At first glance, Crowded from Image Comics looks all too familiar. The reliance on technology, the simplicity in which we can anger seemingly everyone in the world, and how social media affects the everyday world are all real world topics that the comic deals with. The story seems silly until one realizes how close to reality it is. Charlie Ellison is the target of a crowdfunded assassination campaign and has to survive for about a month in order to go back to living her previous life.
With a premise as far fetched as the one in Crowded, the heavy lifting will have to come from other places since the story is so bare bones. This turns out to be hit and miss as the second issue of the comic is a paint-by-numbers adventure — though writer Christopher Sebela does manage to liven it up at times.
Despite the high stakes situation, Crowded never loses its sense of fun. The issue opens with readers being introduced to a group of would-be killers trying to collect on the million dollar bounty on Charlie’s head. On their way to meet up with their target, they all sing along to Miley Cyrus in a a hilarious scene. There are other great comedic moments, including an extremely relatable one involving currency and another one Star Wars fans should love (or hate. You can never tell nowadays.) Unfortunately, there are moments where Crowded also forces its jokes with outdated stereotypes and bland exchanges between Charlie and her bodyguard, Vita.
The action continues to be a highlight of Crowded. There are some great sequences in issue two that further cement how good Vita is at her job. The scenes show off a wider range of the abilities she has while also making readers understand why she is one of the lowest rated bodyguards on the Dfnd app. More interestingly, one of the fights adds further development to Charlie. The first issue teases that the subject for the Reapr crowdfunded assassination is capable of defending herself; this issue makes it clear she can also effectively go on the offense.Aside from that one moment, there is little additional insight provided about Crowded’s two main characters. Charlie seems capable of taking care of herself, and Vita has a soft place in her heart that was more effectively illustrated in the first issue. No other information is given about the two, which impacts the story being told since at its core it is little more than an action adventure story with an unknown villain.
Ro Stein’s art continues to impress and the club scenes in particular look great. The emotional detail that Stein uses is a great addition to Crowded. The near full page scene in which Charlie is questioning her friend does a great job of making the reader wonder what kind of person is Charlie Ellison. Ted Brandts inks also add to the story and the use of shadowing is excellent.. The scenes at the Obnoxxious night club are in a hot pink that lets readers almost hear the awful dance music being played.
Crowded #2 is a fun action adventure story. While the story could use more character development, the introduction of a new character and the continuing mystery of why so many people want Charlie dead will keep readers interested.