Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Karl Moline (p), John Dell (i)
One of the best things about Route 666 is that, on the surface, it has nothing to do with CrossGen’s sigil device; you know it is lurking in there somewhere, and you are reminded that this story is not set on our Earth by the constant anachronisms – the planet is called Erebus, the FBI is known as the NBI, the crucifix is skewed, although set contemporaneously to ourselves the Vietnam War is just kicking off. There are many examples to give, and another is that souls are being harvested by demons for The Adversary. A less careful reader would immediately equate The Adversary with The Devil of our planet, but given the other differences between Earth and Erebus, a straightforward comparison doesn’t seem valid. Far more likely that The Adversary is some alien being, one of The First, or the creatures seen in Negation, or one of these big baddies like the chap who gave Mordath his powers in Sojourn, than some “simple” religious being.
And this stuff all sits below the surface. Read one issue, you probably won’t notice any of it. Read another, and one or two things stick out in your mind as not being quite right compared to Earth. Read all six released so far and you begin to piece the puzzle together, deciding that either writer Bedard is a genius for planning all this in advance, or just incredibly lucky…let’s go for genius, and hope he doesn’t stumble. And to my mind, tying this book in too closely with the rest of the CG universe would be a major league stumble; another of its virtues is being able to treat it as a standalone book, you can present a copy to any CG-non-reading (and sometimes this equates to hating) comics fan (rip the cover off if you must so they don’t know its genesis) and have them hooked inside an issue or two.
The story so far – Cassie Starkweather is on the run from a mental institution – she has a gift from her grandfather such that she can see what certain people “really” are – harvesters of souls for The Adversary – and is implicated in the deaths of a number of people from during her escape through to her time on the run. Death seems to follow her around, and it doesn’t help that at the end of last issue she hooked up with the serial killer known as Railsplitter – except she doesn’t realise this until later in this issue. The FBI equivalent NBI are in hot pursuit and corner the pair of them; of course, they don’t believe her story and her punishment isn’t going to be very nice…the stage is set for a showdown with Cassie and her unwelcome ally on one side, and the might of the NBI on the other. It’s nasty.
Moline and Dell don’t shy away from depicting the effects of violence in this book (another reason it seems out of the norm for CrossGen), and whilst we’re eagerly awaiting Moline’s work on Fray #7 and #8, we can forgive the delay if it means he’s producing work of this quality on a monthly basis.
Frankly this book is my #1 CGE book; yes it has outstripped Ruse in six short issues – and when the first trade comes out (collecting issues one through six/seven), it will be one of the essential books of 2003 to have.
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