Crossed Confessions: A By-The-Numbers Review of Crossed: Badlands

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1. Hello. My name is Chad, and I used to read Crossed: Badlands.

2. I said “used to,” so please don’t click away. Read on please.

3. I mean the first series by Ennis. Not the endless stream of Crossed: Badlands that seems to come out every week. The original Crossed is what got me hooked in the first place. I still think those first ten issues (0-9) are a good if flawed piece of work. Even if it was created by Ennis as a way to make up for Warren Ellis getting bored with his Black Gas series.

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4. That part about Ennis and Ellis is just a theory. Still, with the similarities of both series (zombie-ish victims of unknown ailment that removes inhibitions, both under the same publisher), you have to admit it’s a good theory. Plus, Ellis gets bored easily and drops more ideas than I’ve dropped cell phones. Then again, maybe Ellis and Ennis are the same person. Only one consonant separates ’em…

5. In the beginning, I took to liking Ennis’ Crossed so much that I ended up defending it during WGI’s webisode on violence. This carried over to real life, as most of WGI’s founding crew works and or hangs at Comicopia. With each purchase, I had to be like Obama preparing for his second and third debates. Unfortunately, as the product got handed over to other people besides Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows, I got to feeling like Romney in the second and third debates.

6. Yeah, a political reference and a reference to my politics. Why not?

7. Note that at no point did I say any other name besides Ennis and Burrows. I did not mention David Lapham.

8. I will not mention David Lapham except that it was his work almost single-handedly ruined the series.

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9. I say “almost” single-handedly because I’m reminded by the above graphic that we have to give credit to the artists of Crossed: Family Values and Crossed: Psychopath credit. Not to mention the artists behind Avatar’s endless alternate incentive/wraparound/human totem pole/baby-in-microwave covers. Google all the artists’ names if you want. I overwrite as it is.

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10. So what I want to know is: What series of events turned this…


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 realized 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.

Into this…?

Ennis will also be coming back to the Crossed comic with an arc starting at issue 25 and then another one at issue 50. The issue 50 arc will focus on patient zero. There has been much mystery in the series about how the infection came to be and this might shed some light on the subject for curious fans.

11. I find it ironic that Ennis is coming back to add glue to a franchise already seems broken, or at the very least reduced to mindless splatter-house.

12. I’ll mention David Lapham one more time only to add that his Badlands and Psychopath read like they were typed out while watching internet porn and Cannibal Ferox at the same time (so I’d imagine).

13. I’ve now officially mentioned David Lapham one too many times.

14. Make that two too many.

15. The answer to the question in number 10 is: Money. That and (to be kind) Ennis is probably trying to save the series from complete ruination. I sympathize.

16. Out of all the Crossed writers, Ennis was the one who showed the most restraint in his shows of violence and depravity. There I said it. I will stand by it.

17. The thing that every other writer since seems to forget is that Garth Ennis’ Crossed was originally about trying to preserve humanity in the face of inhumanity. That’s been the crux of more than one zombie movie. Which is to say, just about every damn zombie movie. It worked for Ennis’ vision too. It could have continued to work. However, when your main characters already have their humanity more compromised than the monsters they’re fighting, then everyone’s just fighting to see who the bigger assholes are. The crossed win only by strength of numbers most times. It may as well be a nineties superhero brawl.

18. Every time you read the “superhero” part in the above statement, Garth Ennis throws up in his mouth a little. This may lead to inspiration for a new character in a future Ennis book. I propose the name “Pukeface.”

19. Back to Crossed: Badlands. The first three issues reunited Ennis/Burrows. It’s an OK story for two reasons. First, it’s back to humanity vs. inhumanity, albeit with a more defeatist protagonist. Second, it’s short. It seems that Ennis (at least at the time he wrote it) admitted to himself that if he shouldn’t draw things out. No one else has learned this lesson.

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20. Jamie Delano is someone that doesn’t get published enough anymore. This work isn’t going to help him get published more.

21. I like reading Delano with his non-romanticized views on America (a stark contrast to Ennis embracing all this country’s wonders and faults). It is such a shame that all he can do with the reasonable talents of Leandro Rizzo is pit a handful of the basest of white trash stereotypes and go between interior monologues and aggravating exposition with way too many characters that only exist to be picked off. And all the major picking off happens in the second to last issue, so what was the point?

22. The idea of willfully contaminating yourself to be “crossed,” using the virus as a drug, is an interesting twist. Too bad the twist was completely ruined by first putting it just after the halfway point and then used again as the crux of the ending. Uh, surprise?

23. Yes, the above was a spoiler. Do you care?

24. Since then there have been two more story arcs, one done and one in progress. And when he who has not been mentioned since point 13 decides to have one of his characters teach another person how to perform necrophilia…

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25. Yeah…

26. The series started by the zombie craze is ironically running itself into the ground. Almost 20 issues in, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to issue #25 by the end of the year. Get ready for Crossedmast!

27. I’m not picking up Crossed: Badlands anymore. My methadone is me checking out the web series, which seems slightly more reserved, but we’ll see. So I’ve controlled my Crossed habit. Still, I’m afraid that I’ll be tempted to pick up issue 25 just because Ennis is going to try and upright this train wreck.

28. I’ll be open to an intervention.

About Chad Parenteau

I'm a poet. I run the Stone Soup Poetry series in Cambridge that runs every Monday night. I review comics in my spare time.
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One Response to Crossed Confessions: A By-The-Numbers Review of Crossed: Badlands

  1. mjsb says:

    Well I hope you have stuck with the web series. I left it for ages and then re-read it all just the other day. What a tour de force!

    I’ve only read Badlands up to issue 18, the conclusion of a very weak story. I liked it before though, so I am going to get up to date with the issues I have waiting to be read.

    Maybe it was just money that got Ennis back on the series, but whatever the reason, he is sure to put out a great story.

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