This is the latest in the Crossed franchise that was created by Garth Ennis. A world where humanity has succumbed to a plague that forces infected humans to act out their most sick and twisted desires on each other.
Lapham certainly has some great ideas, unfortunately the previous one (Family Values) was poorly executed. This volume, in which a genuine human psychopath hides amongst a group of human survivors, is better. This concept could have been realised in all sorts of clever ways that hid the offending character and made us guess at who was the rotten apple. But right from the start we know who the psycho is thanks to his point of view and internal narration. Rather than an anonymous slasher film killer we get to see inside his head and his madness in a similar vein to the novel American Psycho. Lapham puts in some effort to show us how warped his view of the world is.
There are some good narrative techniques but nothing overly complex. The story changes and unfolds very well, with our understanding shifting as we try and decipher what actually happened. The ending is also a tense affair and probably won’t go the way you expect which is good. The Crossed are once again virtually mindless window dressing which dampens the terror of their initial cunning intelligence as seen in the first book.
The art is suitably sickening with the gore turned all the way up. It is an unfortunate requirement to always outdo the previous book. This reminds me very much of the Italian horror comics with their similar style. Unfortunately this level of sex and violence just becomes cartoonish. Gone is the visceral shock of real human suffering to be replaced by Itchy and Scratchy bloodletting. The colours are also very dark with lots of black shading and heavy outlines. There are very few pale colours, evoking an oppressive and putrid feeling.
You can have fine, delicate meals expertly prepared or massive portions of stodge piled sky-high. Either can satisfy the literary diner. This is definitely in the lay-it-on-thick camp but it has firm foundations and earns its Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Chew Volume One: Taster’s Choice – John Layman