This week’s comic offering from the publisher Black Mask includes two books written by Matt Miner: Critical Hit #4 and Toe Tag Riot #3. If you have seen the various new Black Mask books on the shelf at your local comic book store and want to dip your toe in but just don’t know where to start, I would suggest starting with these two titles. You will receive the broad spectrum of the kind of work Black Mask is doing while still having the consistency of the same great writing. Critical Hit will do exactly what it advertises. It is full of heart and full of real, gut wrenching suspense. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the Critical Hit to knock me over. Toe Tag Riot is the other end of the spectrum. Toe Tag Riot is a book full of humour, gory zombie brutality and its own form of justice towards bigotry. These are not superhero books. There is no evil mastermind plotting for world domination. The characters in these books are in no way similar to each other, but in both cases they are fighting the injustice that they see in their daily life. Perhaps something we might see in our daily lives. It does not require a cape to be a hero, but it does require decomposing cells to eat someone.
Issue 2 of Black Mask studios Critical Hit is a gut punch in the best way possible as it takes a concrete reality look into the consequences of two animal rights activist that might have stepped over the line. Dean has summarized the first issue really well here and where as that debut issue was very much a set up of things to come this one dives right into the heart of the adventure; brutally. It has a casual violence to it that let’s you feel every hit and the impending doom of their situation. Matt Miner’s characters feel fully realized in a book that could just be like “lol rednecks” but instead highlights the huge shade of grey at the heart of this book. His dialogue really pops and gives life to the story while illustrator Jonathan Brandon Sawyer does some fantastic character work in displaying the pain and anger of people inside this comic along with a fantastic full page illustration of the two protagonist rescuing a couple fight dogs as literal fireworks explode in the background. Critical Hit is a huge surprise as it takes a wholly original concept and runs with it in a complex character study about our relationship with animals. There is nothing else like this and it’s well worth reading as Miner & Sawyer establish themselves as two new voices in comics that deserve your attention.