Crossed: Family Values # 3
Script: David Lapham
Pencils: Javier Barreno
22 pages for $3.99
This is the worst thing I have ever seen or read in any medium. By worst I don't mean to say that it lacks quality. What I mean is that the things that happen between the covers of Crossed: Family Values # 3 are so deplorable and handled so bluntly that it is difficult to finish the book.
Now that's entertainment!
You feel wrong reading the damn thing, you feel wrong recognizing that yes, this accurately depicts the worst of the human condition, and you feel sort of bad for David Lapham for carrying these things around inside of him. Maybe you fear for his wife and children a little, if he has such things. I'm sure they're fine. But you might wonder any way.
If Wertham had brought Crossed (penned by Ennis or Lapham) to those Senate subcomittee hearings, we wouldn't have ended up with a Comics Code Authority. Everyone in the biz would have been executed. That's how bad (or good?) this comic is.
Because the thing is, as gruesome as the old EC comics were, and by golly they were gruesome, there was always a sense of fun behind them. The stories were bookended with playful ghouls who told really bad jokes and sort of winked at you - they popped the tension balloon a little bit. Reminded you that in the end, it was all a goof, a diversion.
There is no such safety net in Crossed. I take that back. There is a tiny little scene in this issue where one of the Crossed plays with poop. Adorable. Plus, poop is always funny, unless you find it in your pillowcase. Actually, it's still funny then, for everyone except the owner of said pillowcase.
But the rest of it? The horror is dark, it is deep, and it punches your balls into your throat. This is not a good issue to be a fetus, I must say. Not good at all. Not good to be an infant, either, really. If you take the time to scour this splash page carefully, (and why not get your money's worth?) somebody has decided that it wasn't good enough to simply throw this baby out of the window. That's for amateurs. If you want to do it right, you have to light the child on fire first, and chuck it like an IRA member with Molatoddler Cocktail.
Motherhood, childhood, religion, friendship, family, honor, faith, hope....forget about all of that. Well, that's not exactly true. Addy still perseveres, so a speck of hope is still on the table. Every other sacred cow gets savaged by the end of this issue, but frankly doesn't it feel like we deserve it?
I just don't think this could have existed twenty years ago. We thought that Faust was edgy horror. And it kind of is. This book makes Faust look like George Michael during his Wham days. We used to think Motley Crue represented Satan. Bullshit. They represented alcoholism, faux rebellion, and getting laid.
This is horror pure. What does it say about us that we are now finally ready for it? It's scary, you want my opinion.
I suppose a case could be made that I'm indulging in hyperbole. I surely do hope that is the case. I certainly have a history of it. But the fact that Crossed exists, and that it says something that connects should honestly make one's arsehole shrink up a bit. We're in trouble as a species.
If it sounds like I'm condemning the comic, please be advised that you've got me all wrong. There is truth here. Not "the" truth, whatever that is, but a sliver of something that rings correctly about where human beings are at, and what we expect from each other. I'm all for truth, no matter how bitter the taste. If it says something accurately, and I believe that Crossed does, then we bloody well ought to bend an ear, as far as we're able.
Some will say that this is not a message book, just an exercise in shock for the sake of being shocking. I think that's a dangerously infantile simplification. Even if you limited it to shock value though, this is the Rolls Royce of shock books. Respect it for being the best of its kingdom, even if you don't like the real estate, I say.
Crossed is not for everybody, but it is sublime in its depravity. We earned it, we got it. God help us.