Charlie And Vita Hit The Strip: Reviewing ‘Crowded Vol. 2- Glitter Dystopia TP’

by Brendan M. Allen

After escaping a televised attempt on their lives and blowing past two million bucks in their REAPR campaign, Charlie and Vita abandon Los Angeles for the desert paradise Las Vegas in search of answers. But between the human debris of Charlie’s past and the well-kept secrets of Vita’s old life, the only thing less likely than Charlie and Vita surviving their REAPR campaign is them surviving each other.

Crowded Volume 2- Glitter Dystopia TP takes the Charlie and Vita show on the road. Specifically I-15N, as the ladies try to leave all the murder behind in La-La Land. There isn’t a much better place to hide than Sin City. Weirdos EVERYWHERE. No one will even blink at the girl with pink hair, her tiny rat dog, or the angry gun lady. 

They do have to get from one city to the other, and travel is a bit of a sticking point, with Charlie actively trying to sabotage Vita’s best efforts to keep her upright and breathing. Does Charlie want to die? Because Charlie is acting like she wants to die.

Christopher Sebela did a fantastic job of pacing out the first story arc, just teasing out enough information to keep everything weird and awkward between the protagonists. A few pieces here and there, but generally, we only learned about characters as they were also learning about each other.

That carries into this second arc, where Charlie and Vita are starting to finally open up a little bit to each other as they dodge bullets and nunchucks and tire irons and stuff. On a speeding train in a death tube.

Sebela finally (FINALLY) pulls back the curtain a little on Vita’s past. Charlie gets her liquored up, and the characteristically reserved Vita becomes shockingly open about her past, her present, and even a few of her future hopes and dreams. Who is this kid, and what have you done with Slatter?

She’s either really, really drunk, or that pink haired hooligan has finally worn her down. Maybe some of both. Anyway, the liquor and the new chemistry lead to some really great character moments.

On the visual end, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell bring that signature cool and airy Crowded aesthetic into the second arc. The story is incredibly dark, but you wouldn’t know it from the art. Well, I mean, dudes are getting kneecapped and stuff, but in a really light and fun way. Cinematic angles, insane action spreads, and a rose-tinted palette. Deceptively simple and sexy, while all hell is breaking loose.

I don’t even know who to credit for those diegetic effects, but that integrated Ka-Boom in the opening sequence that starts as muzzle flash and ends as blood spatter? COME ON!!! And that flamethrower stream that spells Woooooooosh? Dead brilliant.

This book is a lot of fun to look at. If you take a few minutes to look around, there are clever little sight gags throughout. Signs and graffiti and billboards and stuff. Oh, and Charlie’s tech bro billionaire friend’s hotel? That’s definitely a giant penis.

If my timeline is correct, the beginning of this arc is only, what, a week into the REAPR campaign? The bounty on Charlie’s head is already close to three million. Things keep getting nuttier as the stakes keep rising. This thing honestly could go in any of several different directions. 

This is the most human part of the story so far. Charlie has been trying her damndest to crack Vita, and she may have just. That may actually be the worst thing that could have happened. This budding relationship makes it exponentially harder for Vita to keep enough emotional distance to keep the pink haired nutter alive. 

If you haven’t been tracking, this is a perfect opportunity to grab the first and second volumes of Crowded, and get completely up to speed before chapter thirteen drops.

Crowded Volume 2- Glitter Dystopia TP, collects Crowded #7-12, Image Comics, 24 June 2020. Script/design by Christopher Sebela, line art by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, letters by Cardinal Rae, edited by Juliette Capra, logo by Dylan Todd, flatting by Yesflats, Holley McKend, and Richel Tagyamon.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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