September 2008 – March 2010
Number of issues
106 (Family Values)1 (3D)7 (Psychopath)100 (Badlands)4 (Wish You Were Here)2 (Dead or Alive)18 (+100)
Greg Waller (#0)Juanmar
Preacher, The Boys, Neonomicon, Chronicles of Wormwood, God Is Dead
CROSSED UNIVERSE EXPLAINED
Crossed is a comic book written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Jacen Burrows for the first ten issues, and published by Avatar Press. Following volumes Crossed: Family Values, Crossed 3D, and Crossed: Psychopath were written by David Lapham. A new series, Crossed: Badlands is written and drawn by rotating creative teams. The franchise has also spawned two webcomics: Crossed: Wish You Were Here, which ran from 2012–2014, and Crossed: Dead or Alive, which began syndication in November 2014.
Crossed is a creator-owned series from writer Garth Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows. It began with Crossed #0 on August 27, 2008 and all 10 issues have been released.
The second series, Crossed: Family Values, is written by David Lapham and drawn by Javier Barreno. Ennis described how this unusual situation for a creator-owned property came about:
To be honest, there was never really going to be a volume two- William [Christensen, editor-in-chief/publisher of Avatar] would ask me regularly about the possibility, but apart from one or two vague scenes I pretty soon realised I had no more Crossed stories in me. I didn't want to force the issue, either, because I'm very pleased with Crossed and don't want to dilute it with a sequel that I hadn't the ideas to sustain.
That said, it's pretty obvious that what you have with Crossed is a ready-made fictional world with a good deal of potential for further development, and the Crossed themselves seem to be strong enough villains to maintain an audience. So when William suggested other people doing more I said I wasn't averse to it, so long as a) I thought the creative teams were up to scratch, and b) my own story and characters would be left alone. Which means no sequel, no more Stan, Cindy, Thomas or Kitrick (or Horsecock, Face or Stump, come to that)- just fresh stories set in the same world.
As for David, who better? I think you'll see right from his first episode that he knows exactly what he's doing with the Crossed.
The story follows survivors dealing with a pandemic that causes its victims to carry out their most evil thoughts. Carriers of the virus are known as the "Crossed" due to a cross-like rash that appears on their faces. This contagion is primarily spread through bodily fluids, which the Crossed have used to great effect by treating their weapons with their fluids, as well as through other forms of direct fluidic contact such as rape and bites, assuming the victim lives long enough to turn. A major difference between the Crossed and other fictional zombie or insanity-virus epidemics (e.g. in the film 28 Days Later), is that while the Crossed are turned into homicidal violent psychopaths, they still retain a basic human-level of intelligence: thus they are still capable of using firearms, motor vehicles, tools like bows and arrows, and of setting complex traps.
The contagion spread across the entire world, with the Crossed killing, raping, engaging in cannibalism and maiming for fun, with governments and military overwhelmed; friends and family butcher each other with anything they lay their hands on, and cities are turned into vast charnel houses. Much of the Middle East is wiped out when Israel deploys nuclear weapons. The last organized act by the US government is to shut down as many nuclear power plants as possible and then kill the nuclear scientists and technicians to prevent them from reactivating the plants. A few nuclear power plants were not reached in time, however, such as Wolf Creek in Kansas and Browns Ferry in Alabama, detonated by Crossed who removed the control rods. One by one the remaining military bases are overrun. Soon human civilization is all but gone, and mankind is an increasingly endangered species.
Depiction of the Crossed
The Crossed themselves show considerable variation, as they are still self-aware individuals, albeit turned into homicidal maniacs. The actual level of insanity different Crossed demonstrate ranges across a wide spectrum as well. Many are practically feral savages with absolutely no regard for their own self-preservation, to the point that they will gleefully mutilate themselves for the sheer thrill of it, including amputating their own limbs. Others will be so driven to kill that they will carry out suicide attacks, crashing vehicles or causing meltdowns. Most are capable of basic albeit deranged speech, and wield whatever clubs, knives, or sharp objects are at hand to attack anything around them. The more insane Crossed will even attack each other, though they apparently prefer the non-Crossed. Some characters speculate that this preference is due to their need for sadistic gratification: given that the Crossed are so insane that they will mutilate themselves voluntarily, it isn't as fun to torture fellow Crossed as it is to torture uninfected, frightened victims.
As stated by Garth Ennis:
"The Crossed are people who - through infection - have given in to the absolute worst instincts that human beings can: murder, rape, torture, cannibalism, all of the most cruel and inventive kind imaginable. They are out of control, really. Their number one urge is to get their hands into normal people and commit every ghastly act they can think of - they can't fight it, and they don't want to."
On rare occasion, pregnant women who have been infected and turned survive long enough to give birth, but their babies are born infected as well - apparently the placental barrier provides no protection against the infection (though it is possible that it does, but unsanitary birth conditions infect them during delivery itself, like neonatal conjunctivitis). Crossed women who have given birth are, however, gleefully willing to needlessly murder their own newborn babies.
The rate at which a person becomes infected ranges from several hours to a matter of minutes and once infected there is no turning back. The most common rate of infection is incredibly fast, in the range of one to three minutes. No cure exists for the Crossed and there is almost no hint that scientists were able to study the infection long enough to do any sort of thorough research on the dilemma. While cover art has shown infected lab monkeys, animals generally seem immune.
