Crossed +100 Volume 1 by Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade (graphic novel review).

February 21, 2016 | By | Reply More

The adverts say that no prior knowledge of the ‘Crossed’ series by Garth Ennis is needed to enjoy this book which is just as well because I don’t have any. This volume collects the first six issues of the comicbook ‘Crossed + 100’ which completes the first part of the story arc.

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After a six panel prologue, a great splash page by artist Gabriel Andrade sets the scene nicely. A caption tells us it’s ‘July 12, 2108 AFAWK.’ A steam-powered vehicle with tank treads passes through rough countryside. There are ruins in the background and skeletons strewn across a grassy slope in the foreground. Narration is provided by a young lady sat atop the vehicle and writing in her logbook.

This is set one hundred years after the original outbreak of the plague. Archivist Future Taylor is in a salvage team led by Runboss Greer. They come from a survivor settlement in the former USA and are working to rebuild the historical record of the original Crossed outbreak by recovering maps, non-fiction print, home audio or video and other artefacts. Taylor finds ‘The Encyclopaedia Of Science Fiction’ and, as the story progresses, she reads it, which provides us with the chapter headings, the first being ‘124C41+’ by Hugo Gernsback. The outbreak is known as The Surprise because it was. The victims become psychotic killers interested only in pain and sex. They are assumed to have died out, due to their propensity for rape, murder and eating their own children but suddenly a few appear and the bloodletting begins. Wolves to add to the fun.

As you’d expect with Alan Moore, the language is inventive and takes some getting used to at first. Most of it is self explanatory: ‘in brown,’ ‘I don’t heart it much,’ ‘skull where we are yet?’ As the story progresses, you get more of it and some word balloons have to be read twice to get the meaning, simply because the vocabulary is combined in unusual ways. I didn’t work out ‘til near the end that AFAWK means ‘as far as we know’. One thing about Alan Moore, he doesn’t insult your intelligence. He makes you work. As with ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess, this is a realistic presentation of the future – language does change – but might annoy some readers.

The idea of using Science Fiction titles, rationalised by Taylor finding ‘The Encyclopaedia Of Science Fiction’ is also inventive. The six chapters are named as follows: ‘124C41+’; ‘The Return Of The King’; ‘Glory Road’; ‘A Canticle For Leibowitz’; ‘Tyger, Tyger’ and ‘Foundation And Empire’. Most SF fans will have heard of all of these and read at least some of them. The names are not just frosting on the cake as the events in each chapter fit nicely to the titles. Damned clever, that Alan Moore. He’s not just a hairy face, you know. Archivist Future Taylor likes reading about ‘wishful fiction’ as she calls it but is dismissive about its application to reality.

I was pleased to see a civilised Muslim settlement featured as I’m tired of them being villains all the time. The characters are realistic, the plot is crafty and complex, the writing is literate and effective as you would expect from this author. As you might also expect it’s full of sex and violence, graphically displayed. That brings me to the art, which is beautiful. Gabriel Andrade draws everything with panache and the colouring by Digikore Studios is spectacular and lush. What’s depicted might make you feel ill if you are of a sensitive nature but the depictions themselves are faultless artistically. Gabriel Andrade is to be commended, especially as working from Moore’s fanatically detailed scripts is apparently a bit of a job.

This is a fantastic piece of comicbook art. As a big fan of some of Moore’s works, I appreciated it mightily. Only one problem. Older now, though seven years younger than the author, I lack the moral certainty that the graphic violence on our screens (‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘Gotham’, etc) and comicbooks doesn’t do any harm to young minds. I’m not sure it does neither and I watch both the shows mentioned as the stories are great. Same goes for ‘Crossed + 100’, so it’s recommended, with caution.

Eamonn Murphy

February 2016

(pub: Avatar Press/Titan Books, 2015. 160 page paperback graphic novel. Price: £14.99 (UK), $19.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59291-264-3)

check out websites: www.avatarpress.com/ and www.titanbooks.com

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Category: Comics, Steampunk

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About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy lives in the west country and grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, lots of other old SF and Marvel Comics. After many years hard labour he has settled down to a quiet life with a nice lady, two rescue dogs and four ducks. He writes reviews for crowsnest and a few short stories, some of which even get published in obscure magazines. His self-published (Beware!) horror novel 'Arnos Hell' set in a Bristol graveyard is available on Amazon as a kindle book. His YA novelette 'The Brigstowe Dragons' will be published shortly by Alban Lake. He seldom blogs at https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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