Crossed (comics)

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Cover of Crossed Volume 1 by Jacen Burrows.
Publication information
Publisher Avatar Press
Schedule Irregular
Format Limited series
Publication date September 2008 – March 2010
Number of issues 10 (of 10) *original run, much others after
Creative team
Writer(s) Garth Ennis
Artist(s) Jacen Burrows
Colorist(s) Greg Waller (#0)
Creator(s) Garth Ennis
Jacen Burrows
Editor(s) William A. Christensen
Ariana Osborne
Collected editions
Hardcover ISBN 1-59291-091-2
Paperback ISBN 1592910904

Crossed is a comic book written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Jacen Burrows for the first ten issues, and published by Avatar Press. Following volumes Crossed: Family Values, Crossed 3D, and Crossed: Psychopath were written by David Lapham. A new series, Crossed: Badlands is written and drawn by rotating creative teams.[1] A web comic, Crossed: Wish You Were Here, has also been produced.[2]

Publication history[edit]

Crossed is a creator-owned series from writer Garth Ennis and artist Jacen Burrows.[3][4] It began with Crossed #0 on August 27, 2008 and all 10 issues have been released.

The second series Crossed: Family Values is written by David Lapham[5][6] and drawn by Javier Barreno.[7] Ennis described how this unusual situation for a creator-owned property came about:

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 realised 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.

That said, it's pretty obvious that what you have with Crossed is a ready-made fictional world with a good deal of potential for further development, and the Crossed themselves seem to be strong enough villains to maintain an audience. So when William suggested other people doing more I said I wasn't averse to it, so long as a) I thought the creative teams were up to scratch, and b) my own story and characters would be left alone. Which means no sequel, no more Stan, Cindy, Thomas or Kitrick (or Horsecock, Face or Stump, come to that)- just fresh stories set in the same world.

As for David, who better? I think you'll see right from his first episode that he knows exactly what he's doing with the Crossed.[8]

Plot synopsis[edit]

The story follows survivors dealing with a plague that causes its victims to carry out their most evil thoughts. Carriers of the virus are known as the Crossed due to a cross-like rash that appears on their faces. This contagion is primarily spread through bodily fluids, which the Crossed have used to great effect by treating their weapons with their fluids, as well as through other forms of direct fluidic contact such as rape and bites, assuming the victim lives long enough to turn. A major difference between the Crossed and other fictional zombie or insanity-virus epidemics (i.e. in the film 28 Days Later), is that while the Crossed are turned into homicidal violent psychopaths, they still retain a basic human-level of intelligence: thus they are still capable of using firearms, motor vehicles, tools like bows and arrows, and of setting complex traps.

The contagion spread across the entire world, with the Crossed killing, raping, engaging in cannibalism and maiming for fun, with governments and military overwhelmed; friends and family butcher each other with anything they lay their hands on, and cities are turned into vast charnel houses. Much of the Middle East is wiped out when Israel deploys nuclear weapons. The last organized act by the US government is to shut down as many nuclear power plants as possible and then kill the nuclear scientists & technicians to prevent them from reactivating the plants. One by one the remaining military bases are overrun. Soon human civilization is all but gone, and mankind is an increasingly endangered species.

The outbreak began in summer 2008 in Yorkshire, United Kingdom: the patient zero was a man who had a psychotic breakdown and murdered his family, and the infection spread rapidly from two local policemen to the entire population of the village of Tethersby.[9] Indecisiveness by Prime Minister Gordon Brown meant that a state of emergency wasn't declared until after a Sky News team found and filmed the villagers committing a mass suicide.[10] The infection had spread worldwide within days.

All Crossed stories agree that the infection was stunningly rapid, so fast that the news media and most world governments had little if any time to respond, but the exact specifics of the outbreak differs from writer to writer. Depending on the story, it took anywhere from two or three days to a mere matter of hours for the infection to spread across the globe, and civilization completely collapsed in under a week. In the original story, Badlands #14–18, and Wish You Were Here, the infection erupts suddenly across the United States (at sunset/night) and London (afternoon), with nobody aware of the Crossed beforehand. Badlands #16 has the White House (and Surgeon General) and part of the news media still around the next day. In contrast, Badlands #10–13 has the Crossed tearing through small towns without being noticed, getting more and more numerous over the course of a week. Badlands #26 has a British soldier, revealed in #50 to have been part of Gordon Brown's security team, say he's been aware of the Crossed for "the past three days" by the time the outbreak is public. In Ennis' first story, survivors find the journal of a soldier who theorized that there was no single point of origin and it may have been a strategically triggered bioterrorist attack which was simultaneously released at multiple points around the world; for Badlands he'd create a point of origin.