The four most prominent Crossed characters focused on were Horsecock in the original series; Smokey in "The Quisling", who the protagonists had to take out to stop their gangs from spreading; the nun Aoileann in Wish You Were Here, and finally, serial killer Beau Salt, whose journal and descendants survive to Crossed +100. In comics by Simon Spurrier, this is attributed to some quality in the infected or their circumstances before infection. It's suggested in one issue that the disease doesn't always take proper hold in a "broken brain". Shaky says that Aoileann is good at "holding back passion" (which is mistaken for control) and simply passed this on to her group. Russian gangster Mattias had periods of control (followed by violent mania) due to brain damage from long-term ketamine use, and an Australian was focused on getting revenge. In Wish You Were Here, it is vaguely implied that Aoileann's unusual reaction to the Crossed infection may also be due to her having epilepsy, altering how it affected her brain. Beau Salt, already a prolific serial killer before 'The Surprise', as he called it, was largely unaffected by the infection, retaining all his faculties. He spent decades weeding out feral Crossed in order to build a functioning society of Crossed, passing his legacy down to his children, named after The Seven Dwarves.
Aoileann is capable of having lucid conversations with other people, making complex future plans and traps, and even seems to have retained certain empathetic emotions, as she is actually horrified at the prospect of personally killing other people (though she lets her followers kill uninfected people) and attempts to hold back her followers from killing Shaky (other humans are fair game). Mattias displays not only cognitive thinking but also strong emotional feelings. In his human life he fell in love with his parole officer, Serena and now his infected self is determined to find and protect her, only to go insane with grief when he finds he came too late. This showed traces of positive emotions such as love and sadness that is almost never observed in other crossed. If and how his ketamine habit affect this is unknown. Smokey is one of the smartest Crossed ever seen, as he organized and led a large group of Crossed. He even struck a deal with a survivor to turn on the rest of his band in exchange for protection and led an assault on a nuclear missile hangar to get the warhead. An exact reason why he is so much smarter is never given; although there were medical reasons behind Aoileann and Mattias, no such conditions are ever stated with him. It is to be noted that he does not display emotions, he is just more intelligent. The twin sisters Ashley and Ashlynne in the Florida Keys are also intelligent, for unknown reasons, though the fact that they are identical twins may indicate that it is due to some random genetic mutation. In issue #97, a navy patrol ship captain with access to a long range communications system (communicating with other survivors across continents) told Smokey that such intelligent "super-Crossed" were exceedingly rare, almost a scary campfire story that survivors shared with each other. The captain mentioned that besides Smokey, he had heard rumors of a nun in England (Aoileann), twin sisters in Florida (Ashley and Ashlynne), and also an autistic kid in Montreal.
Of all these "super-Crossed", there is one who takes it to another level: Salt, an infamous serial killer (known as the "Phonebook Killer") who was infected on C-Day. Because Salt was already homicidally insane and had no restrictions on his impulses, the Crossed virus did not significantly change him (perhaps because his psychopathic brain structure was already significantly altered from normal). Retaining all of his intellect and long-term planning ability, Salt soon became a dark messiah of sorts to the Crossed. He created the hundred-year plan to ensure the Crossed survive and continue the apocalyptic cycle indefinitely.
Some survivors have attempted to slip past the Crossed by painting red cross-marks on their faces to simulate the rashes from the infection – the Crossed will attack other Crossed if they're bored or frustrated, but at least some of the time will leave other Crossed alone. However, it does not matter how accurate the reproduction of the rash-marks are, even with high-grade makeup that makes them visually identical to the real rashes, the Crossed are somehow always able to tell that it is a fake. As characters note in The Fatal Englishman, having survived five years since the initial outbreak, they have never seen this trick succeed,
The later comics take place later and later in time after the outbreak first occurred, up to five years later by The Fatal Englishman. The Crossed have apparently been developing new habits. Some Crossed have been shown to be quite capable of complex pre-meditated actions. Not consumed by unthinking bloodlust to the extent that many of the other infected are, they have enough mental wherewithal to plan ambushes and traps, and organize gangs of Crossed to assault survivor enclaves. The more mindless rage-consumed Crossed will still know how to use firearms if they find them but usually won't think rationally enough to plan out where to acquire more firearms. The more rational and calculating Crossed, in contrast, will actively seek out armories to acquire new firearms. Some of these more rational Crossed will self-consciously coat their weapons in their own bodily fluids, actively trying to turn non-infected survivors into more Crossed.
As Shaky explained in the webcomics, it is not so much that the Crossed "evolved" during these years, but rather the process of natural selection setting in. Logically, many of the Crossed who were so insane that they didn't care about their own self-preservation have died off, while the far more dangerous rational and calculating ones took steps to survive over a long period of time. Those Crossed with little sense of preservation, not even the sense to put on warm clothing in colder weather, tended to die off in the winters. The Crossed who survived that long tend to be the more rational and lucid ones who have the wherewithal to preserve themselves, use combat tactics like avoiding gunfire, use guns themselves, and setting complex ambushes. Meanwhile, the few surviving non-infected are hardened survivors who have been combating the Crossed for years.
Most of the completely "anti-social" Crossed die out in the heavy fighting of the initial outbreak. By the time of Crossed: Family Values and later, survivors observe that most Crossed usually form up into gangs of about five to fifteen members. Any larger than that and they start fighting each other again, bringing the number back down to below about fifteen. The more coherent Crossed who survived many years, however, are capable of forming into even larger groups of over a hundred without fighting each other (as seen in Fatal Englishman and the webcomics). As seen in Family Values and the webcomics, when there are no more uninfected around to attack, after a while a group of Crossed will usually fall into a sort of bored stupor, aimlessly wandering in one direction until they find more people to attack. A number of Crossed, however, appear to be naturally smarter or, at least, more capable of patience and planning: deferring pleasure to have a greater atrocity later. These tend to become the leaders of large gangs, numbering in the many dozens or, in Crossed +100, a whole community. These appear more often in stories set months or years after the outbreak.
