CROSSED VOL. 5 (Avatar Press, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects Crossed: Badlands Nos. 10-18 (cover dates June- November, 2012)
Writers: David Lapham (10-13) and David Hine (14-18)
Artists: Jacen Burrows (10-13), Georges Duarte (14), and Eduardo Vienna (15-18)
Those sick bastards at Avatar Press have brought us another grisly, disturbing helping of depravity known as Crossed. No taboo or societal mores are too much for these guys to violate. This time out we get two arcs, Yellow Belly and The Golden Road.
In Yellow Belly Avatar mainstay David Lapham teams up with original series artist Jacen Burrows in a story about a cowardly teenage nerd who gets his nickname from wetting his pants in the sixth grade. He has never been able to live down this shame, and the small town where he has just graduated from high school won't let him, either.
Edmund Wickenthorp (Yellow Belly)'s family goes to a circus 20 miles away as part of his graduation present. The Crossed stumble upon the circus and begin infecting the performers and soon, the entire audience. Edmund's father hides him in a barrel, and he watches his father and brother get killed through a hole in that barrel. When he recovers, he races to his hometown to warn his family that the Crossed-infected circus is coming to town...only nobody believes him. I'm going to skip my synopsis for the rest of this arc for fear of spoilers, suffice it to say pretty much everyone dies in a horrid way. What else would you expect out of Crossed? Sunshine and lollipops?
The second arc, The Golden Road, is equally disturbing. Welles is a famous author who hosts writer retreats in Samarkand, his mansion where he brings a group of people he handpicks to engage in what is essentially a sick game of psychological warfare. Things go haywire when the Crossed come to town.
Clues as to the origins of the Crossed are spread like breadcrumbs throughout the various series. We finally have verification that this event is occurring simultaneously around the world. One of the variant covers provides the most interesting clue yet. It shows a miner/explorer in a cave with what look like caveman or Native American drawings of what appear to be the Crossed, and skull with the Crossed infection marking on it. Could this be some sort of Native American curse? Ancient aliens? An ancient plague? From a meteor? Again, we have no real answers, only clues and questions. I kind of hope to never find a definitive answer. Questions are more fun than answers.
As always, I am disappointed in myself as a human being for loving this sick sh*t so much. It's wrong and I know it but I am looking forward to the next hardcover collected edition. This series seems to stand in the shadow of The Walking Dead. If The Walking Dead is the more popular title, it would be like the Metallica of Horror comic books. Crossed is like the Slayer of Horror comic books, way cooler and far edgier but doomed to never get the credit it deserves due to its extreme nature.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone-
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Avatar Press continues to use decent weight coated stock paper in it's hardcovers.
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. While this book does indeed have sewn binding, it does not lay completely flat due to the casing being glued square to the spine. It does lay flat for about 90-95% of the book, so it's not bad, really, just a bit tight.
Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Avatar Press uses an extremely thick, high quality coating on it's hardbacks. No dustjacket required here, just an image printed on the book with a superb thick coating.
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