Note - this is a picture of a Happy Tree. It is not the cover of Crossed #6. The cover of Crossed #6 does not have a happy tree on it. The cover of Crossed #6 depicts an attack in a fast food restaurant and is not very nice at all and I would rather look at the Happy Tree instead.
For anyone interested, my relationship with this title is troubled. It did (and still does) evoke a reaction from me, which is more than can be said of a lot of comics out there, but it's difficult for me to actually determine if I actually like 'Crossed'. Then again. can you really like a title like Crossed, which seems determined to imagine the worst scenarios that can be visited upon normal human beings, and then illustrate them for the purposes of comic book entertainment. Regardless, I stick with it, I keep it on my pull list. I started off with issue #0 last year, and I am not about to give up now. Its a 9 issue limited series (10 if you count #0), so we are two thirds of the way through it now.
There is not a lot to Crossed, really. Most everyone in the world has been infected with some sort of virus that causes a nasty looking rash to appear on their faces, making a cross, meeting somewhere around the bridge of the nose. Check out the covers, that will give you an idea. These people, the Crossed, are psychotic, driven only by murder and mutilation and sex, and these proclivities can be configured by these miscreants in such a way that all 3 can be implemented at the same time. They (the Crossed) are pretty creative in how they murder and mutilate and rape, but, you know, how nice is that? It's not an admirable quality to be 'creative' in the 'art' of death and violation of fellow humans. Naturally, there are a few survivors, but none of them are particularly interesting, though I do have sympathy for the self-reliant woman (whose name I do remember - Cindy) and her son (whose name I have forgotten). I want them to make it through this horrible business. There are others that have been around for pretty much the whole run, including a bearded guy with glasses, that I don't know the name of. He is just sort of there, and occasionally speech bubbles appear near his mouth and......anyway, there are some others who are relatively new.
Take this issue as an example (seeing as I am supposed to be reviewing it). There are some new guys. They are a gobby survivalist who thinks everyone owes him because he had some tinned food and bottled water. Fair enough. There is a guy who, in flashback, we learn lost his wife and children on the beach to the infected. There is another guy who keeps himself to himself - an elderly guy, never really had any friends before. Want to take a punt at what sort of thing he was into before the 'Crossed' apocalypse? Lets look at the clues - isolated man, keeps himself to himself, never had friends before, repeat - AN ELDERLY MAN WHO HAS NEVER REALLY HAD FRIENDS BEFORE. Do you think he could be a bit, y'know, weird? You'll just have to read and find out, but you probably will not be surprised by the 'reveal' near the end of the issue.
Sorry, let me just clarify - these characters (gobby guy, beach guy and elderly isolated guy) - did they just wander in on this issue? I am having trouble remembering. I am waiting for something horrible to happen to someone, at the hands of the Crossed and its making me lose concentration when I read this title. Then I get to the end of this issue (or book, or chapter, or more appropriately 'part', considering the amount of offal and limbs that are served up to the reader during an issue of Crossed) and....dunno. It just leaves me with the memory of some hideous deaths - I mean, young children being clubbed and stabbed to death and dismembered, it's hardly going to leave you with a smile on your face.
Will I continue to keep Crossed on my pull list? Yes, although I cannot explain the reasons why. It's like a bad relationship that has gone on far too long to get out of. I will just keep hanging on in there, figuring that it will get better. There are 3 issues to go. Do I like Crossed? No. Are there comics out there that do this apocalyptic survival thing better? Yes indeed - try The Walking Dead, there are characters in that title that you care about and can remember the names of. Its horrific without being so in your face explicit to the point of being offensive. Thats what Crossed does. Thats what Crossed exists for. Maybe it really does exist as an exercise in showing inventive ways of murdering / abusing / violating human beings. The fact that there are survivors in this story is not to provide an insight into how humans would deal with this kind of terrible ordeal. For example, would a 9 issue run be enough to truly understand how a man would cope with seeing his wife decapitated and his young children stabbed and bludgeoned into red paste? Maybe you could begin to get a sense of the horror and loss, but in Crossed, it is dealt with in, as a rough estimate, a page or two. It reads like this - guy loses family in terrible way, and as a result he is a bit withdrawn and a bit sad about it.
So, what are the survivors there for? I think they are there to be tossed to the Crossed at intervals to provide a 'shock' factor like 'ohmygod they just killed one of the main characters!'. But let us not forget - THERE ARE NO MAJOR CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK. NO-ONE QUALIFIES AS REMOTELY INTERESTING OR ENGAGING. WELL, APART FROM CINDY AND HER SON.
So, by the end of issue 6, maybe the penny has dropped. Maybe Crossed is just a very bleak, depressing way to spend your money on a comic book. Maybe there will be no real insight into anything, whatsoever, other than you can look at the pretty pictures of death and misery, blood and gore, pain and suffering.
Its nice and sunny outside. I am going to look at that picture of the Happy Tree again.
Verdict. I wonder how this will get resolved in a further 3 issues, because to be honest it could have been resolved in a 4 issue run. The third issue would have ended with all the survivors dead, having been tortured and killed horribly by the Crossed, and in the fourth issue the Crossed would break the fourth wall and come out the comic and violate us with our copies of Crossed issue 4 before killing us horribly. Maybe that will happen in issue 9. For issue #6, I give Crossed a 5 out of 10.