The Crossed themselves show considerable variation, as they are still self-aware individuals, albeit turned into homicidal maniacs. The actual level of insanity different Crossed demonstrate ranges across a wide spectrum as well. Many are practically feral savages with absolutely no regard for their own self-preservation, to the point that they will gleefully mutilate themselves for the sheer thrill of it, including amputating their own limbs (understandably, these Crossed don't tend to survive very long). Most are capable of basic albeit deranged speech, and wield whatever clubs, knives, or sharp objects are at hand to attack anything around them. The more insane Crossed will even attack each other, though they apparently prefer the non-Crossed. The Crossed enjoy artfully mutilating the bodies of their victims, amputating limbs or worse. The Crossed can survive on any food but frequently rely on basic cannibalism – not because they have a zombie-like need for human flesh, they're just so brutal and cruel that they get warped enjoyment out of it. Moreover, as years pass after the outbreak and the normal food sources of civilization disappear, other Crossed increasingly cannibalize the non-infected or each other to survive.

The Crossed are consumed by a pervasive bloodlust and constantly try to rape anyone or anything they can chase down. The infection spreads through bodily fluids, thus anyone raped by a Crossed will become a Crossed themselves, provided that their attackers don't kill them before they turn (which they frequently do). This is just a matter of preference, however, as other Crossed will kill their victims first and then rape their corpses. Still, it is more common for them to rape live victims, because they enjoy causing their victims to suffer through slow torture instead of giving them a quick death. A major way the infection spread in the first hours and days of the outbreak was when in a veritable blood orgy, the Crossed would rape and sodomize entire families and neighborhoods, rapidly expanding the growing hordes of Crossed. Many of these rapes aren't consciously intended to infect other people, it simply occurs as a byproduct of their insatiable need for violence. Female crossed will also try to violently rape and sodomize people with whatever tools or weapons are at hand. On rare occasion, pregnant women who have been infected and turned survive long enough to give birth, but their babies are born infected as well - apparently the placental barrier provides no protection against the infection (though it is possible that it does, but unsanitary birth conditions infect them during delivery itself, like Neonatal conjunctivitis). Crossed women who have given birth are, however, gleefully willing to needlessly murder their own newborn babies.

The mental effects of the Crossed infection are apparently not just a zombie-like drive for basic desires like violence and sexual gratification. It seems to give the Crossed a driving need to perform actions which they perceive as morally bad, somehow triggering the parts of their brains which control their darkest, subconsciously pent-up inhibitions. The Crossed do not simply rape and kill their victims, they torture and mutilate them to cause the maximum amount of pain and suffering. Another symptom of this is that they tend to attack and deface things and places which are considered particularly sacrosanct, i.e. defacing government buildings with corpses, or desecrating religious buildings. Crossed who manage to capture a non-infected human on a scouting expedition from a survivor enclave will frequently proceed to torture and mutilate their captive within sight of the survivors' fortress, to inflict psychological torment on the unreachable people inside.

At the other extreme, however, some Crossed have been shown to be quite capable of complex pre-meditated actions. Not consumed by unthinking bloodlust to the extent that many of the other infected are, they have enough mental where-withal to plan ambushes and traps, and organize gangs of Crossed to assault survivor enclaves. The more mindless rage-consumed Crossed will still know how to use firearms if they find them but usually won't think rationally enough to plan out where to acquire more firearms. The more rational and calculating Crossed, in contrast, will actively seek out armories to acquire new firearms. Some of these more rational Crossed will self-consciously coat their weapons in their own bodily fluids, actively trying to turn non-infected survivors into more Crossed.

