Crossed: Ennis VS Lapham

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I love Garth Ennis. I just had to get that out there before I really got into the meat of this review. I powered through the entirety of Preacher in just a few months, loved The Chronicles Of Wormwood, and NOBODY, and I mean nobody, can write The Punisher better than him. His work is gritty and often graphic. Despite twisted visceral stories, Ennis is often able to populate these dark stories with likeable characters that the reader empathizes with even more as they go through their harsh struggles in this dark world.

Sorry, the fanboy moment is done.

In 2010, Garth Ennis penned Crossed; a ten issue mini-series that was a twist on the increasingly popular zombocalypse . Instead of a plague of the undead taking the Earth by storm, Ennis’ world was inhabited by The Crossed: people that, once infected, give into their inner depravity and begin to kill, maim, rape, and do anything else that comes into their sick minds. Retaining mostly-normal intelligence, the Crossed can still drive, shoot, and lay traps. This makes the world far more dangerous for survivors than fighting off brain-dead zombies.

Crossed is published through Avatar Press, a comic company that prides itself on having absolutely no limits with censorship. Proof: they’re the people that were doing the freaking Caligula comic last year. After Crossed concluded, Ennis moved on to focus on other work;  but the success of it lead to (with Ennis’ permission) a new writer taking over and doing some more mini-series that are set in the same world with new characters. Enter David Lapham.

That’s the crux of today’s review, comparing Ennis’ and Lapham’s interpretations of comics set in the same universe. From here on out, there will be images that may not be safe for the workplace.

The original Crossed began following Stan, a converse wearing, genuine everyman whose occupation is never revealed. The story begins at his first contact with infected people in a dazzling scene as a town goes mad, ending with a nuclear reactor explosion blinding half the town’s people.  After this initial encounter, the rest of the series jumps in time from issue-to-issue, following Stan’s ever-dwindling group of survivors as they travel north. Ennis has a central theme as he writes this work: In a world full of monsters, we ourselves begin to lose our humanity. The message is subtle, but it’s there.

This original series manages to incorporate in some pretty nice elements, even in it’s twisted world. There’s the friendship between Stan Thomas, the scene with the wolves, and, my favorite touch, a mother still trying to teach her son to be polite through an apocalypse that brings people to their worst.

Although, the wait at Walmart drives most folks to this.

David Lapham has written two mini-series in the Crossed universe, Crossed: Family Values and Crossed: Psychopath. I’ve yet to read, and have no plan to read, Family Values.

Crossed: Psychopath begins with four survivors finding a fifth survivor named Harold. Harold tells them that he’s a scientist that was being transported to a military instillation to find a cure to the infection. The reader, through Harold’s narration, knows this is totally bogus. As the 6 issue series progresses, we learn more and more about the strange protagonist.  He’s a sexually disturbed lunatic that had just abducted, sedated, and raped a woman he was obsessed with when The Crossed attacked. The Crossed defiled his “beloved” with a gardening tool, chopping off her breasts and keeping them as souvenirs.  Harold is on a heroic journey to get them back. Oh yes, this man gives Frodo a run for his money as a journey driven hero. I had to wash my hands after typing that last sentence.

He begins killing off the other survivors one-by-one, continually pinning it on The Crossed. The reader soon learns that aside from murder and rape, his other hobbies include chopping off women’s lips and wearing them as cock rings. Not kidding. I enjoy anti-heroes as much as anyone, but this guy is far beyond that realm.

There is so many things wrong with this comic. I forced myself to keep reading, in hopes that Harold would get his comeuppance; that the final survivor (Amanda) would realize what an evil creature he is and kill him and emerge as the hero. But no! Harold tries to feed his beloved’s breast (which he finally gets back. Sadly, it didn’t save the world) to Amanda before she bites off his lips and takes off into the night. The series ends with him setting off after her.

There is such a good thing as taking something too far. Ennis gingerly steps over the line to make points with the twisted. Lapham catapults himself over the line for the sake of it. There is nothing redeeming about the comic. Who is the reader suppose to root for in this comic? A sexually depraved guy (by choice) or sexually violent beings (by disease)? Maybe this was the point Lapham was going for but it did not make for a pleasurable read. I forced myself to keep going each month just so I could do this damn review. It just continued to be fucked up for the sake of being fucked up. The characters were beyond awful, the story was surprisingly dull for an apocalypse story, and the art was hindered like the ones shown below.

Ew.

I’m not saying this because I’m some Garth Ennis die hard fanboy; if he had never written the first series of Crossed and I was just reading Psychopath, I’d still say this. Crossed: Psychopath is the worst comic I have ever had the displeasure read. Sure, I’ve read all kinds of silly and stupid tripe, but this series is just putrid, vile and sadistic for the sake of it, with nothing that a person who claims to have sanity could find interesting.

Even with Ennis returning to pen a bi-weekly Crossed series, I’m not going to pick it up. I’m going to save the money and put it towards Birds of Prey. A bad experience can ruin it all. While I probably will read the excellent first series, I’m going to be shoving Psychopath to the bottom of my collection in hopes of forgetting about them.

If you’re interested in a quick mini-series, I can encourage you to grab the first series. But beyond that, you should avoid it. Seriously, you’re better than that.

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About ChrisX

Comic geek, addicted gamer, future murse, and sometimes a writer. The three coolest things ever are X-Men, Back to the Future, and Doctor Who. Just saying. You should be awesome and follow me on twitter. http://twitter.com/ChrisX104