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As I reported in our Stitched Comic Series Review and Garth Ennis News here on Comic Booked, Avatar Press will be starting a new Crossed: Badlands series that will be kicked off by the original creative team of Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows.  This week to whet our appetite, Avatar Press released a $1.99 Crossed: Badlands Opening Salvo preview issue to set the stage and tide us over until the new series releases in March.

As you likely know, people infected with the Crossed virus become out of control psychopaths that act on their most violent and morbid urges.  An outbreak is sure to turn any area into a nightmarish hell of murder, rape, and bodily dismemberment.  The comic stories revolve around the survivors using their wits and sheer determination to try and live to see another day and find a way out of the mayhem.

 Crossed: Badlands Opening Salvo Cover

This Opening Salvo issue introduces us to a band of people who managed to survive the initial stage of an outbreak in Scotland some 4 years ago.  It seems that all the major cities of the region were affected.  Our band of resilient survivors has taken to living in the highlands during the summer; only coming down to forage and scavenge when the snow starts to fall.  This short issue does little more than introduce the reader to a few members of the group (one who may or may not be Prince Harry with a disfigured face), set the stage for the series, and touch on the back story and ramifications that the initial escape from Glasgow had on our narrator.

Jacen Burrows at ECCC photo by: Robb OrrThe art in this issue made me happy to have Jacen Burrows back on Crossed.  While the coloring did make the character illustrations appear a little more waxen than I have seen in Burrow’s past work, the attention to detail and backgrounds makes each panel feel very whole and complete.  The big two-page spread at the end of this story is gore-strewn and awesome!  Though the sequential art portion of this issue goes by very quickly, it is supplemented by two interviews.  The first interview is a two-page conversation with writer and original creator of Crossed, Garth Ennis.  The second two-page interview is with artist, Jacen Burrows.  Both are good reads, but I especially enjoyed the Jacen Burrows portion.  Burrows is an amazing artist who has worked exclusively with Avatar Press, and some of the most amazing writers in comics, including: Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and Alan Moore.  If he isn’t on your radar, he really should be.  Not only is he a talented illustrator, he is a damn nice guy.  I had the chance to chat with him at Emerald City Comic Con 2011 as he signed a large stack of comics for me (yes, I am a huge fan of his work).  He was really genial and freely offered his opinions about what he was proud of and what he would have done differently with his art in nearly every issue as he autographed them.  Super-cool guy!  If he hits the con circuit again this upcoming year, be sure to stop by the Avatar booth and meet him.  His interview is really interesting because when he started working on this new Crossed: Badlands series, he had just completed work on the excellent Neonomicon series with Alan Moore.  In the interview, amongst other topics, he talks about the differences between working with Ennis and Moore, which is sure to be of interest to any avid reader of comics.

Crossed Badlands coverWhen the actual Crossed: Badlands series starts in March, the thirteen issue series will be handled by three different creative teams, as follows (Hellblazer fans should appreciate a couple of these names):

Issues #1-3 will be written by Garth Ennis, with art by Jacen Burrows.

Issues #4-9 will be written by Jamie Delano, with art by Leandro Rizzo.

And issues#10-13 will be written by David Lapham, with art again by Jacen Burrows.

Also included in this Opening Salvo issue is a six-page, black and white inked art thumbnail preview of the second Crossed: Badlands story arc “Homo Superior,” from Jamie Delano and Leandro Rizzo that will kick off in issue #4.  The art looks fabulous, with really clean lines and nice composition.  If this is any indication of what’s to come, this should be a good series.

If all of this sounds like something that would interest you, I suggest that you pick up this Crossed: Badlands Opening Salvo issue and check it out for yourself.  For two bucks, you can’t really go wrong.  I look forward to Crossed: Badlands in March, as well as the free new Crossed: Wish You Were Here web comic series from Si Spurrier and Javier Barreno (an advertisement in this issue says this series will start in October 2011, but this is in fact false – Wish You Were Here was delayed and will arrive in early 2012).  The New Year should prove to be a good one for fans of Avatar Press Crossed horror; I can’t wait!

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