“Crossed Badlands” #117 is an intensely gripping tough-as-nails thriller. The Crossed plague has changed the major population into violent, insatiable killers, scattering the last remaining survivors of humanity.
Writer Jamie Delano is able to captivate with these hard-edged characters through tough-talking dialogue and vibrant personalities. Though the protagonists come alive, each page consists of truly unlikable characters. Readers will find it very difficult to root for these protagonists like Leon, a drug dealer who would raise the dosage to kill his users, rather than have repeat customers.
Delano consistently stays the same with the harsh and unforgiving tone, never using abrupt humor to relieve the escalating tension. None of the characters stop in the middle of their tracks to tell a witty joke. Though Leon acts despicably, he clearly has his own reasons to betray others. How long you survive in this apocalypse actually depends on how useful you will be to Leon.
Aimed at pure shock value, artist Leandro Rizzo doesn’t shy away from the violence and the savage acts of primitive civilization. Rizzo’s artwork is uncomfortably gritty and unwavering towards its horrific sequences. In the opening pages, Leon is calmly fishing in the murky swamps. Instead of catching a fish, he drags out a decapitated human head from the toxic water belonging to one of the Crossed infected. In graphic detail, the forehead is spilt wide open and the jagged teeth form a leering, ugly grin.
Even though the story is tough to read in one sitting and the artwork uncomfortable to look at, there is an underlying sense of small hope within the pages. Humanity, though small in numbers, is still alive and struggling to survive. With no outside help, survivors tread through swamps and walk on grassy lands to find the booming voice on the radio. Everyone is looking for the faceless man who promises an ark, which will take them to salvation.
Although difficult to recommend to everyone, the characters of “Crossed: Badlands” #6 stay true to the nature and tone of the story. At times, the atmosphere is often a bleak tone that leads towards pessimism. Humanity is just trying to survive, as anyone would in this type of apocalyptic world. Should you be afraid of the infected murderers or the survivors themselves? The narrative explores the worst of what humanity has to offer and doesn’t hold back.
Sharply written and provocatively drawn from start to finish, “Crossed Badlands” #117 follows the traumatizing journey of a small group living in the apocalypse. These survivors are struggling to come to terms with the harsh reality of the ever-spreading Crossed plague. They will do what has to be done in order to live for another day.