Let’s lead with this – this is the best book I’ve reviewed for CBR11. Go buy it, it’s good.
I’m breaking one of my self-imposed rules for CBR here. I am a MAJOR comic book reader. I love them. I literally have three bookshelves devoted solely to my comics after having pared the collection down to just the essentials, my local comics purveyors know my life, I once started to estimate how much I spent on the comic books I have and shut that down like an overheating reactor when I realized it was going to be in the five figures. Graphic Novels are my jam, basically. But I don’t review them for CBR. There’s a few reasons – comics were initially restricted by the original CBR rules and I was playing along as a lurker from the beginning; I don’t want to review comics because they’re a treat for me, I feel like the total number of books I read will be artificially inflated by brisk graphic novel reads – but I need my bingo square filled, and I love this so much I want all of you to know about it.
One of the reasons comics are so amazing is that there is so much they can do that the written word alone can’t (think about Rorschach hiding in plain sight in Watchmen, something that can’t really pack the same punch when you hear Jackie Earle Haley’s voice and know “hey, that vagrant sounds like Rorschach trying to disguise his voice”), and the limitless ability to show, not just describe, any amazing or outlandish idea, and Crowded does both here amazingly.
The premise is that our heroine, an absolute pain in the ass hipster making ends meet with a dozen gig-economy jobs, has somehow incurred enough wrath to be targeted by the crowd-funded Reapr – a sort of go-fund-me where instead of paying for medical treatment, your five dollars goes to eliminating someone from the planet via crowd-sourced bounty hunting – and enough to have a million dollar and counting prize for her death. She enlists a sort of bodyguard via Defendr, a protector too competent to warrant her one star rating, enlisted to protect her before the 30 day campaign ends and her death will no longer be legally sanctioned. That sounds quite dark, but is actually hilarious. The hapless Charlie is incredibly charming even as she is the most irritating person imaginable, and her beleaguered defender Vita is obviously easy to sympathize with in her frustration. It’s very much Paper Moon by way of 1984.
The hard part about comics is that until the series is complete, it’s hard to know if that limitless potential I mentioned earlier pans out to a satisfying story (I’m not event talking endings, sometimes a series has a great first issue and then nosedives from there, but especially with some of the ambitious premises that make the form so wonderful, a satisfactory conclusion can be really tough to achieve). Time will tell on this one, but I’m not just excited for more of this, I’m going to seek out other works by this team. Check this one out.
(bingo horizontally, pajiba-science)