Charlie and Vita are trapped in a decommissioned missile silo full of cultists who want to murder them while hiding from a world full of regular people who want to murder them. If they manage to survive all that, they’ll still have to face their biggest threat: each other.
As Crowded closes out its second arc (the last issue to be published in singles), emotions inside of the nuclear silo have reached critical mass. The writing from Christopher Sebela remains as sharp as ever, continuing to perfectly balance plot, character growth, laughs, and social commentary.
One of the issue’s main foci is the way greedy, self-interested people can prey upon others who, for whatever reason, are emotionally vulnerable and trusting. Ophelia’s vulnerability and naïveté got her sucked into a pyramid scheme, and bounty hunter Circe easily enchants Charlie like her mythological namesake does to desperate sailors. That said, Crowded isn’t completely pessimistic in outlook. Vita is around to assure both characters and audience that there is a way out.
Calling the twelfth issue’s opening page one of its strongest artistically feels vastly unfair to the rest of the issue, as all of it is impeccable. Nonetheless, those first pages are masterfully done. Ro Stein’s use of foreshortening create a sense of humor and awkwardness, offering us a pet-level view. Using spilled cheese puffs to spell out onomatopoeia is both clever and humorous, while drawing attention to Dog’s antics. Triona Farell’s colors here is similarly striking. Greyscale not only communicates a flashback to readers, but draws the eye to the cheese puffs (and Dog) and contrasts the idealized “Charlie pink” version of the car in issue #10. Ted Brandt’s inks remains flawless throughout the issue.
Cardinal Rae’s lettering throughout the entire series has portrayed a sense of claustrophobia, the letters themselves filling confining speech bubbles. Now, Rae’s lettering takes center stage as Charlie and Vita reach the fan of the silo and the sound rubs out/“blows away” their words.
The issue’s cover is expertly executed, and wonderfully communicates the tension of the issue’s second half along with how Vita and Charlie’s conflict has escalated over the series, now leading them to neglect Dog.
Crowded #12 is a flawlessly executed finale of an exceptional second arc. It’s a mystery where everyone’s favorite queer rom-com near-future thriller is taking us, but it can’t arrive soon enough.
Crowded #12: It’s A Dog-Eat-Dog World
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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