It could be argued that Garth Ennis‘s gore-splattered comic-writing career came to a horrific head with Crossed. I don’t consider myself a particularly sensitive type, but I found some elements of the horror in that a little hard to swallow, filled as it was with so many things deliberately designed to offend.
A quick flick through Stitched might give you the impression that it’s more of the same. Like Crossed it has zombie-like creatures at its core, with a penchant for tearing humans limb from limb. Perhaps thankfully, however, they aren’t inclined to rape and torture first. A small mercy for the reader, but it takes a significant unsettling edge off Stitched.
The other change is that the characters in Stitched aren’t regular folk facing an apocalypse. Here the setting is Afghanistan and the protagonists are the crew of a crashed US military helicopter. They’re armed, trained and dangerous in their own right.
The zombies are also killing machines. Created from living victims by black-clad clerics, their orifices (all nine, as one character in the book takes pleasure in revealing) are stitched closed, then a black tar-like substance poured into their bodies. They become an unstoppable undead force with only one weakness, and it’s this that which the soldiers have to exploit if they’re to survive long enough to be picked up by a rescue squad.
There’s some plot and character development to go alongside the carnage and the final chapter isn’t what you might expect from the beginning of the book. However, the main crux revolves around the team attempting to overcome increasingly tricky waves of mindless killing machines.
It’s an interesting enough twist on the zombie apocalypse, shrunk down to a tiny scale. It’s very well executed, with Wolfer’s art and Ennis’s encyclopaedic military knowledge ensuring that the spilled blood and entrails feel as authentic as it is grim.
Those who ‘enjoyed’ Crossed might find this a bit tame. It’s dripping with gore but doesn’t come close to being so disturbing. And for its military take on zombies, it’s a violent but ultimately entertaining romp through desert war.