One hundred years on from the initial outbreak, as depicted in Crossed: +100, it is revealed that around 2050 AD, Crossed numbers began to drop significantly and eventually regular humans once again outnumbered the infected, though small family groups of Crossed continued to inhabit some areas, breeding new generations by refraining from killing their young. Crossed +100 shows that in the long run, Crossed will even learn to breed and form dysfunctional family units. Human society has somewhat begun to rebuild in the former United States, but is still socially and technically backwards compared to society before "The Surprise", as C-Day is referred to in 2108.
Before The Thin Red Line, the Crossed stories agreed that the infection was stunningly rapid, so fast that the news media and most world governments had little if any time to respond, but the exact specifics of the outbreak differed from writer to writer. Depending on the story, it took anywhere from a week to a mere matter of hours for the infection to spread across the globe. In the original story, the infection erupts suddenly across the entire United States without warning and later spreads; a survivor says Canada tried to fortify the border "in the first week" and were unaware the virus had reached them until after that point. In contrast, Badlands #14–18, #40–43 and Wish You Were Here have the infection erupted across the entire planet in the same day, the latter two showing United Kingdom and Japan being rapidly overrun; Badlands #16 has the White House (and Surgeon General) and part of the news media still around the next day, reporting on the crisis. Badlands #10–13 ignores this and has the Crossed tearing through small towns without being noticed, getting more and more numerous over the course of a week; and Badlands #26, also by Ennis, has a British soldier named Harry (later appearing in The Thin Red Line) say he's been aware of the Crossed for "the past three days" by the time the outbreak is public.
In the Crossed : Dead or Alive webcomic, the characters discuss a collapsed bridge, and speculate it was detonated by the US Army in "the first few days", in an effort to cut major road arteries and slow traffic between the eastern and western sections of the United States to slow the spread of the virus. In the stories where the infection is sudden, the Crossed are shown overrunning the United States at sunset/night and London in the afternoon, meaning one nation had to be overrun before the other. Badlands arc 62 - 70 shows the initial outbreak in the city of San Diego and the attempts by the US military to restore order in the city, and, as the epidemic got out of hand, evacuate thousands of surviving civilians from the city to waiting cruise ships and extract them to a supposedly secure island off the California coastline. However, a US Navy fleet sent from Pearl Harbor to protect the evacuation ships at San Diego harbor somehow falls victim to the infection and ultimately massacres much of the civilian evacuation vessels still residing in San Diego, killing and maiming hundreds or possibly thousands of survivors.
Homo Tortor by Kieron Gillen would introduce a fringe scientific theory that a viral pandemic of sociopathy had caused the mass extinction of prehistoric hominids. When the outbreak happened, one man attempted to find the theory's professor in the hope of learning about the origins of the Crossed - there turned out to be no link, with the prehistoric scenes being an in-universe story by the Crossed about the world they were making now.
The Thin Red Line (Badlands #50–56) finally established an origin and timeline of the infection as happening in Summer 2008, the time of the first comic. Other stories have gone with this and Crossed +100 gives a specific date of July 27, 2008 for when Americans see the "Surprise" as starting. (This origin clashes with other outbreak stories: London is not overrun for several days, the White House is overrun before most of the US, and the Crossed are public before an outbreak in Japan or most of the US.)
The outbreak began in Yorkshire, United Kingdom: the patient zero was a man who had a psychotic breakdown and murdered his family, and the infection spread rapidly from two local policemen to the entire population of the village of Tethersby. Within a few days, there were reports of infections in France, Chad, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. During the story, government scientist Dr. Chopra pointed out that the British "patient zero" cannot logically be the patient zero if the infection is appearing so far abroad, and theorizes if the virus is "something in the D.N.A.... the planet's" that has manifested and this is why it doesn't follow any known scientific laws. "Patient Zero" himself was aware of events he could not possibly have seen or heard and saw visions of atrocities he was unaware of, suggesting a paranormal angle, and refers to it as something that "cleanses".
In the UK, indecisiveness by Prime Minister Gordon Brown meant that a state of emergency wasn't declared until after a Sky News team found and filmed the villagers committing a mass suicide. From this point the infection spread rapidly, and the Prime Minister and his staff were moved into a secure bunker guarded by the SAS and SO1 police officers which also doubled as a medical research centre where "Patient Zero" was placed under quarantine. Soon after, Crossed had overrun most of Yorkshire and other parts of northern England and Scotland, with smaller outbreaks appearing further south. Under the belated state of emergency, the UK suspended all public transport, airlifted troops back from Afghanistan, and blockaded the M1 motorway just north of Northampton; south of there, cordons held and prevented large-scale refugee migration, which could bring more of the infected south.
As the infection appeared worldwide, Pakistani Crossed dropped a nuclear bomb on Delhi, wiping out most if not all of India's government; India's remaining military at least had the wherewithal not to launch a nuclear counterstrike against Pakistan, realizing it would achieve nothing. Shortly thereafter, Russian Prime Minister (and Acting President following Dmitri Medvedev's incapacitation) Vladimir Putin requested the RAF shoot down 40 Crossed-piloted Tu-95 bombers before NORAD – unable to launch planes due to similar problems – feel obliged to launch nukes. When Gordon Brown contacts the White House, the person answering (implied to be President George W Bush) is clearly infected, confirming Washington D.C. has been overrun. A single Tornado GR1 was launched to intercept the Russians and the crew sacrifice themselves to prevent nuclear war breaking out.
After this, the government is evacuated to bunkers, civil authority is superseded by the Armed Forces and orders go out to shut down all nuclear facilities. However, Brown says in the long term they should "hopefully" regain control and that government scientist Dr. Chopra has a chance of finding an answer to the virus. Unfortunately, Brown's advisor – acting without clearing it with the PM – had ordered two of the SAS to torture "patient zero" for information, which led to their infection and "zero" turning fully Crossed. As the bunker is being sealed, it's revealed Chopra is infected and about to butcher the Prime Minister.
