Review – Critical Hit #2 (Black Mask Studios)

CriticalHit-cover-002_1200px - CopyPublisher: Black Mask Studios
Writter: Matt Miner
Artist(s): Jonathan Brandon Sawyer & Doug Garbark
Release Date: 29th October 2014

Straight out of completing his Liberator mini-series, Matt Miner returns with a new series and a brand new art team to give us Critical Hit. Fan favourite animal rights activists Jeanette Francis and Sarah Mann put on their ski-masks once again to fight against animal cruelty and stop hunters from killing innocent creatures. But when they are both captured in the woods and left beaten and chained up, who will liberate the liberators?

While not every animal rights activist goes around blowing up hunting compounds, Sarah and Jeanette are still made to be very relatable characters. We see them dealing with a lot of issues back home, Sarah having left her physically abusive husband in the first issue and Jeanette now dealing with her own drug abusing boyfriend. Jeanette deals with the situation in different ways; firstly she jokes about it, then she tries to confront him about his problem and other times she realises he’s too far gone and just abandons him, hoping that she can do some good by liberating other animals. Her decisions aren’t perfect, and that’s part of what makes her so human. Over the next few issues I hope to see more of both her and Sarah’s development.

This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted as it showcases a lot of harsh and disturbing imagery, and I feel there is an over abundance of profanity in almost every scene. I like many people don’t have a problem with swearing in a comic but the dialogue loses some of its edge when the F bomb is dropped in at any given moment.  That said, the language shows that the book is not afraid to take risks and this issue definitely doesn’t hold back. There is a scene at the very end when Sarah is being beaten by one of the hunters but the assault is shown through reactions. We never see the ball strike her face and it becomes more powerful when we have to imagine her expression of pain based solely from the pleas of Jeanette and the sick enjoyment of the hunter. And the motion of Sarah’s vision getting blurry and eventually passing out was a great way to end this issue.

I have to also give props to the art team on this one for the control of each panel in this scene and how you could feel Jeanette’s face churning with every hit. Doug Garbark’s use of lighting and colours made a huge impact on this for an issue done mostly a night. The way the lantern reflects off the walls gives this fiery red tint to the pages and a grim sense of disarray.

Critical Hit follows in the footsteps of Liberator, existing as its own story with its own twists and surprises. It’s definitely not for everyone, between its harsh language and disturbing imagery many will be put off by this book. But once you dive deeper into the story and understand the characters motives and personalities , Critical Hit becomes a thrilling fight for survival in a world turned upside-down.

Rating: 4/5.

DWavThe Writer of this piece was: Dean Walsh
You follow Dean on Facebook

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