CROSSED Vol. 1 (2008-2010)

(Comics/Graphic Novel) CROSSED Vol. 1 is an extraordinarily unpleasant horror comic from writer Garth Ennis (PREACHER, THE BOYS) and artist Jacen Burrows (CHRONICES OF WORMWOOD, NEONOMICON). I have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to horror — I’ll note that I’m not proud of that — but this made me feel terrible. I don’t even know why I still possess a copy of the collected first volume, because there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to read it again. Perhaps because I don’t really want to give it to anyone.

To summarize, it’s basically a take on James Tiptree Jr./Alice Bradley Sheldon’s short story THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION, but instead of only men becoming hyper-violent, it’s the majority of the world, and you can tell the ‘infected’ because of a cross-like rash that covers their face.

There aren’t many works I wish I could scrub from my mind, but I truly wish I could unread this one. There’s one moment where a couple are being closed in on by the Crossed, and their final exchange absolutely scrambled my brain. I thought about combing through my copy of the trade paperback to properly quote the scene, but then decided that I didn’t want to put myself through that, and I certainly shouldn’t inflict it on you.

So, you might ask, why the hell am I posting about it?

I’m posting about it because it was so memorable. It’s exceptionally nihilistic — even for Ennis — but it was damn impactful. You may be able to weather it better than I, or perhaps this may steer you away from it in advance. I don’t know, but I do know that it’s certainly an affecting piece of work, and that Ennis certainly accomplished what he wanted to. For better or for worse, I will never forget it.

I’ll note that there are subsequent volumes that are penned by David Lapham, who wrote and illustrated STRAY BULLETS, one of my favorite neo-noir comics, and despite my admiration for him, there’s still no way I’m spending more time in that world.