Writer: Christopher Sebela
Penciler: Ro Stein
Inker: Ted Brandt
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Publisher: Image Comics
Review by Anelise Farris
Crowded #1 is set in a future in which technology runs everyone’s lives (even more than it does today!). One particular form of technology, an app called Reapr, has proven to be a dangerous innovation. What is Reapr, you ask? Well, it’s basically a Kickstarter for murder. A person is targeted, money is raised, and that person becomes a target of anyone wanting to earn some serious cash for taking them out.
Meet Charlie Ellison: Charlie thought she lived a quiet life, under-the-radar. That is, until she became the target of a million-dollar 30-day Reapr campaign. With basically all of LA on the hunt for her, Charlie hires (via the Dfend app) the only bodyguard she can afford: the low-rated Vita. As Vita and Charlie hideout in Vita’s old, decaying mansion, Vita is determined to figure out just why Charlie is being targeted. Charlie claims she’s “Charlie fucking nobody.” But, as we all know, nobody’s do not get social media attention like that.
This story had me intrigued from the start. I love a good technology-saturated mystery that is capable of balancing interesting social commentary with page-turning suspense. The contrast between Vita and Charlie works beautifully, and I love that we get to know them both. I get the feeling that Charlie has a sketchy past that requires her to work various jobs each day to survive (all of the independent contractor variety). But that’s just speculation. All that we know for now is that Charlie has a killer fashion sense, and she’s a dog lover. We also get the sense here that Vint does not prefer to exist as a lonely, in-the-shadows bodyguard. Just why has she cut off all the relationships in her life? What is she trying to hide?
In addition to great character work and plot-pacing, the art here is perfect for the story they are telling. It is bubbly and youthful, which helps to alleviate some of the darkness of the Reapr phenomenon. Charlie’s soft, pink-haired self is a smart contrast to the angular, dark-haired Vita, and that little dog is SO cute. In addition to the panels featuring the dog, my favorite page involves a zoomed-out, walls-off perspective of the giant hideaway house. I want to live there.
Verdict: Buy it.
Crowded #1 is a stellar first issue. It introduces the characters, presents the conflict, and ends with a cliffhanger. While I don’t want to live in a world in which Reapr exists, I do want to live in a world where I get to read more issues of Crowded!