There is a short four issue piece set in Japan that has a passing link to the previous, superior, Japan story also from Hine. This concerns unlikely friendships and might be a little twee for a Crossed story with the gore feeling pasted on. It also pushes the Crossed intellect envelope having them exhibit both rational and emotional behaviour other than the primal norm.
The next single issue story by Justin Jordan is eminently disposable. There is nothing wrong with it but it adds no new content to the Crossedverse or storytelling in general. If you read the single paragraph summary on the back of the book then you can simply skip this work altogether. Which is a shame because you took out the Crossed altogether and released it is a prose piece it might have some emotional resonance.
The art works harder than you give it credit for. There are some good colour choices and background styles at key emotional moments and generally a lot of effort goes into the characters. Japan has some interesting locations but not as many as there could have been.
Barely a Thumbs Up.
This volume contains three stories. The last one appeared in the Crossed Annual 2013, the others are from the ongoing Badlands series #37-43.
So, imagine Crossed written by Shane Black. Or maybe the Blues Brothers. This is a road trip movie, that while light on substance is dripping with style. Chunky narration appears between the panels that dovetails into the dialogue in quite a profound way. There isn’t that much depth to the characters but you are certainly intrigued by their colourful nature. The art is good and works in tandem with the narration to give a cool, Indy feel to the storytelling.
The second story is one of the most profound subjects ever tackled in a Crossed book. It deals with rape and what happens afterwards, in the real world, in our world. Obviously we see a lot of sexual violence in Crossed stories, some of which makes us uncomfortable but most we are now hardened to. By having a proper discussion hosted by relatable characters we experience something new.
This is well told indeed. The story opens up like a flower as you read it. Everything gently falls into place at the right time and you get the wonderful feeling you worked it all out on your own. It is set in Japan which is a new location for us to visit and makes an unusual backdrop.
The art is good, and though a little basic, delivers excellent expression and emotion in the key points. The colouring is strong with appropriate digital touches and clear flashbacks.
All in all a bold Thumbs Up!
David Lapham hasn’t has much luck with his Crossed stories but Garth Ennis is a tough act to follow. This story is actually one of the better ones and certainly his best Crossed work so far. It has a very relatable and sympathetic character, who definitely doesn’t have the skills needed to survive, but through good characterisation you keep rooting for him. There are a couple of clunky names of people and places that are quite intrusive but mostly this ticks along just fine.
The Crossed are the Crossed and while there is occasionally a new depravity they rarely shine. We do meet a character from another book for the first time ever and it will make you smile if you have been following the whole series. The ending has quite a lacklustre twist but if you look carefully all may not be as it seems.
Art is by series stalwart Jacen Burrows who is really in his element drawing clear faces, plenty of detail, and using great angles to show the action.
The next story is by David Hine and is quite a cerebral work. One of the tools of fiction is to act as a mirror for the human condition and Hine lays it on thick here raising very profound questions. He references quite a few literary works and the comparison between Crossed and Edgar Alan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death is definitely intriguing. The Crossed are almost an afterthought here yet do have a role to play. A secondary storyline fades in comparison to the main one leaving you wondering if this was a pitch Hine had before being invited into the Crossed universe.
Certainly one of the better volumes in the Crossed canon and a Thumbs Up!