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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 59

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows’ Crossed…


Crossed, whose initial nine-issue run is almost finished, is a particularly interesting comic in how over the top some of the violence can be in the series. It is to the point that you are so desensitized to the violence that recent issues having a great deal of disturbing content just don’t shake readers the way they did earlier in the series.

The basic concept of Crossed is that some sort of disease/contagion/whatever has spread through the world – people develop a rash on their face (in the shape of a cross, hence the name) and then begin to exhibit both psychopathic AND sociopathic tendencies. This leads to some terrible, terrible things. And if you make contact to their bodily fluids (like saliva, sperm, blood, etc.) then YOU turn Crossed, as well (if they don’t kill you before you turn, that is).

So the story then follows a small group of survivors as they try to make their way to either Alaska or the Canadian wilderness – basically somewhere where there are less people (and therefore less Crossed).

These survivors don’t live their lives in terms of days. Heck, they don’t even live their lives in terms of HOURS.
They live their lives in terms of half hours. Stay alive for a half hour. Then stay alive for another half hour. Then repeat for as long as they can.

The greatness of the comic comes from how Ennis spends so much time developing these characters so that you actually feel for them – and when you begin to feel for them, then you are that much more affected when something disgusting happens to them. And disgusting things happen to them frequently.

One of the grosser scenes is also one of the more generally depressing scenes. They group spies a group of the Crossed masturbating in a circle. They think that they’re just, well, masturbating in a circle.

Later, though, when one of their group gets wounded by a gun fired by the Crossed, they discover the real horror of what they saw earlier – the Crossed were masturbating on a pile of bullets, so that when the bullets penetrate a “normal” person, it eventually turns them Crossed. And that’s when they realize – the Crossed originally were just crazed – as the amount of humans dried up, though, the Crossed calmed down enough to become STRATEGIC – and that’s when you realize that the normal humans are REALLY screwed.

Here’s a sequence from Crossed #7 that speaks to the skill that the Crossed possess…

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?

And so it goes – from issue to issue, some of the more depressing comics that you can expect to read, but also well-crafted comics (with strong artwork by Jacen Burrows).

The most recent issue shows the journal of a dead soldier which gives some more insight into what went down after the original event occurred, and some of the shocking precautions the government took (they had nuclear scientists disable nuclear plants so that the Crossed can’t activate them – then they have the scientists killed so that they can’t re-activate the plants if they were ever Crossed themselves).

It’s really well done by both the writer and the artist – it’s also really, really dark – NOT for anyone who is afraid of seeing some terrible things done to people – but if you can get past that, it’s quite a ride, even if it is not always a pleasant one.


I have yet to read this, but it looks mildly interesting. I am, however, a bit bored with the zombie-crazy-infected genre.

A side point, but, aside from providing a certain measure of gross out factor, why do the Crossed masturbate on the bullets? As a vector for disease transmission, surely saliva would work just as efficiently, not to mention being easier to produce in mass quantities. Is it because semen is more viscous?

Does Ennis explain why the Crossed want to infect more humans? After all, if I were a psychopath, I would prefer having a large number of normals to function as my prey. For that matter, if the Crossed are true psychopaths, how do they function in groups? It seems to me that a psychopathic society would be rather lacking in “group-cohesion.”

Incidentally, Brian, I love this series. Have you thought about spotlighting Steve Englehart’s brilliant 70s run on Captain America? There was so much good stuff in that run: the 1950s Captain America, the introduction of Peggy Carter, a classic confrontation with the Yellow Claw, the Watergate/Secret Empire plot, the introduction of the Nomad identity, etc.

i have not gotten around to checking it out it sounds like a cross between y the last man standing and 30 days of night gone with a touch of the hills have eyes. will have to now track it done mostly to see who all will survive not being crossed

I’m loving this series. It’s completely twisted. Not for the weak though..

“A side point, but, aside from providing a certain measure of gross out factor, why do the Crossed masturbate on the bullets?”

You kind of have to read it to got this, but these “crossed” aren’t zombies or mindless or anything that you’ve exactly seen before. They continue to do the worst things you can possible fathom, and enjoy it – even if it’s self mutilating. Look at the face of the guy being thrown into the fire – he can’t WAIT to burn!

It is a good series indeed,but I don’t think that any of the NotCrossed will survive it.

“the Crossed were masturbating on a pile of bullets, so that when the bullets penetrate a “normal” person, it eventually turns them Crossed”

I understand everyone has their tastes, but personally…I just don’t get this at all. Some things just aren’t for some people, I guess.

Crossed won me over, in spite of my initial misgivings. At first I thought it would be mostly grotesque slapstick horror Ennis, which can usually wring a chuckle out of me, but often leaves me wanting more, but it quickly became apparent that while it has those touches (The covers, “Horsecock!”, etc.) – it really is an industrial strength dose of the bleak humanist Ennis which I enjoy so much more.

chad: The Road was a huge inspiration for this series; I’d describe Crossed as being a cross (Oh ho!) between Cormac McCarthy’s novel and 28 Days Later.


February 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I can’t wait for this to get collected.

This book depresses me. I understand it appeals to some people, but I don’t see it fitting in the category of “Cool”. It’s just shock value.

Looks like it might evoke some of the tones of “The Walking Dead”.
How many issues have there been so far? I’ve found 0-8.

@Van GoghX: The series will end at # 9. Dunno if Ennis will do another volume.

It’s just shock value.

If it were just shock value, then yes, it would not be a cool book. Luckily, Ennis spends lots of time crafting the various characters so that the occasional shocks actually have meaning to them (and they’re not so much “shocks” when you know that bad things ARE going to happen).

I’m remind of The Reavers from Firefly.


February 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

The series will end at # 9. Dunno if Ennis will do another volume.

There’s going to be another series, but not by Ennis…

It’s going to be written by…. David Lapham!

Why do I feel like I’ve read this post before? Was it a Cool Comic Moment?

Why do I feel like I’ve read this post before? Was it a Cool Comic Moment?

When I reviewed Crossed #7 I included those scans.

Crossed never struck me as all that bleak… but I find the shenanigans of the Crossed hordes so over-the-top depraved that they’re just kind of funny.

Like, the bit where the stupid fanboy gets his family killed with salt? I laughed when I read that, it just seemed so ludicrous to me.

(Admittedly, I find a lot of omgsodark Ennis just hilarious– except his war stories. The man has a way of writing a war story such that I can take it with complete seriousness.)

Ya, Ennis’ ultraviolence has always been hilarious. I love him because he has these deep character development plots overlaid with grindhouse cinema. I laughed my way through most of Preacher.

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