In the United States, the President declared a national state of emergency with the full backing of Congress whilst forty two state Governors imposed martial law in their home states. FEMA and the National Disaster Medical System were activated, but were late in mobilizing. Within days of the outbreak, the power grid had failed in Atlanta, St Louis, Columbus and Chicago, and likely most other cities. NDMS deployed mobile mortuary teams across the eastern seaboard in an attempt to contain the epidemic and private health care centres were federalised.
Crossed (Volume One)
The first story (Volume One in trade) takes place ten months after the outbreak, with flashbacks to those events, as a small group make their way toward Alaska in the belief that its low population before the outbreak will mean there are fewer Crossed to be avoided, and that the Crossed's gleeful bloodlust hampers their ability to look after themselves. However, they encounter a small group of Crossed who have a degree of self-control and subsequently begin a hunt for the survivors.
Crossed: Family Values (Volume 2)
In Family Values, the story centers on a religious family who escapes their North Carolinian ranch to survive in a mountain compound led by the protagonist Adaline's father, who, while being a strong leader against the Crossed, is a sexual predator who has routinely raped his daughters.
3D was written with the 3D effect in mind and is not available in a 2D format. The story follows SWAT veteran Lt. Hunt MacAvoy as he leads a rescue mission into the middle of Crossed-infected New York City to rescue a stranded doctor. At 48 pages, the 3D one-shot is about a quarter of the size of one of the collected "Volumes".
Crossed: Psychopath (Volume 3)
In Psychopath, the story follows a group of survivors who pick up an injured man, Harold Lorre, who understands the way the Crossed think, and is tracking a specific group of Crossed. Lorre is the titular psychopath, and is killing members of his group of humans as he deems them problematic, passing the deaths off as the grisly acts of Crossed. The Crossed group they are tracking killed a woman Lorre had stalked prior to the outbreak, and subsequently forced a relationship upon her as they survived. After she was turned into a Crossed and killed, Lorre kept a fragment of her breast in a plastic bag.
The first Crossed Annual spins off from Wish You Were Here, featuring the lifestyle of the psychotic SBS marine Jackson. He appears to be tracking down the scientist who created the Crossed virus, an earlier version of which drove Jackson mad; this is simply a delusion of his, he'd always been psychotic and the 'weapon' does not exist.
Crossed: Badlands (Volumes 4–17)
Badlands features shorter story arcs of varying length, by different authors. Issues #1–3, by Ennis and Burrows, follows a group of United Kingdom survivors traveling across Scotland as the leader of the group, Ian, relates his introspection on the purpose of survival when there is no hope. By the end of the third issue, the entire group is killed and/or turned.
In issues #4-#9, by Jamie Delano and Leandro Rizzo, the story follows individual survivors in the Everglades banding together, only for their individual psychoses to ultimately cause them all to become Crossed, the last survivor coming over willingly as she is already cruel and sadistic.
In issues #10–13, by David Lapham and Burrows, a teenage survivor, nicknamed Yellowbelly, relates his experience of being at a carnival where the clowns and other workers become infected in the early hours of the outbreak, turning fun times into depraved terror. In issue #13, he crosses paths with Harold Lorre, the main character of Crossed: Psychopath who encourages Yellowbelly to use the Crossed-infested world as an opportunity to obtain power by force. Ultimately though, he is killed by a biker woman he fled with, when he confided his cowardice that resulted in the death of her sister-in-arms.
In Issues #14–18, written by David Hine, the story again takes place just prior to the outbreak in Stableford, Wisconsin, colloquially known as 'Stumptown'. The town residents participated in a mass insurance fraud by "losing" limbs to collect payouts, only to have their scheme exposed by infamous transgressive writer Gideon Welles, who used the town as inspiration. To add insult to injury, Welles built his massive estate, Samarkand, in the area. The story centers around aspiring writer Clooney, and his girlfriend Tabitha, who are to spend time at a writer's retreat at Samarkand. Unfortunately, Welles is a sadist who loved to torture him psychologically and a train full of Crossed has just pulled into the train station in town. Emasculated and humiliated by Welles' debauched sex orgy with his girlfriend and other guests, Clooney uses the Crossed to turn on his fellow writers, all being killed or turned by the horde. Only Philly, niece of town cop Lorna, escapes by boat, her aunt becoming infected when a dead Crossed fell over her, forcing Philly to kill her.
Issues #19–20 start a new arc by Si Spurrier (Crossed: Wish You Were Here) and Raulo Caceres (Crossed: Psychopath). The story involves a former criminal who was turned into one of the Crossed, but still retains a level of self-control and rationality compared to the other Crossed. The criminal, Mattias, a paroled enforcer for a local mobster, fell in love with his parole officer, Serena, and they had a relationship that ended due to the conflict between their duties and their love. Mattias, having become Crossed, travels to the Police station to find Serena, only to find she had taken her own life days earlier. Flying into a ketamine enhanced rampage, he passes out in a parking lot, only to reawaken with no memory of his search for Serena, and repeats his journey.
Issues #21–24 rejoin Amanda, the survivor of David Lapham's Psychopath arc. Having been scarred by her experience with Lorre, she no longer trusts anyone, and uses whatever means at her disposal to survive, while paranoia ultimately causes her to kill anyone who takes her in before they can get her. She falls in with The Livers, three survivors that have formed a close bond, despite their mutual insanity and occasional cannibalistic tendencies, and finds a new way to survive.
Issues #25–28 "The Fatal Englishman" is the third Ennis story and is set five years after C-Day. Four British Army soldiers (representing each nation of the United Kingdom) go on a suicide mission to break into Porton Down and release the biological weapons, hoping it will wipe out the Crossed but leave enough humans alive for Britain to rebuild and go on an offensive war against the infected. Along the way, they become guardians of a group of children and a Catholic priest, with whom the title character shares his wisdom.
