Garth EnnisCrossed
Crossed volume 6
Medium: comic
Year: 2013
Writer: Garth Ennis, Simon Spurrier, David Lapham
Artist: Raulo Caceres, Miguel Garrido
Keywords: Crossed
Format: Badlands #19-28
Website category: Comics
Review date: 21 August 2023
This volume collects three stories, but not in publication order. They've put the best one first and the weakest one in the middle.
THE FATAL ENGLISHMAN (#25-28) by Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres
I won't say "Ennis on autopilot", but it has four soldiers travelling across England while remembering inglorious bits of British history and being rude about religion to a Catholic priest. One of them's explosively vulgar, but in a slightly knee-jerk way that's much less memorable than usual for Ennis. Another's Irish and talks about his old relationship with the IRA.
So, yes. It's way more Ennis-sy than his original Crossed mini-series.
The most interesting thing about this story, paradoxically, might be Raulo Caceres's art. It's not "good", if you prize realism. It's a bit cartoonish and I wouldn't advise putting it alongside Jacen Burrows. To my eyes, though, he made the soldiers look Biblical. Harry would be Jesus and Paddy would be Judas. (Or are they both Christ variants, perhaps? Although of course it's all just my subjective impression to start with.) It was a bit odd seeing Jesus and Judas going into Ennisian detail about religion to a priest, including a mention (and dismissal) of the idea of Biblical meaning in the cross of the Crossed. (The Crossed have a red cross on their face, which I'm sure was only added because this is comics and you want a way of identifying baddies visually.)
This one's okay. I like the ending, which is both dark and interesting.
THE LIVERS (#21-24) by David Lapham and Miguel Garrido
Bloody hell. This one's a horror story, over and above the presence of the Crossed.
It stars Amanda (the protagonist of volume 3: Psychopath) and she's in a bad way psychologically. She kills in their sleep two nice people who'd helped her, because she's paranoid and only loosely connected with reality. She's losing it. I don't like her. I'm not meant to.
She meets the Livers, a group of three roleplayers with their own way of withstanding the mental strain. This may or may not include raping her, but she gets into their way of living anyway. It's unclear how much sanity these people ultimately have left, but the JESUS THAT ENDING is even more disgusting if you speculate that they know what they're doing. Which I think they do.
The art's really not very good. There's lots and lots of nudity, to a slightly juvenile extent that makes you appreciate Garth Ennis's restraint. (Yes, I really did write that sentence.) This isn't the only Crossed serial to be guilty of that and this is quite good psychological horror... but I don't like Amanda herself and I avoided Crossed volume 7 because it includes a further David Lapham sequel to this and I can live without yet more stories of Amanda murdering people who meant no harm because she's insane and delusional.
CONQUERS ALL (#19-20) by Simon Spurrier and Raulo Caceres
It starts out as a love story where the boy's Crossed and the girl's normal. (They've been separated, but the boy's travelling across Los Angeles to find the girl. He's got more self-control than most Crossed.)
Then it gets (even) darker. He's a Russian gangster and she's a cop. It's a love story, but not a straightforward or happy one. Ultimately, this one gets quite interesting.