First published within a single compilation volume back in November of 2014, the tenth instalment in the post-apocalyptic ‘Crossed’ series was entitled ‘Crossed Volume 10: Badlands’ and contained a single seven-part story: ‘The Thin Red Line’ which was written by Garth Ennis with artwork by Christian Zanier.  The volume contains all seven of the original comics from the tenth series (Badlands issues 50 – 56).

DLS Synopsis:
The first anyone heard of there being some sort of outbreak was when the entire population of Tethersby – some four-hundred-and-fifty townspeople – seemed to disappear.  Every building was left empty.  Not a single sign of life could be found in the small North Yorkshire town.

The local authorities found a man wandering the moors, alone and disorientated in the early hours of the morning.  In obvious signs of distress, all of a sudden the incoherent man snapped and attacked the two officers who’d found him.  Strangely, after that the man became completely docile again.  However, it wasn’t long before the officers that he’d attacked also changed.  Within a matter of a few hours one had killed himself, whilst the other had fallen into what appeared to be a coma.

Upon hearing the news, Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was taken to the specialist biohazard facility where the seemingly contagious man was being kept.  There, Brown’s four bodyguards - Harry, Paddy, Jock and Taff – did their level best to keep the Prime Minister safe and secure.

But no one knew what they were up against.  No one could have predicted the extent of this outbreak that was working its way across Britain’s population.  As the government’s scientists worked tirelessly to try to understand what was happening, the Royal Air Force were brought in to deal with the snowballing issues overseas.

Only one thing remains certain - as each minute passes – no matter where you are, or how safe you think you may be – the madness, violence and death around you will keep on escalating.  And in the end it will find you…

DLS Synopsis:
For volume ten, main man Garth Ennis offers up a “Patient Zero” style prequel that takes us back to the fateful summer of 2008, when the world seemed to erupt into a whirlwind of mind-boggling shit-your-pants violence.

Utilising the ‘inside perspective’ afforded to the then British Prime Minster (Gordon Brown), Ennis tells the blurry story of the very first victims and the initial evolution of the ‘Crossed’ virus.

Accompanying Brown we’re reacquainted with Harry, Paddy, Jock and Taff (the Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman and Welshman) from the ‘The Fatal Englishman’ story that appeared in ‘Crossed Volume 6 – Badlands’ (2013).  Indeed, from the very outset this particular offering has the distinct air of a critical instalment into the ‘Crossed’ saga as a whole.

Indeed, instead of being solely focussed upon delivering a tight, adrenaline-pumping standalone story, rather here Ennis has gone for unveiling a critical early stage in the whole ‘Crossed’ apocalypse.  We’re sent back to the very moment of the very first infections – where it appears we’re given a vague hint of who ‘Patient Zero’ potentially was and then on to the initial mutations of the ‘Crossed’ virus.

Due to the nature of this particular storyline, there’ a hell of a lot less action, violence and gore this time around than you’ve come to expect from a ‘Crossed’ story.  Instead we’re treated to an inside vantage point of the unfolding epidemic as minute by minute everything just keeps getting a hell of a lot worse.

Where the story’s real strength lies is with the absolute attention to the ‘human element’ within it all.  There’s tension and frustration everywhere.  Everyone’s scared.  No one knows what the fucks going on.  Our blubber-jawed leader is about as useful as pedals on a wheelchair – seemingly unable to make any decisions himself and becoming more irritatingly pathetic as the pages go by.

Running parallel with the main thread of the story we have a handful of guys and girls from the Royal Air Force who add a thin slither of explosive action to the whole thing.  Amongst the bumbling confusion, mounting tension, and escalating hostility outside the secure biohazard facility, we’re thrown an almost satirical social commentary on the state of our government along with a heap of more striking recurring themes.

Unsung heroes “just doing their duty” is one such message that sings proud from the carnage and chaos.  Snivelling shirt wearing politicians and pompous “yes men” doing very little to help in the crisis is another that’s stamped all over the tale.  And then of course you have the dark mystery that’s always lurking behind it all.  Even though we’re thrown back to the every first hours of C-Day, even though we spend some time with the one who is potentially Patient Zero, and witness the resulting escalation of the virus – we’re still not all that much the wiser about what really happened.  If anything, Ennis adds more layers of dark mystery to the true origins of the virus.  Something ingrained and more sinister than a mere mind-altering, madness-inducing virus.

One thing’s for sure – Ennis doesn’t like to spell everything out for the reader.  It’s up to you to piece the parts together.  To look into the muttered messages and lunatic ravings and try to decipher what’s possibly hidden away behind it all.  Because maybe, just maybe, there’s something far grander and more-than-likely far darker at play here.

The compilation volume runs for a total of 176 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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