Issues #29–32 "Quisling", written by Christos Gage, follow anthropologist Oliver who studies the Crossed and, to prolong his life, collaborates with the intelligent, dominant, axe-wielding leader of the Crossed group whom he has dubbed "Smokey". (Smokey, an intelligent zombie leading a group, is a parallel to the character Big Daddy from the film Land of the Dead.) Oliver betrays his fellow survivors to Smokey's band, and helps them hunt other survivors while hoping for a chance to escape or to find a group capable enough to fight back. Smokey assaults a nuclear missile base and massacres the surviving soldiers and scientists, with the intention of taking control the warheads. Ultimately, Oliver realizes the depth of his mistakes and gives his life to keep dangerous information from Smokey.
Issues #33–36 pick up with Amanda as she is hunting for the Livers and is forced to hide from a religiously-themed tribe of Crossed pursuing the same prey. She hides in a crawlspace for days but is devastated when the Crossed bring in her two Liver companions – one captive, and the other crossed – and she loses the strength of the delusions they supported.
Issues #37–39 "American Quitters" follow the odd couple of a stoned out hippy and a hardcore biker traveling cross-country to San Diego to die by the ultimate overdose and to seek revenge on a rival biker gangleader, respectively. Along the way, they pick up a pregnant Mexican woman fleeing from the drug lord father, trying to reach an island sanctuary off the Baja California peninsula. Ultimately, 'no lesson is learned', as the biker is overrun while overdosing on the ultimate high, the hippy is killed fulfilling the biker's revenge, and the pregnant woman is torn apart by her infected relatives on the island.
Issues #40–43 "Gore Angels" story arc by David Hine looks into the broken mind of an abused girl shows the early days of the epidemic raging in Japan.
Issues #44–49 In the early days of the outbreak, a group of US Coast Guard personnel set out of their vessel to try an survive at sea and eventually find an island to call home, but can their Captain be trusted as his behavior becomes more erratic?
Issues #50–56 follow British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the four men from "The Fatal Englishman" arc as they attempt to deal with the early stages of the outbreak in Britain. Pandemonium soon reigns worldwide as the virus spreads out of control and entire countries collapse under the weight of the madness.
Issues #57–61 follow Esperanza and Jane through their journey of survival as they find a "safe heaven" to which Esperanza's brother Alejandro tracks them down with a group of his own. Will the group and their leader survive an attack or will a plan laid out ruin it all?
Issues #62-70 follow Gavin Edward Land through his vengeance against a list of people he wrote down that raped and murdered his daughter. During his travels he learns more than he wanted to know, will he get his revenge?
Issues #71-74 (written by David Hine) follow Uboshita Satoshi on a quest to find his blood brothers, the Five Bloody Fingers, and help them survive C-Day. Finding the girl he loves (also one of his blood brothers) turns to be a harder task than thought, as her father is a yakuza boss who is also on the lookout for her. The friends find themselves making a stand at a Japanese cosplay convention.
Issues #75-80 (written by Kieron Gillen) the series follows two groups, one led by college student Washington in the present and the other by Lion, a young man living 75,000 years ago. Washington is attempting to find out more about a race of men similar to the crossed known as Homo Tortor who were theorized by a Professor Nelson to have nearly wiped out humanity 75,000 years ago and would eventually return. (See the Toba catastrophe theory.) Washington and a group of survivors attempt to find Professor Nelson's bunker where he may have information about a possible cure to the Crossed plague. Lion and his companions 75,000 years in the past are captured by the Homo Tortor whom they call "Blood men" after their village is wiped out; they are subsequently brought to the Blood men's city where they are forced to fight in an arena against men and giant beasts that the Blood Men had collected. The series arc alternates between Washington's attempt to discover more of Professor Nelson's work and Lion and his group as they attempt to survive the Blood Men.
Issues #81-86 follows a group of survivors stranded on a partially collapsed overpass with the crossed unable to reach them. However things begin to unravel after the group admits a pair of women who have survived the crossed due to their "bible," a best-selling, "zombie survival guide" novel.
Issues #87-90 follows two brothers Jack and Clancy, one human and one crossed.
Issues #91-92 Follows a group of 5 survivors, 4 men and a female author named Leigha surviving in a barricaded comic book store. The story follows the depleting morale of the group, and it is discovered that the male survivors had taken Leigha hostage, periodically raping her at gun point. Due to their growing boredom, the guys make deal with Leigha; if she writes them an "anti-crossed" comic, they will restrain from maltreating her, and giving her other "privileges". Things change when two strangers arrive at the store.
Issues #93-100 brings the return of Super-Crossed Smokey, who, with the self-preservation motivated guidance of a survivor who designed disaster shelters for the elite, seeks to mold the Crossed into a coherent society, by promising them fresh victims by breeding uninfected like cattle. This inevitably fails, and Smokey begins to seek other Super-Crossed like himself, eventually finding the Crossed twins from Issues #4-9. #100 is the final issue in Crossed: Badlands. Years pass, and while Smokey and the twins are able to establish a reasonably functional homestead with dozens of followers, though Smokey remains depressed that it is a far cry from the entire new society he had hoped to create. The children he fathered with the twins also don't seem to be any more intelligent than regular Crossed, leading him to believe that their species is doomed to die out from its own stupidity within a generation. Years later, the aging Smokey is betrayed and left for dead by the twins and his own son with them - revealing that he was actually as intelligent as his father the entire time, but they are nonetheless more concerned with self-indulgence than long-term planning. Smokey survives by jumping into a river, however, living to fight another day. In the final issue, word even reached Smokey's homestead about survivor colonies beginning to rebuild above the snow line - with so many of the feral Crossed dying off each winter - foreshadowing the resurgent human societies a century later in Crossed: +100.
