan, don’t pick this up. It’s not really worth it unless you want to see just what your tolerance level for violence is. It’s sickening, and on top of that there’s no real plot or characters to speak of. 1.5-2 stars out of 5 for a couple of the parts that made me laugh.