Comics Messiah Alan Moore takes on the Crossed franchise.
This is a spectacular piece of writing but if you are in Crossed just for the gore then this will be your Prometheus. The biggest talking point is the language. Set 100 years in the future Moore has everyone speaking a dialect descended from internet speak. This will either take you a while to pick up, especially with what look like some editing inconsistencies, or make you put the book down.
The advantage this brings is that it makes you read much slower than a roller coaster page-flipper that some comics can be. It gives you time to digest and speculate on the origins and course of his future. It is great fun working out where all the names came from and where in the world the characters are.
There is virtually no gore or horror in the piece. This ensures you invest so much into the characters and a wonderfully slow build up makes for a shocking ending. There is a tipping point where you put the clues together and your heart sinks. The final issue over-stretches this like the host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. But like a proper old ghost story the terror is firmly psychological and no final page turn will compete for what is in your head.
One notable theme is a Muslim dominated settlement and Moore’s discussion and hypothesis of Islam might not be for everyone. Just as his version of the Crossed is the most different anything previous.
The art is great with Crossed veteran Gabriel Andrade returning from volume 9. So much detail and effort is packed into every panel to effortlessly bring this future world to life. The colouring is great with a lot of earth tones working hard to realise this overgrown, agrarian environment.
Double Thumbs Up!
This isn’t just a graphic novel. From the very first chapter you get a sense of the weight and majesty of this piece. This is literature – English Literature. Drawing on the finest traditions of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, H. G. Wells, right back to Jonathan Swift and Shakespeare we have a satire that urges you to be alarmed by what you see around you.
Written in the 1988 reading this is like a literary time capsule. Although set in a dystopian future this can take you right back to the politically charged fervour of the eighties. But strangely enough it has proved deeply prophetic and is even more relevant to our modern apathetic, indoctrinated society than one could have imagined.
The art is truly unique. It is like one of those old black and white Laurel & Hardy films that has been artificially colourised. Imagine watercolours gone bad, or psychedelia filtered through Big Brother’s approved grey spectrum. It never departs from rigid straight edged panels three rows deep, even when it forces you to turn the book through ninety degrees at one point. Despite the tiny frames there is a lot of detail and an equal amount of creativity present. The central character’s look, styled after English terrorist Guy Faulks, has now entered global pop culture twenty years later.
This isn’t just a well-drawn thriller or political allegory. It stirs the entire barrel of the human condition dredging up discussions on authority, religion, existentialism, the nature of freedom, terrorism, revolution, gender, sexuality and more. This is truly a profound work that gives so much more than it asks of you. Not to be read lightly and certainly “never to be forgot!”
Double Thumbs Up!
There are many writers I am sure that have wacky, crazy ideas that their publisher’s tell them will never sell. Alan More doesn’t have this problem as no matter how far out his ideas someone will publish them. At first glance this does seem to be a vanity project with pages filled with nonsensical dialogue-free randomness. As the pages go on and the dialogue appears we get an interesting glimpse into the everyday lives of quirky random strangers just like us. Like an overheard phone call, or sitting behind two people conversing on a bus, we are privy to the private moments in the lives of several ordinary human beings. By the end of it we feel richer and almost privileged to have glimpsed something not shared with others.
The art is quite unique and seems to be photographs that have been copied or traced leaving black and white drawings. Some are vividly real and others become more impressionistic. It all adds to the authenticity of what we are witnessing. It has the impression of those photo stories from teenage magazines of the seventies.
This isn’t an easy read and it doesn’t hold your hand so you may feel like you only understood part of the story. I did get enough of it to give it a Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Wormwood – Garth Ennis
I didn’t read the back of this book before reading it. I should have. What you have here are three “performance works” (or poems as I like to call them) from celebrated writer Alan Moore. They have been illustrated and placed in the traditional comics format which as they have no real narrative they make no sense when you to read them as a story. If you take just the text you have a sublime literary spectacle from a confident, flourishing author. If you look at the illustration you have a huge collection of mini-masterpieces. Each is an exquisitely detailed black and white line drawing with so much depth packed in you could drink in each one for ages and still keep seeing new details. Put them both together and try and read it in a way that it is not intended and you end up with a mental train wreck. But that’s my fault for not looking at the instructions. Thumbs Up for outsmarting the reader!
Tomorrow: The Pro – Garth Ennis
I don’t like Batman but I do like Alan Moore. That’s what persuaded me to read this. Plus it has Brian Bolland doing the artwork and he drew my favourite Judge Dredd so there is some really lovely art. In this edition he also did all the colouring for it and it looks superb. This presents The Joker’s origin story which I didn’t know.
I find origin stories dangerous as they can mess with characters you love. Hannibal Lecter is dangerous maniac until you read “Hannibal Rising” and he becomes a victim of a difficult childhood. Do you really want to sympathise with the Joker? To understand him?
Alan Moore does his best work when allowed to generate original material such as Watchmen and 2000AD’s “Future Shocks.” Constraining him with existing characters tempers his anarchic brilliance. But he did what no one else could do and that was make me read a Batman story. I even enjoyed it too. Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Black Lightning: Year One – Jan Van Meter