Crossed: Wish You Were Here
In the webcomic Wish You Were Here, written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Javier Barreno (Vol.1) and Fernando Melek (Vol.2), former writer "Shaky" (short for Shakespeare) writes in his journal of life on the island of Cava off of the coast of Scotland, where he and a handful of other survivors try to have some semblance of society while desperately trying to keep the wandering Crossed at bay.
In the first volume, Shakespeare must deal with the logistics of living on an Cava with his group, under two men Rab and Don with very different leadership styles. Eventually the leaders decide to send out a sortie compiled of random members of the island, reasoning that anyone who wishes to volunteer is too important to lose. Eventually Shaky blackmails one of the leaders into letting him into the sortie, and decides that if he is going to live the rest of his life in the apocalypse, he won't be bored doing it. He feels that the boredom (or having too much time to think about mysteries and the past) could kill him if he doesn't do something about it.
While the sortie is on the mainlands Shaky quickly and unintentionally becomes one of the two leaders among the group, the other being a schizophrenic but well-trained former military Scotsman named Jackson (the insane protagonist of the first Annual). During this time Shaky sees that the rest of the group is poorly suited to survival - Tabitha, who has shown some romantic interest in him, is fairly competent, but the two other members consist of a cowardly American woman, Selene, who almost continually wails about the situation, and an absent-minded older man who apparently only survives multiple Crossed attacks by luck. They are all being tracked by a figure wrapped in black who was previously shown with Aoileann; the pursuer finds a note left by Shaky and retrieves it.
Starting with the sortie onwards, the narrative alternates between the main story and Shaky's flashbacks to the events that first led him to Cava. Shaky is shown to have been a writer who was in a London café when the infection first hit. After repeated attempts to contact his parents and his fiancée, he finally finds out that they are all either dead or infected. He decides to kill himself by jumping off a bridge and drowning. However, he is rescued by a police patrol on a riverboat, the captain assuring him he is now safe. Shortly after, the boat is attacked, the crew all killed or turned, and Shaky surviving only through the heroic last acts of a female member of the Coast Guard. Shaky ends up back on land, wandering alone for a week before he encounters a Crossed child. He cannot run as his pants are down around his ankles, but a group comes along in time to save him, the leader throwing him a gun and allowing him to come when Shaky kills the Crossed himself. He spends the next eight months with a man called the Gamekeeper and his group of survivors. Though the Gamekeeper is extremely resourceful and intelligent, he is also sadistic and ruthless. The survivors dislike him, but he remains in control because he is needed for survival. The group members are slowly killed over time until only Shaky, a college-aged Pakistani man named Ashoke, and a husband and wife couple are left. It is shown that the Gamekeeper used to work for the husband, and in a form of revenge, he does as he pleases with the wife. At this point, Aoileann joins the group, revealed to be a devout and chaste nun. The Gamekeeper begins regularly raping the wife, much to the husband's anguish. The group can see that the Gamekeeper is taken with the nun, and the wife tries to make her the target of his lust. Shaky manages to spoil her plans. The internal discord culminates when the group finds a cache of guns, and the husband decides to kill the Gamekeeper. However, the leader outwits him and kills him instead. Now without her husband, the wife soon hangs herself. Greatly upset at this turn of events, the Gamekeeper begins to distance himself from his own group, only showing up occasionally with food or when a Crossed needs to be killed. Aoileann has a seizure and it is revealed that she has epilepsy. The group continues on until one night the Gamekeeper attacks Ashoke in order to rape Aoileann. While Ashoke lies unconscious from being strangled, the Gamekeeper cuts an X into Aoileann's face, demanding that she avert her eyes while he rapes her. Shaky walks in on the scene and shoots the Gamekeeper with a shotgun despite the nun's protests, then ties him to a tree. He sets an alarm to go off once every hour, expecting the Crossed to finish what he started. The group continues on their own, though Ashoke has suffered severe mental retardation from the attack.
Back in the present, the sortie runs into another survivors group led by a brutal but devious man named Jasper, and Shaky tells them of his group's "sanctuary" and how if the other group follows his orders, they may come along when his group goes home. Shaky realizes he can only take two of Jasper's group back with him, and plans to weed them out as time goes on. Jackson, disapproving of Shaky's vileness, leaves the group under Shaky's sole care. As Jasper's group's numbers dwindle down, their leader steals their food and disappears. The remaining survivors from both parties come across a military fortress that is surrounded by Crossed and requests medical supplies in exchange for their weapons. The sortie mulls over how to execute the trade with the sea of Crossed blocking their way. Shaky comes up with an idea that requires a volunteer to take on a high-risk mission. Selene volunteers, finally building the nerve to take action and also to speak of her past, in which she had inadvertently caused the death of her husband and two children. Seemingly in atonement, she happily accepts the task of driving a van into the fortress to get the weapons and bring them back. The group successfully distracts the Crossed (the decoys mostly consisting of members of Jasper's former crew) and gets Selene into the base. However, she doesn't reappear when a day passes and it's time for her to return. The group wait for her and continue luring the Crossed a few more times. They're beginning to believe something has happened to her when they hear the sounds of explosions, followed by prolonged gunfire. The noise frightens them. They wait until there is a long period of silence before moving to investigate the fortress. There they find carnage and only one living thing - a Crossed small child, whom they kill. Expecting Selene has died - Shaky's theory is she did so heroically - they load up on weapons and head home.
