Being one of our greatest living comics writers, it shouldn’t be surprising that Alan Moore is one of the few writers to do something interesting with the “Crossed” franchise beyond serving up some shock value with a side of extreme gore. The writer starts this new series one hundred years after the initial outbreak, where a decimated humanity is slowly crawling its way back from extinction. Everyone is working to learn more about the pre-history of the time and reclaim its technology, with archivists like Future Taylor leading the way. It’s on an expedition into the wilds for this knowledge that she encounters some troubling items: Mysterious shrines in ruins that appear to have been set up by the Crossed, and a video showing someone training the infected for some unknown purpose. Future knows that this is cause for concern, but the people of her settlement are busy working with others for a big push to wipe out the remaining Crossed in the area. All signs point to Moore having these characters run straight into a trap, but what if there’s a much longer game being played here?
Si Spurrier showed that the Crossed could be taught to understand the concept of delayed gratification, and Moore is revealed to have run with that idea in a clever way in the last third of this volume. Yet the title characters aren’t the real focus of the narrative here. “Crossed +One Hundred” is the story of the future excavating its past and trying to learn from it. It’s a dramatically different approach to the concept than what we’ve seen from writers like Spurrier and Garth Ennis, yet it’s one that works thanks to the effort Moore puts into creating this new and weird world.
From Future and her group’s efforts to understand who might have lived in the mansion known as Graceland, to the surprisingly large Muslim community that has taken up root in Tennesse, there are a lot of interesting and amusing details to take in here. There’s also less graphic violence here (though still enough to give some readers pause) and an extremely rare instance of two people having casual, happy sex with no immediate or long-term repercussions. Shocking, I know.
Where Moore goes wrong is in being too clever with showing how his future society has developed. Specifically, in their language. It’s a given that people one hundred years from now won’t speak the same way we do. The reason you don’t see more stories which take place one hundred years (and further) in the future addressing this beyond the occasional bit of slang is because it’s largely unnecessary to conveying the plot or ideas of the narrative. It may even complicate things depending on how far the writer wants to go in creating their future vernacular.
Brian Azzarello’s efforts to do this in “Spaceman” pretty much ruined the book for me and what Moore does here almost accomplishes the same thing. The lingo here isn’t as overwrought as in that other sci-fi series, and you can parse it well enough if you’re willing to put in the effort. However, reading Future’s writings and conversations is ultimately a chore that offers up precious little reward. It’s honestly a relief when we get to read the journals of the serial killer at the heart of this story and the vernacular shifts back to something you’d recognize from the 21st century.
“Crossed +One Hundred” also features some impressive art from Gabriel Andrade. Even if his work is familiar in a “house style” for Avatar Comics kind of way, it’s still rich with detail and effectively realizes this new world. I should note that this series is continuing without Moore, with the next volume being written by Spurrier. After his work on “Wish You Were Here” the title is clearly in good hands. Yet my main hope for the next volume is that Spurrier manages to walk some of this futuristic vernacular back to a more recognizable form of (American) English. There are a lot of good ideas ready to be developed in this series. It’s a shame they were almost undone here by one very bad one.