When we last left Charlie and Vita, they were getting intimate physically and emotionally. Vita spilled her tragic past and we gained insight into the mysterious bounty hunter Circe. And, of course, with a multi-million-dollar crowdfunding campaign still wanting Charlie dead, Vita figures it’s as good a time as any to take refuge in a former missile silo with a group of overly-armed hippies.
Another issue of Crowded, another confined locale. Crowded #11, and perhaps Crowded more generally, is a story about space and the people we share our spaces with. With no lengthy chase sequences, fight scenes, or explosions, this issue offers Christopher Sebela more time to explore Crowded’s characters and their conceptions of community.
The self-driving car of the previous issue might have seemed intimate, even cosy. Moving freely across the desert landscape and lit by soft pinks, it was never constraining. In this issue, Charlie takes off her rose-colored glasses only to find that Vita doesn’t love her back.
The repurposed missile silo has a grim history, and attracts conflict even as the current occupants attempt to reform the space. With the arrival of the Three-Million-Dollar Girl, all efforts to mask alienating architecture with pop-art paintings and communal meals seem doomed to fail. While Vita can appreciate how these people have built a family for themselves, Charlie finds the rules and constant togetherness oppressive. Narratively speaking, there are more significant realizations and every word our protagonists have left unsaid comes pouring out.
The interior art from Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell continues to both compliment and counterbalance the writing. The facial expressions remain fantastic, but the environment is perhaps even more compelling. It beautifully follows the narrative’s focus on the space we need in relationships and the space we can’t bear.
Charlie’s pink tones pop more than ever against the austere greys. The gigantic, intimidating hole of the silo makes an incredibly large space feel somehow smaller, as does the following panel where Olivia hugs an obviously uncomfortable Vita.
The over-happy people pressing their faces against the glass as they urge Vita and Charlie to go to bed is a moment of sheer discomfort with an edge of humor. A pop-art painting of guns or a description on an ammo crate may elicit a giggle, along with an occasional bit of quippy dialogue, but is the only emotional relief offered. It’s tense.
The cover art is pleasant, and with Charlie and Dog cowering behind Vita, offers a taste of what’s to come. For the most part though, the setting is a copy of a panel near the end of issue 10 and I felt as if it could have offered us something more.
In its eleventh issue, Crowded continues to be a masterclass in space. Never has a silo felt so small. With less running to do, Crowded becomes somehow even more claustrophobic and even more character-driven. Everything gets worse but the story only gets better.
Crowded #11: Unrequited Love and Unsafe Sects
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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