First published within a single compilation volume back in March of 2014, the eighth instalment in the post-apocalyptic ‘Crossed’ series was entitled ‘Crossed Volume 8: Badlands’ and contains three separate stories : ‘American Quitters’ written by Simon Spurrier with artwork by Rafael Ortiz, ‘Gore Angels’ written by David Hine with artwork by German Erramouspe & Fernando Heinz, and ‘Th’ Big Yin’  written by Simon Spurrier with artwork by Gabriel Andrade.  The compilation volume contains all seven of the original comics from the eighth series (Badlands issues 37 – 43).

American Quitters

They’d met on the road.  Both of them travelling on motorbikes on their way to San Diego where they hoped it would finally be the end of the line.  Errol was a hardboiled biker with revenge pushing him onwards.  His entire crew had been killed, raped or turned crossed by one big black bastard named Zeke the Geek and his Smogboys.  Now Errol wanted them to pay.  It was time Zeke finally got the slaughtering he had coming.

Frank on the other hand wanted it all to end in a fucked up blaze of hallucinogenic delirium.  Before the crossed madness had hit he’d heard that the Plantdude had grown a new blend that put everyone who tried it into a tripped out euphoria before they inevitably O.D.’d on the drug.  For Frank it was the perfect exit from this hellish new world of violence and slaughter.  It was how he wanted to go.  The sole reason he was on his way to San Diego.

They had two very different motives.  They were two very different survivors.  But they had a destination in common.  So the badass biker and the druggie-hippie had come together for a blood drenched roadtrip across the hellish remains of a raped and ravaged America…

What an opening story!  This is absolute textbook Crossed.  Violent and as uncompromising as they come.  Writer Simon Spurrier throws down a bleak and downtrodden plot with barely a glimmer of anything that can be considered as hope to accompany it.  There’s grim and horrific savagery on pretty much every other page.  In fact, Spurrier takes almost every opportunity along his grizzly roadtrip to unleash copious amounts of gore and splatter.

However it’s Badass biker Errol that really makes the story.  He’s hardcore to the bone, and takes out any Crossed fuckers he encounters en route with the psychotic glee of a violent nutter who’s been pushed too damn far.  His relationship with hippie Frank works perfectly.  The two are so utterly different, but their friendship in hell works.  And it makes for one beast of a story.  What a story!

Gore Angels

For three decades Al ‘The Chemist’ Estrada had been travelling Japan’s hippy trail, seeking enlightenment from wherever his feet fell.  However it was whilst hiking along the mountain road to Kojason that the traveller stumbled across three middle-aged salarymen engaged in a wild orgy of lovemaking.  Unfortunately Al failed to realise the significance of the red raw cross which each of the lusting men sported across their faces.

Al left the three men after being subjected to just the briefest of tonguing, and made it to the nearby Buddhist monastery where the infection started to do its thing.  Within minutes the monastery had been turned into a cesspit of gore, mutilation and debauchery.  The crossed were here.

Meanwhile American sightseers Ryan and Natalie had left the monastery to indulge in a spot of graveyard sex, whilst their friend, Cody, went off to explore the nearby village.  However Cody had an ulterior motive for being where they were.  He’d brought the couple with him to finally set right a wrong from their past.  He just had to locate the girl who’d left him in America.  And when he found Emiko, he’d prove his love to her.

Although with the world erupting into a blood-drenched orgy of sex and violence, his plan might prove to be a tad harder to achieve than he first thought it would…

Writer David Hine brings us the second story in the volume, this time set away from the usual All-American backdrop, and instead relieves the escalating horrors of day zero of the crossed outbreak from the isolated locale of the Kojason mountainside.  Of course, alongside the whole crossed outbreak malarkey we’re also handed a wonderfully interwoven story of revenge and violent comeuppance.

The pacing is fast and furious and has a snowballing momentum behind it that sucks you in within seconds.  At first the main plot within the tale isn’t properly revealed, Hine only gradually providing small snippets of the reasoning for the three young American’s being in this particular area of Japan.  However, as the real motivation becomes apparent, so the story cranks itself up a good couple more notches, giving the reader plenty to chew on as you power through the escalating madness.

Despite its new backdrop, the story reads much like a textbook high-octane Crossed story.  Don’t get me wrong – that ‘aint a bad thing at all.  It’s intense and captivating and incredibly entertaining in a twisted gorehound sort of way.  If you love the series – then you’ll love this addition.

Th’ Big Yin

Andrew Frazer Jackson was one tough sonofabitch.  Former Lieutenant of the Special Boat Service M-Squadron, Jackson had done his time.  He’d fought with the best of them.  He’d seen atrocities and destruction, death and desperation.  He’d witnessed first had the fucked-up cruelty of mankind.  He was also the first to admit that he was profoundly and conspicuously mental.

Jackson had first met Magda back in 1982, whilst fighting in the Falkland Islands.  Later again in 1985 their paths had crossed.  And then in 1990, whilst on a Black Ops mission, Jackson finally got to bed the woman that had stayed in his mind.  He also found out that she worked in chemical weapons.  Game-changers she called them.  Stuff that could alter behaviour.  Destroy strategic planning.  She said it could solve the problem of Islamic terrorism for good.

It was something that didn’t sit right with Jackson.  He’d left soon after their coupling.  Not wanting to be any part of the woman’s idea of a fix – he’d taken his leave in the hope of never crossing paths again.  That was some years ago.  And now here he was – with the world gone to shit around them - ready to face her again.  It was time he put things right…

Jackson’s one of the main characters from Simon Spurrier’s superb ‘Crossed: Wish You Were Here’ series.  He’s a mad sheep-shagging Scotman who’s about as tough as they come.  An ex-special ops solider – Jackson can more than hold his own – in fact the guy’s nothing short of a frigging fighting machine.

Of course, when we meet the nutter in the ‘Wish You Were Here’ storyline, he’s already pretty darn fruit loopy.  It’s something we just accept.  As we do, his being on the isolated island of Cava.  However, what Spurrier does in this offering is deliver a multi-layered backstory to one of the most intriguing and complex characters of the entire series.

Like with the other ‘Wish You Were Here’ instalments, this addition is much more involved than your run-of-the-mill Crossed story, with far less action of splatter within its pages.  Instead we have a character-rich narrative that digs deeper into the hardboiled headache of this particular character’s fragile psyche.  Ultimately it’s intriguing and compelling reading – particularly so if you’re familiar with the whole ‘Wish You Were Here’ storyline.

The compilation volume runs for a total of 192 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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