First published in twenty-four weekly instalments as a free online webcomic, then later collected and released in print back in September of 2014, ‘Crossed: Wish You Were Here – Volume Four’ concluded the four part ‘Wish You Were Here’ off-shoot series.

The series purposefully differed from the main ‘Crossed’ stories by offering a narrative with “a tense pressurised slow-burn” instead of the usual small groups of survivors constantly on the move whilst trying to stay ahead of the Crossed.  This called for a longer and more involved storyline, with a larger cast of characters.

All four volumes were written by Simon Spurrier with artwork by Fernando Melek.  The compilation volume contains all of the original webcomic instalments from the fourth series.

DLS Synopsis:
Shaky was returning to Lyness Beach, and the community of Cava, alone.  Jackson was dead.  Gone like so many others had been.  It was something that happened all too frequently when you were in the company of Shaky.  Something the survivors on Cava were beginning to learn.

However the crossed weren’t done with them quite yet.  One of the larger Drift Fleet cruise ships could be seen drawing nearer to the island.  The people of Cava had regrouped upon the rocky beach, to prepare themselves as the colossal vessel continued to head their way at speed.  The intentions of those aboard were clear.  They weren’t going to slow.  They weren’t going to harbour on Cava’s shoreline.  These were the crossed.  And they wanted blood.

Meanwhile, close enough to keep a keen eye on the series of events taking place, the lone figure of the Crossed Nun could be seen taking in the mayhem.  As the infected poured onto the island from all sides, Shaky found himself faced with some tough decisions.  However, whilst the violence erupted around him, Shaky found he was able to walk through it all to safety, completely unmolested.

The other survivors know the strange Crossed Nun who appears to be leading the throngs of the infected has some connection with Shaky.  Something in their past that has brought her to the outermost regions of the Scottish Highlands.  A link that bonds them.  A history that connects them.

However, most worrying of all is the ability this Nun has of holding her rampant followers back.  The Crossed usually want nothing more than to charge straight in.  To brutalise, rape and murder their victims. But somehow their silent leader is holding them back.  Controlling them.  Keeping them in check.  But why?  For what purpose?

The fate of Cava and those that remain on it is about to play out once and for all.  Cava’s survivors have a final dice roll to play.  A final choice to make. And they must choose wisely if they are to survive this final onslaught.

But for Shaky it’s time to finally face up to the past that has continued to plague him.  He can no longer carry the weight of it around with him.  He can no longer hide from the truth.  He must face his past head on, and in doing so, finally reach out to the woman that has followed him all the way to the bitter end…

DLS Review:
Here we are.  The final instalment into the ‘Wish You Were Here’ series, and through that, the final entries into Shaky’s diary that have told this complete story.  Over the past three volumes we’ve paid witness to one gargantuan emotional journey in Shaky and indeed (to potentially a lesser degree) the rest of Cava’s struggling population.

The final instalment kicks off with Shaky under the usual cloud of bitter woe and introverted self-pity that we’ve come to expect, although now accompanied by an added side-dish of utter self-loathing.  Indeed, it doesn’t take long before your back in the swing of the downbeat, all hope is lost vibe of these latter ‘Wish You Were Here’ volumes; as the misery of their endless hardship and constant loss swallows you up again in the first few pages.

However, we’re not sitting around moping in misery for long before those lunatic Crossed folk are charging towards Cava and fucking everything up for everyone once again.  The violence that ensues is quick, and almost clinically executed in its swift brevity.  This isn’t what we’re used to with the normal ‘Crossed’ graphic novels, but with the ‘Wish You Were Here’ storyline the violence and mayhem comes noticeably in second place to the overriding narrative and plot.

In fact, as we trudge further into the gloomy battleground of this final volume, the levels of action and maniac violence are dialled down considerably more than so than in the previous three volumes, instead leaving more room for the far more overbearing storyline to wage war with our senses.

It’s a very introspective and deeply character-driven final stretch of the ‘Wish You Were Here’ journey.  It’s probably far more sorrowful and emotionally-jarring than you’d expect from a ‘Crossed’ graphic novel.

As you’d probably expect, Shaky’s at the very front of the storyline throughout.  His past and present collide spectacularly to finally tell the full story of what transpired between our troubled protagonist (if indeed you could now call him that) and Aeolieann – the nun with the ‘X’ rather than a cross.  Furthermore, our favourite bitter-ass Gamekeeper’s back, and he’s as twisted, callous and downright cruel as ever.

But undoubtedly the biggest question upon your lips is how does it all end?  Well, I’m sure you don’t want to know the exact details (which would spoil it) but rather, whether it ends well.  Personally I’d say it does.  Spurrier stays with the downtrodden, gloomy-as-a-waterlogged-funeral tone to the bitter end.  You knew from the start this wasn’t going to turn all Disney on us.  And true enough, Spurrier’s stuck to his guns and kept it cruel and uncaring.  There’s more inner turmoil and self-hate pouring out of the story than you know what to do with.  It’s grim and in places quite a hard slog to get through.  But you do.  And the story rewards you for it.

Ultimately through the ‘Wish You Were Here’ volumes Spurrier showed his readers another, far more human side to the whole Crossed apocalypse.  Through the four instalments he took us through a complex and emotionally raw journey.  We bore witness to more sadness and loss than you would have thought possible.  And in the end we watched as a bunch of characters we’ve gotten to know quite intimately, face up to the hard challenges and decisions that will carve out their joint futures.  And it’s never been harder to stay alive.

A near faultless ending to an impressively bleak and challenging series.

The compilation volume runs for a total of 144 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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