This isn't just a shock-fest. The horror of the crossed is acute, but they are seductive villains because they represent humanity at its most free. One wonders if this is what Nietzsche's reign of the noble would actually look like – a carnival of aesthetic perversity. The contagion isn't explained because it is metaphorical: the decaying flesh shaped into a cross should be an obvious enough symbol. I didn't like what I've read of Ennis's Preacher because its musings on religion didn't strike me as particularly coherent. Crossed achieves much more with less. The story of survivors clinging onto their humanity as they have to make morally impossible decisions is as old as any zombie movie, but Ennis has pushed that bleak survivalism to its absolute limit, as if to completely efface the notion of any kind of transcendent or eternal moral authority. If He exists, God must be a grade-A cocksucker for having created such a screwed-up world. The book ends with a secularised biblical image: a new Adam and Eve walking out of a blood-splattered Eden and ready to face the world with clear eyes, encapsulating the hard-headed journey from innocence to experience which is the book's central theme.

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