Written by Alan Moore
Art by Gabriel Andrade
Abandon hope and return to the world of the Crossed one hundred years on with Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade as your tour guides… Questions include: How dark should a joke be? What does it take to end a franchise? And does anyone else have any other good names for spaceships?
Growing up is weird.
I mean – mostly people talk about how growing up makes you harder right? But what seems less remarkable is how it softens you.
Maybe this is just me: but back when I was younger I was pretty darn stringent with the types of things (books, films, music, whatever – you can call it “art” or “entertainment” or whatever you like…) that i thought were cool or worthwhile. And yeah – the good stuff / the cool stuff /whatever were the things that were all hot sauce and bite. The stuff that went further and went extreme. I mean – I guess a part of it is that when you’re young you don’t really have much of a palette when it comes to stuff: because it’s all new and so you’re a bit of an idiot and whatever. So yeah: you end up gravitating to the stuff that makes the biggest impression. That makes sense yeah?
There were bits towards the middle of Crossed +100 when they’re on the boat and stuff where I remembered thinking that if I was younger and reading this I reckon I’d be pretty bored and thinking: oh man Alan Moore’s lost it. I mean – this isn’t going anywhere and he’s making this post-apocalyptic landscape look kinda boring. You know – less all crazy Mad Max and more like something that you’d get walking with Iain Sinclair (I know most people would probably love to go walking with Iain Sinclair – but sadly I am not one of those people. I’ve always found trying to talk properly whilst walking to be too difficult. I like to give people the beady eye whilst pontificating which is way too hard when you’re also trying not to walk into things…).
But hell – I kinda dug it. I’m not too sure as to the reasons why yet – but maybe I’ll have a better sense when I give it a reread?
Altho the thing to say is that yeah – I was properly trepidatious (that’s a nice word isn’t it?) before I started reading Crossed +100 because well – it has been a very long while since I’ve read an Alan Moore comic that I’ve actually really enjoyed. I mean – the League of Gentlemen is yeah very interesting and I’m sure a total hoot for those way more versed in like the proper literature of the 19th and 20th centuries – but every time I sit down and read them it’s always been with a feeling like my nose is pressed behind the glass with all the fun stuff happening just a little bit beyond my reach… And Neonomicon – well – I could probably spend quite a few words on Neonomicon and still not quite get to the crux of it: but it wasn’t actually like “I recommend this comic.”
But then – you know: growing up. Artists start off cool and then get less cool and it’s all to be expected isn’t it? And you know: maybe we should just be glad that he didn’t go off the deep end and turn into Frank Miller you know?
Only Crossed +100: well yeah – it’s actually pretty movie you know? And not really in the sense of getting back to his roots or regressing or anything (although I think i read someone saying something somewhere how it’s kinda like Alan Moore getting all 2000AD: which ok yeah – is pretty spot on: albeit 2000AD with all the safeties removed…). Like – it’s mature and well-crafted and (in it’s own strange twisted way) also kinda fun. Not to mention: yeah – all the horror.
Anyone else read it?
I don’t know why I agreed to read Crossed+100, since I am, as the rest of LGNN might have guessed by now, a bit of a delicate flower. Finding out that Alan Moore had written a sequel, though, was like finding out that hell now has the best themepark ride ever, that the LSD that always gives you the horrors comes in your favourite ever flavour.
So it was with some etc that I picked up the comic.
And was relieved!
Spoilers everywhere from this point on. (I guess that could be a good another name for the crossed, the spoilers.)
Everything seemed OK. So: this would be a post-post-apocalypse story, about the recovery and the strange cultural aftereffects of having gotten through C-Day. And all the angles seemed to be pointing to at most an I Am Legend style story: the crossed have started to evolve, sure, gained a culture. But are also in such small numbers that they are now the underdogs. And what ‘story of hubris’ as there might be would be will one of humans are now the real monsters. I even thought we’d learn that the crossed weren’t that bad, like in Day of the Dead. There is some human in them! I mean, still sadistic killers, but with family units now. Like lions!
How wrong I was.
The whole of Crossed +100 is a dark joke. It has another surprise in store for us, having made a feint in another direction. The artwork sets us up to, notice the motif of the butterflies. Evolution! Progress into something prettier! (Heh, there is progress, heh, but it won’t be pretty). So, we are wrong-footed as much as the characters are. Again, fittingly sadistic, the whole story constructed to give you the most reasonable of small hopes – on the rational side of thing: yes, come to think of it, we humans probably would win considering x y and z, and then on the “believes” side of things: yes human will learn from this experience and become better to one another, and the world might be saved. As readers, we’re drawn into thinking that this is a rather intellectual and minor-key story. A kind of melancholy overview of a fallen civilisation, with a few seeds of hope here and there, some cool ideas, some cool stuff about language. Yes, you know it’s a horror comic, so you know it’s gonna fuck up, but probably in an oblique late Moore way.
