Crowded V1 Review: It’s Uber but for Murder!

Review by Sam Beard

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Crowded Volume 1: Written by Christopher Sebela, Art by Ro Stein & Ted Brandt, Color by Triona Farrell, Lettering by Cardinal Rae

Thanks to Image Comics for providing a copy of Crowded V1 for review!

Synopsis

Ten minutes in the future, the world runs on an economy of job shares and apps, while crowdfunding has evolved into Reapr: a platform for assassination that’s trickled down from politicians, celebrities and CEOs to everyday life and all its petty resentments. A world where anyone with enough backers and the money they contribute can kill anyone else.

Like Charlie Ellison, who up until now has lead a quiet, normal life, until she wakes up to find herself the target of a Reapr campaign with a million dollars on her head. Hunted by all of Los Angeles, Charlie hires Vita, the lowest rated bodyguard on the Dfend app. As the campaign picks up speed and Vita takes out incompetent civilians and aspirational assassins on their tail, she and Charlie will have to figure out who wants Charlie dead and why before the campaign’s 30 days or their lives are over.

Collecting the first arc by Eisner-nominated writer Christopher Sebela (SHANGHAI RED, WE(L)COME BACK, HEARTTHROB), Ro Stein and Ted Brandt (CAPTAIN MARVEL: RAVEN THE PIRATE PRINCESS), Triona Farrell (RUNAWAYS, MECH CADET YU) and Cardinal Rae (BINGO LOVE, ROSE).

Review

One of the biggest problems facing social media today is the bandwagon. One person claims someone is #TheWorst and suddenly everyone is after them. I’m not saying it’s never warranted, but there are times (especially in the YA Lit community) where this type of behavior is unfairly damaging. Even in the even that someone is being a jerk, there are usually better ways to deal with it than calling them out on Twitter. Crowded takes a look at what happens when this call out culture reaches its fullest and most terrifying extent.

The main character Charlie isn’t super likable. She constantly goes against the wishes of her bodyguard, Vita. You really just want to slap her the entire book. She doesn’t behave like someone who truly doesn’t want to be murdered. It’s clear that she’s keeping secrets, and as a result I spent a lot of time wondering if she didn’t somehow put the million dollar price tag on her own head.

Issues 1 & 2 of Crowded examine lots of interesting questions about putting the power of life & death in the hands of the general public. This is terrifying for anyone who doesn’t belong to the moral majority, or really anyone who just ticks off the wrong person. When everyone has the power to report you as a target, no one has accountability. Even the police lack the ability to shut down these man-hunts.

I’m a big fan of The Good Place, and I found myself thinking about that show a lot while reading Crowded. No matter how hard people try to be nice, or how good they think they are they could still be listed as a target at any time. You can’t control your fate, so is it really worth trying to be decent when it’s impossible to please absolutely everyone?

Killers are celebrities in the world of Crowded, the app Reapr makes serial murder trendy. The individuals hunting down Charlie all have their own motivations though, they aren’t faceless killers. I enjoyed the attention to the killers in this book, and I’m looking forward to learning more about one in particular in future books. Whenever a story like this provides insight to both the killers and the target I’m happy. Three-dimensional antagonists should be a requirement always.

Crowded will also strike a chord for fans of The Hunger Games, or The Purge. Murder is essentially legalized in this story, though still within certain boundaries. If you enjoy stories with lots of blood and moral quandaries, I highly recommend Crowded!

Crowded Vol. 1 is set for release on March 20th at comic book shops, and March 26th at book stores.

Where to Buy:

Image Comics Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository

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