Alan Moore needs no introduction to regular readers of Grovel. Although his comics output isn’t what it was in terms of volume, his influence on the medium remains as strong as ever. So it’s with equal amounts of trepidation and reverence that I embark on a brand new collected volume of ongoing comics. After all, while Moore has written some masterpieces, he’s also delivered a few disappointments.
Crossed is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a virulent, hideous disease has turned the vast majority of humanity into depraved, feral beasts, who have nothing on their minds but rape and murder. Originally created by Garth Ennis and later continued by other writers, it’s a harsh and unforgiving world for the few survivors, where a fate far worse than death waits around every corner. I reviewed the first collected volume of Ennis’s original series when it came out in 2012 but wasn’t particularly inspired to revisit it. Until now.
In this book, Moore travels 100 years into the future and you don’t need to have read any previous books before picking it up, though it would give you an idea of what to expect. In Moore’s future, pockets of survivors have managed to maintain their grip on humanity, partly through their own resourcefulness, partly through the self-destructive nature of the infected, who are as prone to raping and murdering their own kind as they are the survivors. As a result, things are looking brighter: humanity has regrouped, kitted itself out with decent weapons and bred a generation of children who have never even seen their enemy.
Moore embeds us in a small community that’s exploring the world outside their well-fortified settlement, piecing together the events of the apocalypse and the world before it, to try and make sense of their own existence. But as they explore, they start to find new nests of infected that seem to be bypassing their baser instincts and might pose a new threat if they can’t be wiped out.
Moore has crammed the book with typical Moore touches, taking it way beyond what you’d generally expect from a writer creating a new chapter in someone else’s universe. The entire story is written in a new dialect, which is a small intellectual barrier to the book’s initial accessibility, but soon slips into your brain and makes perfect contextual sense. Then there’s the lead character’s love of science fiction (which she calls ‘wishful fiction’ or ‘Wi-Fi’ for short), which permeates her with humanity and depth. Finally there’s the way he plots these six chapters, leading the reader on a glorious journey of hope and horror, that has to be read to be believed. Andrade’s artwork is equally perfect, almost invisible to the reader as we’re absorbed into the overall book, but poised to rise up and punch us in the guts when the story calls for it.
It’s an adult story where the plot is as adult as the extreme horror, and it’s not for the faint-hearted or easily-upset. But it’s also Alan Moore proving that he’s still more than capable of giving us some of the best genre comics you’ll ever read.