By Nick Couture — Crowded is the collective work of writer Christopher Sebela, artists Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, colorist Triona Farrell, and letterer Cardinal Rae. With each issue, the team gels more as they find notes that really make the book sing. Crowded is a refined work. It’s a dark near-future road trip comedy with the world at its disposal. Crowded #9 follows main characters Vita and Charlie as they continue to hangout in Vegas. Unsurprisingly, hijinx ensue.
If movies have taught us anything, it’s that elaborate plans are what Vegas is really for. Crowded #9 is a great example of this golden rule. Vita and Charlie attempt to get to the top of the Tabula Rasa so they can speak with an old “friend” of Charlie’s. The Tabula Rasa is a tech bro, surveillance free, cash grab of a hotel. Charlie’s friend may be their key to finally figuring out who is behind the Reapr campaign against Charlie.
Crowded #9 continues the fun dynamic between the two leads. In the early issues, writer Christopher Sebela, endeared us to the characters so well. At the point they’re at now, they feel like a classic old married couple, constantly bickering yet inseparable. Each has their own idiosyncrasies that make them multilayered and real.
The line art by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt is dynamic throughout. So much life is imbued in the characters’ faces. The action jumps off the page. In one particular sequence, Vita and Charlie fly out of a window as they spray bullets at their attackers. It’s one of the coolest sequences I've seen all year and definitely helps this book stand out from other comics. I love all the hand lettering that the art team applies. I’m a sucker for that stuff, but I think it does add a weighty feel to the art and fully utilizes what makes the medium of comics so special. The colors by Triona Farrell are distinct as well. I love their use of bright contrasty yellows, pinks, and blues. Every character seems to have their own color palette, which appropriately depicts their mood and vibe.
Crowded just feels like a relevant book for our times. Sebela and team are laying out some of their frustrations with the world as we currently know it. Tech and gun culture seems to have limitless material for jokes. In some ways, Crowded is a cathartic experience. It lets us laugh at the absurdity of the present crisis, which is sometimes a bigger relief than crying and yelling into the void. This approach could have felt easy or cheap if it wasn't for the skill of everyone involved. We’ve seen countless comics with Trump analogues, which are great and hilarious...but we’ve seen that. I also want to give a shout out to all of the POC, women, and just general diversity that is in this comic. It’s empowering and inspirational to see different types of people represented. The team really seems to be committed to this and actually cares about representation, so good on them.
Overall: Crowded #9 continues this creative team’s miracle run. The bond between Vita and Charlie deepens as we speed toward answers. I, however, can’t help but feel those answers are a little irrelevant when the ride is this fun. 9.5/10
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artists: Ro Stein and Ted Brandt
Colors: Triona Farrell
Letters: Cardinal Rae
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Nick Couture is a video producer living in Lansing, Michigan with his wife and daughter. His first love is film but comics have been a constant source of creative fuel for him for many years. He loves drinking coffee and long-distance running.