Crowded #1

This comic-book was published by Image Comics in August 2018, I only just finished reading it today, so I’m definitely a late-comer to this series. I only vaguely remember hearing about it before. The writer says that his original title was going to be CROWDFUNDEAD, which I personally think is better in regards to the subject matter, and may have encouraged me to check it out back then, but oh well. The reason I got it now is because it showed up in my recommended list on Amazon, and it happened to available for free, which is my favorite price, so I downloaded it just for the heck of it and boy am I glad that I did!

Coming from the creative team of writer Christopher Sebela, penciler Ro Stein, inker Ted Brandt, colorist Triona Farrell, letterer Cardinal Rae, & editor Juliette Capra (who all share copyright & trademark of the series and characters, which is an unusual arrangement), this story takes place in a “near future” America where the so-called gig economy has become dominate. Most people are either working for or using various smartphone apps to provide for their daily needs. Our first lead character is a young woman named Charlie who gives us an example of her typical workday, which illustrates this current reality, and that sequence itself is pretty fascinating. She rents out her home for a couple of days via an app, she gives people rides in her car via an app, she loans her car to someone else via an app. She’s a babysitter, dogwalker, school tutor, and more, all via various apps. You can borrow clothes, money, pretty much everything you need there’s an app for that.

That in and of itself is a very interesting concept to me, and it doesn’t feel too far fetched at all. This setting could be perfect for many types of stories, I’d be interested in reading that just explores that facet of the world and how people have adapted to it. But this series takes it’s futuristic turn in that there is also an app in which you can crowdfund the assassination of anyone, and that’s perfectly legal.

It’s not exactly clear yet how that particular service works, but I guess it’s like Kickstarter, or GoFundMe, but you list someone you want to be killed and people donate money to add to the bounty, and anyone who manages to kill the person gets all the money that was raised. A campaign lasts 30 days, and if the person isn’t killed by the 30th day, it ends and no one gets the money.  There is another app which you can use to hire an armed bodyguard to protect you, and that’s what many people who find themselves the target of an assassination campaign tend to use to keep them safe until the campaign is over.

So Charlie, who had prided herself on being a nobody, just a proverbial cog in the societal machine who just gets through life without bothering anyone, suddenly finds herself being hunted and discovers that there’s a campaign on her, where over 2000 people have raised over a million dollars for her assassination. She uses the “Defendr” app and gets a bodyguard named Vita. Vita is not exactly a naturally friendly person, and she and Charlie don’t hit it off at first. Charlie takes note that Vita has a very low rating score on the app, although Vita points out that at least all those former clients who left those low rating where still alive at the end of their campaigns to be able to rate her. After Vita saves Charlie from several would-be assassins in a fast food restaurant, Vita takes Charlie back to her place, where Charlie should be safe and can have time to try to figure out why anybody wants her dead.

This was a perfect first issue, the story unfolded naturally with just enough being revealed about this world and the two lead characters to hook the reader and leave us wanting to learn more. It also ends on a rather exciting cliffhanger. And I love the artwork, it’s got a bit of an animation feel to it, it fits the tone of the story. This is the best comic-book that I’ve all read all year!

I mean, you know what I mean.

I see that there are 12 issues of this series, and I’m about to buy the rest of them, I’m sorry I missed this before but better late than never right? Chacebook rating: 5 STARS

Available on AMAZON and COMIXOLOGY

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