The first issue of Critter was hard to review; I enjoyed the issue a lot but could never really find what I wanted to say about it that would be worth a full review. With the second issue the book takes a turn that’s very interesting and left me wanting to talk about it. The issue begins with Critter maintaining her civilian identity as Cass the college student. She’s taking a psychology class that’s all about superheroes, which is funny since that’s the very reason she moved from Kansas to LA to begin with. After an interesting lecture from fellow superhero, Cass takes to the city for her patrol. She ends up on the beach enjoying a sunset and thinking about how her life is completely different from just a few months ago. Just as he’s about to call it a day, a mugger takes a woman’s purse as she lies casually on the beach. Critter jumps into action and stops the thief in front of a crowd, as she hands the woman her purse back a little girl stares at her with “awe. “She tells the little girl that she’s a superhero and that she just witnessed her stopping her first "bad guy." In the background a strangely dressed woman claps for Critter and begins giving her a hard time about being a hero. Soon the two are in a scuffle and Critter tosses the woman into the ocean.
What I really enjoy about this book is that it effortlessly allows you to distain your belief while reading. You don’t think about things like where the mugger went to when Critter and the woman began fighting, nor do you worry that Critter just sent a woman to her death by throwing her at the ocean. There’s a simply charm to Critter that reminds me of comics of yesterdays that weren’t focused on explaining every action in anticipation of fanboy’s tearing it apart with disbelief. Instead, Critter manages to be a very different yet familiar superhero story due to the fact that it doesn’t worry about explaining every action the story and character make.
Series creator and writer Tom Hutchison focuses on his vision of a teen superhero and tackles very different struggles than other series before him. The idea of the real world accepting superheroes is not a new one, but Hutchison adds his own twist by having classes with superhero guests. Also his take on a college student leaving home for the first time and dealing with LA is unique and different. Sure others have done similar things like Marvel’s Gravity and Powers, but Hutchison’s approach manages to be just different enough that it’s fresh and interesting.
The art really shines in this series. After the origin issue, artist J.P. Mayer left the book and frankly it was for the best as replacement artist Fico Ossio has really stepped in and made the series his own. He changed the costume making it look far better, but maintaining its roots. In general his art has a sharp look to it that rivals any other superhero genre book on the market. His coloring really makes his penciling just pop out of the page and gives the book a very unique and interesting look.
Critter may not be reinventing the wheel, but it’s adding four doors and an engine to it which is more than a lot of other indie superhero books can say. The take on it is fresh and yet familiar who really works and just something that I can describe has me hooked on this book. Reading it felt like reading a comic for the first time, no pretenses of story or characters which forces you to accept everything there at face value and not judge it so harshly which makes for a really good book.
Writer: Tom Hutchison
Artist: Fico Ossio
Publisher: Big Dog Ink