Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Jacen Burrows
I'm always wary of Garth Ennis's Avatar work, as when he works for that company, he tends to indulge the aspects of his writing that I like the least, but at the same time, it was well past time that I checked out his Crossed, as it's become that company's tent-pole title.
The concept behind Crossed is a pretty simple riff on the usual zombie apocalypse scenario, only in this book, the infected don't become mindless, instead they become incredibly depraved and simplistic, indulging in their most base instincts and desires. The book begins in a small-town diner, when the first of the infected show up causing mayhem. A small group of people make their way out of town, meet up with some other folk, and lose many along the way, as they decide to try to make their way to Alaska, where the low population density should provide them with some safety (although, really, Montana would have been a lot closer).
Stan is our narrator. He's a nice guy who had lived a pretty quiet life before everything fell apart, and he only survived because of Cindy, a waitress and single mother who has the Rick Grimes role in this story. She's a very tough woman, determined to keep her son safe and to raise him properly, and it is her steely determination that keeps everyone alive. As the group moves north, they come across a group of Crossed (the name for the infected) that have evolved a little, capable of organizing, and following the group through the Rocky Mountains.
Ennis fills the book with enough gross-out scenes of mass rape, dismemberment, and bludgeoning with a certain large part of a horse's anatomy to remind me of why I don't often read his non-war comics (artist Jacen Burrows seems more than up for the task), and often his characterizations feel a little too simplistic. We keep being told that Cindy's son is a terrific kid, but he barely has any dialogue, and there is only one scene in the ten issues collected here where he does something nice for another person. In another scene that almost becomes touching, an old man reveals some secrets about himself that go way over the top.
In all, I did enjoy this book, and it has some very good moments. I especially liked the scenes in a downed military helicopter (furthering the argument that Ennis can really only write soldiers convincingly), but the book is pretty nasty a lot of the time. Burrows is the artist that all other Avatar artists are expected emulate, and that makes things look pretty standard.
I'm wondering which of the other Crossed books are worth checking out. I know that David Lapham and Jamie Delano have written for the franchise, and that interests me.