I read the initial mini-series of Crossed written by Garth Ennis; a series set in a post-apocalyptic world where something has turned humans into psychopathic murderers, lunatics and rapists. Frankly I got bored rigid by the nihilistic rape, gore and horror not to mention the exceptionally dark humour of it all by around the third issue. That said, the issues I’ve read after Ennis left are among some of the worst examples of horror comics in today’s market because I’m fed up of writers throwing in massive amounts of stuff like this and thinking it’s kewl.
Now I love gore, it’s great in the right doses, context and in moderation but too much of Crossed feels like it’s being written for 14 year old boys with Slayer posters on their walls and a floor peppered with crusty bits of toilet paper. So the idea I’d be writing anything about Crossed wasn’t going to happen then I read a mention on Bleeding Cool of how Crossed: Badlands #50 would feature Gordon Brown. Yes, that Gordon Brown, former Prime Minster and in my eyes, the biggest example of a failed politician who could have done much more had he not sold out.
Brown’s a fascinating figure. He’s a failure but at the same time he promised much coming from as he did the tutelage of John Smith, who could have been the Labour PM who changed this country for the better had he lived, but sadly his death created the opportunity for Tony Blair to make his play for power and we know how that turned out. At the heart of Blair’s grab for power was the deal he did with Brown so brilliantly captured in Stephen Frears The Deal.
Brown was always this figure not quite at Blair’s side, but still supportive of him while waiting for his chance at power. When it did eventually come, his time saw a global recession unlike any in most people’s lifetime so it’s interesting that this comic is set in 2008, just before the crash which makes the Crossed a metaphor perhaps for the recession? Whatever the reason, it’s a brilliantly interesting decision of Ennis to tell this story which is the origin of whatever the Crossed are with Gordon Brown and in 2008. It may explain why Ennis picked Brown over Blair, or even George W .Bush.
From the outset this doesn’t feel like a Crossed comic, and in fact it feels like a political drama for most of the issue which is a good thing as mainstream comics don’t do these type of stories, plus Ennis seems to be as fascinated by Brown as a figure being manipulated by the people around him but protected only by his security team.
Although the comic is about Brown and his team, there’s a diversion to 617 Squadron (yes, that 617 Squadron) because frankly, it’s a Garth Ennis comic and it needs to have some reference somewhere to World War 2 in it. There’s also a copy of Private Eye from 2010 used for photo reference which is either a mistake by the artist, or something pertaining to the plot. I assume it’s the former.
In fact at this point I imagine a lot of regular Crossed readers getting annoyed by the lack of gore and violence, though there is some action in this issue, it’s hardly a gorefest. In fact it’s a tightly written political story so that when the weird stuff kicks in, it’s subtly done while introducing a slow creeping dread that I’ve not seen in a Crossed story before.
I won’t go on wittering about the rest of the issue as it’d spoil what is shaping up to be a great wee story but it’s worth buying, or as I did, download from the splendid Comixology site. This isn’t to say that after this story is over that I’ll continue reading Crossed, in fact I doubt it but Garth Ennis has actually made it interesting to me for the first time so I’ll enjoy the rest of this story though it does make me want to read Ennis write more about British politics in this way. I’d buy that comic!