Nope! “You can food her when she’s done.”
The surprise ending though is also Alan Moore’s statement on the importance of culture, but also the value-neutrality of culture. Culture is not innately good or bad but it is valuable and necessary. The crossed cannot survive as pure insane savages. They’re starving, raping themselves to an early AIDS death, they’re dwindling. What will help them survive?
The story did warn us early on. Who are the humans really thriving? The Muslims! (Lol that they picked them as the saviour of America.) But they only did so by evolving – all the other faiths lost theirs. Muslim feminism has become the mainstream (“Ima’am”), social taboos are dropped, the Surprise has been incorporated into their theology. Sure we don’t know the final fate of Murfressboro, but they haven’t gotten mopped like Chooga, with their practical secular outlook, and their culture made up only of looking backwards (everyone has a horror story from the past to tell, the archivist keeps searching libraries for old Wishful Fiction), and their foolish investment in old technologies as what will rescue humankind. Moore also seems keen to distinguish culture from ‘believes’ – articles of faith, doctrine, everyday assumptions. As demonstrated in the always tentative syntax of their future dialect – lots of coulds, maybes and mights – no one believes in believes any more. Or do they? They did have a believe – that they were going to be ok.
But Bosol realised that what you need to tie people together is iconography, a legend, and a purpose.
Barbican Comic Forum
Last minute rant? Last minute rant.
I jumped into Crossed 100 without reading any of the preceding Ennis stuff (A 4chan post of the cover of the “torture” issue didn’t really persuade me….seeing a naked lady getting sawn apart by psycho children while hanging from a tree is not exactly what I think of when I think “entertain me”).
Setting wise, it is pretty interesting to see the zombie apocalypse idea played out with such a massive time lapse, most of the literature from Romero to Kirkman is about the immediate aftermath or the first generation of survivors – i.e. people adapting to a world where hickies mean more than an awkwardat work.
This led to a standout play by Moore for me, the language. It’s English but devolved (re-volved even?). It’s not what we know, it’s almost the distance between our vernacular and the kind of weird drunk slur sounding stuff you’d find in our founding Legal literature or Beowulf.
It’s got the bones, but alot of the vocabulary, alot of the structure has changed around, enough that we know it, enough that it bears a tangential relationship to cultures that have long gone up in flames. Plus it made for a fucking well engaging narrative set of text boxes, so much more interesting to read than the usual superhero comics experiments (which too oft tend to rest at 4th wall prodding or bad Hemingway riffs…hello lazy Frank Miller….yes you.).
The idea of culture in the long aftermath of “the end of humaniiiiiiitttttttyyyyy” (Read that in a trailer man voice plz), is a damned interesting one Moore plays with in this and he does it brilliantly with that first page, “Packemin” “Heh. Movie”. (That kind of thing is played around with a lot in Clooney’s The Monuments Men which is a messy fucker of a film but totally underrated).
It’s a really concise way to show off a bunch of insane fucked up people who still have the echoes of lives long gone echoing through them, a lot like the argument many fans of “man with a 1000 masks” and similar works (I think that’s the name of the book and googles two tabs away) who argue that certain story telling structures are just hard wired into us and any kid will express stories through that prism, even if you haven’t had to sit them down and explain that “If you don’t think Empire is better than Hope, you need to pack your bags and get the fuck out of my house you little shit bucket”. (I don’t agree with that statement, it’s actually the other way around for me.)
Art wise? I can’t remember who did this but I would not be surprised at all if it was good old Darick Robertson, it’s that art style that is utterly competent and confident enough to put itself completely in service of the writing – which seems like something Alan Moore would happily stroke his beard to. Colour wise it is a bit homogenous, though the green and brown earthy base was a nice refresher to the usual urban pallete a post apocalyptic/zombie comic apparently necessitates.
It’s a pretty interesting thing and the ending is pleasantly poignant – but the interesting plays with culture and language were only enough to sustain my interest for that issue. I honestly can’t say I give a damn about what happens next. I’d love more stories like this that really relegate the monsters of an ended civilisation entirely to the background, you know, the white noise we apply to everywhere that doesn’t get to sit in on G8 meetings.
Did you read this far? I’m sorry. No refunds.
I think Beowolf IS a founding legal text. I heard those Norse sagas are all about search warrants and legal writs.