Garth Ennis has created Preacher, The Boys, and Hitman to name a few comic book titles. These all pale in comparison to the violence and depravity you find in Crossed. The Crossed title is published by Avatar Press and has had many storylines branch off from the main story-line. To give you an idea of Crossed, imagine the Walking Dead but with semi-intelligent zombies that want to kill you for the sheer pleasure rather than to stop their hunger. The Crossed are capable of operating machinery and planning intricate traps. Add to that the fact their infection makes them act on their most depraved thoughts. Crossed is not a comic for the faint-hearted.
The Crossed story follows the survivors dealing with a pandemic 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. They also attempt to spread the contagion through other forms of direct fluidic contact such as rape and bites. Often times the victim does not live long enough to turn.
A major difference between the Crossed and other fictional zombie or insanity-virus epidemics, is that while the Crossed are turned into homicidal violent psychopaths they still retain a basic human-level of intelligence. They are still capable of using firearms, motor vehicles, tools, and of setting complex traps.
The contagion spread across the entire world, with the Crossed killing, raping, engaging in cannibalism, and maiming for fun. Governments and military are overwhelmed. Friends and family butcher each other with anything they lay their hands on. 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 kill the nuclear scientists and technicians to prevent them from reactivating the plants. A few nuclear power plants were not reached in time and were detonated by the Crossed. One by one the remaining military bases are overrun. Soon human civilization is all but gone and mankind is an increasingly endangered species.
The Crossed show considerable variation. They are still self-aware individuals, albeit turned into homicidal maniacs. The actual level of insanity Crossed demonstrate ranges across a wide spectrum as well. Many are practically feral savages with absolutely no regard for their own self-preservation. They will gleefully mutilate themselves for the sheer thrill of it, including amputating their own limbs. Others will be so driven to kill that they will carry out suicide attacks, crashing vehicles or causing meltdowns. Most are capable of basic deranged speech. They 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. Some characters speculate that this preference is due to their need for sadistic gratification.
As stated by Garth Ennis:
“The Crossed are people who – through infection – have given in to the absolute worst instincts that human beings can: murder, rape, torture, cannibalism, all of the most cruel and inventive kind imaginable. They are out of control, really. Their number one urge is to get their hands into normal people and commit every ghastly act they can think of – they can’t fight it, and they don’t want to.”
The rate at which a person becomes infected ranges from several hours to a matter of minutes and once infected there is no turning back. The most common rate of infection is incredibly fast, in the range of one to three minutes. No cure exists for the Crossed and there is almost no hint that scientists were able to study the infection long enough to do any sort of thorough research on the dilemma. While cover art has shown infected lab monkeys, animals generally seem immune.
Most of the completely “anti-social” Crossed die out in the heavy fighting of the initial outbreak. Survivors observe that most Crossed usually form up into gangs of about five to fifteen members. Any larger than that and they start fighting each other bringing the number back down to below fifteen. The more coherent Crossed who survived many years are capable of forming into even larger groups of over a hundred without fighting each other. After a while a group of Crossed will usually fall into a sort of bored stupor, aimlessly wandering in one direction until they find more people to attack. A number of Crossed appear to be naturally smarter or at least, more capable of patience and planning. They defer pleasure to have a greater atrocity later. These tend to become the leaders of large gangs, numbering in the many dozens or a whole community. These appear more often in stories set months or years after the outbreak.