After talking to creator and series writer Matt Miner I think I understand this series better, not that I was terribly confused by the rebranding, but just better. Critical Hit is more comic booky and while that almost sounds like a dirty word, it really isn’t. Whereas Liberator was heavily grounded in the real world and a serious look at animal cruelty, Critical Hit is a more dramatic approach. Hence the explosions and overall more intense first issue. It’s not that Critical Hit isn’t serious, but the subject matter has expanded. For instance the first two issues have dealt a lot with relationships and being in an abusive one. Jeanette may not be being hit by her boyfriend Daniel, but it sure as shit isn’t healthy as we can see in this issue. Before that though we should jump to where the last issue left off as Sarah and Jeanette ended up captured by the hunter’s whose compound they just finished destroying. Yeah let’s just say that all the property damaged they’ve done isn’t going to get them let off with a warning. Instead they’re lead to a shipping container in the middle of the woods and it looks like they film snuff films inside. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s what they do. One of the hunters actually talks to Sarah and gives her some advice on how to escape, but when she draws attention to him talking he’s forced to punch her in the stomach.
The story bounces back to six days before the events were witnessing. I personally like this device as it keeps the story from being too heavy-handed in one scene and builds the tension of the situation that the two women are in. In the past storyline we see Daniel acting like an ass, but part of me thinks it’s a cry for help. The results are that Sarah and Jeanette go on a mission to what may be an underground dog fighting venue. Without missing an opportunity for a pun, the results are explosive!
Now I’m going to point out something about this issue, but bear with me. There is violence in this issue and it is violence towards a woman, but it’s not violence because she’s a woman. I know that’s confusing, but what I’m getting at is that the violence is towards whatever character is there and it happens to be a woman. Sarah and Jeanette are capture and thus they’re receiving the violence, but it could easily have been two male characters and the results would be the same. The genders are interchangeable and that’s the difference that I’m trying to point out. Matt Miner isn’t having two women beaten, but rather two characters in a bad situation beaten. Is it a difficult pill to swallow? Yes, but I could imagine it being difficult for me in that situation watching my friend be beaten. I think that’s important to point out because it never gets rapey, it never gets sexual, it’s just scary in the way that anyone beating on someone without any control is scary.
I’m liking what Miner is doing in this story and damn if I’m not curious about where it’s heading especially with the dual timelines. The only thing I would say about this issue is that the character development is a bit flat at the moment, but I’m not knocking it for that given the events. I’m just hoping that there’s development to come from these events which will make it all worthwhile.
The art for Liberator was good and fit the story and the tone really well, but damn if I don’t like Jonathan Brandon Sawyer’s artwork more. I hate to be that guy, but I do really like his artwork. Going back to the scene of the beating, Sawyer really makes it gruesome and violent, but he’s the big reason that it isn’t creepy and instead just really scary. Also he draws a mean explosion and that’s always a plus. What I think really stands out is the fact that each panel is rich in detail and that there’s a background and foreground which makes the scene look realistic and not an empty husk.
This book might be too in your face and I get that; some people want fantasy and good times in their comics, but I think that Critical Hit tackles some important subjects and reminds me a lot of punk music. Sure there are songs that are fun and you can skank to, but then there’s songs that make you think and craft a picture of the world that you’re not seeing all the time. But just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean that it’s not a solid debut for a new series.
Writer: Matt Miner Artist: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/29/14 Format: Ongoing; Print