The later comics take place later and later in time after the outbreak first occurred, up to five years later by The Fatal Englishman. As Shakey explained in the webcomics, it is not so much that the Crossed "evolved" during these years (like in a cheesy zombie-horror B-movie), but that logically many of the Crossed who were so insane that they didn't care about their own self-preservation have died off, while the far more dangerous rational and calculating ones took steps to survive over a long period of time. The more deranged Crossed from the initial days of the outbreak were mostly feral, running around completely naked to attack other people with their fists and teeth, not even bothering to use crude clubs. Those Crossed with little sense of preservation, not even the sense to put on warm clothing in colder weather, tended to die off in the winters. Others who were so rage-crazed that they would charge headlong against survivors who had automatic firearms – even though they only possessed axes and knives – also didn't tend to survive over an extended period of time. The early weeks of the first year of the outbreak were pure bedlam, with the streets of every city turned into slaughter houses, as unarmed and unprepared non-infected were surprised by savage but almost mindless Crossed. Several years after the initial outbreak, a sort of natural selection process set in. The Crossed who survived that long tend to be the more rational and lucid ones who have the wherewithal to preserve themselves, use combat tactics like avoiding gunfire, use guns themselves, and can set complex ambushes. Meanwhile, the few surviving non-infected are hardened survivors who have been combating the Crossed for years.

A curious point noted by several characters is that even since the earliest days of the outbreak, some survivors have attempted to slip past the Crossed by painting red cross-marks on their faces to simulate the rashes from the infection – the Crossed will attack other Crossed if they're bored or frustrated, but at least some of the time will leave other Crossed alone. However, it does not matter how accurate the reproduction of the rash-marks are, even with high-grade makeup that makes them visually identical to the real rashes, the Crossed are somehow always able to tell that it's a fake. As characters note in The Fatal Englishman, having survived five years since the initial outbreak, they have never seen this trick succeed; somehow the Crossed are still able to detect the non-infected.


Crossed (Volume One)[edit]

The first story (Volume One in trade) takes place ten months after the outbreak, with flashbacks to those events, as a small group make their way toward Alaska in the belief that its low population before the outbreak will mean there are fewer Crossed to be avoided, and that the Crossed's gleeful bloodlust hampers their ability to look after themselves. However, they encounter a small group of Crossed who have a degree of self-control and subsequently begin a hunt for the survivors.

Crossed: Family Values (Volume 2)[edit]

In Family Values, the story centers on a religious family who escapes their Kentucky ranch to survive in a mountain compound led by the protagonist Addy's father, who, while being a strong leader against the Crossed, is a sexual predator who has routinely raped his daughters.

Crossed: 3D[edit]

3D was written with the 3D effect in mind and is not available in a 2D format. The story follows SWAT veteran Lt. Hunt MacAvoy as he leads a rescue mission into the middle of Crossed-infected New York City to rescue a stranded doctor. At 48 pages, the 3D one-shot is about a quarter of the size of one of the collected "Volumes".

Crossed: Psychopath (Volume 3)[edit]

In Psychopath, the story follows a group of survivors who pick up a man, Harold Lorre, who understands the way the Crossed think, and is tracking a specific group of Crossed. Lorre is the titular psychopath, and is killing members of his group of humans as they discover his true nature, passing them off as the grisly acts of Crossed. The Crossed group they are tracking killed a woman Lorre had stalked prior to the outbreak, and subsequently forced a relationship upon her as they survived. After she was turned into a Crossed and killed, Lorre kept a fragment of her breast in a plastic bag.

The first Crossed Annual spins off from Wish, featuring the lifestyle of the psychotic SBS marine Jackson. He appears to be tracking down the scientist who created the Crossed virus, an earlier version of which drove Jackson mad; this is simply a delusion of his, he'd always been psychotic and the 'weapon' does not exist.

Crossed: Badlands (Volumes 4–6)[edit]

Badlands features shorter story arcs of varying length, by different authors. Issues #1–3, by Ennis and Burrows, follows a group of United Kingdom survivors traveling across Scotland as the leader of the group, Ian, relates his introspection on the purpose of survival when there is no hope. By the end of the third issue, the entire group is killed and/or turned.

In issues #4-#9, by Jamie Delano and Leandro Rizzo, the story follows individual survivors in the Everglades banding together, only for their individual psychosis to ultimately cause them all to become Crossed, the last survivor coming over willingly.

In issues #10–13, by Lapham and Burrows, a teenage survivor, nicknamed Yellowbelly, relates his experience of being at a carnival where the clowns and other workers become infected in the early hours of the outbreak, turning fun times into depraved terror. In issue #13, he crosses paths with Harold Lorre, the main character of Crossed: Psychopath who encourages Yellowbelly to use the Crossed-infested world as an opportunity to obtain power by force. Ultimately though, he is killed by a biker woman he fled with, when he confided his cowardice that resulted in the death of her sister-in-arms.

