Crossed #100 #1, written by Alan Moore, with art by Gabriel Andrade, taught us a thing or two about how to use the personal voice to generate a sense of tension and dread as the reader comes to identify with a central figure in a horror comic. It also taught us that even the vaguest references to literature of the "past" in a post-apocalyptic narrative generates points of common knowledge and understanding between the reader and the story.
With Crossed +100 #2, taking us further into the 6 part mini-series, we see several other central pieces of the narrative puzzle coming into play and more strategies particular to this kind of comic being employed. Alan Moore warned in an interview here on Bleeding Cool and in the very soon to arrive issue #14 of Bleeding Cool Magazine that language became a big concern of his when he sat down to plan out and speculate upon the world of Crossed +100. It's a concern you'll see in other works that he's written–the way language changes over time, the way language has power, and the way in which people can be marginalized or included in communities through shared language. In Crossed +100, Moore wanted to work with a world wherein what we'd called "book learning" or perhaps we should say "internet learning" had been largely lost for a hundred years. With less written language to keep spoken and written language in more constant points of reference, spoken language would carve its own course. Words that were written quite differently than they sound would quickly lose that original spelling to the sands of time.
Moore represents that language shift by spelling out the dialogue and the written journals of central character and archivist Future Taylor in future-speak, largely phonetic, but also cast in the recurring phrases that would be natural to the characters when speaking. The result is not in the least opaque–you'll pick up on it quite quickly. There's usually an obvious connecting feature to the word meanings that have shifted. The profanity is particularly interesting, and I mean that. It shows the ways in which profanity, having been overused, might go back to more basic formats that are more striking and emphatic. Through this all you get the looming, shadowy sense that Moore has THOUGHT about all this for many more hours than you're even contemplating. That's the kind of comic we're dealing with in Crossed #100.
But the language use is actually a component of a larger wheel turning in Crossed #100, and that is the central significance and concern for the psychology of characters in this new society. What would layers of change have done to the way that humans see each other, themselves, and the world around them? The language may show subtle shifts in meaning and thinking. People would, logically, be both more dependent on each other and therefore less judgmental, but also perhaps more dismissive of losing members of their group because of living in a more dangerous environment. We see small details in Crossed +100 #2 that show us the psychological aspects of this way of life: the team who are gathering supplies are quite curious and willing to take risks to explore new locales. The Crossed have depleted in population so greatly that humans are beginning to be masters of their domain again. They are also entranced and interested by the new things they encounter in a world semi-jungle like and abandoned by human cultivation long ago. In terms of sexuality, we see quite amorphous and shifting attitudes in the comic that span age difference, gender, orientation, and focus on human happiness, and perhaps more on humans as animals whose habitat has been constrained for a long time and is beginning to break free again.
Readers are going to find that the ongoing quest of the team of explorers on their steam-train still holds a lot of surprises, pulling us along to see discoveries through the eyes of the characters and recognizing what we 21st century people might recognize beneath the veil of jungle overgrowth and damage. We are also reminded that a mystery is taking shape concerning religious iconography and strange behavior among the Crossed–something to keep our eyes on. Issue #2 is a journey outward into unknown territory, but it's also a journey into a close circle of characters and what it means to be human in a Crossed or post-Crossed world.
Crossed +100 #2 is coming in early January from Avatar Press. Avatar Press is the parent company of Bleeding Cool.