Critical Hit #1-2

Critical Hit #1 cover

New publisher Black Mask Studios is gradually building its slate of titles. Some of the ones I’ve seen so far have been horror, so not my thing, but I was intrigued by Critical Hit, written by Matt Miner and drawn by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer. Although it’s apparently a sequel to a series I’ve never seen called Liberator, I didn’t feel left out. [Note: I’ve since been informed that Black Mask is doing a lot more than horror — it was just my bad luck on the couple that I sampled.]

Critical Hit #1 cover

Sarah and Jeannette are animal activists, and as issue #1 opens, they’re busy destroying a hunting camp. Narration about how Jeannette grew up with a drunk father plays over top of the images, while Sarah previously got out of an abusive relationship. The narration at times veers close to pretension, providing an artistic overlay to the earthy spectacle, giving the reader an excuse for wallowing in destruction because there’s a more meaningful theme running in parallel.

Making the women terrorists for good is an interesting approach, a modern take on the classic vigilante. The laws don’t help them find justice, so they take matters into their own hands, operating outside the established system. It’s certainly more interesting than yet another superhero comic, particularly since I’m not sure I agree with them. Their cause is valid, but their methods are questionable. And it makes their danger even more potent, as there doesn’t seem to be anyone to help them.

Critical Hit #2 cover

Unfortunately, the two get captured by the hunters, and issue #2 shows how bad things can get for them. That’s the problem with taking on people brought together by their love of guns and killing — they’re willing to be violent. The hunters aren’t the kinds of hobbyists I know around here, but exaggerated backwoods stereotypes. Just to make it clear that they’re the bad guys, they’re also racist and sexist sadists.

There’s a fine line between putting our heroes in danger so we can get emotionally involved in their (presumably) eventual release, and creating an entire issue of beating up and torturing women. Thankfully, there’s a flashback to an earlier mission that went much better to lighten the tone and provide some balance.

I’m presuming that this is a four-issue storyline, so I hope the next issue provides more glimmers of hope, because I’d hate to lose these young women when I’ve just met them. (The publisher provided digital review copies.)

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