In Issues #14–18, written by David Hine, the story again takes place just prior to the outbreak in Stableford, Wisconsin, colloquially known as 'Stumptown'. The town residents participated in a mass insurance fraud by deliberately causing themselves to have loss of limb accidents to collect insurance payouts, only to have their scheme exposed by infamous transgressive writer Gideon Welles, who used the town as inspiration. To add insult to injury, Welles built his massive estate, Samarkand, in the area. The story centers around aspiring writer Clooney, and his girlfriend Tabitha, who are to spend time at a writer's retreat at Samarkand. Unfortunately, Welles is a sadist pig and a train full of Crossed has just pulled into the train station in town. Emasculated and humiliated by Welles' debauched sex orgy with his girlfriend and other guests, Clooney uses the Crossed to turn on his fellow writers, all being killed or turned by the horde. Only Philly, niece of town cop Lorna, escapes by boat, her aunt becoming infected when a dead Crossed fell over her, forcing Philly to kill her.

Issues #19–20 start a new arc by Si Spurrier (Crossed: Wish You Were Here) and Raulo Caceres (Crossed: Psychopath). The story involves a former criminal who was turned into one of the Crossed, but still retains a level of self-control and rationality compared to the other Crossed. The criminal, Mattias, a paroled enforcer for a local mobster, fell in love with his parole officer, Serena, and they had a relationship that ended due to the conflict between their duties and their love. Mattias, having become Crossed, travels to the Police station to find Serena, only to find she had taken her own life days earlier. Flying into a ketamine enhanced rampage, he passes out in a parking lot, only to reawaken with no memory of his search for Serena, and repeats his journey.

Issues #21–24 rejoin Amanda, the survivors of David Lapham's Psychopath arc. Having been scarred by her experience with Lorre, she no longer trusts anyone, and uses whatever means at her disposal to survive, while paranoia ultimately causes her to kill anyone who takes her in before they can get her. She falls in with The Livers, three survivors that have formed a close bond, despite their mutual insanity and occasional cannibalistic tendencies, and finds a new way to survive.

Issues #25–28 "The Fatal Englishman" is the third Ennis story and is set five years after C-Day. Four British Army soldiers (representing each nation of the United Kingdom) go on a suicide mission to break into Porton Down and release the biological weapons, hoping it will wipe out the Crossed but leave enough humans alive for Britain to rebuild and go on an offensive war against the infected. Along the way, they become guardians of a group of children and a Catholic priest, with whom the title character shares his wisdom.

Issues #29–32, written by Christos Gage, follow anthropologist Oliver who studies the Crossed and, to prolong his life, collaborates with the intelligent, dominant, axe-wielding leader of the Crossed group whom he has dubbed "Smokey". Smokey, an intelligent zombie leading a group, is a parallel to the film Land of the Dead. Oliver betrays his fellow survivors to Smokey's band, and helps them hunt other survivors while hoping for a chance to escape or to find a group capable enough to fight back. Smokey assaults a nuclear missile base and massacres the surviving soldiers and scientists, with the intention of taking control the warheads. Ultimately, Oliver realizes the depth of his mistakes and gives his life to keep dangerous information from Smokey.

Issue #33–36, picks up with Amanda as she is hunting for the Livers and is forced to hide from a religiously-themed tribe of Crossed pursuing the same prey. She hides in a crawlspace for days but is devastated when the Crossed bring in her two Liver companions – one captive, and the other crossed – and she loses the strength of the delusions they supported.

Issues #37–39 follow the odd couple of a stoned out hippy and a hardcore biker traveling cross-country to San Diego to die by the ultimate overdose and to seek revenge on a rival biker gangleader, respectively. Along the way, they pick up a pregnant Mexican woman fleeing from the drug lord father, trying to reach an island sanctuary off the Baja California peninsula. Ultimately, 'no lesson is learned', as the biker is overrun while overdosing on the ultimate high, the hippy is killed fulfilling the biker's revenge, and the pregnant woman is torn apart by her infected relatives on the island.

Web Comics[edit]

In the webcomic Wish You Were Here, written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Javier Barreno (Vol.1) and Fernando Melek (Vol.2), former writer 'Shakey' (short for Shakespeare) writes in his journal of life on the island of Cava off of the coast of Scotland, where he and a handful of other survivors try to have some semblance of society while desperately trying to keep the wandering Crossed at bay. They learn that the Crossed plague can be transferred from carrion feeders, as a young boy became Crossed after coming into contact with Crossed flesh regurgitated by carrion crows; they also discover the Crossed can remember parts of their former lives if shown something that triggers a memory from their past, as a Crossed who finds a self-portrait of himself was able to slowly remember his life before being torn to pieces by other Crossed.

