‘Crowded #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Christopher Sebela has modernized the “on the lam” genre with Crowded, the latest book by Image Comics. In a world where technology has completely blanketed the socio-economic landscape, a young girl is being pursued by a willing mob of heavily armed regular folk who are all crowdfunded to kill her. The book is hot, heavy, and full of bloodshed. The characters are brutal and sassy. Crowded makes no apologies for its devout roughness and is better for it.

From the opening page of this issue, you will notice something so seemingly unfamiliar, yet it makes so much sense. This book, for better or worse, is actually funny. That’s right. There are jokes in this comic book, and they actually work . . . comedically! It makes one pause to reflect on how not funny other comic books are. Why are so many other comic books shackled by self-seriousness? This particular story is so much more delightful than other books, because the humor of Crowded immediately solidifies your investment. I cared about the main character Charlie very early on and will likely continue to care about her based on the charming opening four pages of the issue.

The plot itself could be summed up in one brave, modern, post-millennial thesis statement: “Let’s make fun of technology and apps.” As a person who works a ton a side hustles all daisy-chained together by various service-applications, I get it. It is how young people make money. So far, the book is not really saying anything one way or the other on the subject. Rather, it heightens our reality into what you can imagine the future might look like. The direction they chose to heighten was the utter lack of death. In this future concept, death is everywhere. An app called Reapr will allow one to launch a campaign to crowdfund the hunting and killing of a selected target for money. Juxtapose this with an app you can use to hire a professional bodyguard called Dfendor, and the result is the basis for Crowded.

Christopher Sebela is also credited with the design of the book, so between Sebela and Ro Stein, you are left with a whacky and rambunctious art direction that goes to the edge of bonkers. The book is bright and bouncy. The carnage plays nicely off of the vibrant colors, making the art of Crowded nearly ironic. It’s simply wild. I can also appreciate a deliberate break from conventional comic book structure. Look at how that text bubble wraps around the door to follow a character. This is almost fourth-wall-breaking text!

If you are looking for some bullet-filled lunacy, charming characters, and bright, colorful backgrounds, then you will love Crowded. The self-aware quality of of the piece makes Crowded uniquely equipped to roast the technological subject matter it also lovingly portrays.

Creative Team: Christopher Sebela (script/design), Ro Stein (pencils), Ted Brandt (inks), Trionna Farrell (colours)
Publisher: Image Comics
Click here to purchase.

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