Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
It’s really sort of interesting, Garth Ennis has created such a screwed up world with the world of Crossed that when you get an issue as messed up as Crossed #7, I’m sorry, I just can’t care enough for the twists to get to me the same way they did in, say, issue #1. That’s not a knock on Ennis, though, as he continues to do a great job with this series, getting you to care enough about these disparate survivors for it to affect you when bad things happen to them, and in the world of Crossed, make no mistake about it, bad things WILL happen to them.
In the world of Crossed, something has happened that has turned infected people into sadistic sociopaths – the problem is, it doesn’t make them necessarily DUMB, and in fact, they seem to only get smarter as time goes by. We have been following a ragtag group of survivors, led by an ingenious leader Cindy, who is more or less driven by the love for her son, Patrick – she has to keep him safe, so whatever she needs to do to achieve that, she’ll do it. Her companion (and our narrator) is Stan, who is obviously totally into Cindy, but she can’t be bothered by being distracted by anything – but Stan still gladly follows her anywhere. There are a few other folks, and they pick up strangers here and there.
Anyhow, in this issue, the Crossed (so named because of a cross-shaped rash that forms on their faces) are nearby and they’re…singing a song from the film musical “Bugsy Malone”?
And yep, they are, indeed, being tracked for many miles – that is, naturally, very bad news.
Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows execute this next sequence brilliantly (even if it definitely seems to be borrowed from Butch and Sundance, it’s still effective as all hell)…
Pretty damn scary, right?
That’s the world these people live in – constant fear of psychotic villains who are only getting more and more capable as time goes by – it’s a world where you live in terms of surviving the next half hour – nothing more.
Anyhow, this issue is a turning point in the lives of the motley crew, and I can’t say that it is very pleasant (hell, I can say that it is NOT pleasant), but in the midst of it all, Ennis even manages to give us a vestige of hope, but a hope that does not come from “Maybe we’ll make it out of this alive” as they’re all likely going to die before the series ends, but rather “Maybe we can at least cause some damage before we go.” And the way Ennis draws you in to the story, something as ultimately meaningless as that somehow takes on importance.
In any event, is Crossed for all people?
Of course not.
It’s depressing as all get out.
But it’s well-drawn by Jacen Burrows and Ennis creates an engaging (if depressing) world with characters that are easy to latch on to.
If you can handle the ride, it’s a worthwhile one.
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