When the sortie arrives back on Cava, they are met with Jasper who found the island without Shaky's help. During Shaky's absence Jasper planted seeds of doubt against Shaky, stating that Shaky had been leaving a stunning amount of written evidence behind with the location of Cava. The reveal makes Shaky an outcast, both for his actions on the sortie and his leaving evidence of Cava. Tabitha begins to have sex with Shaky while he is in isolation at the other end of the island, but she and one of Jasper's former followers are his only allies. Jasper then starts assuming a greater role within the hierarchy while pushing out Rab and Don. Eventually things reach a flashpoint when Rab, Don, and Shaky decide to push Jasper out. This leads to a confrontation between Shaky and Jasper, with Jasper's antique gun exploding in his hands. Shaky then uses Jasper's unconscious, injured body as bait attempting to lure the Crossed alerted to Cava's presence, but it is foiled when the group of Crossed is seemingly led by an infected Aoileann, who has seemingly instilled them with some level of self-control.
Jackson returns to the group with interesting news. He is accompanied by Selene, who is alive but mentally broken. He states he found her on an island occupied by Crossed, lying inside a circled of lit candles, alone. She'd been holding an empty envelope. Shaky later questions her about what had happened. She seems to snap out of her trance, in which she repeated the same few words over and over. She tells Shaky of how she'd been taken by someone in black. She then wound up living among Crossed, mostly unmolested but having to watch the infected going about their ghastly business. While she watches all these horrifying scenarios, Aoileann repeats the same phrase to her. After she finishes telling her story, she goes back to repeating her programmed message. Shaky realizes this is information about a meeting place.
Shortly after Jasper's death, Tabitha comes to Shaky with news of being pregnant. Shaky decides he has to come up with an idea to keep her safe, but his thoughts are interrupted by an American drift fleet of cruise ships that arrive near Cava to trade supplies. Rocked with the idea that they no longer have to stay on Cava, many of the group consider leaving and joining the drift fleet. Realizing that they wouldn't be in charge anymore, Rab and Don try to convince people to stay on the island which leads to conflict. Shaky decides that Cava is his home, and he won't leave.
Using his weasel-like personality, he convinces the rest of the group that the drift fleet is planning to attack Cava, while at the same time he tells the drift fleet's captain, Nora, that soon Cava will attack the drift fleet. He tells Nora that he will be among the attackers and wishes to secretly help the drift fleet. All he asks in return for this information is for Tabitha and his child to be looked after. During Cava's attack, events are turned into a stalemate by a warned Nora and Don's secret plan to take the fleet's only surviving child hostage. During the confrontation Don is killed by Jackson who joined and led the drift fleet to Cava in the first place after leaving the sortie. As per the agreement Nora takes Tabitha and doesn't sell out Shaky, with no one but Jackson, who is aware of Shaky's vindictive attitude, the wiser that the entire situation was instigated by Shaky for his own benefit. As Jackson leads the remaining Cava residents back to their territory, they spot Aoileann and the Crossed in the hills. Per Shaky's instructions, Jackson fires his rifle at Aoileann, but the bullet is taken by the Crossed covered in black. The dying Crossed is revealed to be Ashoke. In a rage, Aoileann points in the direction of the fleet. Back on Cava the group sees the drift fleet in flames, overrun by Crossed. Shaky and Jackson head off to quickly find and kill Aoileann, who has for some reason walked inland by herself. During the hunt Jackson is injured by a trap, and decides to kill himself rather than have all of his military knowledge be added to Aoileann's group of infected. Shaky hands him his weapon with only one bullet, in case Jackson believes it would be a good final act to kill Shaky as well.
The flashbacks also continue, with Shaky and Aoileann trying to take care of the handicapped Ashoke, who it turns out is battling a drug addiction. At this point, Shaky has fallen in love with Aoileann, but she remains devoutly chaste despite his advances. Eventually, Shaky decides that he cannot risk keeping Ashoke with them, as his mental retardation is a liability. He leads him off during the night and abandons him, telling the nun that he must have wandered off and they cannot spend time searching for him. Moving on, Aoileann and Shaky find a vicar surviving in a church attic with a group of children, and join him for several days. Shaky continues his advances towards Aoileann.
Back on Cava, the infected drift fleet crashes into Cava spilling infected all across the island. Among their numbers is an infected Tabitha, who finds her way to Shaky's residence and is looking at a picture she drew of him. Shaky himself walks in and they begin to communicate for a moment before she is shot and killed by a Cava resident, whom Shaky kills in turn. Despite losing most of the island and several of their people, Cava is able to fend off the drift fleet's numbers. Unfortunately, however Aoileann's group surrounds Cava shortly after, trapping the few survivors on what's left of the island. Shaky decides there's little choice but to meet with Aoileann per the instructions she brainwashed into Selene.
After Shaky's attempts to talk to Aoileann only result in more losses, the group decides it's best to try and escape at night using a refiner ship from the drift fleet. Rab breaks Shaky's ankles on Cava telling him that he is just too big of a risk to bring along with them, as people tend to die around him. Before they can escape, Rab's group comes face to face with Aoileann's, and see for the first time how truly outnumbered and out-gunned they are. While Rab's group prepares to escape, Shaky speaks to Aoileann over a radio and realizes that they both have questions for one another. Shaky realizes that the situation at Cava has reached a flash point, and he is playing a dangerous game by asking Aoileann questions. If he asks an emotionally charged question or answers a question in a way that could make Aoileann appear weak, her gang will kill her and swarm the island. Suddenly a follower of Aoileann attacks her and forces the Crossed group to attack Cava. Shaky, attempting to use himself as bait to lure the Crossed away from Rab's group, crashes a boat on a small rock, making himself easy prey, but the new Crossed leader sees through the ploy and decides to continue hunting Rab's group. Rab, thinking ahead, had planted explosives on his vessel, and Selene sacrifices herself by detonating the trap, killing most of the infected as the rest of Rab's group escaped on a second hidden vessel.
