Church Of England Supernatural Defence Agency? Welcome to Cross……
Written by John A. Short, illustrated by Jason Dennis
I looked at this when it arrived and thought… hmmmmm. Didn’t look all that promising.
Which just goes to show, as always, that first glance can be a deceptive thing. A good read of this first issue proved Cross to be a rather enjoyable slice of silly high concept heroics with some very nice artwork.
Artwork first; my immediate thought was Pander Brothers (now lost to movies it seems from the website I’ve just pointed you at). Yours may be Aeon Flux. All depends on your age and whether you read Matt Wagner’s Grendel series when the Pander Bros took over the art duties I suppose.
Or maybe you might look at this as something unique and original. In which case you’re wrong. But basing your art style on something like either the Pander Bros or Peter Chung isn’t a crime. Especially when, like Jason Dennis, your art, no matter who it’s based upon, is actually rather nice to look at. At least for the first, main story here.
Now onto the story – anything which uses as it’s core idea the concept that the Church Of England, surely the nearest thing to atheism religious people have ever come up with, has a secret wing of highly trained agents battling the forces of darkness (vampires, werewolves and assorted ghouls) is onto a good thing in my book. The whole idea is just deliciously silly and yet rather fun at the same time.
Meet the Reverend Abigail Cross – nothing like Dawn French, nothing at all. Cross dresses in spandex, leaps about the place a lot and generally spends her time hunting down various nasties, dispatching them if she can and imprisoning them in a top secret custom-built prison beneath the Tower Of London if she can’t.
It’s silly, it’s over the top. It’s actually rather good.
(Knock knock. Who’s there? A Church Of England vicar who’s come to take you into custody for supernatural war crimes. Fantastic. From Cross Issue 1 by Short and Dennis)
Cross issue 1 features two tales. In the first “You Only Die Twice”, Cross is on the trail of an ex-Nazi of their supernatural warfare department. She’s walked up to his front gate in Austria and placed him under arrest. But the old Nazi still has the supernatural skull of Lazarus of Bethany at his disposal and calls up a small army of Nazi zombies for Cross to work her way through.
Did I mention that this is just ridiculously fun?
(Over the top action, Pander Brothers style from Jason Dennis. From Cross Issue 1 by Short and Dennis)
The second episode “If Looks Could Kill” is slightly less enjoyable, possibly because it brings up the ever present problem of superheroic type comics – as Cross peels off her knickers to make a catapult to dispatch another nasty, it just seemed that silly had just crossed the line into crass.
There’s a little too much focus on Cross’s body in the subsequent few pages of action for my tastes. Worse still, those Pander Brothers inspired lines had become something much more Image circa Gen-13 and J Scott Campbell for my liking.
(From the second Cross story in issue 1. You wouldn’t think it was the same artist would you?)
But even with that proviso, Cross still does the job of being a bloody good and fun bit of silly superhero type action. And the art, all hyper-kinetic action lines and exagerrated features, like I said before, is rather tasty. It just doesn’t need the emphasis on the T&A in the second story.
Cross issue 1 is available from Kult Creations.