Garth EnnisJamie DelanoJacen BurrowsCrossed
Crossed volume 4
Medium: comic
Year: 2012
Writer: Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano
Artist: Jacen Burrows, Leandro Rizzo
Keywords: Crossed
Format: Crossed: Badlands #1-9
Website category: Comics
Review date: 17 August 2023
Badlands was a bi-weekly series for different artists and writers to tell their own unrelated (but gross) stories in the Crossed world. It ran for four years (2012-16) and 100 issues, of which these are the first nine. (Both arcs are by Hellblazer writers, oddly.)
#1-3: OF THE WORLD AND ITS BECOMING (Ennis and Burrows)
The franchise's creators are back for more! This story's shorter than their original mini-series, but even more bleak. With hindsight, everything here is building up to the question it asks with its ending. It's very good, actually, showing us the choices people will make to survive (e.g. the disgusting thing that happens to Pat the useless prick) even if they're wondering whether or not survival is worth it. The protagonist carries a grenade for the ultimate emergency and often thinks about suicide.
Occasionally, it's funny. Ennis's dialogue made me laugh. It's also shocking. It can be horrifyingly clear-eyed about, say, the personality types that would and wouldn't be an asset in this situation. Its last page is haunting and might linger with you.
#4-9: HOMO SUPERIOR (Delano and Rizzo)
It's interesting to compare this with Ennis's similar story immediately before it. They have parallel endings, theoretically, but their impact on the reader is completely different. Ennis's characters are vulgar and often horrifying, but also relatable. You identify with them.
Delano's characters, on the other hand, are loathsome and the ending is correct for them. (If you look at their actions, all of them except Steve are less scary than Ennis's gang, but they're still far more unlikeable.) Our anti-heroes include: (a) a bitch who tortured people for the U.S. military and got sexual pleasure from doing so, (b) a married man who never bothered going to see if his wife and child had survived C-Day, (c) twins whose main hobby is going topless, and (d) a teenager who dealt drugs to his dad's redneck white supremacist colony and occasionally got beaten up by them. He commits the worst act in this story, although his victims were asking for it.
Yes, it's disgusting. Yes, its ending is every kind of wrong, albeit foreshadowed in everything from the title to Leon's dad. It's quite a ride, although I think Ennis's version is better.