Collected editions[edit]

Volume Author (Writer) Pages Compilation Published
Crossed: Volume 1 (original run) Garth Ennis 240 pages April 27th, 2010
Crossed: Volume 2 – Family Values David Lapham 176 pages October 4, 2011
Crossed: Volume 3 – Psychopath David Lapham 176 pages April 10, 2012
Crossed: Volume 4 – Badlands

-Collects 1–9 of Badlands Series

Garth Ennis 240 pages November 6, 2012
Crossed: Volume 5 – Badlands

-Collects 10–18 of Badlands Series

David Lapham 240 pages March 5, 2013
Crossed: Volume 6 – Badlands

-Collects 19–28 of Badlands Series

Garth Ennis 256 pages September 3, 2013
Crossed: Volume 7 – Badlands

-Collects 29–36 of Badlands Series

David Lapham 192 pages January 14, 2014
Crossed: Volume 8 – Badlands

-Collects 37–43 of Badlands Series

Simon Spurrier 192 pages March 25, 2014
Crossed: Volume 9 – Badlands

-Collects 44–49 of Badlands Series

Simon Spurrier 176 pages July 8, 2014
Crossed: Wish You Were Here – Volume 1 Simon Spurrier 160 pages September 4, 2012
Crossed: Wish You Were Here – Volume 2 Simon Spurrier 160 pages June 4, 2013
Crossed: Wish You Were Here – Volume 3 Simon Spurrier 144 pages Feb 4, 2014
Crossed 3D David Lapham 48 pages April 19, 2007

Webseries – Crossed: Dead Or Alive[edit]

The first series was originally optioned for an independently-funded film, with Ennis writing the screenplay.[11] It was going to be financed by Trigger Street Productions and produced by Michael De Luca, Jason Netter and Kevin Spacey. [12] But, in the end of 2012, Ennis announced he and Avatar got the media rights to Crossed back. The plan is set to launch a series of webisodes to see if they can turn that interest and experience into a feature film.[13] In March 2013, Crossed: Dead Or Alive was announced. DOA is the title of the upcoming live action filmed webisodes that will be written and directed by Garth Ennis. DOA will also have Ennis penned tie-in web comics that will expand and further develop the concepts of the film series and characters. The web comics will be unique original works that together (with the webisodes) tell a richer and more complete tale of the characters and concepts introduced. The goal is to film all Crossed: Dead or Alive season 1 episodes in early 2014.[14]


  1. ^ Robb Orr (2011-05-26). "Review – Crossed: Badlands Opening Salvo". Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  2. ^ "A Free Webcomic And Series of Print Comics And Graphic Novels | Crossed Comic from Avatar Press". Crossed Comic. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  3. ^ Furey, Emmett (June 12, 2008). "Double-Crossed: Ennis & Burrows talk "Crossed"". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved February 26, 2009. 
  4. ^ Arrant, Chris (August 11, 2008). "Ennis & Burrows Talk Avatar's Crossed". Newsarama. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ Lapham, David (February 16, 2010). "David Lapham On Writing Crossed Volume 2: Family Values". Bleeding Cool. Avatar Press. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  6. ^ Haaland, Aaron (March 25, 2010). "David Lapham Takes FAMILY VALUES to Horror Book CROSSED". Newsarama. Retrieved March 26, 2010. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Rich (February 16, 2010). "David Lapham To Write Crossed Volume 2: Family Values". Bleeding Cool. Avatar Press. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ Johnson, Rich (February 16, 2010). "Interview: Garth Ennis Talks About Crossed". Bleeding Cool. Avatar Press. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  9. ^ Crossed: Badlands #50
  10. ^ Crossed: Badlands #51
  11. ^ Graser, Marc (April 16, 2010). "Ken F. Levin has fingers 'Crossed'". Variety. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  12. ^ Barton, Steve (April 16, 2010). "Apocalyptic Comic Crossed Adaptation Coming". Dread Central. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Garth Ennis And Avatar To Make Their Own Crossed Movies - Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors". 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  14. ^ "Crossed: Dead Or Alive – The New Webcomic, Print Comic, And Film Webisodes From Garth Ennis | Crossed Comic from Avatar Press". Crossed Comic. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 

External links[edit]