Critical Hit picks up where last year’s Liberator and Liberator/Earth Crisis: Salvation of Innocents left off. We find Jeanette and Sarah as they’re moving in on a hunting compound. They’re bashing in cars and eventually they light the place on fire. The beauty of the scene comes from Jeanette’s narration which is all about her father. It’s interesting because it evolves her character by revealing her past, but then at the same time gives her a flaw. Previously Jeanette has been pretty perfect, but already in this issue we get an inkling of her humanity seeping in making her relatable. After this intense opening in which our two main characters find themselves in the clutches of the hunters they’re there to stop, we head into Sarah’s past. We find her working at a record store and meet her boyfriend. Their conversation is a typical one, one that you may have even been on the side of in your life. By no means is typical a slam, it’s typical because I think it’s extremely relatable.
The other shoe drops though as series reveals that it’s not just about animal cruelty like the previous volumes; it actually decides to tackle two other big subjects as well. The first is alcoholism which comes in the form of Jeanette’s narration about her father in the beginning, but then also with her current boyfriend that she’s attempting to help get sober. The other major theme is violence towards women as we see Sarah leave her boyfriend who has become abusive towards her. That doesn’t stop the issue from saying something about homophobia and racism, but they’re only touched on for a moment in the issue.
Once again Matt Miner has tackled subjects that no other comics seem willing to talk about. It’s not that he’s the first to start the subject on violence towards women or alcoholism, but his take is modern and relatable. More importantly it continues the conversation and that’s exactly what this story should be doing, creating conversations.
That doesn’t mean he lets the subject matter of animal cruelty fade into the background as that is the primary goal of our main characters, but he does tackle a new section of the discussion i.e. hunting. That is the one conversation that I think Miner has started in comics, is animal cruelty because I can’t think of another comic that ever covered it.
There is a new artist on the series and it’s an interesting fit. The book is no longer as dark and gritty with Jonathan Sawyer’s linework. Sawyer’s style is much cleaner and dare I say a bit more “comic book” looking than the art on Liberator. While I liked the gritty and darkness of the previous volumes in the story, I can understand and appreciate Sawyer’s artwork. After all his cleaner style is more accessible to new readers.
With that comes a new colorist as well; Doug Garbark keeps in line with Sawyer’s pencil work and keeps the coloring clean and vibrant. In particular I enjoyed the way Garbark colored the forest setting, just something about it really captured the beauty of nature in my opinion.
This series is back with a vengeance and a new name. I think the new name is appropriate as Miner and company take on other subject maters. It clearly lets the reader know that things are different and growing. For new readers it’s catchy and sounds interesting, but more importantly its accessible to them. If you enjoyed Liberator you’re going to enjoy Critical Hit.
Writer: Matt Miner Artist: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer Colorist: Doug Garbark Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/1/14 Format: Print