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Critter #2

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
One of the things I love the most about Critter is how writer Thomas Hutchison meshes the real with the unreal. This issue exemplifies that intermingling.

Critter runs into a nutjob. So what else is new, you might ask? Yellow Jacket from last issue was certainly certifiable. True, but it's very rare to bump into a serial killer. The everyday, potentially dangerous lunatic is a much more common animal. The gal with questionable fashion sense and the killer bike in Critter talks like a fruitcake and behaves like a brick-shy. I have personal experience, and brothers and sisters, this dialogue rings true.

My encounter occurred at the bus stop. I was whistling, and this guy smirked at me and asked, "Are you mocking me?" Without hesitation, I walked really fast to the next stop. I would have walked to the next one had he followed. In Critter's case, the escapee first berates her in a typically intense fashion. Loons are dead serious in their beliefs. She then gets close enough to grab Critter's hair. What she doesn't count on is Critter's tail.

The scene occurs at the mid-point. Hutchison opens the book with a sociology class. Again, the dialogue sounds just about right for education as does the interest. However, because Critter's world is one of superheroes and supervillains, the lecture's based on the subject. What makes a person gifted with superpowers decide to be a hero or villain?

Unfortunately, Hutchison doesn't explore this question at any great length, but really, how could he without writing a book or actually teaching a course? On the bright side, the teacher introduces a guest-lecturer, new hero Lily Hammer. She's just what you imagine only better designed by artist Fico Ossio, and she kind of reminds me of each Schwenke Sister from Brisco County Jr.

Ossio is a fantastic artist. Whether illustrating cartoony bodacious babes that battle it out on the beach, or hapless purse snatchers, he brings a unique look to each character. At the same time, he crafts a visual narrative that despite being about three different setpieces blends to create the feeling of a whole story. Critter should emanate an episodic atmosphere, but each scene flows right from the other. As well, Ossio creates natural beauty in the landscapes, sunsets and ocean views.

Lest you think that Critter misses out on actual supervillain melees, at the eleventh hour, sea demons connected to a sea monster that already Devil Fished two lives, arises from the harbor. The city's on fire, and Critter's teammates ready for the battle of their lives. Critter gets the call. Novice or not, it's time for the terror of cow-tippers to get her feet wet.



Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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