Alan Moore’s arrival in the Crossed universe is quite underwhelming in terms of a “Crossed” story. It’s a post-survival story — more of a revival story, if anything — as the infected have dwindled in numbers since the initial outbreak 100 years prior. The tale, about a group of archivists moving across the midwest on a modified locomotive, is quiet, focusing in on establishing the lay of the land and ending on a curiously low energy level. Moore’s script is filled with recreations of modern language, making f-bombs a basic adjective and a requiring a reread to pick up on the meaning behind many of the new word uses. It’s always an impressive feat to create a new vocabulary in a speculative fiction story, but some of it is so thick, it distracts from the heart of what happens between characters. This will be less of a problem as the story progresses and readers become more accustomed to the flow of language.
There isn’t a real plot to speak of here, more a collection of scenes as characters try to archive and collect information throughout the midwest. Moore establishes the Crossed as a dwindling movement. They are still treated as something to be feared, but at this point they’re a creature that is avoided in the wild, like bears or narcissists. The writer introduces the story through the point of view of Future, a woman journaling her experiences as she and her compatriots archive any type of media left over from before the original outbreak. However, even as our narrator, we don’t know a whole lot about her when the back cover closes. Because of a lack of connection to anyone in the book, it doesn’t feel like there are any stakes involved.
Gabriel Andrade interprets Moore’s words with detailed realism, a staple of Avatar house style, making the violence more real and thus more uncomfortable. As shocking as the violence is in the regular “Crossed” series, it’s as much a part of the environment as the trees and dirt. Characters execute “churchfaces” as matter-of-factly as going to the bathroom. Characters are all uniquely designed, lines worn hard on their faces from the unforgiving urban overgrowth. Shot choices are straightforward and deliver exactly what is required; not a lot of chances are taken on panel layout, though with an Alan Moore script, it may be hard to find room to design in that way.
With this combination of creator and creation there is a surprising lack of ideas in this opening salvo of “Crossed Plus 100.” It almost feels like Moore purposely shot for the middle, delivering under-the-bottom on an over-the-top concept. There’s no real urgency to revisit these characters when the story ends; it would be unsurprising if this were simply a one-shot. What is introduced poses some threat but indirectly. Maybe the conceit for the series will become visiting and living in the world rather than specific characters or locations. The problem is that engaging characters are still needed for that kind of anthology and Moore, a man who has created and defined many legendary characters over the last 30 years, hasn’t created any in this issue, which makes for an empty read. This may work better as a trade, depending on where it’s leading, but for now what we have is an okay story in a universe filled with frenetic insanity.