If you were at C2E2 at all this past weekend then undoubtedly you saw fans walking around the convention wearing the free “CROSSED” masks that were being given out at the Avatar Press booth. (Or the many cosplayers running around covered in face paint and corn syrup) In many respects “CROSSED” has spread through the comic industry just like any good airborne virus passes through the air and infects those who inhale it. But like a virus it is pretty disgusting, and it just makes you feel gross. So what better story to choose as our pick of the week than the newest arc in the series? What, you thought we were better than that? Read on for the skinny.
“Nothing is sacred as Crossed returns! The horror series of the year returns with a new six-issue series written by David Lapham! Set right at the start of the Crossed outbreak, this tale of depravity promises to shock and disturb you with even more intensity than the first series! The Pratt family lived an idyllic life on a horse ranch in North Carolina. A few generations of family working, living, and learning together. But not all things should be shared with, nor done to, other human beings. Much less your own family. Some men are just born evil, some men are turned Crossed. But which is worse? Imagine, for a moment, the worst crimes against humanity. Picture the cruelest affronts to decency. Conjure your darkest nightmares… and then realize it could all be so much worse. When civilization crumbles in one terrifying moment; when people are gleefully breaking into unthinkable acts of violence all around you; when everyone you love has died screaming in agony: What do you do? There is no help. There is no hope. There is no escape. There are only the Crossed. Crossed: Family Values #1 is available with a Regular cover by Jacen Burrows, a Wraparound cover by series artist Javier Barreno, a Torture cover by Juan Jose Ryp, and a special rare Red Crossed retailer incentive.”
It’s no sort of secret that the reason most people find themselves attracted to the Garth Ennis created “CROSSED” is because it appeals to the most vile places within them and unabashedly depicts them on every blood soaked panel. Rape, torture, murder…these are words that come to mind when we imagine the worst things humanity is capable of. These are the things that make us afraid to leave our homes at night, that make us lock our doors, that in short, scare the living sh*t out of us. But when it comes to describing these immoral acts of depravity to a person no man ever did it so ‘well’ as Garth Ennis. No one was ever so fearless as to show a gang of infected human beings lead by a hulking brute who brandished the innocent with a severed horses’ penis, and this is just one small example of what readers have been subjected to since the series was dropped like a nuclear warhead on the sensibilities of readers everywhere. No one would have thought that such a series could continue for a few issues much less an entirely new arc. My how far we have all fallen.
But I will be damned if it isn’t good. Somehow the idea of a mysterious virus ripping across the world like a title wave, leaving those it touches with a rash in the shape of a cross upon their faces, is the most original take on the ‘zombie’ genre since “28 DAYS LATER”. (Yes, I realize these things aren’t “real” zombies, but that is what they are most comparable to. So sue me.) But one thing that worried me was that Garth is no longer writing the series (along with Jacen on pencils) that he created, and instead has handed the reigns over to David Lapham (“DAREDEVIL”, “STRAY BULLETS”). Lapham is an Eisner award winning writer in his own right, and certainly no slouch to writing violence having worked with both “THE PUNISHER” and “30 DAYS OF NIGHT” in the past, but what we are talking about here is something in a league completely beyond that of these series. A young man at C2E2 said it best in reply to his girlfriend, who after seeing the immense rack of back issues for the series at the Avatar booth, winced and asked “what the hell are you looking at?” The man just smiled, grabbed an issue of “FAMILY VALUES”, and replied simply “It’s mother f***ing Crossed!”
Now that I have read the first issue of the new arc thanks to the early release at The Con that ended yesterday I can safely say that this is indeed “mother f***ing Crossed” Lapham makes his debut by throwing readers headlong into the lives of an all American family who are still living the dream on their horse ranch despite the horrors that are going on in the world beyond the peaceful confines. But nothing is as it seems, and no one is safe from the evils of man forever. The family has its own skeletons (at this point more of a graveyard) in their closet, and when the “Crossed” come marching out of the darkness they must learn to somehow look past those horrors in order to survive together.
Artist Javier Barreno does a fantastic job of stepping in for Burrows, and in a way his artistic style mirrors the artist. Fans of the previous “CROSSED” arc will be happy to hear this since it softens the blow of losing Jacen just a bit. Truthfully, looking at this new arc in its fledgling stages, it would seem as if this new writing team could not only be good, but they could be GREAT. The story feels as heavy as it ever has, the artwork is fantastic, and the premise is solid.
When all is done and read “CROSSED: FAMILY VALUES” issue #1 is an awesome debut for this new team and for the title. It will be very interesting to see where they go from here, and this is exactly what we have come to expect from “CROSSED”. This is it at its best. It may not win any awards any time soon but “FAMILY VALUES” does what it sets out to do, and any fan out there is sure to be pleased.
4 Out Of 5 Skulls
“CROSSED: FAMILY VALUES” Issue #1 Drops This Wednesday From Avatar Press! (MSRP-$3.99)