First published in twenty-two weekly instalments as a free online webcomic, then later collected and released in print back in September of 2012, ‘Crossed: Wish You Were Here – Volume One’ was the first off-shoot series to come out from the main ‘Crossed’ graphic novels.

The ‘Wish You Were Here’ 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.

The story was written by Simon Spurrier with artwork by Javier Barreno.  The compilation volume contains all of the original webcomic instalments from the first
‘Wish You Were Here’ series, along with a note from Simon Spurrier on his intentions with the series, as well as twelve pages providing a short overview on each of the characters.

DLS Synopsis:
Shaky had always thought of himself as one of the lucky ones.  Before the Crossed outbreak hit he’d been a writer.  A cushy number which he’d more than relished at the time.

When the world went to hell, he’d managed to duck, dive and dodge his way out of London.  He’d survived some of the most brutal expositions of violence.  And now here he was, alive and holed-up on what used be the Orkney Isles, along with a small community formed from fellow survivors.

It was their island now…their sanctuary.  They’d renamed it Cava.  And on the island, just off from the Scottish coast, they pretended to feel safe.  Together they’d started to see a glimmer of hope.

But they knew their supplies wouldn’t last forever.  The time was coming close for a few of them to make a trip to the mainland in order to bring back some much-needed supplies.  The community’s two self-appointed leaders – Don and Rab – were organising the expedition.  The crazy ones – the ones who actually wanted to go – weren’t allowed to volunteer.  It was a necessary mission, but they still couldn’t afford to lose all they’re best men on it.  So they’d decided a random lottery would dictate who would be sent back out.

Tensions had been running high within the small community on Cava.  It was only a matter of time before one of them cracked or the Crossed made it over to the island and broke through their defences.  But until then it was just a case of keeping your head down and getting through one day at a time.

One mistake and everything they had could all collapse around them…

DLS Review:
Writer Simon Spurrier had set out to deliver a different style of ‘Crossed’ narrative than the previous ‘Badlands’ stories had offered.  Here he’s utilised a larger character base, a far more isolated backdrop, and a strong pressure cooker environment for these characters to collectively contend with.  Pacing is noticeably (and purposefully) slower.  There’s less violence and less adrenaline-pumping action.  However, what you do get is a hard-boiled setting where tension’s running high and conflicts between the survivors are a daily occurrence.

Of course there’s still a fair few scenes of graphic ‘Crossed’ shenanigans.  The story opens with one of the crossed raping a dolphin through its blowhole whilst stabbing it in the gut with twin knives.  Inventive if nothing else!  Then you’ve got a scene where an infected nurse is being pleasured using a dismembered leg.  And of course the usual orgy of sex and violence when the Crossed are together in numbers.

So there’s certainly all the usual extremity.  Just considerably less of it.  Instead you’ve got far more character interaction and sculpting of a progressive plotline.  Indeed, the story is all about the characters.  Shaky is our principal protagonist.  The story’s pretty much being told in the first-person-narrative of Shaky as he details the events through his diary.  But of course it’s all been visualised through the pictorial medium of a graphic novel.

Alongside the mounting frustrations and delicate hierarchy on Cava the reader is also given regular flashbacks from when Shaky was escaping London and making his way northwards.  These invariably involve some of the most graphic scenes in the volume; with the Crossed doing what they do best all-around the fleeing young writer and he desperately tries to get the hell out of there.

As I said – the characters in the story are really what make it.  And they’re quite an eclectic bunch to say the least.  Some of the most notable are: Rab – a spit and sawdust Scottish fisherman type, Don – a short-arse former lecturer with a superiority complex, the Maoud family who just try to keep themselves to themselves (other than their flirtatious fifteen year-old daughter that is), Skip – a dreadlocked surfer type who’s got the keys to their escape boat, Des a hot-headed London wideboy, and Jackson – a frigging sheep-raping nutjob who’s been surviving on his own the whole time.

Other than the character conflicts, the plot’s very much in its infancy in this first volume.  But you know it’s all going to kick off soon.  We’re just laying down the pathway for the violence and getting the characters on the radar for the madness that’s undoubtedly to come.

Textbook post-apocalyptic fiction.  And a very welcome addition to the Crossed world.

The compilation volume runs for a total of 160 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Wish You Were Here’ instalments:

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