The final few flashbacks continue with Aoileann giving in and breaking her vows. The two start having sex in the attic while the vicar is away. Aoileann begins having a seizure which Shaky ignores. The vicar returns to warn of Crossed outside and tries to separate Shaky and Aoileann. Desperate to climax Shaky shoves him away causing him to fall and be knocked out. Shaky yells out in pleasure and is heard by several Crossed. The Crossed enter the church and slaughter the children, who are playing downstairs. Shaky runs down to help, but is too late. He then realizes with horror that some newly-Crossed children have made it into the attic. However, he is too cowardly to help and sits back in tears as he lets the Crossed infect the vicar and Aoileann. He escapes the church, and finds members of Cava who take him to the island. Shaky remarks that the entire situation is his fault.
The next morning Shaky is still stranded on the rock when Aoileann returns. Shaky finishes his diary saying that he realizes that every rule and regulation on Cava was simply an attempt to regulate the madness of the world, and is really no different to what humans do when they write stories. Shaky claims that the stories are only there to make sense of a world of chaos, and that every breath, page, and word are just "doomed islands briefly holding out against the dark." Shaky gives Aoileann his diary which she rips apart page by page and throws it into the wind. Shaky then decides he wants an ending to his story.
From afar, Rab is watching these events and relaying it to the three surviving children of his group. Shaky then allows Aoileann to infect him while making love on the rock. Both then jump into the cold, strong current outside of Cava to die together. As the children plead to see what's happening, Rab states that sometimes it's enough to just be told a story instead of living it. Rab concludes that Cava is no longer safe, and leads the remaining survivors away to start anew elsewhere.
Crossed: Dead or Alive
The first series was originally optioned for an independently-funded film, with Ennis writing the screenplay. It was going to be financed by Trigger Street Productions and produced by Michael De Luca, Jason Netter, and Kevin Spacey. In the end of 2012, however, Ennis announced that he and Avatar Press had recovered the rights to the franchise. They made plans to launch a series of webisodes in an attempt to generate interest for a feature film. In March 2013 Crossed: Dead Or Alive, an upcoming series of live action webisodes, written and directed by Ennis was announced. DOA will be accompanied by an Ennis-penned tie-in web comic that will expand and further develop the concepts of the film series and its characters. A goal was set to film all the episodes for Crossed: Dead or Alive season 1 in early 2014.
The webcomic was launched on November 13, 2014, with the plans to start production on the live-action series as soon as the fundraising campaign began to make money.
A six issue series called Crossed: +100, written by Alan Moore and with art by Gabriel Andrade, debuted in December 2014. It follows a group of humans 100 years after the outbreak. After running across a group of Crossed, they find that the infected have begun to multiply again after having almost disappeared.
One hundred years on from the initial outbreak, it is revealed that around 2050 AD, Crossed numbers began to drop significantly and eventually regular humans once again outnumbered the infected, though small family groups of Crossed continued to inhabit some areas, breeding new generations by refraining from killing their young. Again, this was simply the result of natural selection: Crossed populations that attacked their own children died out from old age eventually, while only those that didn't would still survive a hundred years later. The Crossed started diminishing in numbers by 2050 because by forty years later, any adults infected in the initial outbreak (i.e. 20 or older) were starting to get too old to survive such a violent lifestyle (against both Crossed, the uninfected, and the elements). Teenagers and children infected in the initial outbreak were not strong enough to compete against adult Crossed at the time, so they didn't tend to survive forty years of constant fighting.
The Crossed infection is stated to have spread around the planet on July 27, 2008, an event commonly called "the Surprise". By 2108, human society has somewhat begun to rebuild in the former United States, but is still socially and technically backwards compared to society before the Surprise. The society of the human survivors has drastically changed after a hundred years, with slang derived from a post-Crossed world. In the Tennessee region shown in Crossed: +100, major religions such as Judaism and Christianity have died out, and most people are irreligious, though there are a few survivor enclaves that still practice Islam (the comic creators stated that one of the reasons the story was set in Tennessee is due to the large Muslim population in present-day Murfreesboro; other large Muslim populations in the United States are concentrated in major metropolitan areas, which thus stood lower chance of surviving the Crossed epidemic). Few survivors living in 2108 have even seen a Crossed person, to the point that many younger people mockingly imitate the Crossed with face paint, and chasing each other pretending to be Crossed is a childhood game.
In 2108, a group of survivors from the rebuilt settlement at Chattanooga, Tennessee (called "Chooga") make a horrifying discovery through the diary entries of Beau Salt, an infamous serial killer (known as the "Phonebook Killer") who was infected on C-Day. Because Salt was already homicidally insane and had no restrictions on his impulses, the Crossed virus did not significantly change him (perhaps because his psychopathic brain structure was already significantly altered from normal). Salt considered the new world of the Crossed to be a paradise, but he also had the foresight to realize that it would be difficult to sustain indefinitely - given that many Crossed will rape and eat their own small children. Salt therefore began self-consciously conducting conditioning experiments on other Crossed, to weed out the uncontrollable ones and actively select for the ones that could display enough restraint to follow long term plans. Salt also came to realize that because the Crossed were constantly fighting the uninfected, the survivors were becoming battle-hardened and difficult for the Crossed to fight. Salt therefore laid out in advance a plan which would take decades to reach fruition (an explicit reference to the Seldon Plan in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series), in which the Crossed would basically let the uninfected survivor enclaves "lay fallow" for a full generation at a time, so that over time the uninfected would get soft, unused to a daily fight for survival against the Crossed. Salt even planned out that the return attacks of the Crossed against survivor enclaves would take place on the exact day of the 100 year anniversary of the Surprise, in July 2108. Chaos unfolds as the uninfected humans seek to protect the remaining settlements in the east coast area of the USA, while trying to uncover the conspiracy layed out by Salt a hundred years earlier.