It was a typical day for Stan at the local diner, reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Everything changed when a man with a rash on his face in the shape of a cross came in, carrying a bloody sternum attached to some ribs. He is immediately dismissed as a joker by the proprietor, but he is proved wrong when the man bites off his nose. He turns around, now sporting the same rash on his face, and stabs another man. It takes a surprisingly short time for society to crumble with cars on fire, planes falling out the sky, and the Crossed attacking indiscriminately. These people will rape, dismember, mutilate, and even eat anyone including each other. Stan is now a part of a group of survivors that precariously live each day in hiding and trying at all costs to avoid the Crossed. With these monstrous people on the loose, any little mistake can lead to death. Now that society doesn’t exist anymore, even the survivors find themselves slowing turning into monster with the things they have to do to survive. Is there a way to survive and retain humanity as well?
I was interested in reading Crossed because of its new take on post-apocalyptic fiction and the fact that I loved Garth Ennis’ graphic novel series Preacher. This graphic novel excels in many ways. The Crossed are an interesting and new kind of creature. They are similar to zombies in that they attack anyone, greatly outnumber the normal humans, and have a resiliency that normal people don’t have. However, they possess what zombies do not: the ability to think and plan. This makes these beings so much scary than your run of the mill zombies. The humans in the story are equally as compelling as the Crossed. They have to decide at what lengths they will go to survive and risk the loss of their humanity on the way. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the novel and I felt that no character, no matter their age or sex, were safe. The graphic novel is entirely in color, which conveys the violent, gory, extreme images in a dynamic way. The artist doesn’t shy away from the carnage, but illustrates every excruciating detail.
The only shortcoming of the narrative is clarity and continuity. The plot frequently jumps around in time from the initial outbreak to the present. It isn’t clear sometimes when the flashback starts and ends. I found myself backtracking in the story pretty frequently to check where in time I was in the story. There was also an instance of an event where three individuals died, illustrated in a two page spread in all its disgusting glory. Then, a couple of chapters later, those characters were still alive. I was confused when I read this and I guess their deaths were a fantasy or imagining of one of the other characters, but it definitely was not made clear at the time.
Overall, I enjoyed Crossed. It’s a great addition to the post-apocalyptic genre. I would recommend this graphic novel to fans of the genre and Preacher. If you’re squeamish or prefer not to see graphic scenes of rape and dismemberment, I would stay away from this.