Discovering Preacher in college opened my eyes to a whole new world of epic, adult comic book stories beyond the realm of batmen and supermen. In the days before .cbr files existed (or, at least, before I knew about them), I actually made color-copies of two pages from Preacher #26, framed them, and hung them on my wall:
This was all incredibly new to me at the time, and just the fact that people were saying “fuck” and the story was going on for like a hundred issues was enough to blow my mind. Nowadays, I’m sad to say that I’m kinda Garth Ennised out. The guy is brilliant and creates beautiful characters and captivating scenarios, but he often screws it up with an almost adolescent need to oversaturate his shit with ridiculous sex and violence. Like, one page will be characters having an emotional conversation about how the sunset reminds them of their waning youth, and the next page will have a guy being skinned alive while a robot fucks him with a snakecock. These elements of his work always seemed disingenuous and overly “shock value” to me, which is why I was very hesitant about checking out his book Crossed.
Okay, in the interests of full disclosure I will tell you that I wrote the above introduction before I read Crossed, and now I’ve read the entire 9-issue run. How could I have ever known when I made a little jokey-joke about snakecock rape that there would actually be a character in Crossed called Horsecock, whose MO is beating and raping people with a horsecock?
Holy shit, this book is the fucking epitome of why Garth Ennis is so frustrating. It’s a thoughtful, emotional exploration of the nature of humanity with many beautiful moments, but all anyone will ever remember about it is graphic blood and guts and endless, endless rape. In case the Horsecock picture didn’t tip you off, this blog entry is Not Safe For Work, so be warned.
Crossed is essentially a zombie story. In this case, however, the zombies aren’t just shambling retards. They are intelligent and organized, and oh yeah, they desperately want to rape you before ripping your body into pieces. The Crossed, as they are called, are fucking horny.
Yup, they circle jerk onto bullets and then shoot you with them!
Shit like this happens roughly every three pages, and it’s all really gross and eye-rolly, but what’s frustrating is that I can’t say this isn’t a great story. It really is. Post-catastrophe survival tales are a big favorite of mine in general. I love the idea that in these types of situations, even the best of us would be forced to trade in our humanity for short-term safety, and Garth Ennis manages to find some fresh and unique new ways to explore that struggle. The revelation of what “The Crossed” are is pretty thought-provoking, and a beautiful scene featuring a pack of wolves says a lot about mankind’s role on our shared planet. But those wonderful moments are just far too outnumbered by horsecocks and cumbullets, and it makes you wish Ennis could fucking control himself. I don’t want to sounds like a prude, but it’s maddening that before we get to read effectively emotional scenes about a mother dealing with the loss of her son, we have to see the son say this:
So yeah, at the end of the day, I would give Crossed a hesitant recommendation for fans of zombie fiction who are willing to put up with the kind of nonsense I’ve been describing, and can appreciate the story’s more subtle moments and themes. I used to love Garth Ennis, and damn it, I guess I still do. I just kinda wish he’d grow up a little.