Crossed vs. The Walking Dead
By: Matthew E. Jones
I’ve been a Walking Dead fan for many years now, but I must admit to being new to the world of Crossed.
I just finished reading the first volume of Crossed by Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows. I really enjoyed the book, even though it disgusted me. It leaves me wanting more, and thankfully there are a few more volumes out there that I can read. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book was because it’s pretty much the antithesis of what makes me love The Walking Dead.
Like most people, I didn’t read The Walking Dead when it first came out, but rather when the trade paperback collections were released. I had jumped on the Kirkman train right around the time when issue #48 hit. There was so much press about this issue in the comic book world, about how earth-shattering it was and how nearly the entire cast of the book was seemingly killed off. It really piqued my interest, so I bought the first trade. The next day I bought all the other available trades, and have been getting them as they come out ever since.
As any fan of the BOOKS of The Walking Dead will tell you, the thing that makes it such a great story is the characterization. Robert Kirkman does an amazing job at developing every character he writes in the book, so that you have people you relate to, others you would like to have a beer with and even some that you despise and can’t wait to see them get eaten by a zombie. The zombie apocalypse is always there in The Walking Dead, but it serves as the backdrop to a story about survival and what people turn into when the world falls apart.
The changes that an apocalyptic world has on these people are an amazing thing to witness after all these years. Seeing a strong, noble man like Rick Grimes turn into a sociopathic machine is a true sight to behold, and the chances of the TV version ever reaching this point is still up for debate.
The exact opposite is the case when it comes to Crossed. Garth Ennis didn’t do a zombie apocalypse story with Crossed, but it’s VERY similar in tone and scope. The Crossed are people who, due to an unknown reason, become so primal that the deepest, darkest thoughts of their minds come to the forefront. The Crossed are people who now do nothing but kill, rape and torture…and enjoy every minute of it. What makes this story the antithesis of the Walking Dead is that where The Walking Dead will show a gory scene, Crossed will take that gory scene and throw a shaved horse cock and the rape of a child into the mix.
Where The Walking Dead shows you drama and horror, Crossed shows you splatterhouse and exploitation. Both stories tell the tale of survival in a horrible world, and show how people can devolve into inhumanity just as a means of staying alive for another day.
At the end of Crossed Vol. 1, I felt a connection to the two main characters even though there wasn’t a lot of time spent on developing them. Most of the push in this story was the depiction of violence, and what the worst of humanity has to offer.
On the other hand, The Walking Dead spends so much time on the development of character that when something bad happens, you almost feel gutted because you have come to really know the characters involved. That just isn’t the case in Crossed, yet the outcome was the same. I cared about the characters. I want to read more.
Crossed is definitely not a story I’d recommend to someone right off the bat. This is a book meant for fans of gore and…gore. However, it’s written so well that my interest in the world of the Crossed is still there. The Walking Dead on the other hand can bore you to tears at times, but there’s always a major payoff.
Ultimately, what makes both of these series work is how they appeal to the senses. Crossed appeals to our visual sense. We get bludgeoned with depravity and evil on nearly every page. The Walking Dead appeals more to your inner monologue; how you think and feel about things.
Even though The Walking Dead is close to its 100th issue by now, and Crossed exists solely as intermittent mini-series…they both capture what makes post-apocalypse a joy to read about. Death, destruction, misery, pain, love and survival…it’s all good. And you’ll find it all in both Crossed and The Walking Dead.